• Cory Howell

Day 21: Onto The City Streets

Bodega Bay → Sausalito

65.0 miles

↑ 1808 feet ↓ 1883 feet



Six stood at the crosswalk. A woman with a leather purse and thick glasses tapped her foot impatiently. A man in a business suit hurried by, almost colliding with a pair of skateboarders threading through the crowded sidewalk.


The light turned green, the walk sign flashed.


The foot-tapping woman jogged through the crosswalk while the rest of the group stepped down and wove their way through gridlocked cars.


The changing light meant nothing for traffic--the intersection was slammed. A few honked in frustration, idling motors and car stereos built a gray backdrop. The smell of exhaust hung in the air.


The light changed again, a black GM gambled and accelerated through the red light. A pair of motorcycle police saw it, blared their sirens, chased the GM down the block.

Across the street, busses, pedestrians, and cars seethed around the San Raphael Transit Center.


Lilly and I stood and watched. How was there this much noise, this much motion? Why were so few social distancing? Where, in all this, was the bike path?

We noticed the change when we stopped for lunch in Petaluma.


People were dressed up, they actually seemed to care--and care deeply--about their appearance.


A twenty-something with a plaid button-down checked his combover in a coffee shop window. A mom pulled out her smartphone and brushed her hair behind her ear. Three women in yoga pants and tank tops walked by with coffee cups.


Everyone looked nice.


We walked our bikes along the river, trying to decide where to stop for lunch. After so many rides of eating whatever we could get, the options felt paralyzing.


We settled on a sandwich and salad at an Italian joint. The Asian fusion place across the street looked popular. It made us question our decision.



We were fine until we got into San Raphael.


We did the first 48 miles of our ride in only four hours. We’ve gotten faster I thought, we’ve gotten stronger.


But when we had to get off the back roads and onto the city streets, when the smoke and the noise and the cityscape hit us, we lost our path.


Is this the 5 bike route? Or the 13? Or the 22?


All three were posted so close to one another, each pointing us in different directions, none declaring their destination. We googled the bike routes, we couldn’t find a map online, nothing in person.


We took the 22, hoping for the best. Twenty minutes later, we had to turn around--our first wrong turn the entire trip.


And then, the fatigue began to set in.

It was the only ride we finished after dark--the last 17 miles took five hours. I wondered if we’d make it.


We were so relieved when we found the bike path to Sausalito. Families were out playing soccer. Joggers and bikers shared the path. A girl chased a stray ball into the marsh.


“I wonder what it would be like to grow up here?” Lilly said.


Street lights flickered to life as we came into town. We still needed to buy water, we still needed to eat. We still needed to ride tomorrow.


We stashed our bikes and headed out for supplies. The City shined at us from across the Bay.