Biking the Golden Gate Bridge

My wife and I knew that upon alighting from the train at Civic Centre Station and having our first glimpse of San Francisco, it was going to be a fun one.  Passing by these victorian houses on a cool weather was an ultimate American experience.  We knew that seeing the Golden Gate Bridge was the ultimate goal and we decided to not actually just see it.  But, to experience it.  Since we both loved the outdoors, we decided to bike it.  Bike the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito, that was the plan.

I’ve been searching on the internet which bicycle company we should hire the bike from.  There are lots of companies, so, I compared their prices, the pick up location and checked all the reviews to make sure we got the best deal.  After careful review, we decided to go with San Francisco Bike Rentals.  We availed their promotion of $24 for the whole day when you reserve online.

The shop has three rental shop locations and we decided to pick up the bike at their shop at Jefferson St.  We picked it up at Jefferson St because it is located at Fisherman’s Wharf, another place of interest.  That way, we can explore the wharf after biking and also, we can start taking the cable car at the turnaround.  It sounded like a great plan, huh?

READ:  Unabridged San Francisco Tour Itinerary

The shop opens at 9am, so we left our hotel at 8am.  We took the MUNI bus from Van Ness and Sutter St to Fisherman’s Wharf.  The Wharf was still quiet and we almost got it to ourselves.  It looked like it wasn’t a tourist trap from that time of day.  After heavy breakfast on one of the restaurants around, we headed to the shop.  The shop was easy to find and by the time we’ve got there, some bikers were starting their journey.  I’ve handed them my passport and credit card for verification and after registration we were given two helmets, one bike lock, a map and we were free to choose which bike we were comfortable with.  We opted for a comfort hybrid bike.  After reviewing the map and making sure the bikes work, we were off to the bridge.

It was pretty straightforward.  We pretty much just followed the bike path or the bikers ahead of us.  We took our time for we have at least five hours before our ferry from Sausalito back to San Francisco.  It was early in the morning so we encountered a lot of locals doing morning exercises.  After just a couple of minutes, we passed by the Maritime Museum.  A little bit forward we made a detour at what looked like a pier.  It could be the Aquatic Park Pier, we weren’t sure.  From that vantage point we took a photo of some birds and the Alcatraz from a far.

Our first struggle came just after 30 minutes of biking when we passed by a steep hill just before Fort Mason.  We walked our bikes for a good ten minutes until the road was paved and we could bike easily.  Fort Mason has a wide road with two lanes just for the bikes and pedestrians.  We were treated with line of houses that seemed to be symmetrical.  After that came the Marina Boulevard and all its beautiful yachts.  

Going straight will bring us directly to Crissy Field, but, we need to make a detour to Palace of Fine Arts.  Palace of Fine Arts used to be an exhibition place for work of arts and has been standing for over a hundred years.  It was definitely gigantic.  A good quarter of an hour was spent admiring the Palace.

We continued biking and we’ve reached the Crissy Field.  The Golden Gate bridge was already visible.  It was quite foggy, so, we didn’t see it on its entirety.  But, we will cross it so who cared?  We made another detour on the beach and took number of pictures.  After Crissy Field was another steep road, so, as usual, we walked the bikes.  Biking continued and we were almost at the foot of the bridge.  By this time, biking was pretty safe, we didn’t have to share the road with automobiles because of bike paths.

The last stop before reaching the bridge was the Fort Point.  It was another historical place, but, we were guilty on not paying attention because of a great vantage point of the bridge.  We’ve stopped to take pictures, lots of it.  By this time, I was sure we will run out of spaces/memories of our phones.  The sun was still hiding and the fog was still obscuring the view.  If one is not crossing the bridge, Fort Point was the closest you can get to it.

Since it was weekend, one side of the bridge was exclusive for bikes only.  We crossed the road and went to the other side, the designated one.  Note that all the bikes are manually operated, electric bikes are not permitted.  You can cross it, but you have to walk it.

We were finally at the bridge.  The bridge was enormous and it was beautiful.  I knew that the color wasn’t gold neither red, but, international orange.  The painting was not at all perfect, but, at least you can see that it was well-maintained.  We took our time crossing it, absorbing the amazing view that was in front of us.  Aside from professional bikers, who sped up, everyone seemed to take it slow.  After all, we didn’t get to do it all the time.

By the time we were on the other side, it was over 30 minutes.  Yes, we made couple of stops.  Nobody can blame us.  The Vista Point was on the other side and going there needed a right turn beneath the bridge.  We didn’t go and continued our bike all the way to Sausalito.

The lane was all downhill from the time we started exiting the bridge.  We followed well marked signs and continued to bike for a good hour.  We were tired already, but, we were enjoying the view.  Sausalito was a very quiet and picturesque place.  It was laid back compared to San Francisco and it was really inviting.

The bike to downtown Sausalito was quite a challenge because we were sharing the road with cars, lots of cars.  Proper caution was required.  Before entering downtown, we made a stop over on what looked like a pier with benches and near grocery stores.  After resting we continued biking until we reached Sausalito town.

The town was full of restaurants and it was lively.  After parking our bikes near the Sausalito ferry for $3/bike, we explored the place.  All restaurants were almost fully booked but we managed to find one.  Burger, fish and chips, and salad were happily consumed.  After lunch we went straight to the ferry.  And since we bought the tickets online we headed straight to the waiting area.  We boarded the ferry with our bikes and stayed at the open deck.

The cruise from Sausalito to San Francisco was like no other.  Even if it was only for a good 30 minutes, it was amazing.  You are heading towards the incredible view of San Francisco, while the mysterious Alcatraz island was on your left hand side and the Golden Gate bridge was on your right.  It wouldn’t get any better than that.  It was windy and chilly but it was perfectly awesome.

We’ve reached the Pier in Fisherman’s Wharf and continued biking until Ferry Building.  We explored Embarcadero until it was time to return the bikes.

Glad we decided to do it.  One off our bucket list.  Biking the Golden Gate Bridge was worth doing.  It was a once in a lifetime experience and it was truly one of the highlights of our US tour.  We would definitely do it again.  If you are planning to visit San Francisco, make sure to include this on your itinerary.  You wouldn’t regret it.

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