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May 27, 2014
Hayward: The Longest Day

Our route today!

She says…

The Longest Day Today’s ride was into and unknown area for us. We had driven over this pass on 580, but had never ever taken a back road – and, of course, no bikes. It was to be a ride of about 13 miles, and according to the Google elevation maps we had a fairly constant uphill most of the way. As usual, I was not so sure about this. But as usual, Russell assured me that we could walk the bike up any inclines we needed to.

I was wary, but we got all packed up and ready to go.

But oh, wait. First we had to drive over to Safeway to find more powdered Gatorade that I had been using throughout the trip. Today would be the last of it, and because the store was so close it made sense. However, they don’t carry it. No worries; I have enough and it’s not like we are going into the wilderness after all. Russell bought coconut water – his sister has highly recommended it.

Coconut water… with and without aloe juice. Thanks, Joanne!

We finally left the hotel at 10:15 and headed out.

So, off down the road we go. The hills are looming and I am even more unsure, because the pass looks mighty small (which to me means steep). Still, I’m doing my normal thing of taking pictures going down the street. But this isn’t the country side. This is the city, and people are just not paying attention to the bike they are almost running over. Hey now, don’t you know this is National Bike Month? Here we are! See us!

Today’s milestone: get over those mountains in the distance

Sometimes you just don’t get much of a bike lane

But oh, wait. “Look, another Safeway. Let’s go look for Gatorade.” “Really, I am okay, but…” Oh well, they don’t carry it either.

We have mentioned before that our bike has had a few issues. Today’s issue was with the chain. We weren’t even on the pass yet, and the chain got lodged between the gear and the gear guard. We stopped dead at a green light. Bam – we were not going anywhere. We got it up onto the sidewalk where Russell fussed around with something, did some bike magic and – ta da – we can ride again. But now I not only have “OMG traffic” anxiety, I also have “is the bike going to make it” anxiety, along with “what is this pass going to do to us” anxiety.

Wind. That is what the pass did to us. I thought the Altamont Pass would be windy, but this pass was just nuts. We did ride a short bit uphill, but when we hit seven mph going uphill into the wind, we knew we had to walk it. We know our limits – unlike the guy who went right on by us uphill in his lowest gear and still had enough breath to say “Hi.” (He was on a single bike – just sayin’.) We walked to the summit, watching him get smaller and smaller.

Dublin Canyon Road pretty much paralled Highway 580…

… but occasionally gave us some wonderfully scenic views

It was the wind. Oh my, the wind. We tried to listen to “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me,” but between the wind and the freeway traffic right next to us it was a hit and miss thing. We gave up. We stopped to rest. Well, Russell needed the rest. I was cool. Oh, did I mention he was doing all the pushing? My hero once again. I held out my bandana and the wind blew it out straight behind us. We were walking dead into a headwind that seemed to follow us no matter which way the road curved. And the wind made it very, very cold. I had on a jacket, but Russell toughed it out.

The force of the wind became even more obvious when we finally crested the summit at 11:45. After taking a few pictures of the valley we had just spent the last few days crossing, we started our downhill ride. Previously on hills, we have just sat back and let gravity do the work. How naïve could we be? Well, I tell you now that there is a force greater than gravity, and it’s the wind. Downhill we hit 8.1 mph; and whenever we would pedal to get up speed and then stop, the speed would drop like a rock.

There was nothing to mark the San Leandro Hills’ summit, other than a tiny “Entering San Leandro Creek watershed” sign

The view from the summit: a look back at the Central Valley we have finally finished crossing

Finally, we hit a point low enough that the wind died down. It was so quiet. It wasn’t freezing cold anymore. The traffic noise went away. I heard a branch fall and looked to my right. There was a stunning buck up the hill from the road, just looking at us as we went by. Russell has had lots of practice by now, so when I yelled “STOP!” he did immediately. I walked back a bit and got amazing pictures of the buck before he disappeared. The wind and cold were forgotten.

