Cycling over the iconic Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is scary, surreal and amazing all at once. I imagined it in slow motion so many times before I arrived in the city, yet for some reason my mind managed to erase the fact that I don’t like heights and water. In my fluffy daydreams I also had long Rachel Bilson hair that billowed in the wind and magically never knotted.
The reality is the bridge is long – like a surprising 1.7metres long. It’s super windy thanks to the cars that speed across the bridge and the fact that it’s 67 metres above water. Add a bike to that equation and it’ll have you reaching for a hair-tie within minutes. The fact the bridge doesn’t have any of our tragically English, health and safety barriers means that the views of the bay below really are within reach. It’s exhilarating and strangely hypnotic cycling at such a height.
As most travellers will tell you, it’s not just about the destination though. It’s about the journey, so grab a bike with Blazing Saddles and roll with it.
Blazing Saddles San Francisco
They have a few pick-ups throughout the city so there’s sure to be one by your hotel. Simply stroll in, pick your wheels and get going. You can go for a guided tour (in which case it’s probably best to book ahead) or you can hire the bike and do your own thing. If you want a bit of help and a bit of freedom simply use the little route map on the front handlebars.
If you pass on the offer of a guided tour, here’s a word of warning – San Francisco is a busy city. There are lanes of cars to compete with, lots of tourists and commuters, as well as cable cars and Munis (the buses). Do yourself a favour and decide your plan of action before setting off. It’s hard to shout over the noise to your friend/partner to turn left or to quickly whizz through the lights before they change. That said, most of the roads are those lovely wide American ones and you’ll often find dedicated cycle lanes.
If you’re new to San Fran you’ll undoubtedly want to bike the bridge. It’s of one the city’s most treasured landmarks. Cycle through the beautiful Golden Gate Park and along to Ocean Beach. You’ll get some great shots and you’ll probably make lots of friends as and when you stop.
You’ll be off-road at this point, enjoying the wide, largely flat paths. There are a few little uphill bits just before you get to the bridge where you really have to use your pedal power, but after that it’s pretty easy. Cruise along the bridge, taking it all in. So many films feature the bridge and it’s hard not to think of that scene in X-Men when it’s pulled into the air – or perhaps that’s just my wild imagination. In all seriousness, the views of the bay are gorgeous and it really is an amazing experience.
Once you reach the other end of the bridge follow the winding hill down into the adorable town of Sausalito. It’s so beautiful that it deserves its own blog post (coming soon). Once you’ve explored this spot (and more importantly, refuelled) you can catch the ferry back to San Francisco’s bay (with your bike on board too). Of course, you can cycle back if you’d rather (which is what I was planning to do), but the hill back up to Golden Gate Bridge is a beast. Catch the evening ferry and enjoy watching the sun go down as it shimmers in the water.
The best thing about Blazing Saddles San Francisco is that if you get back to the depot after closing time, you can just pop your bike in the storage unit and check-out with one of their forms. It means that you can enjoy the sunset views without rushing.
Blazing Saddles San Francisco really make it all too easy to enjoy the best bits of the city. It’s a breeze to get your bike and drop it off, they give you as much (or as little handholding) as you need, and they’re rental prices are super cheap. With loads of depots in the city they’re also on hand should you have any problems with your bike. The bikes are sturdy and well-maintained so I doubt you’d run pedal into any issues. Go on, bike the bridge! X
Have you been to San Francisco? Is it somewhere you’d like to go? Are you a fan of bike tours? X