Pinnacles Bike and Hike

Yoked to the slip-strike San Andreas Fault, the red-orange spires of Pinnacles National Monument have crept northwards for the past 22 million years. Today, Pinnacles lays 50 miles south of Gilroy, making it conveniently accessible by Caltrain for the weekend bike camper.

I got off the Caltrain in Gilroy in full dark and headed south on Highway 25. Having peeked at the route on Google maps street view, I knew it would be a beautiful ride at dawn. My plan was to pedal half-way, make camp and finish the route in daylight.

Rationality off the bike is daft to rationales on the bike.

South of Tres Piños, Hwy 25 narrowed. It was dark and lonely, but not quiet. A round of yipping yowls — coyotes, close by — revised my plan to camp by the side of the road. Coyotes are harmless, but after pedaling night-dark roads, a person gets lonely. Stir-crazy even.

Fear is fodder for fool’s courage. The desire to wake up in camp, in the company of friends overtook common-sense. Indeed, I left all that behind when I got on the evening commuter train in San Francisco with full camp gear, pointing my bicycle south in the short days of winter. Common-sense does not condone riding Friday night roads. Common-sense gives up and leaves me to the drunkenly swerving pickups. To silently stalking weekend-warrior Priuses.

I pedaled three hours in the dark before the moon rose. It was a fire moon, emerging promethean from a low running line of hills.

I grinned widely, cheered by moonlight. Soon after, a road-sign indicated I was just 8 miles out from Pinnacles. I arrived in camp at eleven and snuggled into my bivvy, looking forward to chocolate chip pancakes with friends in the morning.

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