Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Cycling in San Francisco

View from the top of Marin Headlands
This week I am traveling for work on the west coast of the US. I left on Monday on an early flight to San Francisco which landed at 12:30 PM, meaning that I had nearly a half day to spend doing something on my own. Many years ago, I'd been in a similar situation and rented a bike in Stanford, and since that was such a great experience I searched around for a company that rented good road bikes in the San Fran area. (If you've never rented a bike while traveling for business or pleasure, I highly recommend it. It is a really great way to see a new city and its surroundings and it is surprisingly cheap.) My search led me to Blazing Saddles, which has seven locations in San Francisco and rents everything from commuter bikes to mountain bikes and high end road bikes. The location on Columbus Ave is where the road bikes are rented from, and they've got really nice rides from Fuji cycles at the low end to Treks which are equipped with Shimano's newest Ultegra Di2 electronic shifters. I opted for a carbon frame Cannondale which the crew at Blazing Saddles outfitted for me with SPD pedals. After a few adjustments and a test ride to feel the brake and shifter function, I was on my way. From walking in the door to riding away on the saddle took less than 30 minutes, including a walk to and from my hotel so that I could change into my cycling clothes.

Monday afternoon I headed for the Golden Gate Bridge with no real idea of where I would head once I crossed it, but as soon as I saw the roads headed up the side of the Marin Headlands I knew that I couldn't resist. What an amazing climb around the hillsides and up to the lookout point at the top. Then down around the backside where only a steel guardrail separates you from a precipitous drop straight down into the Pacific Ocean. The weather was gorgeous too with 20+C temperatures, sunny skies and a strong wind from the west. 

Cycling-friendly streets of Sausalito
Tuesday morning I still had the bike and of course due to jetlag I was up before the sun. As soon as the first sings of dawn appeared, I hit the road again, this time opting to cross the Golden Gate a final time before proceeding down the hillside towards the historic town of Sausalito. What a charming little seaside town nestled at the bottom of the hills, with tons of little restaurants and shops lining the Main Street. After 20 km I stopped at a local diner, the Lighthouse Cafe, for an amazing plate of Mexican Scramble and two cups of fresh brewed coffee. Then it was back on the road for the steep climb back up to the bridge, returning into Fisherman's Wharf before 8 AM. 

Sometimes training feels like work, but not when you get to experience a new city from the seat of a great bike.

A beautiful start to the day

No comments:

Post a Comment