Cycling around San Francisco and over the Golden Gate Bridge

me looking at the bridgeThe romance of cycling over the Golden Gate Bridge had always had appeal.  Having starting cycling regularly at home through the lowlands of Scotland, I had spotted many  cyclists peddling over the Golden Gate Bridge and always said that the next time I was over I would aim to do it.  We flew into SFO airport the night before and managed to get lost going to our hotel.  I usually print out a map to the place, but some reason I forget.  Fortunately Andy's new mobile, while useless for the time being for email (don't ask!) proved its worth when it handled the new Google Maps Java Midlet and he got us to the hotel.  How did people manage to get anywhere in the old days!
Andy figuring out directions
Waking up at 0300, checking email, doing a bit coding took me up to around 0630ish when Andy made himself known online we opted to do breakfast in the local iHOP and then head up to San Francisco to grab ourselves a couple of bikes.  I had found a place on the web, Blazing Saddles, and by all accounts all the reports about them seem to suggest they were a solid bunch.

Finding them on Hyde Street was a breeze, arriving just a little after 0800, we were the first customers of the day. Driving straight in, they couldn't have made it more easier; taking care of finding a home for the car for the day and kitting us out with a pair of bikes and making sure we were all happy.  The chap that took us through it, West side of the bridgereally went to great lengths on where we should go and etc.  We were all for just nipping over the bridge, coming back hitting the city and trying our hands at some of the seriously steep streets.  Couple of hours tops we thought. PAH!

The bikes were good quality with a good set of disc brakes.  An interesting aside, which is something the chap warned us with, is that the US brakes are the wrong way around compared to the brakes on bikes in the UK.  We set off down via the beach towards the bridge.  Being early in the morning all the morning fitness nuts where out and about doing their thing down on the beach.  Some of the things they were doing you couldn't help but think the only reason they are done there is so people can see them.

We headed over the bridge taking lots of photos along the way and what can I say, but stunning.  I've walked the bridge before as well as driving over it, but cycling it was a different feeling. We then went on down towards Sausalito where by we stopped for a drink in a very nice little sea side cafe.  We then ventured on up towards the Old Mill where by we hit hundreds of cyclists all out for their morning ride.  The quality of cycle paths was fantastic and well thought out.  While we didn't set out to go any great distance, you couldn't help yourself.  It was just so inviting.

Alcatraz IslandWe then came back via the ferry straight into Pier 49 at Fishermans Wharf, taking lots of photos of the various landmarks as we sailed past.

We then went down to the Ferry Terminal and cycled up Market Street, swinging by the Moscone center to see what Apple where up to for their forthcoming conference this week.  They had lots of huge signs all drapped in black, so something is going to be announced.  Finally we headed back up to return the bikes, cycling through the middle of the city, dodging various bits of traffic and jumping one red light!

We walked up most of the steep hills but we did attempt one but it just wasn't going to happen.  We did cycle down the iconic Lombard Street and was chuffed to get that one in before turning back into Hyde Street to return the bikes, after completing nearly 20 miles of riding.

It was a fantastic day.  I couldn't recommend it enough.  Blazing Saddles were the perfect the provider, and San Francisco the perfect backdrop.  If you are ever stuck for something to do, then grab yourself two wheels and rediscover the city.


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