As I left the office around 6:45 tonight, the approaches to the bay bridge were seriously congested. While lanesplitting is perfectly legal in California, I really hate doing it. Instead, I decided to head south and ride down the coast a little bit.
I was on Highway 1 heading into Pacifica when I realized how big a mistake I'd made. It was freezing, and the wind was blowing the bike around like an uprooted tree in a tornado. That wasn't the worst part, though. It was foggy! Pea soup foggy, the kind that soaks you and keeps you from seeing more than a few feet in front of you. What fun!
Because the fog was so heavy, the roads were wet. Wet roads are slippery roads. Extra joy! And I had to wipe my visor about every five seconds or it would be so covered in mist that I couldn't see anything.
I cut off early, and took Sharp Park road up over the hill. Typically this is a lovely well-paved curvy but fast road. Not today! It was windy and slippery, and I did the entire run up the hill in first gear.
At the top of the hill I could barely make out a sign that indicated I should go left to get to San Francisco. OK, left I went, onto what I now realize is Skyline. That was no better. In fact, the fog was heavier, if that is even possible. It was a harrowing ride, wherein I alternated between closing in on the car in front of me so that I could make out the faint glow of his tail lights and therefore figure out where the road was, and backing off so that I didn't slam into him if he stopped quickly.
This is the sort of ride where you're primarily gripping the bike with your sphincter.
You know those flashing yellow "stoplight ahead" signs? They saved my bacon at least three times... without them, I wouldn't have seen the lights until it was too late. I actually did run one red light, but just barely, simply so that I could keep a car within my line of sight and not have to try to find the outlines of the road all by myself. I wasn't at all certain that I'd be able to. I kept reminding myself that my mother's wedding is this weekend, and it would probably ruin it for her if I didn't show up in one piece.
After what seemed like hours I turned right onto Hickey, and headed back down the other side of the hill. By the time I hit 280, the fog was annoying but not obstructive, and I could ride the freeway without worrying that I'd go down an embankment at any second.
By the time I got back into the city it was sunny again, but traffic was just as bad as before. Somehow, though, stop-and-go traffic just didn't seem so bad, but I cut off at my earliest opportunity and took surface streets to the last bridge onramp. Which, as it turns out, is what I should have done in the first place.
It was after 8:30 when I got back to Oakland. I'd managed to turn my 20-minute commute into a harrowing nearly-two-hour ordeal.