MTB Trail: Bobcat Trail – Marin Headlands to Tennessee Valley


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Mountain biking was invented in Marin County and there are numerous trails you can ride as you get deeper into Marin County.  However, if you live in San Francisco, don’t have a car, or just don’t want to drive your bike to the trail, then there are a few trails just on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge that you can ride to from the City.  The first of these is the Bobcat Trail.   This is a beautiful, but steep route which takes you up and down the Marin Headlands and then winds its way to Tennessee Valley.

Map - Bobcat Trail

Elevation Map - Bobcat Trail

Distance: 6.3 miles (10.1 km)

Elevation Gain: 943 feet (287 m)

Difficulty: The loose terrain and ruts in the single track portion of the ride is a bit difficult, but the remainder, while steep, is wide and smooth.  This is a good ride for intermediate cyclists.

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Starting at the roundabout on Conzelman Road, about halfway up the Marin Headlands route, head past the restroom and to the dirt trail.  Follow the trail as it winds down the back of the headlands to Bunker Road.

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Make a left at Bunker Road and follow it a few hundred feet to the next dirt trail which heads toward a parking lot on along Bunker Road.

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Continue following the trail and make a right to cross over the bridge.

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After the bridge, make a left at the intersection to continue on the trial.

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The trail merges with the Bobcat Trail at a tight intersection, watch for oncoming bikers and hikers as you turn right onto the Bobcat Trail.

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Follow the Bobcat Trail as it winds its way up and over the hills for the next two miles to the next trail intersection.

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Continue along Bobcat Trail to the left down the deep descent.

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Continue climbing until the Bobcat Trail turns into the Marincello Trial and continue toward the right as the trail crests.

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After the crest of the hill, check your brakes, take the fork to the right and get ready to descend then next 1.5 miles to the Tennessee Valley trailhead parking lot.

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Where this route ends, your next choice begins.  You can either head back to Sausalito via Tennessee Valley Road and the Marin Crossroads.  Option 2 is to ride the Tennessee Valley trail to Tennessee Beach or the Coastal Trail.  The final option is to ride back to the Marin Headlands via the Miwock Trail after walking your bike past the stables.  Stay tuned to for future installments and trails.

 

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Trail: THE JAWS OF LIFE – Tiburon


Distance: from San Francisco Ferry Building (see Golden Gateway Trail): 22.21 miles, from Marin Crossroads: 7.78 miles
Difficulty: Enough to give you saddle sores but not enough to break a tourist on a comfort bike.
Download your route sheet here: Directions – The Jaws of Life
FOR A MORE DETAILED LOOK click here for the full Geoped Map provided by g-map-pedometer.com.
From Marin Crossroads: 
There are two routes to Tiburon: Strawberry & The Quick Fix.  This is decision-time, do you have time to go the scenic route?  Or are you cutting it close to the last ferry?  If you have the time, take the Strawberry route! It is worth the time!
SCENIC ROUTE: Strawberry Fields of Heaven
 
If you make the decision to go the scenic route through Strawberry, you will make a right off of the bike path and follow Route 8 over a bridge and onto Hamilton Drive.
All you have to do in this section is stay on Hamilton Drive until it dead ends at Redwood Highway Frontage Rd, a road running parallel to US-101, at the stop sign pictured below. At the stop sign, make a right and head towards the water.
This path will wind you once again under a US-101 bridge and then back in the opposite direction.  Just watch the signs for Route 8 as you go along the road.
 
Emerging from the underpass you will reach a strip of gas stations Keep following the road here until you see the 7-Eleven.
 
Pay attention for the Route 8 sign, this will be at the corner of Seminary Drive.
Make a right on Seminary Drive and you have entered the town of Strawberry!
Though you will keep following Seminary Drive, this gets a bit confusing at the first intersection because instead of going straight, you will make a right.
 
Once you are into Strawberry, you will see marsh lands to your right, and then just up the road, you will see the bay with the US-101 bridge off in the distance.
After passing the Golden Gate Baptist Seminary on the left (yep, there is actually a seminary on Seminary Road, go figure) you will then wind around and find yourself with San Francisco in the distant foreground and Sausalito marina to your right.
This is one of the most beautiful parts of the ride to Tiburon, so take it in and take plenty of pictures!  As you can see, we did!
The Undertow Hill
 

Following the road will lead you to a hill that looks deceptively short and easy. It encourages you to charge right up only to suck you in. Fatigue at this point in the ride only makes this worse. However the lack of traffic make it manageable if you need to take it slow and you have a nice downhill ahead of you.

