Going to California

Penarth pier

There’s a beauty in winter and in its decay. In the vivid shape of yellow leaves, that surf tides of rainwater. In the trees stripped bare, naked against the freezing onslaught. In the frosted glaze of colourless pavements. But when the sun pierced the mist today, I heard the faint chords of ‘Going to California’ and visions of the Big Sur.

I’ve been to California.  Just the once. 21 years old and greener than my cycling jersey. We trod the tourist trail in San Francisco. Fisherman’s Wharf. Golden Gate Park. Union Square.  Rode Cable cars over the lumps and bumps. A Silent and refined  way to travel. It was nice. It was fine. Monterey was pretty good too. Nice Chowder. I didn’t meet Clint Eastwood in Carmel, but I did ride a skim board. On an empty beach. surf gently lapping against million dollar real estate. But the trip only really came to life when we headed out of the city toward Marin County. Where laid back cruisers forged a new cycling discipline and the sun bathed hills swamped in pine. For me, this is where my love of cycling started. You could just feel it. The hills drew you toward them. Called out. Reached. It was an unrequited love. I didn’t have access to a mountain bike and I’d barely mountain biked. But this feeling was never to leave and I can thank the Californian hills for blessing me with it. It got my backside on a bike back in Blighty and reminiscing keeps me coming back.

Going to California. Every time I ride.

Top image: Penarth pier.

4 replies »

  1. Last year for my 30th birthday, I went to San Francisco for two & a half weeks. We hired bicycles and it was amazing. We ventured far beyond the tourist traps (not my cup of tea) & had the most amazing cycling experiences!
    We got the bart to San Bruno one day – in baking hot sunshine we sweated our way up onto the hills over looking the San Andreas Fault at Sweeney Ridge, at lunchtime we headed towards Pacifica – the thick fog a blanket below obscuring any view of the sea. Within five minutes we had gone from almost 30degree temps to about 5 degrees. It was incredible and surreal. Amazing. Another day we went to the East Bay & cycled to Chabot space centre & observatory – wow. Climbing, climbing forever and after the centre closed at 10pm, all cars turned left to the freeway, but we turned right… there was just the moonlight & our bike lights lighting the road through the tall pines all the way back down to sealevel.
    Yes Marin is amazing, but there’s soooo much more.
    I hope you do make it back there sometime. It will no doubt be a world away from how it was when you visited before, but it really is worth the trip to pedal those incredible hills.

    • Now that sounds like an amazing trip. I have every suspicion that I’ll be back in Marin county (or at least the vicinity) in the next couple of years – armed with a bike, a map and a lungful of fresh air.

      • well if you do get over & would like me to map out afew amazing rides we did – give me a shout. Tho I’m sure you can find plenty of ammunition with the map.
        I saw a cycle trip south of the Bay Area recently that looked amazing and it now on my bike-it list for future 🙂

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