3.1.6 – From Summer to Winter and Back – Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge

From Summer to Winter and Back – Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge

Click to read about our 2013 Calaveras training ride
01a overviewSan Francisco Bay is the heart and soul of the fourth largest metropolitan area in America. While many cities and towns dip their borders into the Bay, it is really the tale of two cities, San Jose and San Francisco. They are as different as summer and winter, a California winter anyway. San Jose, sheltered in a sun drenched valley, has daytime highs seldom higher than 90 degrees F, and nightly lows around 60 degrees F. San Francisco, shrouded in fog and mist, has daytime highs seldom reaching 75 degrees F, with lows of 60 degrees F. Denizens of each will claim they have the perfect climate. Guess what? Both are right.
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For the rider traveling north from San Jose, the choice is to either sweat in San Jose, or shiver in San Francisco. The solution is, of course, layered clothing. And the same applies to riding the Pacific Coast, whether it is from San Francisco to Monterey, Washington State,or the Oregon Coast. Most of the time, we wear bike shorts, and short sleeve jerseys, with long sleeve undershirts.
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On this day, we set our sights on San Francisco. That name glitters, starring in such movies as The Maltese Falcon, Bullet, and Vertigo. The City, as the residents call it, is the home of the Giants, winners of two World Series in the last three years, and the 49ers who won five Super Bowls in the 1980s. The suave, sophisticated image of the second most populous city on the Bay, supports its primary industry, tourism. Gone is the bustling port, the vigorous fishing fleet, and the know-how to manufacture industrial products. Today, San Francisco is a world-class destination for tourists. And the most sought after attraction is the Golden Gate Bridge. Many walk some distance across the bridge. Some ride bikes.
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Marian and I chose to join those tourists. What we most coveted was the ride across the Golden Gate Bridge. In 2009, Marian and I did this, for the first time. Prior to that, I rode it alone, several times. We decided to start on the Embarcadero, ride over the Bridge to Sausalito, and around to Tiburon. From there, we planned to take a ferry back to Fisherman’s Wharf, and ride back to our starting point.
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This article became rather lengthy. For those wishing to go straight to the ride itself, please jump to one of these starting points:
1 – The Streets of San Francisco
2 – Soaring Over The Golden Gate Bridge
3 – Cycling Through Sausalito, Mill Valley, and Tiburon
4 – Sailing From Tiburon to San Francisco
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Our Route

