Dave’s American diary – Yosemite to San Francisco

San Francisco

The third leg of my journey got off to a slow but early start as I decided to get into Yosemite national park and have a bit more of an explore.

That meant a 6am wake-up and a six-mile ride up into the mountains that surrounded my hotel.

When I got there I knew immediately it was worth it as I stumbled across more churning sections of the Merced river and stunning waterfalls tumbling off the side of Yosemite’s famous monoliths.

The scenery really is breath taking and while the roads that are suitable for bikes to ride on are not extensive, a trip through Yosemite, even just small parts of it, by bike is well worth it.

And it had to be because San Francisco has been one of the stops that I’ve been most looking forward to getting to.

From back home in the UK, I planned on leaving Yosemite first thing to maximise my time in the Golden Gate city but having only had a brief taste of Yosemite after my ride from Bakersfield, I knew I wanted more.

So after some more pictures and video of the national park, I headed back to my bike and the prospect of another four hour ride west across California to its biggest city.

Waterfalls in Yosemite National Park

Harley and me

On day one, a four-hour ride on the unfamiliar Harley Heritage Softail Classic filled me with trepidation but after two days and around ten hours in the saddle, it’s really grown on me.

I’m used to its power, its grunt and its annoying foot stand that I couldn’t get the hang of on day one.

I’m used to the two gear change levers now as well and while I’m not going to trade in my SP1, I’ve become attached to the Heritage.

It’s very comfortable (ideal for long slogs cross-country) and has a lovely riding position, even for my 6ft3 frame. The clutch isn’t light but it’s not heavy either so there have been no achy forearms or hands.

All-in-all, me and the Harley have got on well, so well that the prospect of a third four-hour plus ride in three days is one I was actually looking forward to, especially with the carrot of San Fran dangling in front of me.

Harley Davidson Heritage Softail Classic in the foothills of Yosemite National Park

The route

I set off west, stopping at Tracy to refuel and then straight into San Francisco via the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge (not its famous golden sibling).

Unfortunately, biking isn’t free in the States and it cost me $6 to cross the bridge.

San Francisco is a big, commercial city – the financial centre of California – so I was a little bit worried about riding around in rush hour which I unintentionally homed in on for my arrival.

It was a bit like riding in London, which is obviously stressful, and Harley started to heat up in the stop-start traffic but the terrain also played its part.

San Francisco is famous for its inclines and it’s really peculiar to see such steep climbs and hills in among massive office blocks.

It made for some really interesting riding, about as interesting as city riding can get, but with the Harley getting hotter I thought it best to find my hotel and check-in.

Parking problems

Biking isn’t free and that was no more evident than when I arrived at my hotel where there was no parking provided.

Fortunately the hotel had special rates at a nearby parking garage at $32 per day. While that sounds expensive, it worked out as $80 cheaper than parking on the road.

San Francisco parking sign

Petrol peeves

Filling up has been fairly straightforward since my arrival in the States, and I’ve spent less and done it less than I thought I would.

But there’s one fuel company that keeps puzzling me a bit and that’s Chevron. Chevron garages let you fill up at the pump and then ask for your credit or debit card.

When you put your card in you get a message saying ‘Remove Card Rapidly’ before being asked for your ID code number. And it’s a different code to your chip and pin from the UK as it reads the strip on the back of your card.

Petrol station stop

I took a punt on a four digit code and then got asked for my mileage. I don’t know why and either I’m great at guessing my ID code or the system doesn’t work and I got away with it, I think.

Anyway, it’s confusing and any help provided would be appreciated!

I have two nights in San Francisco and plan to take in Alcatraz and some of the other great sites in the city. Roll on sunrise!

You can see a full album of photos of Dave’s stay in Yosemite and his arrival in San Francisco via the links.

Next page: Dave's American diary - San Francisco to Carmel