California Autumn 2005 - Day 1 - UK to Marin County


We arrived at Heathrow Airport 3 hours before our departure time, and we tried to get checked in using the automated check in kiosks, but I couldn't get us checked in this way. But luckily for us a British Airways employee saw we were having problems and came over and checked us in without us having to queue up, we then just dropped our bikes and suitcases off at the oversize luggage area. Check in only took us 15 minutes which was a nice change, and amazing service from BA.

We took off on BA0289 at 12:50 pm and had a very good turbulence free flight to America, arriving at San Francisco Airport 16:25, we got through immigration and picked up our luggage & bikes with out any problems, other than long queues at immigration whilst people had their finger prints scanned and pictures taken. We the caught the airtrain to our car rental company Budget.

At the car rental counter I was told they didn't have any regular size SUV's left, and we ended up with a Huge Ford Expedition SUV - probably because of the gas crisis they were having due to Hurricane Katrina and no one else wanted such a huge gas guzzler.

We then drove from the airport through San Francisco and eventually joined the 101 and drove across the Golden Gate bridge, where we stopped to take in the great views of the bridge and San Francisco, at the North East view point. It was a great sunny windy day. We did not bother walking along the bridge as we knew we would eventually be cycling across it on one of rides.

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate bridge Looking south

Golden Gate Bridge view

View of San Francisco

Once we had had enough of taking pictures and looking at the views we hit the road again and drove along 101 to San Rafael and the Hotel I had booked for us.

Golden Gate Bridge view

View of San Francisco

We arrived at San Rafael in Marin County and checked into our hotel an Embassy Suites Hotel.

I'd requested a quiet room at the Hotel before we arrived, But the first room we were given the keys to had a huge air conditioning plant just outside the window, so we asked to see another room and managed to get a quieter room on the ground floor on the south side of the hotel.

As it was only early afternoon we decided to go for a run in the Marin woods, as we did not have time to put the bikes together before it got dark. We drove over to the Natalie C.Greene parking lot (MMWD web site) near the city of Ross.

We then ran the Phoenix Lake Loop , we ran along the following trails Phoenix Lake Fire Rd -> Yolanda Trail -> Six Points Trail -> Junction Trail -> Bald Hill Trail -> Hidden Meadow Trail -> Shaver Grade -> Gertrude Ore Trail - > Bill Williams Trail and then back to the SUV. In total the run was about 6 miles and a great way to stretch our legs after the long plane journey.

Phoenix Lake Loop

Map of route we ran

The trails were great, a combination of fire roads mixed in with tight twisty singletrack with steep ups and downs. It was quite warm about 25c, its a shame that no bikes are allowed on the singletrack in Marin, but the trails were still great fun to run on. No Photo's were taken though as we had no where to stick our camera.

At the end of the run we drove back to the hotel stopping at a United Markets in San Anselmo to get provisions before heading back to the hotel.

At the Hotel I then unpacked and reassembled the bikes, then I hit the sack feeling very tired at midnight