- Date: Tuesday, May 28.
- Distance: 40 km.
- Route highlights: cute Californian towns, and the Golden Gate Bridge of course!
Fairfax was a particularly lovely town, but we passed numerous other cute towns on the way down south, like San Anselmo, Ross, and Sausalito.
More and more Palm trees, people, Roman influenced architecture, and the sunny weather made made it feel more southern, similar to the Mediterranean coast.
We cycled on the fantastic bay trail: a cycle path as you’d commonly find in the Netherlands, completely seperated from the motorways, and flat.
Many locals were riding their road and mountain bikes around here. The highest concentration of bike shops that we’ve seen in the U.S. can be found in this area as well.
After climbing one of our last steep hills, we got a first glimpse of San Francisco and the Bay Bridge, which I mistook for the Golden Gate for a moment. We could only see the famous Golden Gate Bridge when we got really close, after crossing another steep hill.
Everyone and our book told us to cross the bridge on the right side (coming from the North). But when we got there, we couldn’t get on the bike lane. There was a schedule: the right lane was opened in the weekend and after 3.30 pm. We were there around 1 pm, so I had to carry our loaded touring bikes down and up the stairs to get to the other side. I sure hadn’t skipped any leg days for the last few weeks, so I did it with great confidence!
Crossing the bridge was a nice symbolic end of our bicycle tour. After cycling 1750 km in about 4 weeks, we made it from Seattle to San Francisco!
The actual crossing wasn’t great because of several lanes of traffic roaring by, but it was definitely funny seeing clumsy, scared tourists on rented bikes, having no control over their bikes, blown side to side by strong wind gusts.
There was a bike path going all the way into downtown San Francisco. Like most of the Pacific coast, San Francisco is prone to earthquakes. The worst one, the “Great Earthquake” of 1906 and the following fires destroyed most of the city, but the city was quickly rebuilt. It’s a bustling city with some beautiful Victorian houses, a financial district with supposedly earthquake resistant sky scrapers, the biggest China town outside of China, and hip, cozy neighborhoods. But it also has a darker side: it ranks at the top of areas with the highest cost of living in the U.S, has many homeless people, and another destructive earthquake could happen anytime.
From the city center, we took the Caltran train to Palo Alto to visit our friends. We were pleasantly surprised by the facilities for bikes on the train: several wagons, each supporing up to 40 bicycles, at no extra fee! That’s some support cyclists!
A great example for the Dutch railway company NS. They only have 2 or 3 impractical corners in a wagon where 3 bikes fit, and they charge and extra fee of about 6 euros! In comparison, quite pathetic for a country with so many cyclists. Every other country we’ve bike toured seems to have better facilities on the public transport than the Netherlands, and the U.S. Caltran train is at the top. Our compliments!