Not to be confused with the Amgen Tour of California—which just today rode from San Francisco to Santa Cruz—the A (me) and A (boyfriend) Tour of California took place this past weekend, and took us from San Francisco to Santa Cruz... and back!1

So early Saturday morning, A and I packed a few clothes and tools, an extra tire, and two extra tubes into our panniers, grabbed our fancy phones and wallets, donned our spandex, merino, and other fancy technical fabrics, and set out on our first tour on our two-weeks-old (to us! it's an '89 Santana) tandem bike. As we don't have a drag brake yet, we packed light and did a credit card tour, meaning we ate out and slept at a B&B instead of packing camping equipment and food.

Braving unseasonably chilly air, lack of sleep, and a mild hangover from a fancy dinner and show the night before, our intrepid travelers had eggs and coffee and hopped on the BART, as there's no other way to get a bike across the bay. From there, they used their fancy phone to rethink their route, as the BART map showed that the Colma stop clearly let off way closer to the coast than the South San Francisco stop they'd planned to go to.

So, at Daly City, we exited the train, only to realize as the doors closed that we'd left one stop too early. Oh well, this was close enough. We started out on John Daly Boulevard2 and rode up to Skyline Drive, then to Skyline Blvd (the smaller residential road paralleling Skyline Drive until it veers off down a hill toward the ocean). We made the usual snarky comments about the houses all looking the same. The scene was made even more surreal by the crazy fog. Hello, San Francisco suburbs.

After some more riding through random residentia, we arrived back on Rte 1.3 On our way back down the first big hill, the rear of the bike started feeling a bit wobbly. We pulled into a turnout and discovered that the rear tire had pretty much disintegrated, probably due to not having been changed since 1989. There are some great pictures of this, all on A's computer. So I took some pictures while A changed the tire, and we were off again toward the (hopefully) sunny beaches of Santa Cruz.

It was a bit of a slog. We still felt less than awesome from the previous night's wine, and the fog had yet to lift. At least getting back down to about sea level, the fog became clouds and no longer interfered with our view of the road 30 feet ahead of us, but it just wasn't quite the California Coastal ride we'd imagined. We stopped and had Clif bars. We stopped and had some more Clif bars. We realized we wouldn't make it to Santa Cruz in time for lunch. We had some more Clif bars, figured we'd have to make it to Davenport before we found any lunch places anyway, and continued.

And then, the sun came out! All was not lost. We redoubled our efforts, thus doubling our speed, and figured we'd be in Santa Cruz in no time. But we also figured we had time to stop at the barn advertising pies and coffee. How could we not? And once we were full of not only Clif bar but strawberry and rhubarb pastries and fresh coffee, and our way was full of sunlight and blue sky, we decided that we could make it to Santa Cruz before the next meal.

We pulled into Santa Cruz around 2. After a nostalgic tour of A's college memories, we stopped at a bar/coffee shop for a beer. As students studied all around us, we chatted with a dude passing by who at 65 had taken up the piano, and now, at 85, was wandering around listening to recordings of his music. I'd never have guessed before he told us. And who knows, maybe it was all made up.

After the well-earned beer, we headed over to the boardwalk to do something A had never done as a college student: ride the roller coaster! America's 6th-oldest coaster, at 85 years, it was as smooth as rides one-tenth its age (and smoother than that one at Six Flags New England, that if it's called the Mind Eraser like I think I remember it, must be so named for its jiggling-your-brain-cells-to-mush capabilities). Not all that big, even compared to Phoenix or Cyclone, but a good ride nonetheless.

Finally, we went to A's favorite old taqueria and had the requisite Super Burritos. They were huge, and pretty damn hella.

Full to overflowing with burrito, we continued away from town and up toward campus. We could hear the drum circles in the distance as we toured the school that more closely resembles a woodsy summer camp than the brick-and-stone-and-one-main-quad New England schools I'm used to.

The sun had started making its way down toward setting as we began our final climb, which it turns out is a descent this ear in the OToC, but is nonetheless an intense hill. And as with any hill, when we reached the top (or at least our turnoff), we got to go back down.

From the back of the bike, the road was blocked by the pilot. It was like that scene in Star Wars with the hoverbikes in the woods. At least, until A pulled over. We could smell the brakes, and discovered the rims were hot to the touch.

A: We should probably stop a minute and let the rims cool do—
tire: psssssssssss

The tube was old anyway. Just as well we switch it out for a new one.

A: [changes tube and begins reinflating]
me: Do you hear that?
tire: pssssssssssss
us: shit.

Ok, we'll check for glass and put some electrical tape over the rim strip on the wheel. Maybe we melted the rim strip a bit.

A: [changes tube and begins reinflating]
me: [patches other tube]
tire: psssssssssss
us: shit.

Four patches and many curses later, we were out of light, tubes, and patience. We flagged down a passing van, owned by the wife of the co-inventor of some Specialized part, and big enough to fit the bike in (phew!) and got a ride to the B&B.

The two restaurants in town weren't all that exciting, so we went to the grocery store and stepped up to the deli counter.

us: Two 'treehugger' sandwiches please4 =D
counter lady: We're out of hummus, so I can't make you that.
us: Oh that's fine, just put on some mozzarella.
cl: Out of that too. You'll have to choose a meat sandwich.
us: Well what about some other cheese?
cl: You see, the hummus is supposed to take the place of the meat. Without that, the sandwich is no good.
us: What if we told you we ate pork for lunch?
cl: [satisfied that she wasn't about to help some vegetarians] Two pepper jack treehuggers, comin' right up!

And so our heroes settled down to a dinner of sandwiches and free B&B beer as they further investigated the tenaciously flatting wheel, eventually determining they needed to take it back to Santa Cruz to a bike shop in the morning. But that's a story for another day.

1. Ok, the other Tour of California is an 8-stage race, each day involving about 100 miles and 10,000 feet of climbing, and they do it way faster. But we had panniers and had to fix our own flats. But I'll get to that later.

2. Street? Avenue? You all live on the other side of the country and don't really care. It's a way to get to Skyline Drive.

3. As did the OToC, just this morning! (Other Tour of California)

4. The lunch burritos were so huge that despite the 2,000 feet of climbing we'd done since eating them, we still didn't want anything heavy for dinner.

1 comment:

  1. More stories! More stories!
    Also, that campus does look like some weird summer camp.