Mountain View to Oakland – 44 miles
Today was a great day. I woke up early to say goodbye to Meri, then discovered that REI doesn’t open till ten so I couldnt leave as early as I’d wanted. On the bright side, I had time to finalize the post I wrote the night before and even read a little. The ride through south bay took me along Stephen Creek Trail which I used to ride along to get to work when I was living up here. It’s a beautiful trail that you can forget you’re riding through the city sometimes. Tons of people use it everyday, particularly commuters but also just people going out for a stroll. Going through town, I passed a sign on the opposite side of the street saying “bikers wrong way”. It’s exciting seeing so many things encouraging cycling. Onward to the Bay Trail! Which has a great view of, you guessed it, the San Francisco Bay! It actually continues over the Dumbarton Bridge so cyclists and pedestrians actually have a protected lane. Over the Bridge I passed some pretty cool Marshlands. It was starting to get near to lunch time, but I had planned to stop in San Leandro to eat a real meal offered by a woman I met through the Facebook Bicycle Touring group. It was completely by chance that she happened to be from the area I would be cycling through today so she invited me over! The terrain changed from Marshlands to Industrial buildings and finally back to neighborhoods. There was a lot more glass on the roadways I noticed the closer I got to Oakland.
At some point, I got on a trail that was unpaved…the views were nice, but an unpaved trail is not that fun when you’re pulling a load. Generally, I love trails, but they can be tricky to navigate to. If the trail has no name, Google Maps just says “Turn Left” and you kind of have to figure it out. It’s also sometimes tricky to know exactly when to get off the trail as there aren’t usually street signs where the street meets the trail. Probably rode a couple extra miles because of these things, but no big deal.
By the time I got to San Leandro, it was 3pm, waaaay past lunchtime so I was starving. But Maria and Anastasia had waited for me and they brought me into their apartment. We had a delicious lunch, I ate soooo much as we shared stories about touring and cycling in general and life. By the time we were all done it was 5pm and time to go! I still had about 8 miles to get to my cousin Andrea’s apartment in Oakland. The next stretch was the sketchiest place I’ve ever been. I didn’t know it at the time of course, but I could see it by the crumbling sidewalks, the graffiti and bars everywhere, the guys on street corners, the broken glass in the street, and just the feel in the neighborhood. After 30-40 blocks of sketchy riding down International, the buildings started to look nicer, there was more color, there was a bike symbol on the roadway, there was less broken everything. I was really glad I hadn’t gotten a flat in the sketchy area. At 6pm, I arrived at Andrea’s. Her roommate Amy let me in and helped me get settled until Andrea got there. After catching up, we decided to go Salsa dancing! We had such a fun time taking a lesson, dancing with great dancers, and chatting. Later it was Cards Against Humanity with her roommates and friends until much too late 🙂
-5ish hours riding, 8.5 hours travel (2 hour “lunch” break)
-13 butterflies and squirrels passed (none dead today)
-18 piles of broken glass avoided (all in Oakland)
Oakland to Vallejo – 34 miles
When I woke up this morning, I was so tired I wasn’t sure if I should try to ride. But somehow, after just getting up, I felt much better. When choosing a route for the day, I could go through more and more towns, or I could take a less townful route which included a 1,000ft climb. I was actually leaning towards the route with the climb just because I wanted more scenery and less city. As I was packing up my stuff, Andrea and her friends decided they wanted to go to the Farmer’s Market; looking at my route, it was only a slight detour so I decided to join them. I loaded up and biked off as they drove off, and wondered who would get there first. The ride to the market took me along Lakeshore, which is just the kind of road you would imagine with a name like that. Beautiful views, lots of families and people. Then across the way is another park, with tons of booths with fresh produce, live music, jump houses, and full of people! I picked up some veggies and dates and chatted with Andrea and her friends in the sun for a while before deciding I better get going if I was going to make it to Vallejo before dark.
I thought about which route to take again, and, though I really wanted to do the climb route and considering that it was already 1:15, I decided to go with the shorter easier route. It actually turned out to be a great decision. The ride from Oakland to Berkeley was nice, and then there was a gorgeous trail through Berkeley and Emeryville where I happened to meet another tourer. I had just finished taking a picture and just randomly said hi as she passed. She said hi and asked me if I was traveling. We got to talking and she offered me her room in Davis to stay in when I got there! She also mentioned she is training for next year when she and some friends are going to start a trip which for her will be around the country, and for at least one other will be Alaska to Argentina. She gave me her contact info and told me I would be welcome to join. I have definitely been wanting to do that trip all the way down, and it would definitely be safer and easier with a group or partner. Something to think about.
Just past Emeryville, I came upon a bike shop, so I had to stop in of course. They had so many bikes! I walked around the whole shop before asking to look at mirrors (Maria, the woman who I had lunch with the day before had recommended a mirror). The guy that worked there gave me his recommendations, chatted with me about biking, and even put the mirror on my helmet for me. Cyclists are great people.
More riding through towns, up a big hill with a great view of the Carquinez bridge, then across the bridge in a protected lane again, and then I was in Vallejo! I rode by the harbor and saw tons of people and boats, it was a great sight. My host had let me know that he would be playing in the Symphony in Santa Rosa that night so he wouldn’t be home until after 11pm, but he left me a key. I decided to drop off my stuff and then take my dinner down to the harbor and watch the sun set. I ended up not finding the house right away, and took a shower before going out so I missed the sunset, but I still had a lovely picnic in the twilight overlooking the ships. Afterward, I locked up my bike and went to this brewery overlooking the water that my host had recommended. I got myself a cider and ended up meeting some really cool people! This woman, Adrienne and I discussed her ten-year-old daughter, the food redistribution non-profit that she started in the area, traveling as a young woman and the simplicity of life in Vallejo. And this Indian man kept coming over to tell us about his beautiful family (who was on the other side of the bar), and how much he loved landscaping and whiskey. It was a blast.
I went back to the house to meet my host and his two friends (one staying the weekend to play, the other a local). We all stayed up late talking about my trip, their playing, and then watched A Million Ways to Die in the West (which was absolutely hilarious) in the movie room from a projector. Oh ya, this house has a movie room. Also a 4 tap kegerator. Full of beer he brewed. And a beautiful green bird. And a guest room with one of those giant queen size air mattresses. Went to bed much too late again.
-4ish hours riding, 5 hours travel (late start, not many breaks)
-2 tourers, few roadies, many leisure riders
Rest – 1 day
This morning I woke up at 6am. Miserable. Fortunately I fell back asleep until 10 and felt better. I didn’t exactly have a plan for the day, the night before, Adrienne and I had decided I would make it to Winters and camp, but this morning I saw that it wasn’t exactly a direct route. Bruce, my host, offered his home for another night so I could rest up and leave early the next morning to go all the way to Davis (a 54 mile trip). He actually thought I would be able to make it today, but I had my doubts and decided to take him up on his second night offer. Three of us went out for a ride to Mare Island, which used to be a Navy Base, and got to see some cool stuff out there. At the top, there’s a pretty great view of Vallejo and the Carquinez bridge. Next was washing a couple things, writing this post, giving a once-over of the bike, writing out the route for tomorrow before dinner with my Grandma’s brother Gene and his wife Marilyn (whom I totally had forgotten lived up here). We had a great time talking over sushi, I was so glad I was able to see them. After dinner I hung out with my host and his friends, drinking home brewed beer talking about touring, beer and music. Well, time to get ready for tomorrow, next up: Davis!
Check out my route page for where I’ve been and an outline of where I plan to go next. I try to keep it as up to date as possible, but that isn’t always possible.