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2aOur planned route was a clockwise circle. Picture a clock, with the little hand at six o’clock. That was the north shore of San Francisco. We rode along the Embarcadero, passing the Piers, Fisherman’s Wharf, the Maritime Museum, Fort Mason, and Crissy Field. At seven o’clock, we crossed over Golden Gate Bridge. At nine o’clock, we went through the first of the Marin communities, Sausalito. At twelve o’clock, we were in Mill Valley. At three o’clock, we arrived at Tiburon. Then we sailed from the three o’clock to the six o’clock position by Ferry, passing Angel Island and Alcatraz, and return to our starting point.
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Our route covered only a small part of San Francisco Bay. There was, of course, much more we did not touch. North of Tiburon is San Quentin Prison, and the Richardson Bay Bridge. There are also the towns of Emeryville and Berkley, as well as Oakland. The Bay Bridge, actually two spans meeting at Treasure Island, connects Oakland to San Francisco. The weekend we rode, CALTRANS closed the Bay Bridge in order to move a seismically less safe span out-of-the-way, and move a safer span into place. Officials planned to complete the project prior to the commute hour on the Tuesday after Labor Day, which they did.
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The planned distance of our route was 25.5 miles, shorter than the 40 miles of our usual training rides. The distance was 20.3 miles, with the balance on the Ferry:
0.0 – Start at Green Street; 0.0 – Left on Embarcadero; 0.9 – Continue on Jefferson; 1.5 – Continue on Bike Path to Maritime Museum; 1.7 – Right on Van Ness; 1.8 – Left on Bike Path; 2.2 – Continue on Marina Bike Path; 3.2 – Continue on Mason Bike Path; 4.3 – Left on Crissy Field; 4.4 – Right on Lincoln; 4.6 – Right on Side Road; 4.7 – Golden Gate Visitor Center – Continue on Bike Path; 4.9 – Under US-101; 5.0 – West Side of Bridge – No Pedestrians Beyond This Point; 5.2 – Over Water; 6.2 – Over Land; 6.8 – Continue on Pavement; 6.9 – Right on Conzelman; 7.0 – Left on Alexander; 8.1 – Sausalito – Continue on South; 8.2 – Right on 2nd; 8.4 – Right on Richardson; 8.5 – Left on Bridgeway; 10.3 – Right on Bike Path; 12.9 – Mill Valley – Right on Tiburon Bike Path 8; 13.1 – Right on Hamilton; 13.7 – Right on Redwood Highway Frontage Road; 14.8 – Tiburon – Right on Belvedere; 15.5 – Right on Tiburon; 15.7 – Right on Greenwood Cove; 16.5 – Continue on Tiburon Bike Path 10; 18.6 – Continue on Tiburon; 19.1 – Tiburon Ferry – Right on pedestrian walkway; 19.2 – Embark for Ferry; 24.4 – San Francisco – Disembark from Ferry; 24.5 – Left on Embarcadero; 25.5 – End at Green Street.
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03aSan Francisco is noted for its hills. Still, our ride, with 1200 feet of climbing, was less than the 3000 we are accustomed to. The first climb was just beyond the Maritime Museum at Fort Mason, where a short, steep grade greeted us. The most notable climb was on the approach to the Golden Gate Bridge. There was another climb on the far side of the Bridge, before heading into Sausalito. In addition, there were minor hills in Tiburon, before reaching the Ferry.
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Our Ride

