San Francisco skyline

 

Tiburon, San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge and Sausalito

-- click on thumbnails for larger image --

Blackie's statue Display panel describing the history of Blackie's Pasture

OK ... this ride isn't in Sonoma County ... but I was staying in Santa Rosa at the time I did it.

Belvedere Island

The ride started in Marin County and I planned to take the ferry to San Francisco and ride over the Golden Gate Bridge and back around the Bay.

First glimpses of the Golden Gate Bridge through the mist

I started my ride at Blackie's Pasture which is at the northern end of the Tiburon Peninsula.

Sausalito viewed from the no through road on Belvedere Island

Blackie was a cavalry house who spend the last 28 years of his life grazing on these pastures ... a bronze statue now stands in his memory.

Faint glimpses of the San Francisco skyline

From the pasture a combined cycle-pedestrian trail leads along the water's edge to Belvedere Island.

Golden Gate Bridge and the 'gypsy boat'

The Island is joined to the peninsula by two promontories.

The San Francisco skyline from Belvedere Island

Riding around the Island I passed dozens of desirable properties all perched side-by-side on the water's edge.

Houses perched on the southern end of Belvedere Island

Halfway round the Island the coastal road ends and I had to scramble up a 1 in 4 road that is now ... probably sensibly ... closed to through traffic.

At the top views opened up across the water to Sausalito and to San Francisco itself.

View round to Tiburon

As I rounded the southern tip of the Island the houses became more expensive still.

A local pointed out a derelict plot of land which was up for sale for around six million dollars.

The southern tip of Tiburon Peninsula

He also grumbled about a boat offshore ... the occupant of which he claimed was avoiding taxes ... but enjoying the view.

Umm ... I guess I was doing the same.

More houses perched on the hillside Pointy roof and twisted chimney Yachts sheltered in harbour
Houses piled on top of houses Bet they have a good view The San Francisco Yacht Club
Houses crammed by the shore Waiting for the ferry

I descended back down to cross the southern promontory ... and passed the very exclusive looking San Francisco Yacht Club ... and arrived in Tiburon.

Popular spot for cyclists ... a cafe Somewhere else to have a coffee

The ferry wasn't due for nearly an hour ... so I had time browse round the shops ... and find a café for a drink and pastry.

The catamaran arriving Ready to depart
View back to Belvedere Island

The ferry only takes twenty five bikes ... so I made sure that I was near to front of the queue when the ferry arrived.

As it happened only three other cyclists turned up ... so I could have spent more time in the café.

Angel Island and San Francisco beyond
The Angel Island ferry

The ferry goes first to Sausalito before crossing the Bay to the city.

Unfortunately the weather was overcast so views of the islands and the edges of the bay were a little disappointing.

Oakland Bay Bridge and San Francisco
Rounding Belvedere Island on the way to Sausalito Evidence that I paid

We passed Angel Island ... rounded Belvedere Island ... and crossed Richardson Bay to Sausalito.

Golden Gate Bridge
Sausalito shore line Houses lining the front at Sausalito

Sausalito ... like Belvedere Island ... has houses perched on every vantage point to make best use of the bay views.

San Francisco skyline
Large ship dwarfed by the Bridge
San Francisco skyline
Alcatraz
Looking back north to Marin County

From Sausalito the ferry crosses the Bay ... passing Alcatraz ... which was formerly a notorious prison.

Inmates could see the bright lights of the city ... and even hear revellers over the water on the quay.

As you travel south the Golden Gate Bridge emerges from behind the Marin headlands.

San Francisco skyline
San Francisco skyline
Almost there ...

On arriving at the city I waited for the other passengers to disembark before wheeling my bike off the ferry.

Second World War II submarine

I was immediately surrounded by the tourist maelstrom of Fisherman's Wharf.

Vessels of various vintages

This was such a contrast with the peace of the Tiburon Peninsula that I was keen to move on.

The old piers on the harbour front have been redeveloped to support a wide range of tourist attractions ... including at least four outlets renting bikes so that tourists can cycle over the bridge.