Once you have crested this hill, there will be a fork in the road, head to the left, this will take you towards tennis courts and Strawberry drive.

After a few more hills you will reach a point where the road becomes one lane in either direction.  Make sure to stay to the right and go in the same direction as the car traffic.

The next decision comes toward the end of Strawberry Drive, right after the road comes back together.  At that point, you will see a very inviting SuperFast downhill!

If you choose to go this way, be warned, you will have to apply your brakes quite soon after you reach the bottom because the path you take around the small peninsula is very narrow and tends to have joggers and dog walkers along it.

f you do choose SuperFast Downhill, just keep following the path until you get to the parking lot, there just head toward the 76 gas station and make a right on Greenwood Cove Drive.

 

If you chose to forego SuperFast downhill and stick with Strawberry Drive, you will go down Strawberry Drive and then intersect Tiburon Boulevard at the stop light.

At Tiburon Boulevard, make a right and enjoy the downhill section of this trip. At the next light, make a right at the 76 gas station onto Greenwood Cove Drive.

I’ll finish the route on the other side of Option 2.

OPTION 2: The Quick Fix 

If you are running a little short on time and you choose to stay on Route 5, then about half a mile from the Route 8 intersection you will come up on East Blithedale Avenue and a stop light.

 

The signs for the bike paths are a bit confusing, but just enter the road in the bike lane and follow East Blithedale Boulevard.

Be careful along this route as there are a few different intersections where cars will either be exiting the road onto a highway ramp, or just exiting the highway onto the road.  Keep following the road as it goes over US-101.  Once you have passed all of the intersections around the US-101 overpass, the rest of the ride is less dicey.

Keep straight on Tiburon Boulevard and you will intersect Strawberry Drive at a light.  At the next light, make a right at the 76 gas station (Greenwood Cove Drive), the bike path sign signals Route 10 to the right, and the rest of the route is the same for everyone (pictured above).

Options Merge:

Following Greenwood Cove Drive you will encounter another uphill area before gliding down to the end of the court.

To the left side of the court is an entryway for a path over to a parking lot.

This lot leads to Route 17 and the Tiburon bike path.  When you first enter the bike path to the right of the parking lot, you’ll see the path fork to the left and to the right.  If you head to the right, you better have a mountain bike! This is a gravel path that leads along the shoreline.

Your better option is to veer to the left and up the next hill.  Once up the hill you will see the bike path and, more than likely, a whole lot of pedestrians! Just take it easy through this section and if you have a bell, use it!

Follow this nice and easy path all along the shoreline.  Take in the beautiful scenery, take some pictures and just enjoy how much fun bike riding in this area can be!

 

The path will cross a road at a stoplight, so you’ll have to watch for cars coming around the bend.  Cross the road and the path continues for a little long, or if you’re confident enough, go ahead and get back onto Tiburon Boulevard, the rest of us will be joining you soon.

If you stayed on the path, just keep going along the path.  Eventually, you’ll make it to another intersection where you’ll have to make sure to stay to the right for the short split and just head down the path.

 

Just a bit down the way the path will end and you’ll have to merge back on to Tiburon Boulevard.  Once you’re back on the road, it’s just a straight shot to the end of this run. No worries, as a bike lane is provided the whole way to the ferry terminal.

 

From the Ferry Terminal at the round-a-bout, you have a great view of Angel Island, San Francisco and the marina.  Once you reach the ferry terminal, park your bike and enjoy one of the local restaurants before the ferry ride back to Pier 41.

Our favorite restaurant is Sam’s Anchor Cafe.  Here, there is both indoor and outdoor seating.  Be warned though, on a nice day in the spring and summer, the wait can be an hour and a half for a table outside, while you may be able to walk right in to one inside.  Just be aware of how much time you have before your ferry arrives.

