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Our route today!
(Our original route versus our revised route)
Yesterday, on our second-to-last-leg, Gail woke up with a migraine. She was able to get rid of it, and we had one of our most rewarding days in the entire trip.
Today, on our last leg, Gail woke up with another headache. Despite taking medication, this time she was not able to get rid of it. But she was still determined to bicycle today. She wasnít going to get 10 miles from home and wimp out at the end.
We took things very easy this morning. Instead of going out for breakfast to celebrate our last day, Gail had a granola bar and Russell had an apple.
Our original route called for us to bicycle down Foothill Expressway from Palo Alto to Cupertino. But after yesterdayís beautiful ride through the nature preserve, Gail was excited to try the San Francisco Bay Trail and the Stevens Creek Trail. It would be longer, but we were only scheduled for 10 miles today. We generated a new route from Google Maps. And instead of handwriting the directions, we used the free Business Center at the Westin to print out new hardcopies (color laser, no less).
Russellís sister Joanne offered to meet us for lunch in Mountain View, halfway through our ride. Our son Cameron was also excited to meet us. We set a meeting time of 12:30. Since the entire ride was only supposed to take an hour and 20 minutes (according to Google Maps), we left the hotel at 11:00. This should give us more than enough time to get to Mountain View, even if we stopped to take nature pictures.
We started off along the Embarcadero Bike Path again, rode through the Palo Alto suburbs, then joined the SF Bay Trail. We took our time, enjoying the scenery and sunshine, and taking care to keep Gailís headache under control. But despite going through the route step-by-step ahead of time in the hotel room, we were soon stymied once again by Google Maps. At Shoreline Park at the foot of the Bay, the SF Bay Trail becomes a maze of different paved and gravel paths. We looked at our clock. It was already 12:00 noon.
The Embarcadero Bike Path
The San Francisco Bay Trail
We got a view of the Dumbarton Bridge, which we had crossed yesterday
We found our way to the entrance of Shoreline Park and asked some other cyclists for directions to Stevens Creek Trail. They pointed far off into the distance and said we were on the wrong side of the lake. We clarified that our immediate goal was downtown Mountain View. They suggested that we go through the streets instead. It was 12:10.
Russell tries to navigate the maze of The SF Bay Trail
What followed was a half-hour of strenuous cycling, as we were suddenly late for our deadline. We took Shoreline Blvd over the 101 freeway, then over Central Expressway. We finally arrived at the New Mongolian BBQ five minutes late. Joanne was already there holding a table, greeting us with a welcome smile. Cameron showed up a few minutes later.
We had a wonderful, tasty lunch of all-you-can-eat Mongolian barbecue, topped off with soft-serve ice cream. (Unfortunately, Gail was not able to enjoy much food due to her headache.) We exchanged stories and updates. Finally, Joanne had to go pick up her kids and Cameron had to go back to work. At 2:00, we hit the road again.
Lunch with Cameron and Joanne
Downtown Mountain View. We are almost home!
We had one more rendezvous today. Our longtime friend Bob is an experienced cyclist. He recommended the Terry Fly saddle for Russell, and consulted with us a lot when we planned this trip. (ďDonít try to cycle 40 miles a day,Ē was the best piece of advice he ever gave us.)
Bob really wanted to meet us and escort us the final way home. The trouble was that he started this morning in Wichita, Kansas. He was flying home, and didnít think heíd be available until 2:30. Fortunately, we were now running so far behind our original schedule that timing was no longer a problem. We took a nice, leisurely pace down the Stevens Creek Trail, rode through the Sunnyvale suburbs, and met Bob about a mile from our home.
With Bob (heís the one with the actual bicycling clothes)
The last milestone was the Don Burnett bridge that connects Sunnyvale with Cupertino across Mary Avenue. This bridge is right next to our house. When Russell walked 160 miles five years ago, this was the site where Gail organized a surprise Welcome Home/Birthday party for him. When we started training on bicycles six weeks ago, this was the bridge that we could never consistently ride across Ė we had to walk the bike uphill.
Today, we were determined to finish on a high note. We got a rolling start, put Iron Horse into low gear (and waited for the gear to actually engage), then went for it. All the way up the bridge with no problem. If Gail didnít have a headache, she might have cried again. A few more minutes, and we were home. It was 3:30.
Our last milestone: crossing the Mary Ave bridge
We did have one last surprise. We werenít expecting any kind of greeting, as we returned four days ahead of schedule on a Friday in the middle of the day. So we were amazed to see our house and van (part of the vehicle shuttle) decorated with balloons. Joanne had come by and put up one balloon for every day of our ride.
So here we are, 181+ miles and 12 days later. Russell jokes that after he walked 160 miles (not including five months of training beforehand), he didnít walk again for six months. We donít think the same thing will happen with bicycling. Gail is already talking about taking the bike back up to Shoreline Park, to explore some more of the SF Bay Trail. Tomorrow is her birthday, so who knows?
Total distance: 181.50 miles
Distance traveled today: 16.28 miles
Time spent riding: 1 hour, 43 minutes
Average speed: 9.4 mph
Maximum speed: 21.6 mph
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