With everyone getting out of town for the winter, I definitely felt a little left out that I wouldn't be able to join in on all the sun and fun in SoCal.
Just my luck that I recently was flown to Las Vegas to take place in a panel and on the way home was able to fit in a quick trip to SF to ride (and watch a good friend get married!) After spending just 32 hours in the Sin City along with teammate Greg who was also on the panel, I was ready to jet off to NorCal and enjoy some sun and beautiful roads thanks to a Gavilan BFF bag.
Things started off excellently after striking off a conversation with the person seated next to me, turns out he was a cyclist and lived just a few minutes away from where I was staying in Noe Valley. We shared a taxi home and he paid for it! "Business trip" he said, and I wasn't going to argue.
I spent my first day building my bike and making sure everything was working properly. I did a quick spin in the city through Golden Gate park and then headed over the Golden Gate Bridge to do a loop up Hawk Hill/Rodeo Beach thanks to a recommendation from my friend and former SF resident Bryan Banducci. Aside from a weird noise my bottom bracket started making after riding through some mud, everything checked out OK. I dropped by the SF Rapha store on the way back into the city and marveled at the LOW// MKI Road frame they had on display with SRAM Red eTap. I also enjoyed my first iced coffee outside while sunning my legs.
The second day I was fortunate to get shown around by my friend Ken through Marin. He asked me what kind of bike I had, hoping I had brought a cross bike. I simply responded "I brought a road bike -- but it goes off-road." My Gennix R1 handled extremely well through dirt, mud and single track. We even dragged it up Old Railroad Grade, a rocky, dusty, 4.5 mile climb. No flats, no problems. Ken showed me a ton of great roads that I wouldn't have thought to ride. Just after he dropped off to head back into the city for work, I ran into Lisa and Danielle from CityMD Women's Racing Team descending Tam. We rode together until I was just about bonked in Point Reyes. I purchased a ton of food and some mint chocolate malt balls that I regretted. Afterwards we decided to take the "easy way" home along Highway 1 back to Mill Valley. It was far from easy and I was more than happy to accept a ride back to SF from Lisa and Danielle, even if it was probably slower than just riding. That evening I tried to go to a party with my non-biking friends but I left after one beer.
On the third day I knew I was in for something special. I had been put in touch with former NYC-er Calvin Rocchio through friends and rides are always something to marvel. He too knows amazing routes that take amazing roads. He said to meet him at 8 in Berkeley, which meant getting on BART at about 715 (on a Saturday morning) but I wasn't going to complain. All he told me was we would ride about 200k and climb Mt Diablo. Straight out of the gate Calvin took us up a 20% dirt climb from Berkeley Coliseum that I had to walk thanks to my 39-28 gearing. From there, the ride was an amazing mixture of East Bay suburbia and fire access roads. My favorite section was Morgan Territory Rd, a tiny little road that snakes along a creek for what seems like forever, then spits you out on the most amazing Windows 95 landscape descent. Mt Diablo was just as difficult as I imagined, but getting to the top was worth it. We even saw Ted King and his posse as they completed their insane 180mi and 16k journey. We descended in Walnut Creek, ate insanely large burritos at Whole Foods and then took the BART back to the city. I was again coaxed out for a beer with friends, but promptly walked home after just one. I took a much needed rest day after that ride.
The next day brought sub-par weather and no one to ride with. A friend had told me Skyline Dr was a good road to ride, but I misheard and instead rode down Skyline Blvd. Riding down a 4 lane highway into a headwind sucks but I did it anyways, heading south to Sweeney Ridge. The area looked remote on Google Maps so I thought it would be good. I climbed onto the ridge and found an abandoned Nike Missile site just as it started to pour down rain. I decided I didn't want to go the same way home so I headed down a dirt path and had no idea what I was in for. The sketchy descent eventually clogged my tires and I had to remove my wheels to pick the clay/mud out with my fingers. I managed to find Skyline Dr on the way home, but in the rain it was hard to enjoy anything. I did enjoy my sandwich from Yellow Submarine. After that I headed home and did laundry.
My fifth and final day riding I headed down on the Caltrain to ride with another former NYC-er, Evan Murphy. Evan's living in Palo Alto while racing with Lupus Racing Team this year. He was nice enough to meet me at the train station and take me on a 65mi loop through Pescadero and San Gregorio. The climbing didn't disappoint and the descending wasn't too bad either. The cookies at the general store in Pescadero were as big as my head and amazing. I hope that I earned the calories.
Just like that, my trip was over. I spent my last day taking part in my good friend's wedding. After spending so much time doing something so personal like cycling, it's great to spend a day with good friends and celebrate a wedding. At the end of the day I finally had more than one beer (seven if I remember correctly) and was finally able to get some sleep on a red-eye flight.