 

On nice days, you’re likely to run into a long line of tourists and cyclists.  Beware that the Tiburon Ferry stacks bikes one top of one another because there is only one bike rack!! We call this the bike massacre!  It also doesn’t help that the ferries from Tiburon stop in Sausalito as well most of the time.  Even more bikes will be piled up in that mess.  Just put your gears into 1-1 in an attempt to protect your derailers. For more on how to fend for your bike read about “The Hat Trick“.

Make sure you take plenty of pictures from Tiburon.  You’ll pass by Angel Island, Sausalito, the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz.

 

Fisherman’s Wharf

Once you make it back to Pier 41 at Fisherman’s Warf, you have a lot of restaurants to choose from.  We enjoying going to the outdoor stalls for dungeness crab.  When this becomes our dinner of choice, we go to Nick’s Lighthouse.

These guys have their fresh, live crab out at the steaming stall on the right.

 

It can be prepared either just steamed, or if you ask nicely at the counter, they also can prepare it in garlic butter, or our favorite, the spicy garlic butter!!!

Make sure to try not only the crab, but the crab chowder or lobster bisque as well!! Both are just amazing on a cold day.  You can get them in either a cup or a Boudin Bread Bowl.  They also serve beer and wine outside, you can see my Anchor Steam in the brown bag.  Nick’s is a great place and the service is awesome!

You might ask, “Hey, what did you do with your bikes?”  That’s a good question! The closest bike racks are down the street in front of the Boudin Bakery.  That’s a bit of a hike when you’re hungry! So what we did to ensure that our bikes were not only safe, but visible, is to lock them to the anchoring chains around the parking lot across the street.

Using the U-Lock and cables, just run the sides of the U-Lock through the chain links and your cables after connecting your cables to your rear wheel, frame and front wheel.  This is as secure as the bikes can get.

Just think of dinner as your reward for making it through the jaws of life!

Trail: MARIN CROSSROADS – The Source of Great Beginnings


Marin Crossroads

Crossing over the Golden Gate Bridge is one thing, but riding into Sausalito is its own reward on a stretch of Alexander Avenue we like to call “Weeeee Fast Fun!” There’s room for slower speeds in the bike lane but if you know you can keep up with the cars you can take to the lane. Watch how we descend into Sausalito and see more about the exciting possibilities of biking in Marin from crossing the bridge.


The Marin Crossroads are where you make your decision on which northern Marin destination you will bike to today (or to an extra eight miles for a more hearty ride to Sausalito). Going north out of Sausalito takes you onto both the road and a wonderful bike path with a whirlwind of other cyclists that will hopefully make you feel like one and also keep you on the right track.
Distance from San Francisco Ferry Building (see Golden Gateway Trail): 14.43 miles
Distance from Sausalito: 4.02 miles
Difficulty: It’s not about the road, it’s about the destination. With a mix of on-road riding and multi-use paths, this relatively flat four miles is beginning portion of trails to other Marin destinations or a great adjunct to your Sausalito run.
Download your route sheet here: Directions – Marin Crossroads
From Sausalito:
In favor of a longer ride through Marin, from then end of The Golden Gateway, ride past the Sausalito Ferry Terminal, continuing to follow the main drag, Bridgeway Drive, out of town.
On the north edge of town past the central tourist traps in Sausalito you will find some restaurants worth your pit stop and a handy gas station to get you on your way.
Why stop at a gas station on a bicycle?
 
We need to fuel too! Gas stations are the quickest way to prop up your bike without the hassles of locking it, so you can get in, get your fuel (energy/sports drinks, water, power bars) and get out in less than 5 minutes. We like biking superhero, Lance Armstong, endorsed FRS drinks when we’re riding. Great energy and no crash! (No, he does not endorse this message. We wish!)
 
The Sausalito Taco Shop is a colorful gem tucked away in the northern section of Sausalito and a great place to stop for lunch. The restaurant itself grew out of a small family business near Cabo San Lucas, Mexico when the son migrated to Sausalito and opened up his own restaurant. Try the Taco de Carne Asada which makes us say “Ole!” Total stop time: 30 – 40 minutes.
 
If you’re more in the mood for breakfast or brunch, then the Fred’s Place Coffee Shop is the perfect diner. Here you will find a bevy breakfast foods, eggs however you like them and hearty sandwiches.
 
