At the end of it all with our tired legs with no doubt some new muscles built, it felt victorious and that was what counted the most.
We rented bikes from Blazing Saddles and the entire process was seamless. The moment we stepped into the store, a very enthusiastic employee asked us, "Are you ready to bike the bridge?" We were showed the map, got fitted for our bikes and helmets, and we were on our way. We were also provided bike locks. The bike rental store was located on a slope, in true San Francisco style, and we glided down the steep slope to get to the start of our bike path. That also meant that when we returned with our bikes later in the day, we had to traverse and bike up this last steep slope.
We started at the Aquatic Park and as it names suggest, this waterfront was the perfect spot for swimmers looking for calmer waters in the bay. It was still early in the day and there were already several people in their wetsuits swimming free-style laps in the water. The Aquatic Park is right at the edge of the Fisherman's Wharf which gives the park a view of docking ships and boats. The park is also home to the Maritime Museum.
As soon as we left Aquatic Park, we were greeted with an extremely steep uphill cycle that would lead us to Fort Mason. This was our first incline of the entire bike path and we wondered what other slopes we were in for during the rest of the bike path. This first uphill turned out to be one of the steepest inclines along our bike path, though still not the steepest.
Once we got to the top we were surrounded with views of Fort Mason, previously used as the port of embarkation for the U.S. Army. Located by the marina, Fort Mason has vast green surroundings along with marine boats at the docks.
|Marina at Fort Mason|
|Overlooking what was once the U.S. Army port of embarkation with the Golden Gate bridge in the distance|
We rode further west of Fort Mason and got more beautiful views of the notoriously grand Alcatraz Island continuing into the marina with the Golden Gate bridge not quite far in the distance.
|Alcatraz Island in the distance|
Palace of Fine Arts
At the Marina District stands the Palace of Fine Arts which is one of the very few remaining classical Roman structure used in the 1915 World's Fair exposition. The location of the structure today was the original site back in 1915.
Originally an airfield, Crissy Field today is a hugely popular recreational spot for locals and visitors and it was not difficult to see why. Coupled with the beautiful weather that day, the long and wide stretch of trail was excellent for running, walking, and cycling. The trail was also right next to the beach and people were out strolling with their dogs, some unleashed. The trail was filled with runners, walkers, and cyclists, both recreational and serious. If we lived in San Francisco, being able to put in our weekly mileage runs along Crissy Field with the majestic Golden Gate bridge looming close would be like waking up everyday to something very great, never mind the fog that always shrouds San Francisco. We were lucky that day to get views of the bridge not shrouded by fog. Crissy Field is also home to the Aviation Museum.
Directly east of the Golden Gate bridge was Fort Point which brought us up close to the bridge. This was by far our favorite photography view of the bridge right before we were headed onto the bridge itself. The waves were calm that day but we were told that on days when the waves are strong, it is a common sight for surfers to be there. The Fort Point building right below the bridge was once used as a military fort to protect the bay.
Golden Gate Bridge
Leading us up to the Golden Gate bridge was the steepest continuous incline we were to encounter on this bike route. After we left Fort Point, we continued along a steep part of Long Avenue and right where we would veer onto Lincoln Boulevard was an even steeper turn. About 20 meters ahead of us was a father, on his own bike, who held out one of his hands onto his teenage daughter's seat to help propel her biking ascent as she was riding on her own bike alongside her father. The final and also the steepest turn was right before we actually got onto the bridge. Right at that turn was a cyclist who only had one leg and he held his crutch the entire time he cycled. He also looked and dressed the part like he had been doing this for years. Seeing him made me stop being such a wuss about biking up the hills! Biggest credits go to him. He is The man.
The entire distance of the Golden Gate bridge was 1.5 miles and biking on it was at first surreal before we were overcome with the beautiful views of the San Francisco Bay. Looming in front of us was the bright red columns of the Golden Gate bridge, above us were the clear blue skies, and below us were blue waters of the ocean surrounded by mountain views.
We were extremely impressed with the entire structural planning of the bike path leading up to the bridge as well as on the bridge itself. Cyclists were designated their own path on the west side of the bridge while pedestrians were only allowed on the path that was on the east side of the bridge. Motor vehicles occupied the center and biggest lanes. This ensured a safe and very enjoyable experience for every type of user going on the Golden Gate bridge. On our bike path on the bridge were both professional and recreational cyclists. With vehicle traffic zooming past us on their own lanes, we got a real urban feel.
Right after biking the bridge away from the city, we came up to Vista Point that offered a view of the Golden Gate bridge against the backdrop of the city skyline. The fog had come into play at that time and unfortunately we did not get a clear view of the skyline from where we were. From Vista Point, we were 3 miles away from our final destination at Sausalito.
Right after we left Vista Point was a very long, winding, and steep decline which turned out to be a treat for our legs from all the earlier inclines since we did not have to do any actual pedaling downhill except for using our bike brakes at this time. At the bottom of the hill was a small marina area that is home to the Discovery Museum. After a short ride on flat land, we were headed onto yet another incline that would bring us into the city limits of Sausalito.
The city of Sausalito makes up a quaint and picturesque area to spend an afternoon at, or even to call it home for the wealthy. Cycling past the many beautiful homes perched on the hills overlooking the bay made us wished we lived in one of those houses.
The main commercial area of Sausalito centers along Bridgeway and Caledonia Streets that are filled with local boutiques, art galleries, cafes, ice-cream parlors, and restaurants. The strip along Bridgeway Street in particular directly faces the bay which makes alfresco dining very attractive. The atmosphere at Sausalito was laid back and safe making it a great option for a waterfront visit.
When we were ready to head back to San Francisco, we brought our bikes with us onto the Golden Gate Ferry which docks right at the Sausalito terminus that brings people (and their bikes) across the bay between San Francisco and Sausalito. The Golden Gate Ferry operates daily and offers a convenient option for people cycling between San Francisco and Sausalito who do not wish to back track the way they came from but instead wanting a different view for the return trip. The ferry was clearly a very popular option as there were many other cyclists who brought their bikes on board the ferry as evidenced by the bike racks that were filled by the time everyone was on board the ferry.
We left Sausalito on the ferry and with winds on our faces, we gradually neared the beautiful skyline of San Francisco. The ferry ride was about 30-35 minutes although it felt shorter than that.
We saw and experienced San Francisco from a whole different perspective which made it the best part of biking the bridge. The bike paths were impressively well planned and designed by the city and we would not hesitate to do it all over again. Biking the bridge, which we absolutely recommend to anyone regardless of age and with any level of fitness, was no doubt one of the highlights of our trip to this beautiful city by the bay.