37.4 mi / 9.9 mph / 1127 ft. climbing
Home: Jayaram and Aparna’s house
Rather than traversing the Golden Gate for the third time, we’d decided to continue our overall-southward journey by traversing the east side of San Francisco Bay. There are no camping options in this stretch, but since we were now in a geographic area where the number of not-currently-on-the-road bike tourists offering lodging at their homes (via WarmShowers) greatly exceeds the number of on-the-road bike tourists seeking such lodging, we looked into that option seriously for the first time (the opposite dynamic exists on the unpopulated coast, where I feel like the few potential hosts get overloaded and burned out). The guy we contacted in Vallejo never got back to us (hence the Super 8 stay), but we lucked into Jayaram and Aparna accepting our short-notice to stay with them on our second night through the Bay Area.
First we had to get across the big bridge over the Carquinez Strait, that waterway that drains California’s entire Central Valley into San Francisco Bay. It once again had an excellent bicycle facility to make the crossing stress-free. On the other side we continued to see the remarkable amount of roadside trash (many couches, refrigerators, toilets, etc.) that we’d seen in Vallejo, perhaps somehow connected to the large homeless population?
In El Sobrante, we pulled off into a parking lot to look at Rett’s right shifter which had once again somehow gone out of adjustment. This time I ended up looking at the shifter cable itself, and noticed that it was in the process of being shredded at the derailer pinch bolt. Yikes! Well, that at least explains why it was behaving badly! I had a spare cable and decided to just replace it right there rather than risking it breaking completely in a bad spot. Luckily knowing that we’d have a roof over our heads for the night meant that we weren’t stressed about time.
We mostly followed the on-road “I-80 Bike Route”, which doesn’t actually go on I-80, but maybe somehow parallels it? And then the Ohlone Greenway, a trail that parallels the commuter rail. Except for one intersection where we got confused (and a couple roadies circled back to help us out), the cycling infrastructure throughout the greater suburban Bay Area continues to be outstanding, and is almost a reason on its own to tour the area.
An uphill turn brought us into Berkeley, and an exploratory ride/walk through the University of California campus. Seeing the students there also gave us confirmation that the mobs of young people we’d had to battle through earlier on the sidewalk downtown were in fact Berkeley High School students out on their lunch break, rather than what I’d originally, depressingly assumed: that we’ve become so old that college students now look like children to us.
Back down the hill, we saw Oakland via its waterfront as we headed east, then crossed over to Alameda Island, to head back west, gawking at all the well-kept Victorian houses lining the residential streets.
Jayaram, Aparna, and their cheery toddler Dharma welcomed us warmly into their home just as they were finishing up their workdays, and then went above and beyond by cooking a beautiful handcrafted Indian dinner for all of us.
Many people think that we’re remarkable for living this life, but Jayaram and Aparna recently finished their first bike tour…for which they stayed out 10 months….with their 1 year old daughter, riding through California….and Mexico. Whoa. A big part of the reason we sent them a message on WarmShowers asking to stay with them is because they sounded like they could be an inspiration to us.
And they were! At a minimum they opened up the possibility in our minds of us spending some of our winter on the Baja peninsula in Mexico.
Rett conked off to sleep early at approximately Dharma’s bedtime, while Jayaram and I stayed up way past our bedtimes having a satisfying conversation that went well beyond bikes and bike touring. Our diversion into Silicon Valley tech-talk even prepped my brain for meeting up with my ex-colleagues in a couple days, since until then it had felt that all my knowledge of my career had vanished from my brain the day I retired, but it was nice(?) to know some vestiges remain buried in there.