While the service is friendly and swift, due to its small size there may be a wait for a table or you will be seated at a communal table. In the meantime the heavenly aromas will wet your appetite. Total stop time: 45 – 60 minutes.
Continuing along Bridgeway alongside traffic, you will begin a slight hill climb right after you pass the last restaurants.
At each traffic light continue to go straight and follow the bike lane (the beauty of following other bikes can be as helpful as Rudolf to reindeer at times like this.)
Recognize your second hill by the side-by-side bike lane and parking lane, which give you extra room next to the traffic.
After short while longer on Bridgeway, you’ll come to the entrance of US-101 North. Though bikes are allowed for a short distance on 101, it is advisable to take the bike-friendly multi-use path after the traffic light.
The entrance to the bike path is to the right of the road when you cross the intersection.
You’ll be able to identify it because Mike’s Bikes will be on the right hand side.
Sometimes, the very beginning of the bike path is flooded.

To avoid getting your ride (and butt) wet and muddy, avoid the puddles by making a right at the stop light (at Mike’s Bikes) and instead of crossing the road turn into it.
After passing the set of buildings that includes Mike’s Bikes make a left into the parking lot.
Intuitively make your way around the back of the buildings.
You’ll find another cross-over from the parking lot right onto the bike path between the trees on the left. Mind the cyclists coming from the other direction around this tight turn. Turn right onto the bike path.

The Multi-Use Path

This path is quite pleasant and a great change from riding on the road in traffic. You’ll be riding along the northern part of the bay up Bike Route 5. The only drawback is the stop-start juxtaposition of casual walkers and speed demon bikers screaming “ON YOUR LEFT!!” Just keep an eye open and an ear out and savor this truly beautiful and otherwise peaceful bit of trail.

When you want to stop and take pictures (inevitably because of the beautiful area) just pull over to the dirt shoulder. Remember: blocking the trail with your person or bike is like double parking on a highway and brings out the inner bike douche in everyone! So try to stay aware of yourself and pose for your calendar wisely.

On this multi-use path respect all your multi-wheeled friends.

The bike path will take you under US-101 and you will continue through the marshes. Another mile or so down the road you will intersect Bike Route 8 next to a skateboard park.

Bike Path 8 is the first intersection of the crossroads.

If you choose to make a right turn, this path will take you to Tiburon through the very scenic route of Strawberrry. If you make a left here, you will follow Bike Path 10 and go to Mill Valley which is the entrance to the Mt. Tamalpais climb, Stinson Beach through the Panoramic Highway, Shoreline Highway or Muir Woods.
Going further along the bike path, you will find yourself at another juncture soon as the multi-use path faces a busy intersection.
The end of the Marin Crossroads is the light at East Blithedale Avenue.
If you decide to cross the road at East Blithedale, you will be heading towards Corte Madera. This path allows you to go not only to Corte Madera, but also will be used to go to Larkspur, Ross, San Anselmo, Fairfax and beyond.
Making a right at East Blithedale will take you the shorter route to Tiburon, explained further in my next post.
Even if you wait till the last minute to make up your mind on where to go, or just turn back for the ferry at Sausalito, just enjoy the journey through the Marin Crossroads your entry into greater Marin County.
Want to know where this photo was taken in Marin? You’ll have to keep on reading and riding to find out for yourself!

Trail: THE GOLDEN GATEWAY – San Francisco to Sausalito


San Francisco to Sausalito


Distance from the San Francisco Ferry Building  = 10.67 miles
Difficulty = An unfit tourist could do it . . . so can you.
Download your route sheet here: Directions – Golden Gateway

The GOLDEN GATEWAY RUN is just golden and the gateway to all the serene and spectacular runs in Marin. Detailed looks at all our maps can be found through gmap-pedometer.com, click on FULL GOLDEN GATEWAY ROUTE for this map or:

We resume at the end of Crissy field where you must ask yourself whether you’re the kind of person that removes a band aid by ripping it off or peeling it slowly . . . This kind of logic will help you decide which hill you climb up to the bridge.

 

The Stab Wound hill is a short, sharp, steep pain in the saddle, but if you like to get your suffering over with quickly (or like to “challenge” your inner bike douche) this is your best bet. Know your limits though, this hill is narrower and likely fraught with traffic so walking your bike is less of an option. Turn off Crissy Field Blvd at the Lincoln Blvd stop sign.