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Returning to San Francisco, to bike the Golden Gate Bridge, excited us. Marian and I had ridden this route, together, only one time. May 2, 2009, was wet and gray. Near the end of the ride that day, I was “doored” for the first. An unwitting motorist opened his car-door in Tiburon, just as I passed him. Although not seriously injured, my ribs were very sore for over a week, and Marian had major bruises that faded away after several weeks. We didn’t want to go through that again. Once was enough.
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Our ride was, really, several smaller rides, each one distinctly different. The streets of San Francisco were sunny, crowded with tourists, and packed with things to see and do. The Golden Gate Bridge was windy, misty and cold, and the walkway choked with bikes. Marin County, with Sausalito, Mill Valley and Tiburon, was sunny, warmer, far less crowded, and provided a million dollar view of San Francisco Bay. The Ferry ride gave us a few minutes to rest, to think about what we had seen and done, and provided a wonderful platform for unobstructed views of the entire Bay.
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The Streets of San Francisco

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Mark Twain once opined that the coldest winter he ever spent was a summer in San Francisco. Having ridden the Pacific Coast Highway in Washington State and Oregon the year before, we were more forgiving than that wordsmith from Missouri. Nearby buildings sheltered our parking lot from the wind. We were in a narrow zone of sunshine. Behind us, fog peeked over the top of Telegraph Hill. The Trans America Tower was a ghost, never clearly visible. I was ready for cold weather, wearing a long sleeve undershirt and packing a pullover.
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San Francisco had changed since I last rode, here, in 2009. Everything cost more. Our parking lot cost $20 for the first four hours, instead of the $7.00 when I started riding. I endured sticker shock, bemoaning the high cost of everything. Marian wisely pointed out, that’s what things cost now.
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04aThe dominance of tourism in the San Francisco economy was never more clear than when I began assembling this post. It started as I worked on a photo of Coit Tower. I had intended to crop the picture and make Coit Tower the focus. But, the Starbucks sign made me stop, and think The coffee shop was at the front building of one of the Piers. That building, once, was the embarkation point for passengers, or the shipping office for cargo. However, the days of the Port of San Francisco were long gone. None of the Piers, except for the one housing the Ferry Fleet and the occasional Cruise Ship, served that purpose anymore. And those services supported tourism. The buildings once devoted to a waterfront economy now housed restaurants, shops, and other tourist attractions. San Francisco had become a destination that produced nothing.
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05aAs we made preparations for the start of our ride, we noticed a strange structure with a row of bikes. On closer inspection, we discovered that San Francisco had a Bike Share Program. A rider may rent a bike for a few hours to several days. The cost of losing a bike was about $1200. A rider, on his own bike, stopped to look. He asked how long the station had been there. We gathered it must have been recent. Throughout the day, we saw many of these blue bikes. They seemed sturdy, with internal gears and fenders that kept the rider from snagging clothes or getting splashed. As Marian noted, they might look pretty, but a person still had to know how to ride a bike, especially on hills. For San Francisco was nothing, if not hills.
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06aWe completed our preparations and prepared to roll onto the Embarcadero. Bright green paint vividly marked the bike lanes. The green paint, accented by a bright white line, sharply contrasted with the pavement. This bright combination gave both motor vehicles and cyclists good visual clues. I was wary. In earlier experience, paints has not been a friend to my bike tires. The slick surface made tire friction chancy. Often, paint layers piled up, with a quarter-inch difference between the top of the pain and the lower road surface. This seemingly small ridge fights bike tires, making for sudden and unexpected steering changes. I rolled cautiously over the paint. Happily, the surface was not, in the least, slick. Everything was dry. Hopefully, rain makes no difference. San Jose has explored painting bike lanes. If San Jose does, we trust they will apply the lessons learned in San Francisco.

