Day 1, The Golden Gate Bridge to Santa Cruz. Hills and more hills….

Well, today was the day to stop planning, not start training and get on the bike and ride. My lovely wife gave me a ride to the bridge at 5:30am, despite just returning from London yesterday, so that I didn’t have to deal with getting there via public transport and more miles.

A good friend of mine also cycled to bridge to see me off. Cheers Doug!

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Doug took off and I finished gearing up and was finally ready to leave at 7:45am.

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Nothing quite beats that feeling of an early morning ride across this iconic bridge, especially early before the tourists are out in force.

The weather was cool and a little foggy going through the Golden Gate Park but it was really perfect riding weather. I quickly learned that I should have spent more time actually navigating with my Garmin Edge 800 as I was expecting turn by turn navigation from the ACA maps but no, that’s not how it works. After a few wrong turns I was on my way.

The first sketchy part was all the sand in the bike lane along Ocean Avenue past the SF zoo and as the road tightens to go up the hill I hit a patch of sand and gently keeled over. Key learning #2, don’t ride in sand. It really is a little challenging along this stretch where it narrows with the cars on one side and the sand trap on the other.

I rode through Pacifica, which felt like it might take all morning. It just goes on and on and on. The map tried to take me on Highway 1 down the hill but the sign said no bikes so I crossed the entrance for I-280 (also sketchy !) and then took a right turn down in to Pacifica. After 23 miles I stopped at the High Tide restaurant in the small strip mall before the climb up to Devil’s Slide and had a great omelette and fruit smoothie. It’s a pretty steep climb out of Pacifica and I was wishing the breakfast place as at the top of that hill, not the bottom.

It was a relatively quick jaunt down to Half Moon Bay where I couldn’t resist grabbing a quick beer shandy (lots of Sprite, very little beer) in the beer garden of Cameron’s Pub. When the biking gods put a British pub right on the cycle path, what else are you supposed to do?

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It was a bit chilly so I hit the road again with the intention of grabbing lunch at a place a friend had recommended which would be about 1.5 hours away in Pescadero, Duarte’s Tavern. Unfortunately I didn’t pay enough attention to the directions and sailed past the turning on Pescadero Road so the next point of civilization would be Davenport, about another 1.5 hours away. Pescadero is very nice though and only has one turn off so how did I miss it?

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The scenery after Half Moon Bay is nothing short of spectacular. The coves that are just a blur when you’re driving are so pretty and I could still be on the road now if I’d stopped to photograph them all.

The hills are pretty undulating and i was traveling fairly light so the downhills were interesting with the pannier bags and the wind. My average speed was 13mph and my max was 45mph.

Davenport was well worth a stopover. I had to stop to rest my legs but it would have been worth it anyway. Basking in the sun at the Whale Cafe was nice for an hour and their clam chowder followed by blackberry pie a la mode just hit the spot.

After Davenport it was a relatively easy 12 miles to Santa Cruz. A few more hills before everything finally flattened out. I got to the motel after an elapsed day of about 10.5 hours and 6.5 of actual riding time. Slacker.

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  • 85.2mi
  • 6:31:28
    Moving Time
  • 4,610ft

Key learnings of the day:

  1. Learn to use your navigation tool before you start using it on an actual ride where you have no idea where you’re going. Alternatively learn how to edit Strava route data to hide all the evidence of your lack of knowledge
  2. There is no such thing as too much bum cream. Really.
  3. Don’t try and ride in sand unless you’re on a fat-tired (tyred for my UK friends) sand bike.
  4. Don’t have a large breakfast before a big hill climb
  5. Apply bum cream liberally and often. Your taint will thank you profusely.
  6. Don’t put jam in a toaster (c) Eddie Izzard. Not unique to today, but always good to remember

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