The less “deadly” option, Black Eye hill, is a punch in the face but actually looks a whole lot worse than it feels.

 

There’s no shame here in walking your bike or being overtaken by a jogger or puppy . . . OK that was admittedly humiliating. Find it at the end of Crissy Field on Long Ave which intersects with Lincoln Blvd.
 
At the top is a sweet picture opp and perhaps time for a water break? You’ll need your strength for the final climb up to the Golden Gate Bridge. (You can see bikers biking uphill behind Jon here.) This takes you directly to either side of the Golden Gate Bridge.

 For the East (pedestrian) side take a left at the striped poles, up the wooden fenced walkway . . . or just follow the tourists.

 For the West (bike only) side continue on the path under the bridge which will wind its way up to the bridge.

Eastside vs. Westside : Which side do I cross the bridge?

The cryptic symbols on the bridge’s signs indicating the hours for cycling across the different sides are practically hieroglyphic and as such make no sense to the literate.

The rules for the summer season are:
WEEKDAYS:
5:00 AM – 3:30 PM East Walkway
3:30 PM – 9:00 PM West Walkway
After hours – 5:00 AM Get buzzed in on East Walkway
WEEKENDS:
5:00 AM – 9:00 PM West Walkway
After hours – 5:00 AM Get buzzed in on East Walkway
The EAST is the side shared with PEDESTRIANS . . . which is an experience akin to driving through a heard of blind sheep. On the up side, this is the side to stop and take your pictures and your time. If you feel you may need to walk your bike use this side only. As for your frustration tolerance taking this route during the week try to remember that this is a pedestrian designated walkway and most aren’t expecting bike traffic. Deep breaths and hum the words to your favorite song inside your head.

The WEST side is reserved for BIKES ONLY . . . which the bike douches (see definition) have claimed as their own, race through at alarming speeds and treat as their training ground for whatever “Tour” they hope to race in (or just Tour de Douche for short). It is fast, exciting and highly efficient. It is also dangerous and frightening at times, with frequent passing and tight turns around the tower. While a spectacular day may merit a brief pause or perhaps a picture or two, it’s not recommended except in areas where there’s wide clearance where you will cause minimal obstruction to the through traffic. Just imagine that you’re about as convenient as someone stopping in the middle of a highway to do so – use your judgement.

**A word of caution: don’t let your enthrallment with the bridge dull your senses at the end as there is a very narrow opening at the end of the bridge that gives room to single file. The rule is generally the first person (or group) into the pass should clear first but don’t doubt the self-righteous bike douche who thinks his magic bike can go anywhere. Assume the worst, approach with caution, hope for the best.**
CHOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE!
 
                                           (EAST to WEST)
Stairs at either side are available for cyclists to cross underneath the bridge to chose which path to take into Sausilito.
 
                                                     (WEST to EAST)
West Side: The Oh So Scenic Route 

Jon & Miko at the Golden Gate Bridge

(Disclaimer: We only now realize that this photo is oddly suggestive. If your mind instantly went there then you’d probably enjoy a different kind of website and different pastime. Good luck with that. We promise to keep it PG from now on.)
 
The twisty hill below that looks like a “NO WAY” is in fact the way down. Beware of the masochists cycling upwards, bizarre pedestrians looking lost and needlessly fast drivers charging up as you cycle down at “Weeee fun!” speed.
At the bottom views of the city and rock formations will only add to your thrills and picture album.
 
  As a rule in biking what goes down must come up and the thrill of the downhill is matched by the payback of the uphill – which begins after Horseshoe Bay and the Bay Area Discovery Museum up East Road. The sheer number of scenic spots to admire the view from the other side of the bridge make the hill climbs into Sausalito worth the huffing and puffing.
 

The climb continues along the coastline until reaching the crossroads into Sausalito. And it’s all downhill from there . . . and pure thrills into the town of Sausalito.

For a detailed look at this route consult the map for the FULL OH SO SCENIC ROUTE on gmap-pedometer.com.

East Side: The Wee Fast Fun Route
 
Off the East side of the bridge or from crossing underneath head towards the hills, literally, and follow the clearly marked bike path towards the highway. Follow the road signs for Alexander Avenue.
 
