Pacific Coast Tour: Day 16

Day 16: Oakland, CA to Pigeon Point Lighthouse, San Mateo County, CA


Approximate daily mileage ~ 57 miles

Approximate total mileage ~ 1,240 miles

Approximate daily elevation gain ~ 3,200 feet

Approximate total elevation gain ~ 53,200 feet

Another splendid sleep on my cousin's comfortable couch left me feeling completely refreshed and ready to resume the journey down the coast. I needed to get back on the road. For if I were to stay just one more night, I would have wanted to stay even longer. Oakland and San Francisco are a couple of my very favorite cities, and it was even better spending time with fun family.

The day started out on the right foot too. Chris went out and picked up a regular feast for breakfast consisting of bacon, eggs, bagels, salmon, and toast. It was perfect fuel for the ride! After packing and say goodbye to Ida and Chris, it was off to the races to try and catch the ferry from Jack London Square over to San Francisco. This ferry would be really nice to catch since it would be a couple more hours before the next one departed.

Sure enough, I barely caught the ferry and was the last one to board just prior to pushing off from the dock. The ferry is a great option for traveling to downtown SF from Oakland. It only costs about $6.50, and there is a designated place for stowing bicycles during the ride. This area was completely full of bikes after the one stop at Alameda Island. After Alameda Island, riders are treated with a spectacular view of the Bay Bridge. On this day the morning fog added to the effect looking back toward Oakland and the Bay Bridge.

The destination for the ferry is the Ferry Building Marketplace. It was time to commence the ride through San Francisco and eventually southward. One thing San Francisco is known for are its hills. There were definitely plenty of hills riding though the city, although they never seemed too daunting after some of the climbs the first half of the tour contained. The other thing that stood out riding through the varied neighborhoods of SF were the superb bike lanes which made navigating this city one of the best. After traversing numerous neighborhoods throughout the city the route continues toward Daly City then eventually south on Skyline Drive. At this point the fog was still very dense and a large uphill climb followed. This was the feeling that was so familiar – cool temps, fog, a steep uphill climb, a quiet road, a long way to go, and only the sounds of the chain on the gears and my heavy respiration.

Continuing onward for a few miles I came upon a coffee shop which appeared like a good local establishment. Named Kizler Coffee, it was indeed a great coffee stop with fresh bagels and fascinating artwork on display. From there the route returns toward the coast past Mori Point and toward Pacifica. Having previously stayed just across from Pacficia Beach, I had anticipated this stretch and the scenic views. Just before Pacific Beach is Rockaway Beach. Then cyclists are treated with a long smooth descent along Highway 1 all the way down to Pacifica State Beach. This is a large and beautiful stretch of beach known for local surfing. This was a spot I was very intent upon stopping and soaking up the scenery while taking a short break.

The break is much needed, because just after departing Pacifica Beach is a good sized climb along a fairly busy stretch of Highway 1. Additionally, near the top of this particular climb is a long tunnel. Caution and diligence is definitely advised traveling through a tunnel like that on a bicycle. The reward after the tunnel is another great descent with an equally pleasing view. A few more ups and downs continued as expected along the highway before I reached my lunch stop at a restaurant called Sam's Chowder House. Sam's is directly overlooking the Pacific and is well known for their lobster rolls and seafood. Of course, I had to have the lobster roll, and it did not disappoint.

From that point I only had about 25 miles to go before my planned stop for the night at the Pigeon Point Lighthouse. There aren't many large towns from Half Moon Bay to the lighthouse so I was sure to stop at a Safeway supermarket in Half Moon Bay to stock up on food for the night and snack bars for breakfast. The challenge of fitting all the aforementioned food into my pack returned, but as always, it seemed to fit.

After Half Moon Bay there seemed to be a gentle tail wind which usually made for smooth sailing. However, at some point the tarmac changed from a very smooth surface to nearly rough. So between the tailwind and the rough road all things seemed about equal. It was during this stretch along Highway 1 that I came upon and passed a man skateboarding in the same direction! Later, at Pigeon Point Hostel, I found out that this man was staying at the same place for the night. His name was Tom, and he was skateboarding all the way from San Francisco to San Diego! He had taken a fall earlier in the day and the rough road bothered him much more than I with the small wheels of the skateboard. He was still in good spirits with a positive perspective. He was yet another source of inspiration along the journey. 

The Pigeon Point Lighthouse was another excellent place to stop for the night. The lighthouse is spectacular in itself, and the view of the ocean is equally dramatic with frequent whale sightings. Moreover, the hostel itself is very comfortable and clean with a spot for bikes to be locked up. The final highlight of the day was the absolutely breathtaking sunset which took place. It was perfectly visible from the lounge chairs on the back patio of the hostel overlooking the Pacific. This was the second of three of the most magical sunsets I witnessed during the tour. The first was the final night in Oregon, and the third was yet to come. All in all, it felt great to be back on the road.