Friday, November 5, 2010

SP Taylor to San Francisco

date = 2010-10-31
distance = 57.3 km

We left our campground in a redwood forest and headed back to dry hills and rural landscapes. But it wasn't long before we began to enter the urban zone.

Most of our tour has consisted of long stretches on the shoulder of the same highway. Not many route finding skills are required. But now we were entering an unfamiliar urban environment with complicated interconnecting bike routes that weave their way through the Bay Area cities and towns. So, I expected that we would have to pay more attention to maps, signs and our guide book's instructions. However, none of this was required. All we had to do was follow the hordes of cyclists that were coming to and from San Francisco. And I mean thousands. It seemed like half the population had decided to use the same bike route that we were using to get into the city. There were plenty of MAMILs (middle aged men in lycra) but also folks out for a more leisurely ride and even tourists on their rental bikes. Many shouted questions about our trip as they passed by and offered congratulations on what we are doing and how far we'd come. One even acted as an impromptu tour guide for part of the route.

We stopped for lunch at a cafe in Sausalito. And then rode across the Golden Gate bridge stopping to take the requisite pictures. From there we headed to Golden Gate park where we found ourselves on a major street through the park that had been closed to cars and open only to cyclists and pedestrians. This is one of San Francisco's events for "Sunday Streets" (aka CiclovĂ­a). The City of Vancouver had talked about a similar event last year but was never able to bring it to fruition. IMGP5680.JPG

As we were leaving the park another cyclist riding along side us asked about our trip. After giving the now familiar responses of where we started and where we were going, Karen asked how to get to the hostel where we had a reservation. Once again we were offered a guided tour for part of our way there. He took us along a route known as the "wiggle." So named because it takes a somewhat circuitous path that avoids the hills between Golden Gate Park and Market Street. As we learned this was the key to cycling in San Francisco - knowing how to avoid the hills.

After unloading our luggage at the hostel we decided to take a break from cycling and walked to the Mission District. We found busy streets full of families out trick-or-treating. We decided to have dinner at an organic Mexican restaurant aptly named Gracias Madre. It wasn't until we were seated and reading the menus that we realized that it was not only organic but also vegan. Now, usually I am disappointed with vegan attempts to imitate cheese and cheese is often my favorite part of Mexican dishes. But I was not disappointed this time. The food was great (and so was the organic porter I had to drink). I do have a special fondness for Bandidas on the Drive in Vancouver (it is where Karen and I met) but they could take a lesson from this place.

After dinner we walked around the Mission district some more then rode the public transit through a few more neighbourhoods to get a feel for how people were enjoying Halloween.

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