06 June 2009
How to Make It Home Alive
As with the trip, the third day was our longest and just as it took 10 hours to do the actual biking, it took me a little while to work up the strength to transcribe it here. We heated up real coffee with the last of our stove fuel and made some barely passable oatmeal before packing everything up and leaving town for good. Our route to the east out of town started with a big big hill but then we found ourselves smooth sailing through a valley with the sun shining and the wind at our backs. Some construction, by luck actually, sent us along a concurrent small country road that couldn't have been more idyllic if we had made it ourselves, a hundred years ago in anticipation of riding down it now.
We started out in Sonoma County and it took until after midday to cross over to Napa, right around the time we stumbled upon a taco truck in the middle of a field where we pulled in for lunch. And with burritos longer than my forearm, including fingers, we sat at a picnic table in the side yard of an abandoned storage facility and chowed down. The hunger satisfaction ratio was right around critical, so that just recalling this meal makes my stomach sigh with gratitude. Dreams, it seems, really do come true.
Even so, we dared not devour our entire burritos right there, with 50 miles (optimistically) looming ahead. Rationally, a burrito longer than your forearm, lying in your belly does not an eager cyclist make. So we saddled up, thanked our hosts for the hospitality, and headed down the road.
We hardly made it a hundred feet before a man in a camper pulled over to give us some advice about even more construction on the highway ahead, and conveniently, a bike detour we should look out for. Grateful for the foresight, we hung a right and traversed the countryside full of rolling hills, vineyards and pastures, along roads we had mostly to ourselves. With the exception of a particularly territorial peacock. He left his post at the entrance to his farm only to chase us, aggressively, at the sight of our camera. We hopped back on the bikes and ran away. John was crying a little bit, but we were physically unharmed.
And things continued in a positive direction for much of the afternoon. Karmically, we were due for a mishap, as we'd had pretty solid luck throughout the trip. And sure enough, our route got confusing almost immediately after the lovely detour rejoined the main highway. Ahead, at the very intersection where our directions insisted we merge onto 29, stood a sign that said no bicycles allowed.
Thinking sorts, we tried to recall the maps we'd studied prior to departure but with little success. So we decided to just head south and hope for the best, placing our faith naively in the logic of rural roadways. We turned and began to follow a bicycle trail which we hoped might take us down river to again join up with our cue sheet later on. To no avail, I might add, as this bicycle trail instead looped around through a marsh past a commercial wine-making facility, only to dead end in the middle of a field with private property signs all around.
After making nice with the private property holders and asking directions, we turned entirely around and headed north (and due opposite from where we were ultimately headed) to catch the road that we hoped could carry us home. By this point, we'd added almost fifteen extra miles to the day, which was beginning to close in on 4 o'clock.
Once we were back on track, we realized that our next many miles would be along the shoulder of a very busy four lane highway with a speed limit which would honestly prevent both of our mothers from sleeping soundly through the night. But we took it slowly, paid attention and chugged along. That is until John got himself one flat tire, along a stretch with no easy exits. Which caused us to amble over a landscaped berm in a brand new Marriott parking lot in order to have a safe spot to stand while he swapped out the innertube. Which only took a minute because John is a juggler at fixing bikes.
Meaning he's pretty good at it.
And before you knew it, we were headed through Vallejo and over the Carquinez Bridge. Here we are happily on the other side.
We stopped to gobble up the remaining halves of the burritos (remember those?) and we were awfully glad to have exerted such self control earlier in the day. By 6 we were headed through the towns of the northeast bay: Rodeo, San Pablo, Richmond and lickety split, finally back on the Ohlone Greenway trail. Things got familiar again, like our shadows.
Just as the sun was setting, we pulled up to our house. At last! We were so excited that we danced around for a bit. Gingerly though, as we were still sporting cycling shoes.
I was so tired, I almost couldn't toast my oversized novelty celebration beer in honor of completing 203 innaugural bike tour miles.
I said almost.