Friday, September 3, 2010

Sunset Ride

The days are getting shorter, so a few days ago, the Mission Cycling crew set out for the final Thursday evening "sunset ride" of the "summer." I use quotation marks there because we haven't actually had a summer here in San Francisco yet, and because I don't think the sunset has actually been seen on a single ride this year.

I left work around 5 PM to a warm breeze and lots of sunlight. "This is promising," I thought to myself, "Maybe the sun will keep the fog away!" I dropped my laptop off at my apartment and continued on up to and over the bridge. It was there that I noticed the wind - a surefire sign of the cold evening ahead. Crossing the bridge was chilly, but Sausalito was warm and summery. I trekked north out of town and over Camino Alto. After a short while, I turned around and climbed back up Chapman and retraced my steps back up toward the bridge to hook onto the club ride.

By the time I got up to West Lot, it was freezing and the fog was rolling in thick. Fortunately, I didn't have to wait long - the gang rolled through (at least 15 riders!) and we descended back down into the warmth of Sausalito before a quick regroup.

The climb from Sausalito back up to the bridge was uneventful save for the insane fog bank completely obscuring the city of San Francisco. It looked like a white version of the Smoke Monster from Lost had completely swallowed the entire landmass. From the bridge, we continued on up into the Headlands to the Saddle. That's where the fun started. As soon as we turned the corner past the first lookout, we plunged into insane fog. Thank God for bike-mount lights. I couldn't see twenty feet in front of me. It was like riding in a sea of gray.

We regrouped again on the Saddle. Everyone was complaining good-naturedly and trying to stay warm. All the while, the sun was disappearing behind the (unseen) horizon. When we set out for home, it was dark. And not just dark - dark, wet, foggy, and cold. The descent down to West Lot was scary, but it was the bridge that was completely surreal.

Pitch black save for those yellow, art-deco "streetlights." Damp to the point of dripping. Silent save for the wind (the fog seemed to dampen all sound) and completely deserted. It was just us - a long line of flashing headlights and taillights, but I couldn't see more than three riders in front of me. It felt like a scene from Bioshock.

I never thought the bridge could be that creepy, nor feel that dangerous without scores of tourists throwing themselves under your front wheel. But... wow. That was a cool experience, but I don't think I'll ever do that again.

Photos courtesy of Zach Bass.