Thanks to circumstances outside of my own control and especially with no direct impact on my wallet (read: business trip), I happened to spend little over a week in The Land of the Epic Burrito (read: California) this February. I managed to squeeze a few rides over the weekends, too, and due to peer pressure I’m sharing some details with you here and now. I also like to rub it in your faces since you were freezing your collective ass here while I was getting some early season tan lines (you were asking for it, Micah!).
I rented a full-carbon[*] Specialized Tarmac equipped with compact Ultegra groupset from the good people at Menlo Velo Bicycles. Due to my work arrangements I couldn’t go for longer rides during the work week, so at least I was (ab)using it for commuting between Caltrain stations and the campus of my employer where I happened to be on that day, in various parts of the Bay Area. Saturdays were an entirely different matter, though.
[*] still not convinced I ever want to own a full-carbon bike, I find the plasticky feel and bulky shapes repulsive
On Saturday morning I hopped on the first northbound Caltrain to San Francisco, got off at 22nd Street station, crawled over Portero Hill, bombed down to the Mission District where I met the nice guys of Mission Cycling at one of the iconic San Francisco cafés and off we pedaled across the city towards the Golden Gate.
Portero Hill, 45% incline, are you fucking kidding me?!
We joined the rest of the group already waiting at a parking lot adjacent to the Golden Gate Bridge and then headed out to Marin County, to be back in about 6 hours and 90 miles of riding down the valleys, up redwood forests and along the Pacific coast, all in a warm sunny weather.
Santa Cruz Mountains
The next Saturday I ventured alone towards the local benchmark climb up Old La Honda road, followed by winding narrow descent towards Pescadero, along the Pacific coast on Highway 1, and up the redwood forests in Tunitas Creek valley.
Picturesque Stage road between Pescadero and San Gregorio
Stunning views from Highway 1, Pacific coast
In conclusion, California definitely is one of the cycling paradises. The lack of weather (yes, it rains from time to time and there might be mist and fog, boo), combined with a hilly coastline is certainly inviting. There are some things which are kind of annoying, too, e.g., the stop signs on most intersections. Especially annoying when you have clipless pedals and road shoes. No yielding to the right, no main streets. Kind of reminds me of watching American football, move ten yards and everything grinds to a halt. And another ten yards. Stop. And another. Stop.
In any case, I already want to go back and ride some more.🙂
p.s., speaking of epic burritos, if you ever happen to be in the Bay Area, make sure you stop by at La Costeña Custom Burritos in Mountain View, supposedly the home of the most epic of all the epic burritos in the Silicon Valley. Hands down the best burrito I’ve ever had.