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Bikes were everywhere. Instead of being curiosities, we were just two more bikes in a steady stream. The bikes came in every description. Expensive carbon frame street bikes cut a smart figure. Mountain bikes trundled by, more informally. There was also an endless number of rental bikes, either the blue Ride Share bikes, or black rentals, Many riders on the black rentals eschewed bike helmets, leaving them strapped to the frame. Police officers were visible, usually on foot or in patrol cars. Occasionally officers were on bikes. This made me think of the 2012 bike movie, Premium Rush. While entertaining, I am too old and cautious to do any daredevil maneuvers anymore, as if I ever did.
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Pedicabs were plentiful. We had seen them in other visits to San Francisco. But, this year, they were there in abundance. One part of me celebrated fit young men and women pedaling tourists around, while another conjured images of similar travel in third world countries. The pedicabs queued up, like taxi cabs, waiting for the next fare. They had license plates, just like taxi cabs, although bike-sized. The riders plied their trade up and down the Embarcadero. We even saw one instance of a man, woman with four small children crammed into the back seat. The rider was turning a high cadence on level ground, and not going overly fast. We hope he got a good tip.
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We were conflicted by the T intersections and the stop lights on the Embarcadero. Often, all motor traffic merged into our lane from the left. Except for the occasional parking lot, there was almost no motor traffic coming from our right. In the case of a T, the light didn’t apply to pedestrians, who were up on the sidewalk. It was tempting to take the lead of the foot traffic, and just continue to ride on, red light or not, as long there were no pedestrians in the crosswalk. For the most part, however, we stopped. And, we had plenty of opportunity to ponder traffic lights, as we seldom made any of them. Most, but not all riders, did the same.
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While the interminable lights on the Embarcadero were annoying, and slowed us, our ride was easy. We were faster than some bikes, and slower than others. The green bike lanes kept us separated from the motor traffic. In general, cars and trucks were more tolerant than in earlier years.
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7aThe green bike lane extended along the Embarcadero, until we neared Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf. Not only did the green bike lane disappear, all hints of were to ride were gone. We looked around for signs, telling us where to go, but didn’t see any. We rolled up to the stoplight, considering our choices. Traffic closed in on us. Should we stay in the right most lane with the slow-moving cars? Should we go up on the sidewalk and dodge through the clueless crowd? Or, should we rattle down the bricked lanes reserved for cable cares, risking a cable car showing up? Between us, we tried a little of all three, before settling down on the street, hoping the cars would play nicely.
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While working our way through the crush of cars and people, we ran into a hostile Yellow Cab driver. Traffic queued up behind a crosswalk. Pedestrians crossed at will, seeming to ignore the traffic lights. Cars worked their way through, as best they could. This Yellow Cab inched forward, along with everyone else in the lane. When traffic stopped, he would swerve sharply to the right, putting his tires against the island to keep us from passing on the right. After seeing this happen several time, we pulled our bikes onto the island, and smiled pleasantly as we passed him. With only the most brief of glances, we could see that him stuck in a long line trying to get through the parade of pedestrians. We pedaled serenely away.
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08aFinally free to ride, we passed several famous tourist destinations, the Trolley turn-around, and Ghiradelli Square, one-time home of the chocolate factory. At the end of Jefferson Street, we paused, and pulled out the camera. After all, we were tourists, too. We were near the San Francisco Maritime Museum with several historic ships anchored nearby. Among these were the USS Pamanito, a World War II Balao class Fleet submarine, lurking, grey and low in the water. Nearby was the Jeremiah O’Brien, the last remaining operational Liberty Ship. America built Liberty ships in vast numbers to offset Allied shipping losses to German U-Boats. Still, it was the Balclutha that drew my eyes. The steel hulled three-master, launched in 1887, plied her trade as a bulk carrier. It was probably no accident that I felt an affinity for wind-powered travel at sea, considering I ride a bicycle in a motor mad world.
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Back on our bikes, we turned to the end of Van Ness, past the Fire Department Pumping Station, and up the hill to Fort Mason. Along with other veteran cyclists, we adopted a patient approach to climbing the steep little hill. On this climb, we were confronted with the full implications of the tourists on those black bikes. We watched as some attacked the hill with great enthusiasm, getting a running start, whooping, and standing on their pedals as they started their climbs. They paid little attention to their gear selection. One by one, on the losing end of mechanical advantage, they stumbled and tumbled off their bikes. We kept from becoming part of their abrupt ending.
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At the top, our heart rates nearing Zone 5, we stopped for a moment, before descending the more gentle slope to Marina Boulevard, and the bike path. We had descended into a great gathering of pedestrians and cyclists. The path was not well-marked. People walked and rode everywhere. Faced with chaos, we chose to ride on the street, passing large groups of tourists as they straggled along on the path.
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We are tourists on bikes, and are happy to see others doing it. But, the biking tourists, in San Francisco, were a challenge. Many of them seemed like strangers to the bikes they rode, not understanding how and when to shift. They were probably also strangers their bikes gathering cobwebs in their garages. It seemed like anywhere a difficult situation could arise, like finding the right gear to climb in, restarting on a steep slope, or maneuvering through narrow spaces, an unfortunate soul was usually in trouble.
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A head wind picked up. The temperature dropped. After Marina Green, the trail was, mercifully, clearly marked, with two lanes for bike traffic, and one lane for pedestrians. Riders, often from other countries, chattered in their native tongues, spilling out into all lanes, passing on the left and right. It was impossible to settle into a comfortable cadence. Instead of letting muscle memory take over, we were constantly changing speeds and gears, finding ways to safely pass, and generally staying away from crashes.
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Arching Over The Golden Gate Bridge

