Biking the Marin Headlands Loop

I’ve wanted to bike the Marin Headlands for some time now and there’s never been time on other relatively recent visits out this way so I took the opportunity on this visit to work it into the plan. From the city it’s not actually all that long a loop ride so it’s reasonable to assume you can leave from pretty much anywhere in the heart of the city to get out there.

I neglected to bring my Garmin handlebar mount so I didn’t have my bike computer onboard my rental bike so here’s the best I can do based on a quick google search to illustrate the main part of the loop in the Marin Headlands. (Later in the day I found a bike store to buy another Garmin mount for the week ahead.)

First off, it was downright chilly here when I left this morning and headed toward the bridge. Here in the city at 8:30 in the morning it was clear, bright and sunny. Still though, pretty chilly. 50’s? Not sure. I was decked out in bike tights and a long sleeve bike jersey over a long sleeve shirt. Warm enough.

By the time I got to the bridge though it was pea soup fog. Visibility was poor. Still though, I was one of many, many cyclists heading north at that hour. I’m guessing that’s pretty typical. In fact, on the weekends, the routes are such that cyclists must take the western side of the bridge and pedestrians must take the east side of the bridge. That’s good because given the number of riders going both ways up there it’s tight quarters and it would be a mess up there if bikes and peds were going both ways on the same small patch of sidewalk on the bridge.

In the distance, the fog horn in the bay sounds remote and forlorn. On the bridge itself it seems pretty apparent the horn is right there on the bridge. Wow, it’s loud! The horn of a ship passing underneath was added to the noise. Too much fog to see anything though. I could only hear it.

There are a ton of riders taking off at that time of the morning and heading north. Where to? who knows. But there are a lot. And many are the pedal pounder type. Off to the races. As fast as you can go. So, despite limited space, bike traffic both coming and going and thick fog, they’re passing in groups and weaving in and out at top speed. I was just happy to hold a line and avoid getting run over.

Once over the bridge you quickly begin to climb. I was thankful I had rented a pretty light road bike with low gearing. In fact, the bike had SRAM Apex gearing. This is a double crank setup that basically matches what I always ride. After climbing a bit I stopped to snap some pics. I’ve included one below. You can see the fog I rode through to get there. In the fog, you have no idea that it’s clear just a few feet above your head.

A Fogged In Golden Gate Bridge from the Marin Headlands

The climb up wasn’t all that bad though I would have really liked to have my pedals and my bike shoes. Traffic was surprisingly light at that time of the morning and at least on the climb there was no fog. It was glorious sunshine. Eventually you reach the peak of the climb and if you’re going to continue on around the loop the road turns into a one lane road. And it drops quickly. It’s a very, very steep descent. On my own bike I’d have felt more comfortable. On a rented bike, I always wonder about the brakes and gear in general. It’s foggy, it’s steep and a one lane road. Just off the road is an abyss. Hang on! We’re going for a ride!

As the apex of the loop flattens out again the fog lifted and I was headed back inland. Eventually I rode though this very cool tunnel that emerges on the east side of hwy 101 and it’s a short ride from there to Sausalito. From Sausalito, it’s then back to the western side of the bridge for the ride back into the city.

The pic below was taken after making the trip back across and under the bridge. By then the fog had cleared from around the bridge. Excellent view point. Don’t miss this ride if you like to cycle and you get the chance.

Golden Gate from San Francisco Side of the Bridge

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