Thursday, April 25, 2013

San Francisco: Biking over the Golden Gate Bridge

All geared up and ready to ride. AACCKKK!!!...was what was going through my mind right now if you're wondering.
Well, when my husband suggested biking across the Golden Gate Bridge, I thought he was kidding. Or crazy. Or both. But he was serious. And he was excited about it. And our 7 year old was excited about it too. And I didn't want to be a stick in the mud. Have I mentioned I'm afraid of heights? Anyway, I swallowed my fear and agreed to go. More realistically, I semi-hid my fear and agreed to go.

We decided to drive the Winnie to San Francisco, as it was really much more time efficient and much easier. Since we already had a parking lot we knew we could park in easily, we headed out early in the morning. When we arrived to the lot (East Battery Lot) we were shocked to see that it was almost full. We didn't realize that since it was a dirt lot, people parked their cars not only around the perimeter, but in the center of the lot too. Thankfully, my clever husband had a solution. I quickly closed the gate to the lot, while he backed in behind it. Then, we re-propped the gate open again, allowing for full access. Our Winnie was parked completely out of the way, and legally in a spot. Whew. He's pretty handy to have around.
A perfect parking spot, safely tucked behind the locked gate, thanks to our clever driver.
Next we unloaded the bikes and made our way to the bridge. My palms were sweating, and I was a little nervous, but I think I hid it well. I was a little nervous that our 7 year old wouldn't be able to make it across, or would get scared mid-bridge. But I figured if I acted calm, she wouldn't get nervous. Actually I think her bravery calmed me down.
It was the most beautiful, sunny clear day imaginable. We simply could not have gotten luckier with the weather.

My baby was so excited! Isn't it crazy that someone so little can give me courage? She amazes me. 
Over the Golden Gate or Bust!
Here we go! I was so proud of my big girl.
 All kidding aside, once we were on the bridge, it was amazingly fun! I was relieved to see that we would be pedaling on concrete (instead of see-through mesh metal like I had imagined). One heavy truck roared by and the bridge shook a little, but other than that, it was really secure, and sturdy, and it was so awesome!
We stopped several times to get photos of the gorgeous bridge. What a spectacular masterpiece. 
The views were stunning. Just so lovely. 
 This was really one of the most memorable moments of my entire life. To experience something like this with our whole family was just an incredible gift. I'm so grateful to my husband for always pushing me to my limits and for my kids who are so adventurous.
Yeah!! We're doing this! We're really doing this!
 The hardest part about the ride was navigating around the walkers while trying to stay out of the serious bikers' way. The bridge is clearly marked for bikers and pedestrians, but walkers wander, and some of the serious bikers were pretty rude. But, mostly it was a very awesome experience. I got so comfortable eventually that I even managed to film a little of it. Please bear with the quality of this, as I was biking with my two year old, and just holding up my phone. But it gives you an idea of how cool the ride was!

After crossing the bridge, I was just filled with euphoria! I was so proud of my little girl for biking all by herself and for doing such an awesome job. I was proud of myself for going through with the ride, and not freaking out. And I was just so happy, I went to give my girl a celebrative high- five. Just as my hand was about to touch hers, a man in full spandex and biking gear screamed meanly, "GET OFF THE ROAD!!!" So, I am gently warning you that even if you've pulled to the right of the path, make sure you don't stop to congratulate your kids, or you may get reamed in front of your children. Oh well, nothing was going to break my spirit at that moment. But I will admit to having a brief fantasy about slashing some fancy bike tires (of course I'd never do it in real life).

After you cross the bridge, you continue downhill (down BIG hills) to the little town of Sausalito. There was traffic on the roads and it was very nerve wracking for me to watch my daughter (ahead of me) and make sure I was also safe from traffic while biking down the huge hills. I wish I could have gotten some pictures of the hilly road with wildflowers on either side, and views of cliffs and the ocean to our right. But there was no way I was taking my hands off the handlebars, or my eyes of my girl.

Fortunately I did feel some safety in numbers since there were so many bike riders on the road. A great solution would have been a bike lane with an asphalt berm, or even reflective bumps to keep us safer. I would hope the city might do that in the future, as there were hundreds of bikers in town that day, and according to all I've read, this is a normal occurrence here. After reaching the little town safely, we locked up our bikes near the ferry station and went out in search of lunch!
Beautiful little town of Sausalito, California
Seaside houses tucked in the hillside were so pretty to look at
The kids looking at the Oakland Bay and Golden Gate Bridges
We decided on a tiny little deli called Venice Gourmet, right off the main drag, near the water. The food was very fresh and delicious, and we all enjoyed the BLT, Cobb Salad and fresh fruit we shared. We discussed desserts, then unanimously decided to go for sundaes at Ghirardelli Square when we arrived back to San Fran.

After lunch, we got in line for the ferry back to San Francisco. It was utter chaos. Seriously. Bikes and riders everywhere. My darling hubs got honked at LOUDLY when he was trying to maneuver his bike (plus tagalong plus 4 year old daughter) through the busy parking lot and ferry traffic. The honkers turned out to be the ferry crew (great!) who eventually apologized for their rudeness. Once we were herded like cattle onto the ferry, we left our bikes on the bottom of the boat and headed out to the deck for some sightseeing. And what amazing sights we saw:
Oakland Bay Bridge and the San Francisco Skyline
I'm a sucker for a beautiful sailboat
Fog rolling in underneath the Golden Gate Bridge
The kids love a good boat ride

Well, it's beautiful, but it doesn't really look like Fisherman's Wharf...
Whoops, another little boo-boo. We got on the Ferry to the downtown district, not the Blue & Gold Fleet. Here's the Ferry Info. You can see how easy it is to make the mistake. Make sure you get on the right ferry, or you will have a looooonnng ride back to your car. Trust me. It's long.

Also, remember that shot of the fog rolling in? The weather went from hot enough to make us all sweat (while waiting for the ferry) to freezing cold, foggy and misting rain during our long ride home. I'm so glad I insisted we all bring our jackets. We were so glad to put them on. The bike ride back was long. It was a very nice ride all the way to Fisherman's Wharf. However, at this point, the bike lanes were almost non-existent, and you were right out in traffic with the shuttles and busses. It did not feel safe at all. So we ended up walking our bikes through the most crowded part of town which took forever. But we made it!

First a stop for re-fueling:

 Then, finally, we arrived to our beautiful home away from home. I think we were all so very glad to see her. At this point we were also very grateful for our own restroom and the ability to whip up a quick dinner for our hungry and cold bikers. Ahhh...another spectacular day in San Francisco.


  1. What nostalgia for me. When I first moved to SF, the Transamerica building (the pyramid) had just been built and wasn't even open yet. I've been gone for 25 years now. I probably wouldn't recognize it anymore.

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it Faye. :) The pyramid building- yes! That's where we docked and pedaled back from. Wish I knew how far it seemed like forever. :)

    2. When I first met Don, I lived across the Bay Bridge on an Island, Alameda. Don lived in Pacific Heights. I had a Datsun with manual transmission and he lived on a freaking hill. I could NOT park at his apartment. Seriously. It scared the crap out of me to drive in SF with a stick shift. He lived in an old converted house. It had been a 3-story house and was each floor was converted into a single apartment. I would pull up in front, honk the horn and he'd come out and park my car. It was ridiculous.

      I'm guessing you probably didn't take the kids down Lombard Street. I'm not sure the RV could even make it on Lombard. It's pretty narrow plus all the S curves. But you can park at the top and walk down. Of course, you then have to walk back. . . up hill.

      I did love all your photo's. The kids will look back on these trips some day and remember the great time you had!


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