Saturday, April 27, 2013

Ride Report: Planet of the Apes

Planet of the Apes

I've been pretty bad about getting on the bike once again. It's strange how once I get out of riding, it becomes very hard to motivate myself to get out, especially with the thought of doing a 5 hour+ ride. Then I think back to when I first starting riding the canals of Buffalo and how rewarding and enjoyable those rides were and I keep that in my mind to get me back out on the road.

I had originally heard of the Planet of the Apes Ride from a book I nabbed from the Berkeley library when I first moved here. I remember the author posting this ride with apologies, as if exploiting some forbidden secret of the cycling community. From there I guessed that there had to be something special, so I packed up a bunch of food and prepped for the 20 mile ride from Ocean Beach, SF to Pacifica to this old abandoned road that is the Planet of the Apes Ride.

One of the reasons I've avoided this ride, is that it requires a stupid BART ride (I hate paying 8 dollars round trip to go on a ride). So that's where my ride started, at the Embarcadero in downtown San Francisco. I had some decisions to make on how to get out to the beach and Highway 1. It was rather through the city (a route I've taken many times before) or the tourist route around the bay towards the Golden Gate. I chose for the latter.

Planet of the Apes
SF was nice and sunny, but once I started heading south it was not so sunny.

The tourists weren't too heavy, so riding was actually kind of nice. I watched a bunch of tourists almost get hit by cars for hugging the shoulder on a narrow section of construction (cars passed with about 6" to the end of their bars, it makes me sick how dangerous people drive to save what? 30 seconds? a minute?). I told these nice Euro tourists to take the lane before they die. Onward from there it was through the beach and along Highway 1.

Planet of the Apes
The beach.


Highway 1 felt like tour again. Busy highways for long stretches. It especially reminded me of 101 up north and the beginning of 1, where there is undulating hills with heavy traffic (thankfully more of a shoulder). Not exactly ideal riding, but it was still riding. The weather brought me back to the days of touring the coast too, it was chilly and gray, what everyone told me to expect of San Francisco (thankfully which has been sunny and warm, hurray global warming). I got turned around a few times where 1 doesn't allow cyclists. Thankfully I made it to Pacifica, where a nice short bike path took me down to the beach and then on the path towards Planet of the Apes. Bike route signs led me straight to the path I needed to be on.

Planet of the Apes
This guy was rocking one speed up. I want my fixed gear now please.
Planet of the Apes
Some pretty protected marshes in Pacifica.

The path ended at a gate that looked like a total dirt road, not the paved ride I was expecting. Passing some guys unloading full mountain bike gear out of the back of their Subaru had me wondering as well, but I had gone all the way there and so I figured I should at least check it out. It wasn't much longer that the path turned to somewhat a road. The road was clearly not maintained, I didn't mind it, I actually kind of enjoy the challenge of off-roading somewhat, but I could imagine a real roadie reading about this road ride (which is how I found directions from an article on non-Marin road rides). If roadies complained about Grizzly Peak, this road was clearly unrideable for them.

Coffee+Cross-Check=Bliss
I remember talking to cycle tourists who said they didn't drink coffee. I wonder how they survived.
Planet of the Apes
This was what most o the ride looked like.

For me, I was loving it. The "road" would shrink down to near single track with brush encroaching in as I chugged along up the hill. Similar to the Morgan Territory ride, this ride was also extremely quiet. The Highway was not far away but it was hard to tell, this solitude is why they call it Planet of the Apes (but I'd assume the lack of road maintenance might have something to do with it too. The road is a pretty straight forward up and down. At the crest I met Ras, a cycle tourist based in SF, also a member of the Bike Kitchen, on his way back home. I guess that time of the year is coming. I chatted with him and a local for a bit. I guess that's one good reason to not keep this place a secret, it's a great spot to meet other cyclists. After chatting some about his Trek 520, touring, and community bike shops, we split directions and I buzzed down toward Montara.

Ras on his Trek 520
He's covering up the dent on the top tube, but it's a 520, it's meant to last.
Planet of the Apes
I smacked a shin on some dirt at one point, that's how skinny this gets at times.

The descent was a little better going down, there was some times of pure dirt, but for the most part not as many divets. I took my time going down, but still went quick enough to enjoy it (and to get cold). This road was not difficult, but it was fun. The path let out right back on Highway one which I took back north towards San Francisco.

Planet of the Apes
Great views looking out at the ocean.

On the way back I passed through the new Devils Slide Tunnel (a quiet tunnel, but I am already looking forward to when the old road becomes a state park!), then turned off 1 to climb over the mountains between the ocean and bay, specifically looking for San Bruno Mountain. There was a great deal of suburban sprawl in South San Francisco and Daly City, but San Bruno was worth it. San Bruno is a nice gentle single grade climb that was just sitting back and spinning my way up, then bombing back down into the city.

Devil Slide Tunnel
Devil Slide Tunnel, finally solving the problem of a section of road very prone to slides (hence the name).
Devil Slide Tunnel
This tunnel was so quiet and pleasant to ride through.

I put in 60 miles on this trip, staying out for just about 6 hours including stops. I always forget how nice these day rides are. I forget how great it is to be able to get out and explore something totally new and quell that desire to leave everything behind and tour again (at least for the moment that is). It was a little far for Planet of the Apes, but I know that if I ever tour south along the ocean, I will most certainly ride the Planet of the Apes again.

Planet of the Apes

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