Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The BEST Bike Ride On Earth – The Sausalito, Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco Loop

Fall is here, friends, and with it – finally -- the gorgeous, cool-ish weather and crisp apple air. What better time to hop our bikes for this, seriously, breathtaking ride??? (Get a sitter, get ready, go!!!!)

The Sausalito – Golden Gate Bridge – San Francisco Loop

Our Start With Mt Tam in Background
Our Start: Mill Valley through Sausalito:
We start on the Mill Valley Bike-path with the massive, green Mt Tam over our shoulder. Bike over the wetlands and into the funky So Cal feel of Sunny Sausalito. Through the busy, little tourist town on the well marked bike path. Watch for jet-lagged Europeans carrying cameras jaywalking into every lane – swerve wisely! And we head up one of the few hills on the loop through the narrow hillside streets. Grunt, moan. Keep going. We’re heading towards the Golden Gate Bridge and we can FEEL it getting cooler and exciting by the ocean. Grunt, moan. Now we’re going up the final real hill of the entire ride, past the Discovery Museum for Kids, into the Marin Headlands, and…. TRUMPETS PLEASE. We’ve made it to one of the most glorious symbols of the United States of America. The Golden Gate Bridge.

Golden Gate Bridge Looking North

Over The Golden Gate Bridge:
We stop at the lookout. Breathe. Appreciate. This massive structure is a mile long and a loud, thrilling ride. Check which side bicycles are allowed to ride on that day and, wheeeeeee, we go for it! Glorious vistas of Alcatraz, downtown San Francisco, the Bay Bridge, Berkeley, Angel island are to our East. Wide open vistas of the powerful Pacific are to our West.

GG Bridge to Fisherman’s Wharf, San Fran:
Pause at the end of the bridge. Photo op! We grab a lucky stranger to take it of us, throwing our arms up in the air with the exhilaration of it all. Something magical in the air. And hop back on our bikes, winding down around more Europeans with cameras, through the restored and festive Chrissy Field, past the Marina, dodging lycra-clad San Franciscans walking dogs, soccer fields with tiny toddlers, up one mini hill (grunt, moan) into Fort Mason….. and zip down – boom! – into Aquatic Park. We stop fast and admire the chilly-nuts swimming back and forth in the frigid San Francisco Bay. Then push our way carefully down Jefferson Street, into the Heart of Fisherman’s Wharf.

Friendly SF Local at Fisherman's Wharf
Fisherman’s Wharf:
We swerve for trolleys, crab carts and pirates. We stop to admire clam chowder bread bowls, glittery street performers and sea lions. Parking our bikes, there’s a crush of county fair like activity to partake in – cotton candy, popcorn, trinket shops – and we quickly grab our wallets and enjoy!

SF to Ferry to Sausalito:
Time to buy tickets for our bikes at Pier 41 and head to our ferry back to Sausalito. While waiting in line, there is a noticeable waft of animal from the giant sea lions lounging across the way on Pier 39. Unfathomable in their size. How do they do that???  Ferry arrives and – hop! – we’re on and now enjoying the break in the fog and the warm sunshine on our skin on the top deck and steady our own cameras as we zoom past Alcatraz, closer and closer to the Golden Gate, and see Sausalito and Marin County from a completely different angle – looking like Mediterranean villages dotting the gentle rolls of land into the bay – and watching downtown SF get smaller behind us.

Early seating at Bar Bocce - 30 minutes later it was packed!
Back Through Sausalito: 
Now comes our reward! We dock back in Sausalito, hop back on our bikes, and head down the main boulevard, back the way we came. Dotting this route, there are fantastic harbor-front restaurants to have a casual snack or lunch at. So we pick our favorite that day, lock up the bikes. Take off the helmet. Shake out our helmet hair. And order a beer and clams and a tasty arugula salad as we watch the sea otters play in the kelp just steps away.

And that is the most gorgeous bike loop on the planet!

You can start it from anywhere and it’s a blast to go in either direction. And, if you want more biking, you can take the ferry back (or from) Tiburon instead. With the same fun reward of GREAT harbor-side restaurants in Tiburon to have lunch or a snack.

Ps. Full disclosure, I’ve done variations on this ride many, many times. We did this particular ride in May, but right now, with this weather with low to no fog and gorgeous clear days, it’s an ideal time to pedal. I’ve got to take it easy on the epic rides right now, but it doesn’t mean you have to!

Fun Waterfront Sausalito Bike-Ride Restaurants:
Bar Bocce
New Place next to Bar Bocce (name anyone?)
Le Garage
For drinks only – Wellingtons

Fun Waterfront Tiburon Bike-Ride Restaurants:

Namaste & Three Cheers! -a

pps. Have your own BEST bike ride on the planet (hello Colorado and Idaho people!) please post it below to share the news....

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