2/21/21 – Encore in San Francisco

Returning from Hawaii and unpacking Sunride, Jr. from its crate, I decided to check to see if the bike, broken down for shipping, would fit into my Tesla Model S. Wala! It fit!

Open trunk of my Tesla with my electric bike, Sunride, which fit inside once I took the front wheel off.

This opens up a world of possibilities. I could drive anywhere, remove and assemble my bike, and ride on batteries pre-charged with solar energy from my rooftop solar panels at home. The Sunride adventure continues!

First stop, San Francisco. I packed two pre-charged batteries to insure I’d be able to do a lot of riding in the week I would be there. After a short but very sweet visit with my daughter and her family who had offered their home in SF while they were on vacation, I set out on day one for Santa Cruz County, a place renowned for cycling, and a scenic one-hour drive on Hwy. 1 along the coastline South of their home. I arrived at the little town of Davenport, parked and took out my bike. While I was assembling Sunride a man came over to chat about my electric bike. “Some of the serious cyclers around here poo-poo electric bikes, but I think they’re great. They get you out exercising and you don’t have to be intimidated by the hills.” He hit the nail on the head. That’s exactly it. If I had to do a 20 or 30 mile ride up through the hilly countryside I just wouldn’t do it. Too much work; but with an e-bike it’s no problem. You get as much exercise as you care to peddling along and that wonderful feeling of being in the breeze passing through beautiful scenery. It took about 15 minutes to put the bike together and off I went. I did a 10-mile loop into the hills and back to Hwy. 1. Sadly, the ubiquitous California wildfires had charred most of the trees along the way.

Charred trees during my 10-mile loop near Davenport, CA

I trust Mother Nature will bring it back and in twenty years or so it will be all green again. Many big trees were cut down and harvested lying in piles at intervals along the roadway. Back out on Hwy. 1, there were endless views like this one as I cruised along Monterey Bay toward the city of Santa Cruz.

Coast view on Hwy. 1 between Monterey Bay toward the city of Santa Cruz.

I had estimated I had enough charge to get the 12 miles from Davenport to Santa Cruz and back but as I watched my battery gauge drop lower, I decided to turn back after 10 miles. Good thing I did. The battery was nearly depleted requiring me to self-power the last couple of hills before I got back to my car. Both the battery and I were drained as I loaded up the bike to drive back to SF. I still had a second fully sun-charged battery so a lot more riding lay ahead.

San Francisco Day 2

My next outing took me into Golden Gate Park. This park is to San Francisco as Central Park is to New York City. I found a marvelous place to park on the east side of the park with plenty of room to remove and assemble my bike. It’s relatively flat so battery # 2 would take me a lot further. I rode past eucalyptus trees, breathing in their intoxicating aroma, past lakes where ducks, geese, and turtles enjoyed their little piece of nature.

Two turtles sunning on a log in Golden Gate Park
Two turtles sunning on a log in Golden Gate Park

After two or three miles riding in the park along Martin Luther King Drive, I arrived at the west end which is the Pacific Ocean. To my delight, the Great Highway, as it’s called, was sealed off to cars. Only pedestrians and cyclists, well skateboarders too, were allowed. I pulled up alongside another cyclist who explained the roadway had been sealed for a year now because of COVID.

The Great Hwy. at the West End of Golden Gate Park running along the Pacific Coast
The Great Hwy. at the West End of Golden Gate Park running along the Pacific Coast

She went on to say that many people think it should be permanently left this way. The good people of San Francisco built the Golden Gate Bridge. If they want the Great Highway left as is I’m sure they can bring it about. California is my kind of State. It’s a can-do kind of place. It’s no surprise Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and a great many others came from or ventured from here. It was splendid riding along. Brisk winds from the Ocean cleared the air. Moms pushed babies along in their strollers. The 4-lane pedestrian highway went all the way down past the zoo before cars were allowed back on. I reached the end but didn’t want to come back yet. I saw an old bike trail off to the side and continued on it. Up ahead the trail was covered in sand. I’ll bet I can ride right over that, it’s only for a few feet and only a few inches deep. WRONG!

That little bit of sand stopped me cold in my tracks. Caught by complete surprise I didn’t even have time to get a leg down before I plopped over on my side. I lay there in the same mounted position in which I had been upright a split second ago. It didn’t hurt. The sand was soft and dry. As I marooned there I thought, I guess I won’t grab a selfie of this. I took my time getting up, pressing into my mind this folly of a mishap. Let’s remember this, John, walk your bike across loose sand, even just a little bit. Do you want to do this again? No. Have you learned your lesson? Yes. Okay, you can get up now. Rising I was grateful no one was around to see me. Back on the main drag of the Great Highway I rejoined the sensible people. 

Looking on the bright side, after riding close to 6,000 miles in all 50 states this was the first time I’d taken a spill. I couldn’t have picked a better place. It was a soft landing. Didn’t hurt me or the bike.

Day 3 San Francisco

My last ride would be perhaps my best. I went on Facebook, something I rarely do, and asked, “Does anybody know any good bike rides around San Francisco?” I got 27 responses. I sifted through them and chose one offered by San Franciscan Ruth Radetsky who recommended the Paradise Loop in Marin County. It was a lovely ride from Mill Valley to Tiburon wrapping around Richardson Bay with views across the water to San Francisco. It was mostly well-kept bike trails winding through the quaint streets of the little town of Strawberry, and even an old rail trail into Tiburon.

Paradise Loop in Marin County

Once in town I continued on the highway up into a gorgeous residential area with beautiful homes overlooking the water. I wondered, if common homes in San Francisco cost two or three million dollars, what would these sell for? Twenty million? Fifty? A hundred? A few people came out as I rode by. They looked perfectly normal. The twisty, winding road veered away from the water. There’s a hairpin turn. The road sign says, “Speed 10 m.p.h.” Oops, I’m going 12, better slow down. Except for an occasional cyclist, there was no other traffic on the Paradise Road that took me all the way to Corte Madera. There I was able to join back onto the trail that took me back to my car at the Mill Valley Recreation Center where Ruth suggested I begin.

Bike trail near Mill Valley, CA.
Bike trail near Mill Valley, CA.

Not wanting to quit just yet, I continued riding into Sausalito past the tidal wetlands where every sort of bird was hanging out. I found a trail that took me back across the Golden Gate Bridge.

Here’s what the Golden Gate Bridge looks like from a bike:

View of the Golden Gate Bridge from a bike.
Another perfect day in the picture perfect city of San Francisco.
2/21/21 – Encore in San Francisco

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