We arrived at the Hampton Inn in Hayward at about 1:15 pm – two hours before normal check-in time. The staff was wonderful and let us check in early. We were thrilled that we would have so much time to do our car shuttle thing. The first half of the shuttle went slightly sideways, when Russell really did forget where we were. He started to go down the road thinking he was at one hotel in one city, before he realized that he was somewhere else completely. All the while, I was following around behind him.

We got back to Hayward, off-loaded what we needed, and got ready to move to our next night’s stop. But first we had to confirm where our next night’s stop was. We tried to call the Motel 6 in Fremont, but the number had been disconnected. After a lot of discussion, we decided that the best thing to do would be to drive down and see if it was still there – or perhaps find another place. It was now about 4:00 pm and rush-hour traffic was building up. (We were in the notorious East Bay on the first workday after a holiday weekend.) When we saw that the access to the motel was through the back of the Lucky supermarket, we were concerned. The vibe I got from the whole place was just one of creepiness. We decided this was not a place we could stay. So off to Starbucks and Wi-Fi to research.

We found a great place called the Aloft right near the Dumbarton Bridge, dropped the car off, and headed back… in full-on rush hour traffic.

These shuttles are now more grueling than the actual bike ride. That 1:00 pm check-in time saved us tonight, as we had a dinner date with a couple we met on our cruise in April. We made it back to the hotel in just enough time to shower and spiff up a bit, before heading out for a yummy Japanese dinner.

Oh, and that Gatorade powder? We are still searching.

Our friends Millie and Larry treated us to a wonderful joint birthday dinner at Tomodachi Sushi Bistro!

He says…

What is our average day like? I’m glad you asked. After more than a week of this, we have settled into a fairly standard routine.

I am usually up by 6:30 every morning to check my work email and online accounts. After Gail starts waking up, I come over and give her a back, neck or leg rub. (As I’ve said, we’re doing everything we can to make sure she gets through this bike trip.) We usually make it out of the room for breakfast by 8:00, usually provided by the motel.

After packing up the tandem bike and checking out, we’re usually able to hit the road by 10:00 am. (This differs depending on how far we need to go.) Since we’ve started moving the car shuttle every day, we are able to keep most of our luggage in the vehicles and travel light.

Gail’s panniers, unloaded

Our average speed is about 10 miles per hour, so with breaks we can make our daily mileage by about 1:00-2:00. Lunch is usually on the side of the road somewhere – Gatorade and energy bars. We’ve had very good luck being able to check in before the normal 3:00 standard. Showers and hydration are the highest priorities. Showers feel really good when you’re bicycling in 100-degree heat.

Today’s lunch, on the side of the road

Somewhere in there, we do our laundry by hand. We each have two separate sets of clothes. We wear one set, wash it after riding, and change to the other set while the first set dries.

Now is where the fun begins. It takes us about an hour and a half to do the “car shuttle” and move our vehicles. For some reason, this ritual has garnered the most feedback (and confusion) from our readers. It’s starting to confuse the heck out of us too, as Gail recounted in her part of the blog. Seriously, I forgot what city we were in. I drove out of Dublin trying to navigate with a Hayward map, and couldn’t figure out why the street wasn’t where it was supposed to be.

After finally arriving back at the motel, we usually step out for dinner at 7:00. Dinner is our big meal of the day, so we normally try to find a nice, local non-chain restaurant to reward us for a hard day’s work.

If we’re lucky, we’re back in the room by 8:30-9:00. Even though we’re dead tired by now, the daily blog awaits. It takes Gail an hour to write her letter, another hour for me to write my letter, then another hour to format the page with photos and upload everything. That’s three hours every night (which is why we’ve been posting our updates at midnight).

The trouble is that everything is sequential. We have one shower and have to take turns. We have one PC and have to take turns. We both have to participate in the 1.5-hour shuttle ritual.

Lately, Gail has been nodding off while I am still uploading the web post. Sleep also feels really good when you’re bicycling in 100-degree heat. Tomorrow, we get to do the same thing all over again.

Russell’s tan lines after a week in the sun

Total distance: 137.45 miles
Distance traveled today: 14.64 miles
Time spent riding: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Average speed: 8.0 mph
Maximum speed: 27.4 mph

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