Tomales to San Francsico
If all bike touring could be as pleasant as this section, I'm convinced more people would entertain the idea. Adversity resides nowhere near the pleased cyclist who pedals from bucolic pasture land into the suburban wonderland of Marin. Consider this section one of the most pleasant. A day's ride takes you from the rolling pasture and green hills of Marin's Agricultural Land Trust down into the little towns that sprinkle Marin County. From Tomales you ride into Point Reyes Station, a funky little village set against rolling green hills. What was once a quiet agricultural and artist hub is now a daily destination for Bay Area residents, those in Porches, on custom titanium road bikes, very nice sunglasses...a notable contrast from folks who call this place home. For me, my mission was Black Mountain Cycles and tacos. Mike Varley heads up a one man show offering full service repair, an impressive historical mountain bike collection, and his own designed Black Mountain Cycle frames that are fabricated in Taiwan and San Francisco to his own specifications. If you catch him on a foggy morning, he might have a pot of coffee to share while he muses on the joys and drawbacks of living in Point Reyes Station. Good dude, good shop. Anybody passing through should visit. On Mike’s recommendation, I porked out on some Al Pastor tacos and engaged in some excellent people watching.
Up and out of Point Reyes station you climb up and over a little front range before descending down into Fairfax...where smiling people, chirping birds, and rays of sunshine all but consume your senses. I stopped in for a smoothie at the local natural food store, where my bike seemed to intrigue some of the fellow snackers taking a treat respite on the benches outside the shop. The setup of my bike had people asking questions, they knew I was doing more than commuting but it didn't quite fit the traditional long distance bike tour set up. The different and less common qualities of the Blackburn gear caught the imagination of some of these folks and they invited the idea of doing some great adventures of their own. Hot damn! That's a big part of the reason we are all out here right?!
The land of the north bay funneled me into Sausalito, and for the first time since Portland I laid eyes upon a big city. The amazing thing about biking across the Golden Gate Bridge, besides the thousands of people and cars and great views of the city, is simply how long it takes to bike across the opening of the San Francisco Bay. The division among cyclists was stark on the bike side of the bridge. You could tell who the regulars were as they kept their focus forward and pedaled straight and hard, versus the sight-seeing cyclists with their helmets slightly askew, camera aiming somewhere, and the gusts of wind nearly toppling them over. I made it across unscathed, and took delight in connecting all the various bike paths and bike lanes as I wove my way through town, destined for my best friends abode in the Mission district. Oh, one small piece of advice for anyone thinking about taking Embarcadero Street to take in the sights, summer time is beyond clogged. Take this main drag at your own risk.
- Pacific Coast Milestones -
- FROM: Bonny Doon, CA
- DOB: 1999-11-30
- OCCUPATION: Adventurers
Genesis Moment and Inspiration for your Trip?
We have biked the entire Pacific Coast already, and it may seem odd that we are doing it again. Along the last journey we met a screen printer and fellow bike tourist named Justin who had ridden the Pacific Coast route over five times. When we first heard this we thought he was crazy – there is so much out there to explore! But he went on to explain, and ultimately convince us – that not only is the ride experience different every time due to weather, new companions, older selves, etc; but traveling known roads you can come back to the places that really impacted you, and try the alternate routes you had to pass over last time. The ride just gets better and better because your relationship to the trail is what frees you to explore more deeply. When you know that there is a taqueria and clean water only ten miles away you are more likely to actually stop and jump in the roadside lake that otherwise remains unexplored….
Have you Traveled by bike in the past?
Matt and I live in a Tiny Home deep in the mountains above the town where we work and our daily commute requires a year round touring set up. At every moment we have to have everything we need for the day – heavy bags full of produce, a down jacket, bike shoes and sandals, water for the day and a lunch, the list goes on. We have a daily relationship with loaded bike travel!
Matt has been bike touring since he was 17, and set off on a very aggressive pedal across the country on ACA’s Sierra Cascade Route and Northern Tier Route attempting 5,000 miles in two months. After making it all the way to the ACA headquarters in Missoula, Montana and earning his ice cream he was hit by an SUV just east of Missoula and heli-evacuated to the nearest hospital. That accident, which snapped his leg in half and exploded his bicycle is what “saved his life,” as he says. Through the long recovery process he learned to slow down and his relationship to bicycle touring, which had formerly been focused on mileage and destination, is now more focused on the slow and simple pleasures of the road.
Kate has been biking to different ice cream parlors all over California her whole life but didn’t start her first multi-day bike travel until she met Matt. They have been on two bike tours together, one big, one small. On the first one, she had a small heart failure in the mountains of Big Sur and had to bike eight miles of steep uphill to get to cell service. She learned that she has a mild heart condition, and biking is good for it. That “adventure” has been a similar inspiration in her relationship to biking and using her body as a means of excursion – a long journey in patience and thankfulness for the incredible feats that a body can perform!
What is your goal for the route?
Sunshine, lakes, ice cream, back country, rain forest, hot springs, tacos, aged cheeses, and so much laughter.
What do you hope to get out of this journey?
A more intimate understanding of and connection to the Pacific Coast. An opportunity to reconnect to the folks we have met along the way – a real rarity of this type of travel! A relationship to the brands that we use and care about – knowing the people who are making what we are using. We want to live each day 100% fully.
What’s in my bag? List four things that you could not live without (take a photo of each on a neutral background)
Little journals Kate made, Book of poems by Mary Oliver,Our friend’s homemade Organic sunscreen, Rechargeable boom box for pumping James Brown on the climbs
- Pacific Coast Milestones -