Day 1 - Burlingame to Vallejo
73 miles - 73 total miles
3380' total climb
Weather: Sunny, clear, and warm.
This year we, once again, start our Cross Country Challenge in San Francisco. We were blessed with sun and comfortable weather to begin our trek. In the days leading up to today, we greeted our nineteen riders and got an idea of their reasons for spending anywhere from the next two weeks to two months of their lives riding across the United States. Some said it was a “bucket list” item, others had friends pressure them into it, while still others, like Dmitry, were just trying to see the parts of America they hadn’t had the chance to in a way that very few people get to see them.
As we started to filter from breakfast to the front entrance of the hotel, you could see that some had already done similar rides (we have quite a few alumni) while others, despite training and mentally preparing as much as possible for any eventuality, nobody truly knew what lie ahead. After loading their luggage, our group congregated on the stairs in the middle of the lobby to get a group picture. The whole lobby was awash with sun, and there wasn’t much wind outside to speak of either. The weather was ideal for a morning ride.
We made our slow climb up Millbrae (which should be called Hillbrae after a certain point, for obvious reasons) and up onto the Skyline parkway, where we started to see riders from the AIDS awareness ride taking place that same day coming up in the opposite direction. By the time we got to Ocean Beach for the ceremonial wheel dip into the Pacific, they had thinned out and given way to triathletes participating in the Escape From Alcatraz event. This caused some interesting rerouting for the support vehicles, but overall wasn’t a huge issue.
They then made the journey up and down Balboa, through the presidio, and up to, then across the Golden Gate Bridge. This year, two of our riders got lost on the bridge, but luckily, due to their ABB jerseys, we were able to easily locate them and get them to the SAG stop located on the scenic overlook at the end of the bridge. They relaxed a little, replenished water, got some snacks, then headed back down the road.
Sausalito this year was very pleasant, with the clear weather affording us ocean views that looked like a calendar or post card in three-hundred-and-sixty degrees. The descent into the town was followed by a stretch on highway 37, our first highway riding of the trip, and through wine country. There were a few narrow bridges to navigate on the way, but on the last, large bridge, if you stopped, you could take in a marvelous view of a bay replete with drawbridge and boats on the way down into Vallejo.
We made it through day one without any serious injuries or mechanical problems, although there were a few spills and a few scrapes, but nothing dire enough to end the day for anyone. I hope this is a trend we can keep up, and that our cyclists continue to keep safety in the forefront of their mind as they ride. Our hotel today is across from Magic Kingdom, which is an apt metaphor for the varied sights, sounds, AND smells our riders will experience on their way across. Tomorrow we make our way into Sacramento, California’s state capital, and hopefully we have similar luck as we did today.