The bike path lines you up directly beside the highway and the exit for Alexander Avenue.
 

At the end of the bike trail there’s a messy merge onto Alexander Avenue where minding the oncoming traffic may mean the difference between eating hamburger in Sausalito and becoming hamburger on the way to Sausalito. Hug the curb as closely as you comfortably can and saddle up for some “weee!” fast fun. Continue to follow the signs to Sausalito . . . unless you want to end up somewhere else.

The Final Descent

For a detailed look at this route consult the map for the FULL WEE FAST FUN ROUTE on gmap-pedometer.com.

 

The hill into the town of Sausalito is steep and the two way traffic is constant on any given day. At the bottom there is a four way crossroads marked “SLOW” that could put your wee fast fun pace at a halt. Not to worry, you’ll have more than enough momentum to coast on to Sausalito’s main strip.

 

There’s something to be said for reaching your destination, or even the first check point along your Marin biking adventure. If the biking portion of your adventure is complete, Sausalito is a picturesque seaside town where there’s plenty of bike parking at the ferry terminal so you can explore unique boutiques and enjoy quaint (albeit sometimes pricey or touristy) restaurants. 

 
Sometimes motivation for some of those steep hills has been the promise of a superb wine tasting and in Sausalito at Bacchus and Venus located across from the ferry terminal parking lot on the main drag at 769 Bridgeway. Whether you’re in the mood for one of their carefully crafted flights before boarding the ferry or want to take a delicious but reasonably priced bottle on board, Bacchus and Venus is one of our secret spots to hit along the bike trail. They’re happy to uncork your bottle and give you plastic drinking cups if you decide to bring your bottle onboard for the ferry ride home. Cheers!
 
Having made it this far remember that you are FAR away and make sure you’re at the ferry WAY in advance. Blue and Gold Fleet have been known to turn down cyclists over regular ferry passengers and while you will eventually find a ferry that will take you, if you’re renting a bike you may not make it back for your return deadline. So get to the front of that line!
This is a photo of our first ride back from our trip across the Golden Gate Bridge. I couldn’t believe I’d made it. I felt like a rock star. I now ride over the bridge an average of three to four times a week. I guess we all start somewhere and this was the beginning of my love affair with biking. (And no, I wasn’t wearing high heals on this ride!) Hopefully you’ll go see what I mean . . .

Our Stories: “Mommy what’s a bike douche?”


You’ve heard us refer to the “bike douche” constantly along our travels because this particular brand of biker never ceases to amaze us with their lack of common decency, concept of acceptable social behavior (or lack thereof), and fundamentally warped spatial awareness and mathematical understanding (i.e. when a line of eight people are trying to cross through a narrow passage on the bridge does it make sense to try and pass them when there’s oncoming traffic in the other direction?)

How do you define a bike douche? They come in all shapes and sizes, (racing) colors and ages and they’re EVERYWHERE. . . so I suppose the more important question to ask yourself is:

Am I a bike douche?


1.) Do you bark out “On your left!” with hostility to put fear into every person you pass even when there is ample passing space and reverberate with a secret sense of joy every time you do because being faster makes you a better person?

2.) Do you have more than one matching helmet to shoe-cover “bike couture” outfit that you wear out on ordinary weekends for no other reason than for people to infer that your matchy-matchy glory makes you “bigger, better, faster, stronger” . . . or are you just primed for that chance side-by-side picture opp with Lance Armstrong that you dream about at night?

3.) Did you invest more money in the carbon fiber goddess that you affectionate call “Baby” (a.k.a. your bike) than your car . . . that you drive to work? (Assuming that you do work and don’t just terrorize cyclists.)

4.) When another cyclist or pedestrian smiles at you on a multi-use path do you think the socially acceptable convention and appropriate response is to growl, grimace or grunt at them . . . because in an ideal world they wouldn’t even exist on your path?

5.) When another cyclist is attempting to pass you do you think the most productive and logical solution is to speed up to make it more difficult for them to do so? Do you think they are covertly trying to drag race you? Therefore would letting someone pass you make you less of a person?