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As we neared Crissy Field, an early 20th Century Army Air Field, the wind picked up, blowing harder in our faces. We approached the winter of our ride, as the fog clung to the bridge. The weather doomed one of the reasons for our ride, a million dollar picture of the Golden Gate Bridge. The bridge was completely hidden by a thick wall of fog. My hopes dissolved in the mist. Since I had no opportunity for a photo, I included a 2004 photo, shown below. Another difference was that, unlike the clear spaces shown below, Crissy Field was now covered with art structures. To my untrained eye, the art structured seemed like brightly painted twisted I-beams.
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The bike stream divided at Crissy Field. Most went right, along the level path to Fort Point. We veered left, and climbed up toward the Golden Gate Toll Plaza. We were almost alone on the steep path. But that serene isolation ended about two-thirds of the way to the top. The Fort Point path merged back into our path. We ran into large groups of rental bikes. The riders grouped together, pretending to consult maps as they caught their breath. Forced to slow down, we patiently climbed with the others, avoiding their unpredictable maneuvers. We finally got to the top.
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10aAt the Toll Plaza, I got lost. Prior to our ride, I had plotted our course and laid it into our Garmin Edge 705. At the Bridge, we had two choices for the crossing, the east walk way, or the west walk way. The east walk way is open to both pedestrians and cyclists. The west walk way is reserved for cyclists only. Had I followed the Garmin, we would have quickly and efficiently gotten to the walkway. Instead, I fell victim to construction warning signs. I winged it following other bikers through a tunnel under US-101, to the west side. Continuing, we soon saw the first buildings of the Presidio. Realizing my error, we crossed back under, encountering the rudest driver we met all day. In the short, narrow tunnel, an RV roared up behind me and gunned his engine to encourage me to ride faster. His stunt was amazingly dangerous.
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11aFinally back on the correct path, we again crossed under, made the 270 degree turn, and arrived at the west walkway. The roar of motor traffic was deafening, something absent to this point in our ride. We rode out into the teeth of winter. The wind blew briskly from left to right. The mist billowed around us, heavy, thick, and dank. The weather gave us no opportunity to take a photo. Rather than snap a photo with near field objects quickly fading into the mist, I substituted a 2004 photo, as shown on the left. Had there been less mist, we would have seen both towers, and the approach ramp curving around to the roadway. Instead, we had to settle for tunnel vision.
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12aWe had finally arrived at the reason for the ride, to cross the Golden Gate Bridge. Before we started, I had idealized this part of our ride. Just like the movies, with a Pandora sound track, we would ride, in slow motion, across an almost deserted walkway. It would be clear and calm, with ample opportunity and unlimited time to enjoy the view, and marvel at the Depression Era Engineering. I thought we would stop for a moment at mid-span, as shown in the 2004 photo to the left. Instead, we found chaos. Bike traffic, in both directions, was as heavy as I have ever been in. An almost unbroken stream of riders flowed in both directions. As often as not, the riders rode those black rental bikes. Expecting to rely on the professional riders that routinely use the bridge, we found ourselves faced with rookies on bikes they did not fully understand, let alone command.
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We mentally shifted gears. We set aside our hoped-for relaxed riding style and mixed in with the crowd. Adopting a more competitive style, we kept our eyes open, rode defensively, and decided to make our way across as quickly, and safely, as we could. We endured side-by-side riders where there wasn’t room, avoided crashes when riders passed us when they couldn’t safely do so, and expected little opportunity to look at anything except the oncoming riders. Finally reaching the Marin side, we stopped, along with almost every other rider. We watched others complete their trip with broad smiles, high-fiving each other. I couldn’t hold onto my irritation. I smiled at their exhilaration. Perhaps, it was their ride of a lifetime. Years ago, the first time I rode the bridge, I had felt the same feeling of accomplishment. Every time I see the Bridge, I remember that ride.
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13aFrom the parking area, we looked south. The near tower disappeared into the mist. It was as if the rest of the Bridge had never existed. The cables, firmly anchored in Marin, soared into the mist, attached to nothing. My imagination conjured up a Sci Fi story I read long ago, Ring World, where people lived on an artificial planet, constructed as a giant ring. This structure was so vast, it completely encircled the local star. Throughout the story, characters talked about the arches. They loomed, endlessly rising toward each horizon, I wondered if it looked a little like the cables disappearing into the fog.
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Cycling Through Sausalito, Mill Valley and Tiburon

