Surprised by the kindness of strangers, or acquaintances.
When planning this trip, I had used social media to contact a few old acquaintances to ask for advice as to renting a place in SF, bike shops, and bookstores. I say acquaintances, because they aren't people I see or talk to regularly but stay in touch with on social media. Shannon and I had both volunteered at Bluestockings Bookstore, a radical feminist space in Manhattan but hadn't seen each other in a decade. She had moved back to San Francisco after she finished school. An amazing and really chill person, Shannon suggested my partner and I stay on her couch rather than support the Airbnb industry. Airbnb may be convenient, but it is adding to the housing market crisis in cities and exacerbating homelessness in places like San Francisco. Shannon kindly put us up for four days in her place. We lucked out because she had a job the entire time we were there, which meant she housesat elsewhere and we stayed in her room with her sweet cat, Dolly. San Francisco had a more laid back vibe than NYC, and I loved getting around on my bike there. (Although carrying my bike up and down Shannon's apartment stairs made for unwanted cyclocross training.) I made it to my first California AA meeting in the Mission District. My zines are now bicoastal: Alley Cat Bookstore bought zines from me!
No, I did not think this bike ride would be easy peezy, but damn it was downright grueling in the beginning. I did not really train for the ride due to various reasons, but I would definitely recommend it. Just getting out of San Francisco proved a nightmare for us. Our touring bikes are Surly Disc Truckers, solid steel frames-heavy mothers. Add to that all of our gear packed neatly into panniers, weighing in at about 40 or 50lbs, and throw in good 'ol California topography... Dang. We faced many an uphill battle just to get out of the city and travel to our first stop for the night, the Montara Lighthouse Hostel. The road leading up to the Devil's Slide area just about killed us both. When my partner, Cristina, turned to me and informed me that she "wasn't having fun yet," I worried a bit because she is a way better cyclist than I am. One issue is that there is barely any shoulder on the road for cyclists, and the road switches back and forth like a snake whilst going up, up, up. This makes even walking your bike (and crap-ton of gear) difficult. The reward was a gorgeous view from Devil's Slide, with almost nobody else around. It was one of our shorter ride days, only about 21 miles or so, but our very first day on our bikes with all of our gear in action. We did it though, and enjoyed our stay at Montara.
The next morning we packed up and left for Pigeon Point Lighthouse, 29 miles, more hills and beautiful coastal scenery away.
Hi, I'm Reverend J, a queer+ sober wanderer, activist, writer and ordained minister.