We did it. We biked the Golden Gate Bridge on Friday. We had a great time, all in all, visiting San Francisco. But in my mind this was the best day there.
Friday morning we started with a lovely breakfast at The Blue Mermaid and then bid our travelling companions goodbye. They had decided to rent a GoCar for the day. We headed to Blazing Saddles and told them that we wanted to try a tandem. Because if you've never been on a tandem before a strange city is the perfect place to try it out, right?
The guy got us all set up on the tandem, took our picture and told us to have fun. Since we needed to get Alcatraz tickets first and the ticket window was three blocks from Blazing Saddles, the wrong way down the one way, I asked him if there was another way to go. He just told us to ride against traffic and not worry about it. Because hey, it's California. We wobbled off against traffic and got onto the sidewalk. We were able to get to the ticket window without incident, but during the three block ride we decided that the tandem was not the way to go. After finding out that Alcatraz was sold out (don't fret, we got tickets the next day) we wobbled back to Blazing Saddles and traded the tandem for two Marin cross bikes. He had them all ready to go because, as he said, he "knew we would be back."
So we set off toward the bridge, following the Embarcadero along the waterfront. Soon Fisherman's Wharf gave way to The Presidio, a military fort since 1776. Once we travelled through The Presidio we reached the base of the bridge. We stopped at the little shop located there to buy a scarf as it was a chilly morning and N wanted something to keep her neck warm. We also bought waters and a couple of Clif Bars and headed onto the bridge.
About half way across we stopped for pictures. We met another couple that had rented bikes and took one another's pictures. We continued to meet them from time to time as we rode into Sausalito. And, oddly enough we ran into them the next morning on Haight and Ashbury. Small world.
The first half of our bridge ride was shrouded in fog, but as we got toward the other side the fog started to burn off nicely. Once we got off the bridge we stopped at the scenic overlook and took a few more pics, then headed into Sausalito. I'm not sure if we took a wrong turn or if the bike path doesn't exist there, but we rode from the bridge on two lane road with minimal to no shoulder. Once in Sausalito we had great bike lanes.
We stopped for lunch at the Cafe Trieste and decided not to push on toward Tiburon. We'd only ridden about 6 miles, but it had taken about 3 hours. We stopped and looked at everything even remotely interesting, plus we decided to just take it easy and even pushed our bikes up many of the hills. With that decision made, we were free to continue exploring. We wandered the marina in Sausalito, looking at the amazing boats there. Then we rode to the other end of town. On the way back we stopped in at the LBS and checked it out. We talked bikes with the german guy working there, and I bought a new pair of bike gloves which were long overdue.
We boarded the ferry back to San Fran and enjoyed the fact that the fog was mostly gone and got a great view of the bay. Once back on land we had quite an odyssey trying to find Coit Tower but we eventually located it. After going up for more great views we talked to our friends and agreed to meet up for dinner.
On the way back to the hotel Nancy nearly died due to my foolishness. We were descending down a moderate hill riding side by side in the Full Width Bike Lane (San Fran's bike lanes rock) when the streetcar line joined our lane. We both slowed up approaching the tracks and got into single file. I moved out in between the two rails to give Nancy more room to pull along side me. But she instead followed me onto the streetcar line. We rode single file to the next intersection. As I entered the intersection two things happened at the same time. The first was the light turned yellow. The second was the streetcar tracks took a sharp turn to the left. I noticed the tracks turning and angled my tire to avoid hitting the track on too much of a parallel. But Nancy was trying to make the light and didn't get quite the angle I did. When I looked back, she was in a mid-wipe out pose, and there was a small white car bearing down on her as she threatened to spill over into the next lane. The quick reaction of the driver plus her mad bike skilz worked together and she kept the bike upright and escaped with only a sore ankle. We returned the bikes, cleaned up, hit the hotel wine reception and then went to dinner.
I want to publicly thank Nancy for coming along with me on this little adventure. She enjoys cycling, but not nearly as much as I do. I could tell she was hesitant when I first mentioned the idea. But I wouldn't have had nearly as much fun on my own. I wouldn't have taken nearly as many pictures, I wouldn't have stopped nearly as often and I wouldn't have explored as much as we did. The fact that she was with me made it the best day in San Fran, and it made this 7 hour, 10 mile trip one of the best rides I've taken. I love you, honey. Thanks for a great day.