Blaine's Bike Around SF Bay in a Day

Charity:

On December 26th 2004, many beach front communities in South East Asia were destroyed by a devastating tsunami originating from an underwater earthquake off of Indonesia. Former UC Berkeley student Achala Navaratne recognized that there was much immediate relief aid for the tsunami in his home country, Sri Lanka , but that the long term rebuilding of lost homes, possessions and communities would be a difficult struggle. With some friends he identified a community in the Southern Province, in Hambantota, that was devastated by the tsunami, and is now working to relocate 250 families to a new area. It is a huge undertaking to acquire the land, and rebuild the village, but with the help of Achala's friends in Berkeley , he knows he can do it.

In order to assist Achala's cause, Beth Foster has spearheaded an fundraising effort in Berkeley among friends and members of the community. To this end, I also wanted to help raise money, so I decided to do this ride in the hopes of getting pledges for the feat. The idea was to circumnavigate the San Francisco Bay in a single day.

Statistics:

Pledges:
$ 215
Total Distance:
187 miles
Total Time:
13 hours 57 minutes
Rolling Time:
12 hours 18 minutes
Avg. Rolling Speed:
15.1 mph
Max Speed:
41 mph
Counties
9
Cities
41

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contributors:

The following people contributed to the charity above based on this ride (in no particular order): Rusty Sears, Adrian Mettler, Matt Piotrowski, Steve Martin, Anil Sewani, and my Parents (Lonnie and Tricia). Also Beth Foster, in organizing these fundraising efforts, made an unmeasurable contribution. Of course, the most credit goes to Achala Navaratne for his work in Sri Lanka and we hope these contributions will assist him in his efforts.

Pictures:

The following pictures were taken to document the trip. Unfortunately, as I became increasingly fatigued, the salience of taking pictures dwindled.

Carquinez Bridge

Marin Headlands

Sausilito, CA

Golden Gate Bridge

Sausilito, CA

Legion of Honor

Great Highway

El Camino Real

Stanford Shopping Center

Route:

Having thought long about this ride, on April 16th 2005, I decided to do the ride around the San Francisco Bay. Originally, the ride was intended to head in the opposite direction over a two day period with a night spent in scenic Sausalito. However, as my roommate Beth Foster had been raising money to help rebuild a town in Sri Lanka decimated by the Tsunami, I decided to do the ride in a single day collecting pledges for the venture. To that end, I gathered 4 powerbars, 2 peanut butter sandwiches, and lots of water. I also brought a spare tire strapped to the frame as well as 3 inner tubes just in case. Fortunately, I had the good luck of not having do any repairs (or I might have been in real trouble time-wise).

I started from the Berkeley Campanile at 6:45 am, made my way over to Cedar St. and down to San Pablo Ave. I took San Pablo all the way to the Carquinez Bridge crossing into Vallejo. As usual, San Pablo, started full of potholes and traffic lights and evolved into rolling hills leading to the first climb at the factory in Rodeo. From there I jumped onto Sonoma Blvd. which became Curtola and lead me to Mare Island Way. I then had to briefly get the Freeway (not fun) for 1/2 mile in order to get onto Sears Point Rd. (CA 37). This 15 mile stretch took me over 3 bridges each of which had a progressively narrower shoulder, which is a lot of fun when the cars are racing by at 55-65 mph. However the area is quite beautiful and serene with no civilization whatsoever and a diverse population of waterfowl and other birds such as the Red-winged Blackbird. I also saw a hare who raced me for a bit, but I overtook him in the end.

In Novato, I had to take a hidden bike path following the rail to Bel Marin Keys Rd. leading to Alameda Del Prado. Again, another bike path hidden in the underbrush lead me along the 101 into San Rafael. I was able to take a pretty thorough tour of the city going down Las Gallinas, Los Ranchitos, and Lincoln, then cruising through downtown on 4th St. and D St. This became the second major climb over Wolfe Grade with a gorgeous descent on the other side. I then turned from Sir Francis Drake to Bon Air Rd., to Magnolia/Corte Madera/Camino Alto where I finally ran into a mass of other bikers doing some sort of bike swap. This lead to the main bike trail off of Blithedale Ave that goes clear into Sausilito; a gorgeous flat ride over the tidal marshes with plenty of Sandpipers along the way.

Along the climb up to the Golden Gate Bridge, I decided to detour through the tunnel across into the Marin Headlands to refill on water at the visitor's center. The tunnel is a bit intimidating as it's a one-lane road and the traffic was oncoming, but it has bike lanes. Still a bit scary to see a Ford F-150 barreling down on you and you have no idea if they can see you. On my way to the visitor's center, I saw a cat, but I realized it was way too big for a cat. In fact, it was a wildcat, probably a bobcat of some kind about twice the size of the domestic variety. I tried to take a picture but I think all I took was the brush and, of course, I nearly crashed in the process. Nevertheless, I refilled my water, and, seeing as it was only 11 am, I decided to make an extra climb up the backside of Hawk Hill to overlook the bridge. The climb was horrendous and left me pretty week, but I enjoyed the view from the bunker's as I ate my first peanut butter sandwich.

After the rapid descent down the hill and quick jump across the Golden Gate, I turned onto Lincoln/El Camino Del Mar making my way through El Presidio. The climb up to the Legion of Honor was more brutal than usual as the first signs of exhaustion were setting in, and my bike was beginning to act up in shifting. Nonetheless, I made my way on Geary Blvd. down Point Lobos Ave. and onto the Great Hwy.; one of the most enjoyable parts of the ride. This flat expanse along the beach had a refreshing accompanying wind and the smell of the sea was to die for. However, this was short lived as I turned onto Skyline than ran along Lake Merced via John Muir Dr. and Lake Merced Blvd. A brief stay on the traffic laden John Daly Blvd. was also encouraging as I was passing cars stalled in traffic with ease. This concluded with a brief climb to Mission St., the starting point of my previous run into South Bay.

