Stayin Alive

Project 2012: Day 261

Day Eight

After the “Hike or Bike” mixup last night, even though we paid so much more than the campsite fee, we decided to avoid the discussion and leave early. 7am in fact.

Which meant that we were above the fog. Literally a silver lining on the metaphorical cloud of our adventurous mishaps. I so love Serendipity.

As we dropped through the fog layer, the temperature dropped about 30F in a mile. Glad I left the thermal liner in. It was seriously chilly at the coast

Sunday Bikers

Much like the Royal National Park south of Sydney, or the Old Pacific north, the PCH is a favourite haunt for bikers on a Sunday morning. We must’ve passed about 20 sports bikes, riders all leather clad, zooming at insane speeds through the fog. I guess they know this road.

One of them overtook a car, on a blind curve, in the fog, right opposite Al in front of me. He was back in his lane about 1 sec before colliding (so plenty of time) but both he and the car were hooting. I’m not sure who got the biggest fright. The driver or me. I had nowhere to go, and skid marks to prove it.

Gratuitous Tourism

Next thing I knew, we were on the Golden Gate bridge. At least I think it was, the fog was about head height, so there wasn’t much bridge to see. But we’ll take another check for the bucket list, riding a motorbike over the Golden Gate.

Of course we had to stop for the photo opps, so dropped down to the “Warming Hut” only to find a marathon on in the city. More on that later.

The bridge, even in fog, is spectacular, and certainly rivals the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Scale is to be seen to be believed. Then there’s also Alcatraz off to the right, and downtown in the distance.

Hello to Old & Goodbye to New

I finally caught up with Peter Roosakos, after 2 days of trying to sync. We were going to have breakfast together, but the marathon meant all roads to the watefront cafes were closed.

This meant we got the scenic tour of the city, trying to find a secure park for the insecure bikes. Either San Francisco has a lot of homeless people, or I was especially sensitive to them. My bright red duffel bag, stuffed with camping and clothing goodies was particularly vulnerable to simply unstrapping and carrying away.

After about 40 mins of trying to hook up, Al decided he was going to push on. He needed to make LA for Monday, so was planning to head about halfway down the coast. As I was hooked up for a night in Santa Cruz, the day was mine to fritter in SF.

So after 4 days of camping, couch surfing, dining, riding, photos, videos, and sharing a bunch of laughs. My new good friend, Al the mad Virginian, and I parted ways. I still reckon he snores louder though.

Pete and I then parked my bike, parked his Lotus Elise, which promptly broke down. So we humped all my luggage about a (very long) mile to his car, and filled it up. To the brim.

For a second day running I had breakfast at lunchtime. Chicken Fried Steak & Eggs (& cheese & potatoes). So much for losing weight before the family arrives.

Pier 23 is very much like Watson’s or Double Bay. Full of well to-do yuppies, watching the sailboats in the harbour. Perfect!

Golden Gate Take Two

Besides the fog, my helmet camera batteries were flat, so I totally missed video of riding across the bridge. Given the fog had mostly lifted, and I’d taken receipt of new contour batteries, it was time to rectify that.

So across the bridge I went again – North, loop, then Southbound. Then just continued on Route 1 towards Santa Cruz.

This was not riding. Just bumper to bumper traffic getting out of the city, for about an hour.

Then it was on the edge of the cliffs again for more great riding. Seriously I don’t know how you could live here and not have a motorbike.

Santa Cruz

What a great little town (pop ~100k) The wharf, the boardwalk. A real surfer & student town. The sun was shining as I decompressed along the wharf, taking in the seals, seagulls, and locals.

My second scare, pretty much on the whole trip, was entirely my fault. I was stopped at the lights in the middle lane, and suddenly thought I should be turning right. So I checked my mirror, indicator on, and pulled out to the right. This white pickup who was behind a truck behind me had the same thought about 5 seconds before me, and was accelerating up the inside lane as I pulled out. He ducked right, I stopped, and we missed each other by a ball hair.

Seriously, the first head check I’ve missed in 2 years of riding, and 2,000 miles on this trip, and there’s a car there. Rule #1, look with the Mark 1 eyeball before maneouvering. Phew. Not making that mistake again.

Then it was over to meet my next friend, and ADVRider host for the evening, Paul. Another great guy, Paramedic, Fire Fighter, and motorcyclist. Not to mention adventurer.

Paul has travelled the world. Literally. On a bicycle. The next time you consider “glamping” for a taste of life, think about cycling from, oh, say Darwin to Sydney…

…after South-East Asia.

As all my hosts in this fabulous country, he is super-friendly, kind, and hospitable. As a fellow adventurer, Paul knew just what I needed (shower, laundry, beer, food, and conversation) and supplied in bucket loads. We went into town, to an Irish pub, Rosie’s for a great dinner, and they even checked my ID (not without some prompting, mind)

Our conversation was varied and interesting. Of course we avoided all the taboo subjects that can lead to arguments: Politics, sex, and religion. 🙂 Not.

And in the morning, there was Power, WiFi, Eggs, Toast, Tea (!!!), & clean dry clothes.

Awesome.

I love camping, but after 8 hours in the saddle, a mattress is most welcome.