Saturday, August 7, 2010

San Francisco Bay Trail: Ryder Park north to Broadway, Burlingame

cycling 4.1 miles San Francisco Bay Trail, 5.0 additional miles.

I didn't expect to be back at San Mateo's Ryder Park so soon, its overlapping concentric rings of concrete defining different parts of the park, and its arched bridge over the small slough to the south.  I'd been there on my first ride, on July 10, headed south to Foster City and Oracle, and I struggled back north against the evening wind on the return.  This was another late evening ride, a short one though longer than the previous Sunday's along the northern San Francisco shoreline, and I was headed north so the wind would help me on the return.
just south of Ryder Park

But what a difference a month makes.  The beginning of my 5th week getting in shape and I'd cycled 36 miles and done another 27 miles of hiking and other cardio, and lifted at the gym 9 times.  I'd changed my diet significantly.  Nothing compared to many athletes or even my past - there have been times in my life when I ran 20 miles a day for weeks, or cycled 200 miles in a single day.  I weighed much less then.  My current efforts don't compare but they're worlds better than in recent years.  Bottom line, my weight has dropped from 245 to 231 in a single month.  Compared to my ten year, 50 pound weight gain--five pounds a year--I'd turned the clock back to 2007 and as I write this six days later, I'm in 2006.   Psychologically I feel lighter but physically I have to be doing much better too--what's the effect on your health of losing that much fat even while adding muscle?  At the very least I'm putting less stress on my joints.

Ryder Park, San Mateo north to Broadway, Burlingame
Ryder Park is part of San Mateo's Shoreline Park.  It's amazing how interesting the Bay Trail is and how much its character changes miles by mile and city to city.  My hiking is interesting too but despite habitat and topographical changes, its variety isn't nearly as complex as the urban landscape I cycle through along the Bay.  Post-industrial, redeveloped, manicured or neglected, the trail today passes residential areas, golf courses and PG&E sub-stations, restaurants and hotels. 

It reminds me of kayaking on the Bay.  We all have our daily views of the cities we pass through but for me they're dominated by freeway perspectives.  When you kayak the shoreline you get a completely different kind of view.  Cycling the Bay Trail is similar; it knits together areas that would require many detours to get to by car.  I'm really enjoying getting to know more parts of the Bay Area, and from multiple perspectives.

birds south of Coyote Point
San Mateo deserves a lot of credit.  They've invested in their shoreline parks and made them attractive.  There's a lot of great design evident, lots of restoration going on, and the north end is anchored by Coyote Point, a former island and susbtantial park.  Foster City was pleasant but much less interesting, a long strip of ice plant stuck in the 1970s.  Burlingame is a work in progress, change evident, some shoreline areas showcased near hotels, other prime Bay Trail segments along rusty, weedy lots waiting for redevelopment or missing, pieced together along streets and sidewalks.  The Trail is interrupted again at Broadway.

Coyote Point Museum
But back to the beginning.  From Ryder Park you head northwest on a long levee, houses at left across a strip of water, the shoreline marked by high tension power towers, the view ahead dominated by the rise of eucalyptus covered Coyote Point.  I could spend all day exploring Coyote Point, a 670-acre county park including a golf course, marina, and a nationally recognized natural history museum of the same name.  Coyote Point was an island seperated from the mainland by Samphire Marsh, which was filled in and is now the golf course.

A recently constructed section of the Trail crosses through the park a little inland; the shoreline is too rugged for the trail.  I checked out the marina area, and climbed the hill to the museum, too late to visit.  You can see where they've started thinning the eucalyptus and planting oaks and other native species.

Coyote Point from the north
At both ends of the point there are strips of shoreline, mudflats, beaches and sand bars, and good birding.

I rejoined the trail on the north side, where there's a big beach and wind surfing area.  Then the trail gets sketchy as you pass into Burlingame.  The relatively natural shoreline is gone; I use Google Earth to help reconstruct these rides and from above you can see just how constructed the Burlingame shoreline is, a big rectangular island waiting for something, then another long rectangle that's been developed for hotels and other commercial uses, much of it related to SFO, the airport to the north.

Burlingame shoreline view of San Bruno Mountain
The shoreline temperatures are often crisp and breezy, and the views beautiful but you're sandwiched between the descending flight path of the airport with highway 101 not far to the west.  There's a too strong smell of fuel and exhaust.  One of the little known things about jets is that they sometimes dump fuel into the air to lighten their landing load, especially for unscheduled landings.  Whether that or just the sheer number of jets landing--as you watch they descend one after another, maybe a minute apart--the airport dominates this section of shoreline much more than further south where the jets are higher. 

Still, the ride is fascinating.  At Broadway the Bay Trail is interrupted; there are short segments further north and then the airport really interrupts things, a trail design problem still to be solved. 

I turn around and head back.  The sun is setting, but without the Coyote Point detours, I'm back at Ryder Park in half the time.

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