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Ready to continue, we pedaled out of the parking lot, climbed a short, steeper hill, and swooped down into Sausalito. Many sleek road bikes whipped past us. The rentals were gone. No doubt, once they reached the north end, they turned around and crossed back. Just before we got to Bridgeway Street, we stopped to admire the Bay, as seen below. We were out of winter, back in sunlight. The wind was at our back. We could see the fog bank hiding the Bridge. Tiburon was on our left, where we intended to meet our Ferry.
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15aWe were on the west end of Sausalito. Behind us, row after row of houses marched up a hill. One of my sisters once lived in San Francisco. She said she wished she could live in Sausalito. I wonder if she had formed that thought, looking at these very houses. If so, I can understand how they captured her imagination.
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We biked on through Sausalito. We shared the road with cars and a dwindling flow of bikers. In the business district, we reached well-marked bike lanes. Passing artsy shops and restaurants, we cycled past the old Marinship shipyard. The shipyard, once operated by the Bechtel Corporation, built ships for the US Navy and Merchant Marine during World War II. Now, the sprawling complex is home to light industry, arts and crafts. and a marina.
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16aThe bike lanes gave way to the the Mill Valley – Sausalito Path. We continued to ride north. We passed a community formed by houseboats. Tom Hank’s houseboat, in Sleepless in Seattle, came to mind. Across the lagoon, seaplanes were available for rent, to tour the Bay. Passing under US-101 again, we entered Mill Valley, of fleeting fame as the home of MASH Doctor B J Hunnicutt. The bike and foot traffic was far less dense than earlier. A football game was underway to the left, and others played soccer to the right. Few tourists seemed to have ventured this far away. We enjoyed the ride, including the pleasant tail wind that pushed us along.
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We had planned to ride to Blithedale Avenue, and follow it to the Tiburon Ferry. Stopping for a moment, we noticed a biker, sporting a Glacier Park bike jersey. He puzzled over a map. I greeted him. He generously shared his map with us. We saw a bike route, called Tiburon Route 8, which avoided Blithedale Avenue, going under US-101 without using a major road. It seemed safer, so Marian and I decided to take. it.
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Tiburon Route 8 started out, pleasantly enough, crossing through a park. It emptied into a street, across from the Mill Valley Police Department. We climbed a few hills through a residential district until we got to the frontage road for US-101, the highway we were trying to avoid. We were disappointed, but figured that if we were in for a penny, we were in for a pound. So we followed the signs. Seedy, run-down motels and businesses dotted both sides of the highway. We passed on the local McDonalds, intending to eat at Tiburon before boarding the ferry back to San Francisco.
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17aWe, happily, turned away from the noise of the highway and the sad little motels and the businesses. I relived an accident on my 2009 ride. On a grey, drizzly day in May, Marian and I had ridden from the Embarcadero to Tiburon. At Greenwood Cove, I was doored. As we passed a line of parked cars on that quiet street, an older gentleman suddenly opened his car door. It caught me in the right side, throwing me from my bike. Marian, close behind, rode over my bike, before joining me on the damp pavement.
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To the dismay of the motorist, Marian called 911. Before it was over, we had Marin County Deputies, Tiburon Police, and California Highway Patrol officers on the scene. Even banged up, with the wind knocked out of me, I knew I had no serious injury. I had to refuse, several times, a ride from the Paramedics, now on scene, to the hospital. I promised to go Kaiser. The CHP took charge. We left the scene, but they called us back, and eventually filled out the accident report for us. One of the CHP officers made sure our bikes could still be ridden. We went to Kaiser the next morning to confirm that I had no broken ribs or a concussion. Marian’s bruises took weeks to fade. The driver was more than a little annoyed at the big fuss made over me, and that he got no sympathy
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We passed the scene of our little drama without incident. We turned down Tiburon Route 10 and made our way to the Tiburon Ferry Building. We looked around to find the sailing times for the next Ferry. We noticed a small crowd near a docked Blue and Gold Fleet Ferry. Among others, a half-dozen bikers, apparently waited to go on board. We waited no more than two minutes to board. Had we tried to plan it, we would have failed, or had been so focused on making our sailing, that we would not have enjoyed the ride. The only down-side was that we had no time for food. Food prices on-board the ferry were impressive, so we passed.
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Sailing From Tiburon to San Francisco

