Biking around the Bay

You know you’ve adopted a more “outdoorsy” lifestyle when you find yourself Googling: How to get tree sap out of pants.

I can’t recall ever being more active on the weekends than Dave and I are these days.  We’ve filled up many weekend days with hikes, walks and general exploring on foot.

This weekend we checked out the incredible green grass, nature and recreation at Golden Gate Park, which just so happened to be named one of the nation’s prettiest parks this year by Yahoo! Travel.  Although we walked around the park for nearly two hours, we only scratched the surface of what this place offers among its more than 1,000 acres.  There is an Art Museum, a Japanese Tea Garden and even a Conservatory of Flowers.  Apparently San Francisco residents get free admission to these particular attractions, but you have to show proof of residency.  Looks like we need to pack a utility bill with us next time we head to a state park, because neither of us have gotten a California driver’s license just yet, so we’re saving those parts for a future visit.

The outdoor adventures continued on Sunday when we rented bikes.

Armed with a backpack of picnic supplies, we marched up to the desk at Blazing Saddles bike rentals and proudly offered the secret password we found online: “I heard this ride is downhill both ways.”  That little gem secured us a 10 percent discount on two of the most popular hybrid bike rentals.

Then it began.

This was not your everyday leisure bike trip down to the market.  This was a 20-mile adventure that took us uphill, through several towns and even over the Golden Gate Bridge.  During our ride over the bridge we were directed by signs to stay single file and monitor our speed.  I have to admit I was a little nervous at times, but the sun started shining through the fog just as we reached the peak, which served as a positive sign for the ride ahead.

Not only had I never biked on streets with traffic, I had certainly never biked over a major bridge or biked for this long before.  It was pretty challenging, but we stopped a few times to stretch our legs and take it all in.

As a Lady of many words, I have to say much of the views we encountered and the overall experience left me fairly speechless.  This bike trip introduced Dave and I to the most beautiful scenery, nature and towns that we have seen in our lives.  Even more so than some of the famous places we’ve both visited in Europe on our respective college study abroad sessions.

Our first stop was at a vista on the top of the Golden Gate Bridge.  Then, we stopped in Sausalito, which has now become the most attractive bayside town I’ve ever encountered.  Gorgeous Victorian homes lined the bayside street, and little shops and restaurants lined the historic downtown.  While we didn’t get to spend very much time in the town, I’m sure we’ll go back.  In fact, a daytrip to Sausalito is now the number one activity we’ll suggest to our visitors.

It took almost four hours from the time we hopped on the bikes until we ended our mission in the Town of Tiburon.  Tiburon is another gorgeous small seaside town on the peninsula.  After locking up our bikes on the main street, we looked in some of the boutiques and sat outside for a beverage at Sam’s Anchor Cafe, a stop that came highly recommended.  From Tiburon, we boarded a ferry to take us back across the Bay to San Francisco.

We turned our bikes in right at the bike rental closing time, and marched back home … cold, tired and extremely happy with our trek.

I learned a lot about biking on this trip.

I learned that you have to put the gear on the easiest setting to peddle uphill.  You have to put the gear on a harder setting when you are on a flat level.  And, you should only use the right-hand break on a fast downhill, because if you use both breaks, your front tire will lock up.

After yesterday’s trip, I’m pretty sure I can move from a novice biker to a medium-skilled one, with 20 miles of mixed terrain under my belt.

Safety first. Yes, of course we wore the helmets.
Golden Gate
Ready for the trek over the Golden Gate.
Golden Gate
Up close and personal with the Golden part of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Golden Gatae
View of the waves crashing from the top of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Halfway through the ride I learned to stop with ease.
The coast of Sausalito, enjoyed from a park bench.
Much needed post-ride relaxation at Sam’s in Tiburon.
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