I left the Dog Patch of San Francisco at a little after 06:45 in the morning to catch the 07:35 ferry to Vallejo. It was foggy and cool but the people getting off the ferry said it is warm and sunny over on the other side of the bay.
Only four people got on the ferry. Each of us had a bike. The other three were going on an “off-site” which they said is the new corporate word for a retreat. Two of them had serious bikes and laughed that it was for only a 15 mile ride up to Napa. I was planning to get to Winters which was about 60 miles away. A bit more.
Last night I did not sleep well. I woke up at about 4 AM and did not really fall back asleep. I think it was mostly due to starting my trip. The nervousness of the unknown. While I have driven from SF to Tahoe, going on a bike is entirely different. I was looking over my maps with my friends last night and they thought the elevation profiles looked rather imposing. The first mountains I meet is a 9000′ elevation gain relatively fast. How will I do on the hills? Especially now that I have an extra 30+ lbs. (I weighed my gear and it came in at 31 lbs. Right where I wanted it.) It is the unanswered questions…and there are loads of them.
My friend Poorab, from whose house in the Dog Patch I officially started to ride cross country, he said if he were doing it the biggest question would be if he could do it mentally. Almost everyone I have talked to who did it said there were days they were in tears. But I guess if you keep your feet moving in circles you keep going forward and it will get better.
When I got off the ferry I met a guy who had just finished riding from Yorktown, VA across the USA. His reason for doing it was he retired on June 21st and started riding on June 23rd. He rode his ten year old bike that he added a new seat from Walmart. (He said the first ten days on it was a nightmare.) It did not have granny gears – a double chain ring in the front and no large cogs in the back. He towed a trailer which he said he’d never do again. His highlight that he talked about several times was riding at night through Capital Reef in Utah at night under a full moon. My experience is that capital reef is pretty stunning during the day so under a full moon I could imagine it being magical. He did a lot of riding at night. He said it was too hot to ride in Kansas, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada during the day.
He also recounted some of his lower moments. Outside Cedar City, UT his tire blew apart at 2 AM. He thought it was the end of his travel for the night since he did not have a spare. But a pickup truck pulled up next to him. It was a guy he had talked to the day before at a diner who happened to be driving to the next town in the middle of the night. He threw his bicycle in the back and got a ride. He said there were a number of times he was brought to tears going over some mountains, but that overall it was a great experience. He was thinking of doing the northern route or the southern tier.
My ride was not too eventful…which is good, I guess. There were some steep hills in Vallejo that I was not really ready for first thing in the morning. The first break I took, I went off the road, and when I went back on, I noticed my wheels were full of thorns. Luckily none of them seemed to have made it to the inner tube. I did get a flat later on a piece of glass. It shredded my inner tube with about ten slices 1/16th of an inch so instead of patching I had to replace. Then cyclists rode by and offered to help if I needed it. I was back up and pedaling in about eight minutes.
The route went through rolling hills covered with parched yellow grass and dotted with dark green trees. There were lots of horse farms and as I approached Winters there were many orchards. Sometimes the orchards provided shade over the road but generally the sun beat down. It only felt hot on the hills when my speed slowed so I was not creating enough breeze as well as exerting more. I felt like I got stronger over the day until the last hour. My butt started to hurt and my feet hurt or would tingle like they were going numb. Both of those should go away as I ride more.
I had no profound thoughts while riding as my thoughts would be interrupted by hills or trying to remember to look out for signs.
I had a steak dinner at the Buckhorn in Winters. For being ranked the best steak house in Yolo County for five years or so, I was expecting more flavor. I stayed at the Abbey House — only place in town – which is nice but I was hoping for something cheaper. I called the camp ground, but then realized I had no food nor did I have butane for my stove. The shower and soak in the tub were nice plus I washed some clothes in the sink.
Now it is time for bed so I can do it all over again tomorrow.
Start: Dog Patch, San Francisco, CA
End: Winters, CA
Today’s mileage: 60.6 miles
Total miles so far: 61 miles
Average speed: 11.5 mph
Max speed: 35.9 mph
Riding time: (08:45 to 16:30) 7.75 hours
Total riding time: 7.75 hours
Weather: clear, about 75 F
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