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Safely on-board, we paid our $11.00 each, and rolled our bikes to the racks. We popped up on the main deck and pulled out the camera. Going to the starboard side, I waited until the Golden Gate Bridge presented itself, as shown below. It was still shrouded in fog, with the south tower invisible, save for the pilings. Only a short time before, I had actually been up there. I forgot about all the rental bikes and the tourists riding them.
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Then we moved to the port side. Angel Island, shown below, was near at hand, covered with clouds that looked like cotton candy. Angel Island was once known as the Ellis Island of the Pacific. In the early 20th Century, it was the main immigration entry point for the west coast. The barracks and buildings which housed and processed candidate citizens, are still there. During the Cold War, the Army stationed a nuclear tipped anti-aircraft battery on Angel Island, to defend San Francisco against Russian bombers. Now, the island is a park. Marian and I have biked with our children there. We have also taken visitors to Angel Island. It offers a spectacular view of San Francisco Bay.
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After a time, we could make out Alcatraz, shown below. The ferry route passed south of the island, letting the island show its most interesting side. The power plant silently rusts away on the west end. Next to it is the work house, where the inmates passed through metal detectors going to and from work. Further up the hill is the exercise yard, used in many movies. At the top of the hill are the cell blocks. Built in 1934 to hold the 336 most dangerous prisoners in America, Alcatraz never held more than 275. We have visited Alcatraz several times, with our most memorable trip coming on a foggy night with Marian’s brother and his wife. All that was missing that night was Bela Lugosi.
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We got an excellent view of the “other” bridge on San Francisco Bay, the Bay Bridge, shown below, which connects Oakland to San Francisco. There are actually two spans, linking at Treasure Island. CALTRANS closed the entire bridge over Labor Day Weekend. They moved the old east span away, and the new east span into place. A bike path built on the new west span, stops short of Treasure Island. They will complete the path to Treasure Island in 2014. A bike path, planned for the old west span, might cost $500 million dollars. Since it will require a ballot measure, it might never be built.
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San Francisco Bay is a wind sailor’s paradise. One of the many boats we saw, is shown below. With a steady wind, deep water, and vast expanses, it is a magnet for sail boats of all sizes. The America’s Cup Trials moved up from San Diego several years ago. The final race of the 72-foot catamarans will be held in September, 2013, with the American’s determined to defend the Cup, and the New Zealanders striving to take it away. While I admire the grace and raw power which epitomizes this sport, I will stick to something more sane, like biking.
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As the Ferry approached San Francisco, shown below, fog continued to hide parts of the city. On a clear day, the hills are normally visible, including Tower Hill. On this day, we could see the shortened buildings in the Financial District. The waterfront curved away to the west, toward the mouth of the Bay. We could see streets, running straight up the hill behind the Marina District. I chuckled, thinking of a survey of America’s most beautiful cities. San Francisco was first. The reviewers thought cities in the mid-west, with their rigid grid street patterns were boring. The reviewer thought San Francisco, with its winding streets and quaint charm, made it seem more like a European city. That might be true. But not from where we stood, we could see a boring grid pattern going straight up the hills in the Marina District.
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We docked near Fisherman’s Wharf. We left the ferry, pedestrians first, cyclists second. Attendants kept the bikers from running over the pedestrians. We didn’t mind. Finally allowed, we pushed our bikes off the boat, and returned to the Embarcadero. Once again, the lack of bike lanes made riding difficult and dangerous. Pushing our bikes through the milling crowd, we found a cross walk to the far side of the street. Still without a bike lane, we mounted our bikes and pedaled back to our starting point.
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24aHungry, but just as happy we had ridden a shorter course than our usual 40 miles, we loaded our bikes and found our way to the highway. That was more difficult than we expected, relying on signage. Marian’s phone was dead, so we kept our eyes open. Still, we missed a turn or two, before we were back on the highway, headed home, back to Summer. We devoured a hearty meal at our favorite Mexican restaurant, and crashed on the couch. Osiris, our daughter’s cat, joined me. He was lonely. His girl was away, at Burning Man.
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Our Thoughts

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Our ride came during the training period, but wasn’t a traditional training ride. It was more of an excusion. It was a reward for a month of hard training, combined with working on the house. The fog and mist made San Francisco less photogenic than we would have liked. Still, we got some good shots. The tourists surprised us. On some future rides, we will try to pick a less packed period than Labor Day weekend.
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Would we recommend this ride? Absolutely. Make sure you are familiar with your bike, and have ridden it recently. You will have a safer ride, and it will be more fun, for all of us.
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Happy Trails.
Click to read about our ride through dazzling sunlight and dark shadows from Lexington Reservoir to Buzzard Lagoon Road.

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Filed under Cycle Touring, Cycle Training, Travel

Let us know what you thought, we'd love to know. Thanks - Pat and Marian

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