After 75 years as one of the most iconic structures in the world, there isn't much that I can say about the Golden Gate Bridge which hasn't already been printed. Every list proclaiming the "Top 10 Attractions in San Francisco" has the Golden Gate at or near the top, and it has probably found its way onto more than a few for the United States as well. For obvious reasons, millions of visitors each year pay a visit to this landmark, be it by car, boat, foot, or bike. We opted for all of the above.
Our Golden Gate adventure began at the small shop of Bay City Bikes on Columbus Avenue. I used a thorough vetting process in selecting our bike rental company...they were the #1 search result on Google. In typical Deej fashion, we arrived about 5 minutes before they opened, and were immediately welcomed inside for a quick bike fitting and rundown of our route. After one last swig of my iced coffee, and a reassuring glance at Google Maps, we were off...
|Ready to go...|
Before we left the shop, I told MJ to ring the bell on our bikes anytime one of us wanted to stop for a photo (Really, I just wanted an excuse to ring the bell). We were barely 800 feet into this 8 mile adventure, and between the two of us our bells had chimed 5 times. One of our stops was a detour onto the Municipal Pier, where we snapped a few pictures of Alcatraz, Ghiradelli, and the Golden Gate in the distance.
|Can you spot Ghiradelli?|
Just past the Municipal Pier lies the most physically difficult part of the ride. After barely a day in San Francisco, I had grown accustomed to its ridiculous hills, but this one was a doozie. It was so steep, MJ and I both walked our bikes to the top, and still needed to rest before restarting our adventure.
|At least the view was worth the climb...|
We continued down the path for a couple miles before making a pit stop at the Warming Hut. This was a welcome site and lived up to its name, because I had started to lose feeling in my fingers and toes. Not to mention I was in desperate need of water, having only hydrated with iced coffee.
|Alcatraz in the distance...|
Rather than continue up the path to the bridge, we made another slight detour to Fort Point. This national landmark lies almost directly under the bridge, and offers a great perspective of the Golden Gate's magnitude. Of course, I was more mesmerized by the surfers catching waves amongst clusters of rocks right offshore.
|Me: You guys are crazy...|
Sarcastic Surfer dude: Rock climbing is safe if you know what you're doing...
Finally, after nearly two hours just getting there, we found ourselves sitting at the entry to the Golden Gate's pedestrian path with an overwhelming sense of awestruck. The path was crowded with tour groups, other bikers, and some just enjoying an afternoon stroll, so we decided to walk our bikes across the bridge. It's not like we were in any hurry...
|MJ leading the way...|
As we reached the crest of the bridge, we pulled off into a little alcove and simply admired everything about the moment. There is a sense of power that seems to radiate from the Golden Gate, that you can't help but feel as the winds from San Francisco Bay brush against your face.
The pedestrian traffic on the bridge seemed to disappear after the halfway point, so we hopped on our bikes for the ride into Sausalito. We passed a crew hard at work repainting the bridge its familiar shade of orange, a project which seemed to be long overdue.
|Notice the left vs the unpainted right|
While gravity did most of the work heading to Sausalito, the ride was a little more stressful because there was not bike path. Thankfully, the traffic was very light, so we usually just pulled off to allow cars to pass.
|OK, let's not test California's healthcare shall we?|
Just as we'd experienced back in San Francisco, a hill caused us to dismount our bikes and walk, only this time it was going down instead of up. I felt a little silly walking a bike downhill, but the image of me flying off the cliff at the end was much worse.
|Apparently one too many cyclists had a bad time...|
The fog and clouds cleared just as we made it in to Sausalito, giving way to a gorgeous afternoon. We grabbed a quick lunch, a little gelato for dessert, and yes, an iced coffee for the road. Except the road in this case was San Francisco Bay.
|Finally...some blue sky in Sausalito...|
We boarded the ferry back to Fisherman's Wharf along with scores of other bikers that had the same brilliant idea we did. Before departing Sausalito, a fog started peeking over the mountain and descended on the town in eerie fashion.
|Stephen King was here.|
The ferry cast off for San Francisco, giving us a postcard worthy view of Alcatraz, downtown, and of course, the Golden Gate. As we approached the center of the bay, we had a panorama of the route we'd just traversed, which from the water seemed much longer than a mere eight miles. Leaning against the rail of the ferry, I felt a bit like the gang from Ocean's 11 watching the fountains at the Bellagio.
|A great view for the ferry ride back.|
When planning our adventure in San Francisco, I debated whether we should really dedicate the better part of a full day to the Golden Gate Bridge. Sure, it is an icon of San Francisco and the country as a whole, but our time was short and our sightseeing list was long. With the luxury of hindsight, I would make the same decision again in a heartbeat.
|She's a bit mysterious wouldn't you say?|
Every time I thought this day couldn't get any better, it did. Whether we were on two wheels, on foot, or on the water, the one thing which remained constant was the awe inspiring landmark that is the Golden Gate Bridge. We admired her in every way except the one for which she was designed - by car - but as luck would have it, a convertible was waiting back at the hotel...
If you go...
- Rental from Bay City Bikes was $32 pp. (Yes we paid our own way)
- Pick up a ferry schedule (tickets available at bike shop)
- Plan extra time for photos and exploring Sausalito
- Have lunch at Napa Valley Burger Co - Order the elk burger