Saddles Ablaze...

Trip Start Aug 24, 2012
Trip End Sep 19, 2012

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Flag of United States  , California
Monday, August 27, 2012

Saddles Ablaze

Biking across the Golden Gate Bridge was a must revisit for Shane and I on this sequel journey to San Francisco. All too well I recalled the icy winds buffeting us as we rolled onto the bridge, the grey cloud sitting low and heavy over the city.

It might seem strange to repeat an experience like this, but I assure you, it couldn't have been more different.

The sun blazed down upon us and sweat broke out under my helmet as we pedalled around the waterfront towards the bridge. I'd spent at least 30 seconds that morning designing the most appropriate 'helmet hair proof' style, and in a matter of half an hour it s ruined... Oh well, at least I would look like I was taking my biking seriously.

One thing I didn't recall previously was the sheer number of Lance Armstrong wannabes on the bridge itself. Shane and I almost got cleaned up several times by these Lycra clad villains, who seemed to think that it was ok to continue at their Tour de France speed, effectively resulting in a Shane and Katie sandwich between slices of these twits and the hundreds of meandering on-foot tourists. You would think they'd know, being locals, that a warm sunny late summer day meant all the landmarks of San Francisco would be crawling with us snap-happy gawkers.

On the Marin County side it was no different. In fact, it was even more crowded with bus loads of tour groups pulling up at Vista Point for photo ops back towards the city. Shane and I found a perch on the stone wall and munched on apples while gazing back at the city that really feels like it could be home. No wonder so many Aussies with green cards flock there.

Sausalito was crowded too, and about ten degrees hotter than the city. We took a brief stop for burgers and to reapply sunscreen. No time for wandering the quaint bayside village today - over lunch Shane and I had made a decision. We were going to tackle the full circuit'. Rather than jumping on a ferry straight back to Fisherman's Wharf from Sausalito, we would ride around the bay to Tiburon, taking a detour through Mill Park to feast our eyes on some Redwoods.

Which works out to be a ride of 42 kilometres... In the blazing midday sun...

We were out of the comfort zone now, navigating roads and maps that we'd never even glanced at before. The directions from the aptly named Blazing Saddles, where we'd rented our bikes from (highly recommend them if you ever visit SF) told us to veer left onto Mill Park Road when we saw the high school football field. Shane, whose map reading skills are not one of his strong points, insisted this meant we crossed the road and headed up a back street.

When we seemed to be getting further and further away from the main drag, and approaching a very steep hill when we'd been informed this was a flat ride, I was convinced we'd taken a wrong turn. It was lucky that we ran into some hapless Italians who had made the same mistake, and who informed us on advice they'd just received from a local that we must turn around and head back to the main road.

The Old Mill Park itself, a detour on the bay circumnavigation, is situated in a small, well to do village. Houses are nestled in amongst the towering Redwoods. I was stuck dumb by the sheer beauty of the place. Every time I think I've found a part of the San Francisco Bay area that I would happily relocate to permanently, another appears to throw my USA fantasy into complete disarray once more. Imagine living IN a Redwood forest, in a village that boasts little cafes, crafty shops and specialist fresh food grocers?

Our shady stop was over too soon - we had to hoof it to make it around the bay to Tiburon in time to catch one of the last ferries back to the city. A quick reapplication of sunscreen (it really was a scorcher) and we were off racing!

The ride took us meandering around the bay as the afternoon sun beat down on us. Any concerns for the ongoing status of my helmet proof hairdo were well and truly forgotten in our desperate dash for the Tiburon ferry.

Finally we approached Tiburon Boulevard, and the ferry port. It couldn't have come any sooner - I think if I'd had to sit my burning behind back on that seat for a minute longer I would have passed out. Blazing saddles is right - I can still feel the after effects two days later!

We had time to lock our bikes up for a brief collapse onto the grass at the waterfront while we watched the ferry approach in the distance. Exhausted and suffering from sun stroke, my brain was clearly fuddled when I tried to unlock my bike from its place on the gangway.

I turned the key, and watched in stunned silence as the main part of the lock slipped away, and plopped right into San Francisco Bay, right in front of about fifty other bikers, and a whole restaurant full of people! Thankfully I could see the funny side, and laughed right along with them. Nothing like self deprecating humour after a marathon bike ride!

As the ferry returned us across the waves to Fog City (not so foggy this trip around), I decided that I'd definitely do it again if (when) I make my way back to San Francisco.
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