6.) Is biking at your fastest anytime, all the time more important than anything else? Is it paramount to causing traffic accidents, forcing bikers into fences, stationary objects or OFF THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE, causing people to be thrown off their bikes, resulting breaking of bikes, injuring someone or otherwise ruining their day, putting people off biking altogether, making people lose faith in humanity, etc.? Is not caring about other bikers what gets you through the day?

7.) Do you consider your “training” of the utmost importance even though it is for no particular reason or goal except simply a hope that someday you’ll qualify for some currently unknown event that will make it all worthwhile – or as we like to call it ‘Le Tour de Douche’?

8.) Do you joy in offering mock encouragement to others such as “Oh keep going, don’t worry you’ll make it!” on minor obstacles such as small hills to reinforce your superiority? (And did that biker reply with “Bite me!”? Nice to meet you.)

9) Does reading this make you feel guilty, defensive or uncomfortable? Do you feel like you need a drink, cigarette or shower right now?

If you answered YES to one or more of these questions you could be a BIKE DOUCHE. But fret not for therapy comes as cheap as $40 by renting a comfort hybrid, complete with front saddle bag and brightly colored helmet. Put on your jeans and a t-shirt to look like a cycling tourist and witness bike douches behaving at their worst to the fine people visiting our fair city. It just might change your life.

On a serious note Jon and I had completely different experiences riding different rentals that cemented our belief in this bike culture. When we rented the comfort bikes and even on our current hybrids we’ve been yelled at and taken advantage of by bikers who think they’re better than us and try to take advantage of the situation without realizing that it’s more dangerous to do so around people with less experience. On a $3000 road bike I was blatantly given more respect and treated with courtesy. It was an appalling double standard considering I was no better of a biker that day than the day before or the day after. We too get frustrated by tourists with less experience but we have patience. While we might make fun, in the end you are a bike douche if your biking puts other people’s safety in jeopardy, you frighten or terrorize people with your voice or riding, you make other’s riding less enjoyable for the sake of your own or you’re just plain douchey.

We like to bike, so don’t be a bike douche.

Trail: INAUGURAL RUN – Ferry Building to Fort Point and the Golden Gate (and Back)


Whether you are just learning to bike, a tourist that want to join all those people you see riding from Fisherman’s Warf or want to experience San Francisco in a new way, the ride to Fort Point and back is a beautiful ride along the San Francisco Bay to the Golden Gate Bridge.

Distance = 11.36 miles

Difficulty = Cake! Full of easy alternatives to on-road riding for the novice or “rusty” rider.

Download the Route Sheet here: Directions – Inagural Run

You can find a detailed map of The Inaugural Run HERE. The Gmap Pedometer (gmap-pedometer.com) we used is a great resource for planning and recounting trips. It includes a mile and calorie counter (!!!) to track the productivity of your ride.

OUR INAUGURAL RUN TO THE GOLDEN GATE

Beginning at the Ferry Building means traveling along the Embarcadero, where there is both a narrow bike lane on the street and a wide sidewalk. Drivers along the Embarcadero can be aggressive and unforgiving while pedestrians are absent minded and slow. Both ways are more congested on the weekend but it’s not unusual to alternate between the two to avoid vans or a particularly slow group of Sunday walkers.


At Pier 39

The first fork in the road comes at the junction of Kearny and North Point where the Embarcadero ends and the straight through is the bumpy brick path of the trolly tracks. There’s no “easy” way around this. If you feel safest on the sidewalk and have zen-like frustration tolerance for slow, absent minded tourists . . the best solution is to enter the pavement towards Pier 39 and enjoy this Scenic Route through the marina, Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf. (Otherwise see Run Over Route, below.)

 Scenic Route

Expect this area to be extremely tiresome because pedestrians and cyclists coexist about as well as toddlers and teenagers. It’s all about me and nobody’s happy. Take a deep breath because it’s only a short span that will make you reevaluate your own habits of jay walking and walking while talking on the cell.

At Fisherman’s Wharf a way to escape the crowds is to take a hard right into the parking lot driveway. Parking lots are the second greatest thing for beginners next to bike paths. Drivers tend to be more aware, there are fewer pedestrians, plenty of space and slow speeds are encouraged.

Miko with Mt. Tamalpias in the background

Miko at the Entrance to the Aquatic Park Trail

Once through Fisherman’s Wharf the soothing, stress-free bike path is a no-brainer and as pleasant a ride as it gets. (Picture time!) However, the “DETOUR” here perplexes EVERYONE . . . including us the first time around.