Tram rails ... ready to catch unwary cyclists

I pushed my way past any number of gift shops, clam stalls, ice cream outlets, T-shirts shops and museums

South End Rowing Club

Fortunately little traffic finds its way along the quay front ... the main dangers to cyclists are the large number of pedestrians and the tram lines which cross the road at an angle.

Ready to zoom off The Cannery The square rigged Balclutha
Hyde Street Pier Three Balclutha

Setting off westward towards the Golden Gate Bridge I passed the Hyde Street Pier and the old red brick Ghiradelli Chocolate Factory.

Ghiradelli Chocolates
The San Francisco Fire Department A San Francisco Fire Engine
The Bridge from the south The approach to the bridge

Beyond the chocolate factory a new bicycle trail takes you along the Presidio and Crissy Field all the way to the foot of the bridge.

Plenty to take in Cyclists cross on different sides of the bridge ... depending on the time of day

Just before the bridge is the appropriately named Warming Hut which contains a small shop and café. As there were clearly no refreshment stops on the bridge ... I decided that it was a good place to stop for lunch.

Cyclists and pedestrians share the path

Suitably refreshed ... I peddled slowly up the hill to join the combined pedestrian-bike path over the bridge.

Rivets running all the way to the top of one of the towers

The previous day at the Jimtown Store I'd been warned how noisy the bridge path can be ... 'imagine standing alongside a real busy highway' ... so my expectations of the crossing weren't high.

Luckily a gentle breeze and the open aspect of the bridge served to reduce the impact of the traffic noise from the busy Highway 101.

One of the towers

The bridge crosses the Bay 225' above the ocean. From this height you get dramatic views back east to the City.

Cyclists slow down

As you pass the towers the wind drops ... and you have to be careful not to wobble into the barriers.

View ahead to the Marin Headlands and Sausalito Reassuringly thick suspension cable Cars zipping by on the 101
View ahead to Horseshoe Cove View back to the south Dropping down Alexander Avenue to Sausalito
Final descent into Sausalito

On the north side of the bridge you arrive above Lime Point and the car park at Vista Point.

Shorefront in Sausalito

I arrived just after a grandmother and her daughter on a rented tandem ... she was ecstatic that she had managed to cross the bridge by pedal power alone.

Shops in Sausalito

From the viewpoint it is an easy descent down Alexander Avenue into the Bayside town of Sausalito.

Old timbers on the pier

Sausalito is a popular day trip from San Francisco and the main drag .. Bridgeway Avenue ... contains pricey shops and expensive restaurants.

Caffe Tutti Loading the ferry
Lady Bug flower shop ... should that be ladybird?

Like other bayside communities houses are piled on the hillsides above the town to make best use of the views.

A bike lane ... let's park here and stand around talking

I cycled on past the Sausalito Yacht Club and the pier where the ferry was taking on a fresh load of passengers.

Another Airstream Trailer

Leaving town you pass a series of exclusive marinas ... with plenty of signs to make sure that you know they are exclusive.

I also spotted another Airstream Trailer ... I didn't seem to be able to get away from them on this trip.

Houseboats Houseboats
Houseboats Houseboats
Houseboats A bike shop

North of the marina lies one legacy of Sausalito's past.

A colony of houseboats and converted barges fronts the shore.

The bikepath alongside Highway 101

Some are imaginatively decorated and immaculately maintained ... whilst others are decaying and slowly sinking into the water.

A straight stretch of bikepath .. with Mount Tamalpais ahead

The residents are resisting plans to evict them and to build another exclusive marina.

Beyond the houseboats I joined a custom bike path. The path is briefly joined by Highway 101 which then turns away northward to bridge a creek of Richardson Bay.

Seaplane offering trips around the bay ... presumably more quickly than by bike

Cyclists don't have the luxury of a bridge and have to wind their way around the creek and then trace a rather tortuous route which passes back under the 101 and around Strawberry Point.

Highway 101 crossing an arm of Richardson Bay View back to the Highway 101 bridge
Creek near Strawberry Point View back down to Belvedere Island and San Francisco beyond

As I pedalled the last few kilometres back to Blackie's Pasture the sun came out and the water began to sparkle.

You can see why people compete to make their home alongside the Bay ... let's just hope they leave some space for the houseboats.

 

Kirby James