April 3, 2009

San Francisco Dash: Prelude

Vancouver to San Francisco and back, 4 days/3,500km
March, 2009
Check out the series
Prelude: Trip preparation
Part 1: Vancouver to Medford
Part 2: Medford to San Francisco via Shasta-Trinity Forest
Part 3: San Francisco to Medford via Klamath Falls
Part 4: Medford to Vancouver
Coda: Conclusions to a great spring trip

Pt. 1: Trip Preparation

This adventure started like most others - weeks ahead with ideas about where to go and planning what to bring. A peculiar part of taking a bike somewhere is you have to be a little bit more prepared than usual. Not that other forms of travel are much less demanding, but it seems to be a fault of the bike traveller to be prepared for anything. Left boot insole spontaneously combust? It could happen; take an extinguisher.

Through a miracle of common sense and self control i had the packing down to what would fit in my two saddle bags plus tank bag for the camera, including all the tools for disaster scenarios. Most of the pre-trip neurosis was devouted to cold weather clothing as i searched for warm socks, balaclavas, and anything that promised heat. You see, i was planning to ride 3,000km across mountain and rainforest of the Pacific coast in March.

View Larger Map
the final route ended up 3,500km and detoured through north west and eastern California

A.S.'s work had her booked to make a delightful trip to San Francisco for the yearly Game Developers' Conference - a big deal in the games industry. I saw this as an opportunity to hang out with her and friends R.H. + T. T. in the big city while sneaking in a ride for myself. The timing wasn't great weather-wise, being march and all, but perfection always seems to be overrated in hindsight. I'd go for it and make the ride, deluding myself that "i'll turn around if it gets really bad with snow and frost."

Packing was easier than past trips with a mental list already complete. I'd gone through tests with the tire repair kit and other tools to ensure i know how to use them (in theory). Most of my time was dedicated to the anticipated cold riding and the gear to support it. Do I have the right gloves? Is this sweater warm enough? Will my boots stay dry? I've upgraded a lot of gear since the Yukon '08 trip so i wasn't too worried but one question remained: Is it colder in Washington/Oregon in March or the Yukon in June? Two days before my trip i bought the one thing that ended up making the whole trip a success and certainly saving me from hypothermia - an electrically heated jacket! (By the way, the answer is "Washington/Oregon." Brrrr.)

Next up... the trip begins!

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