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California - 24th July 2010

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The 3rd day - getting some riding and exploration under my belt.

Two choices for this day - to do the '49-mile drive' around SF or go further afield. Frankly I didn't really relish any townie riding, so opted to make sure I could find Kristin's place OK in a couple of day's time without getting hopelessly lost. As it turned out this was not a bad idea, as it gave me some good practice at riding on the main roads. What all the fuss is about on some forums about the 'excessive' speeds on the freeways and interstates - I just don't know. All was a lot calmer than in the UK and certainly more so than Italy! The major difference was people passing quite happily on either side, and folk weaving between lanes without signalling. Neither of which is any problem if you stay observant, and can be encountered anywhere in the world on occasion.

It was decidedly nippy in just a T-shirt and mesh jacket, so I had started off with a sweatshirt on as well, which was fine for the first twenty miles, but then it got much warmer, and I was glad to stop and take the sweatshirt off.

The MP3 500 performed like a champ. The J Costa mod works better in this one than it did in mine - mine would only do 6,200 rpm at WOT, whereas Jess's goes to just over 7,000 - which will explain why adding an extra washer like I did to get to 7,000 was unnecessary on his bike. Must just be a tiny difference in dimensions of the variator or belt - or just that my weights are quite worn - note to self, replace them soon back home.

I found Kristin's place just fine, Gertrude my stern, strict and trusty GPS worked just fine - as long as I didn't deviate from the pre-calculated route. More on that later...

So what to do next? I was getting hungry, and having remembered there was going to be a lunch stop in Walnut Creek on the upcoming Three Peaks ride, thought I might as well recce that. It would be at the Genova deli - with a take-away sandwich counter. There are six to eight people behind the counter, and you take a numbered ticket to wait your turn, which arrived very quickly for me. You take your own choice of roll/baquette to the counter, and they fill it with what you want - in huge quantities! I decided to eat this later at some more picturesque spot.

Now of course I was on the Three Peaks route. It would seem churlish not to recce the Mt Tamalpais stage. But a small problem reared it's head. The route I'd been given by Patrick must have been compiled on a different map-set (I should have thought of this), so all I had was straight lines between waypoints. This led to a couple of U-turns, but did keep me on my toes getting extra info about what direction I should be headed. Yep, the Mapsource software I had installed for the USA expected a GPS capable of NT routing internally - dear old Gertrude expects the map software to give the routing info.

The fuel light hadn't come on, but before going over the Richmond-San Rafael bridge I thought I'd better fuel up, as I had no idea what back roads the route might take. I remembered at last to get some water - I'd had so much tea in the morning that I'd not yet felt thirsty. I paid the $5 toll - I was assured it was necessary.

I've found a new favourite road (Bolinas Rd)! But I expect on the ride itself that might be bumped off the top spot by another. (It was, in spades, but you have to read on much further...)

I stopped for a bite on Mt Tamalpais:

Going down the other side it suddenly got much colder, so on with the sweatshirt again, which just about coped. The MP3 anbient temp showed 12C - which translates into 9C in reality - 48F.

More great roads - but the last ten miles before nearing Sausilito was clogged with slow-moving cars.

OK, I'll say this only once (I lie!) - but these lovely twisties have an awful disease - double yellow lines throughout their whole length. Whereas over this side of the pond these would be National Speed Limit roads with only occasional solid lines, these roads not only had solid lines, but in places the speed limit was set at 35 mph for miles on end! AARGHHH!

So no wonder other bikers (and myself this day) started to treat these idiocies with contempt - which really is all wrong for road signs, which should be sensible enough to be respected. So some great overtakes later I was in the clear again, and neared the Golden Gate bridge:

Paid the $6 toll - and so back to Pauline's - getting lost several times on the way, but I knew I was going in roughly the right direction. No chance of navigating by the sun, SF was under fog for the duration.

With 2 miles done yesterday, it was just 132 miles today. I'm using trip B for the accumulated total:

And today's tracks:

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© Jim Crowther and Kristin Gallagher 2010