Just to be clear, the signs point in the right direction. Up the steeper (right side) hill to Beach Street, along Beach Street past the bus stop to the path down Van Ness which rejoins the original trail.

(UPDATE: The path is open once again as of September 2010).

Map from Fisherman’s Warf through Aquatic Park

This map will crystalize things for you. (Note that when returning remain on Beach Street for a more direct route back to the Embarcadero as Jefferson Street through Fisherman’s Wharf is one way.) It’s not because we think you’re stupid but because when you hit the downward slope at the end you want to get some speed (barring annoying, loitering tourists and cars parking) before heading up the hill (or as I like to call it the Celebrity Fit Club) towards Fort Mason.

Jon on Celebrity Fit Club

(Jon pauses, for Miko, our first time up this hill. Feeling like a fat celebrity on the VH1 show gave this hill its name.)

ALTERNATE: The Run Over Route

If you, Mr./Ms. Super Duper Biker, can keep up with traffic and the thought of commingling with throngs of pedestrians makes your skin crawl, you’d best admire Fisherman’s Wharf from a distance and instead cross the street at the Publicis Building and head up North Point Street. This is called the Run Over Route (click here) for a reason: buses, vans, taxis, even big rigs are out to run you over – for the sheer joy of crushing cyclists!

(UPDATE: Thanks to the San Francisco Bike Coalition, part of North Point is now a dedicated Bike Lane in July 2010)

Patience my friends between stop lights and aggressive drivers, make a right at Columbus (right before the uphill) then head left on Beach. You will pass over most of the detour and come out at the top before heading down towards the hill at Fort Mason (a.k.a. the Celebrity Fit Club).

Looking up Celebrity Fit Club

The Celebrity Fit Club hill is the only challenging part of this ride. Some heavier bikes (and loftier fitness levels . . . ahem) may not be UP for it. Getting into a good gear setting and finding the right pace can make all the difference. In the meantime you can “like totally pause” or alternately walk your bike.

Miko with Ft. Mason and the Golden Gate Bridge at the top of Celebrity Fit Club

For what it’s worth, it’s genuinely joyful to reach the top and enjoy the views of Fort Mason, the Marina district, Crissy Field and the Golden Gate from this vantage point beneath the trees (and perhaps a perfect time for a water break and picture op me thinks).

The path gets more intuitive here with slews of other bikers around to follow. Coming out of the park here we suggest biking through the parking lot at Fort Mason, which runs along the waterfront – for all the reasons we like parking lots and because it’s more scenic.

After rejoining the bike path on Marina Boulevard, at the beginning of Crissy Field there’s the option to continue on the paved bike path or brave it along the dirt path along the waterfront. The views along the water are magnificent and we recommend taking this path at least once towards the bridge.

Crissy Field Bike Path

Alternately the bike path along Crissy Field is clearly marked and sufficiently wide for both joggers and bikers, for a swifter pass through the area. We recommend taking this route back.

 Where you decide to end your ride and turn back is up to you. Miko wanted as close to the Golden Gate Bridge’s underbelly as possible, while Jon wanted confirmation that Fort Point is actually one of the key buildings in Grand Theft Auto San Andreas.

There are rest spots with bathrooms at the end of the road to take the weight off your saddle sore bottom, along with plenty of great places to pose for your Christmas card photo.

Jon and Miko take a quick “pause” at the sea wall near the Warming Hut

Riding back is just backtracking with two small pieces of advice: (1.) the hill through the park at Fort Mason is less steep if you take the path on the right that winds it’s way back to the hill (which is “WEEE!” fast fun on the way down compared to “HELP!” dying up).

And (2.) when returning on the Embarcadero make a choice between pavement or street based on your first encounter. On the street pay more attention to lights and traffic in this direction and if you’ve started a little late, remember to turn your lights on after dark (white in the front, red in the back)!

A satisfying run for those learning to get their bearings on a bike and to see and photograph the city’s many tourist destinations in a short amount of time. The route to the bridge will be the springboard to many of our other routes including the delectable ones into Marin . . . good thing is it never gets old.

Post originally published February 2010

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