Mission becomes El Camino Real and El Camino Real was all saw for something like 2 hours. This incredibly endless piece of pavement was dotted with traffic lights, although they weren't much of a problem until the Sunnyvale area. However, in proceeding from San Francisco into South Bay, the heat began to rise and quickly took its toll leaving me dizzy and fatigued. Finally, at 8 hours of riding (105 miles), I decided I would stop at the next Taco Bell I saw. The food was cheap and I they refilled my bottles with ice water, but the most important part was the fact that I was able to rest for 10-15 minutes in the shade of a tree. This rejuvenated me allowing me to push all the way past the Stanford campus, into San Jose.

Turning onto Layfette St., the wind hit me head on. Unfettered by land, this wind picked up steam across the Bay and pounded into my fatigued form seriously reducing my speed from around 17-18 mph to nearly 13-15; quite discouraging with still nearly 50 miles left to go. However, once I was able to get on Tasman Dr., things were looking up, the street was well paved, and well-marked for bikers and lead me easily to Millpitas Blvd. This street was in near pristine condition so much so that I was able to drop my head down in order to avoid the wind that I was once again headed straight into. Millpitas evolved into Warm Springs where I stopped to get some Powerade and rest briefly. Soon I was on Mission; again. Overall, I was very impressed by this areas roads and their consideration of bikers; it made this part of the ride considerably more bearable.

Mission was deceiving long and completely fatiguing. First I climbed a long hill that I immediately descended from (so I probably could have gone around it all together) and then it was just one series of short hills after another; normally not to hard, but given by condition at this point, it wore my will out quickly. Then, when I thought it had to be over soon, I saw a familiar sight; the construction I had seen when I did a test ride from Fremont BART. I realized, not only was this not over, I was still in Fremont and only about 1/2 done. This road broke my confidence. By the end, I was cussing everything - the BART, Mission Blvd., the city of Hayward, the baseball field.... everything in sight. Finally I saw the split in the road signifying my turn onto E st. across to 2nd St. and then up A St. onto Redwood. This series of streets were all up hill and lead to a sequence of hills that dropped my average speed from 15.8 mph to my final 15.1 mph.

Leaving Hayward, I began with the steep, but short climb up Redwood. Having done this ride before, I was anticipating a series of climbs, but I was nearly done for. What followed was indescribably horrific; 2-3 miles of a progressive climb. Every time I'd see a hilltop, I'd turn the corner and there'd be another hill just waiting for me. I climbed and I climbed and I climbed barely able to keep going with my gears clicking away in their lowest position; I realized not only was I not going to be able to enjoy a scenic sunset on Grizzly Peak, I was not going to make out of Redwood in the light. At the top of the gradual hill I tried calling my friend to tell her my anticipated time of arrival, but I had cell phone signal; not a good idea to be in a dead-zone with nobody for miles and near the point of total exhaustion. Descending, my lower body was in horrific pain and every little ascent was poison. Worse yet, I knew I had to do another set of climbs.

Bottoming out near Pinehurst, I had to do another 2 miles of progressive climbing on Redwood. Fortunately, it's low grade and the signs posted every tenth of a mile helped motivate me to keep pushing. Coming out in Oakland, I finally got in touch with my friend, but couldn't rest long as the sun was setting and I had no light. I climbed San Jocquin and then began the ascent up Skyline in the fading light. As I made my way along the ridge, I kept a slow pace - just enough to keep going. The path felt twice as long as normal although the ascent to Tunnel felt shorter for some reason. Finally on tunnel, I had to pick my way around the turns with little natural light remaining. However, by this point, I knew it was all down hill. I came out onto Claremont a broken biker with a swollen ass, finally heading over to campus to end at my starting point, the Campanile, at 8:42 pm.

Overall, my back still hurts, my legs are sore, but feeling has returned to all extremities, which is quite a relief. From a biking perspective, it was really stupid to conclude with the Redwood hills especially since there is no cellar reception in the area. Probably the best idea is to start in Novato, come across the dangerous CA-37, then head into Berkeley Hills from that point. This gets all the hard and dangerous stuff over with in broad daylight while you're still fresh. Still it was a fun ride, and well worth it for the money that was pledged for Tsunami victims.

Counties

Cities:

  1. Berkeley
  2. Albany
  3. El Cerrito
  4. Richmond
  5. San Pablo
  6. Pinole
  7. Hercules
  8. Rodeo
  9. Vallejo
  10. Novato
  11. Ignacio
  12. Marinwood
  13. Los Ranchitos
  14. San Rafael
  15. Larkspur
  16. Corte Madera
  17. Mill Valley
  18. Sausalito
  19. San Francisco
  20. Daly City
  21. Colma
  22. South San Francisco
  23. San Bruno
  24. Millbrae
  25. Burlingame
  26. San Mateo
  27. Belmont
  28. San Carlos
  29. Redwood City
  30. Atherton
  31. Menlo Park
  32. Palo Alto
  33. Los Altos
  34. Mountain View
  35. Sunnyvale
  36. Santa Clara
  37. San Jose
  38. Milpitas
  39. Fremont
  40. Union City
  41. Hayward
  42. Oakland