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San Francisco Road Ride

For a huge change of pace, I rode from Saratoga to the Golden Gate Bridge and back. This was a good ride: long, big city riding, great sights, varied weather conditions and a few new challenges.


Park: San Francicso Road Ride
Date: October 26, 2013
Distance: 109 miles
Ride Time: 7:26
Total Ascent: 7,742 feet
Maps: San Francisco Road Ride
Overall Rating: 8
SF Route SF Elevation Profile

I got a late start at about 9:00AM after assembling what seemed like the right (and minimal) gear. It was cool and overcast but the sun was starting to pop out as I rode. My route was more through towns rather than through the country, taking Foothill Expressway to the Alameda del las Pulgas all the way to Ralston Ave in Belmont. After climbing up Ralston, I did a quick descent down Polhemus Road to Crystal Springs Road and headed up to the reservoir and rode up to San Bruno Avenue, my farthest point north in all my previous rides.

This is where things started to get interesting. I was following a rider heading towards Pacifica, so I headed north on Skyline Blvd. This was no big deal as the road was wide with a good size bike lane. I rode past the Pacifica turnoff and was making pretty good time when I notice the road went from 2 lanes each direction to a divided road with 4 lanes heading my directions. There had been no signs about any changes and I figured out that I must be on a freeway as it widened out to 4 lanes in each direction. I passed a "Share the Road with Bicycles" sign, so maybe I wasn't on a freeway. Then I came to an interchange with 2 lanes going right and 2 straight. Of course, I needed to go straight. Making this crossing and 3 more interchange ramps and I was finally back to a "regular" road. It was doable since there wasn't much traffic, but this could have been a real mess.

Having survived that, I continued on to the Great Highway. Where there had been sunshine and cool air was now dark, foggy, damp and cold (under 50 degrees) with a slight breeze. I held a good pace due to the straight road and only a few real intersections (but oddly placed stop light in the middle of nothing for pedestrian crossings) and to keep warm. I rode past the zoo and Ocean Beach and the weather started clearing.

After a bit of unexpected navigation through the city, including a very nice tour of Golden Gate Park, I went through the Presidio and out to the Golden Gate Bridge for an over and back ride. The east (bay) side of the bridge is pedestrians only and the west (ocean) side is for bicycles only. There was quite a mix of fast bikes heading to Marin county to ride and tourists on rental bikes crossing the bridge at completely different speeds but it all worked out. Interestingly, some parts of the bridge were very foggy and others were sunny. The sounds of the fog horns was very nice.

After navigating my way back through the Presido and out to Lands End I got back on the Great Highway and started back. Rather than brave the freeway again, I headed into Daly City and detoured around the interchange using Southgate Ave., Callan Blvd. and Westborough to get back to Highway 35. There seems to be an alternative route on the other side of Highway 35 on Skyline Drive that might be worth a try in the future. The rest of the ride was either a retrace of the earlier route (to Ralston) where I cut over to Canada Road.

I was making good time but unfortunately I ran out of daylight and I had to cut my ride short due to darkness and call the SAG wagon. Reluctantly, I called the ride due to darkness, packed my bike in her car and headed home. I had another 13.90 miles and 1,217 feet of climbing to finish the round trip.

There are some more details in a San Francisco ride report.

I passed through 4 counties and a lot of cities on this ride:

  1. Saratoga
  2. San Jose
  3. Cupertino
  4. Sunnyvale
  5. Los Altos
  6. Los Altos Hills
  7. Palo Alto
  8. Stanford
  9. Menlo Park
  10. West Menlo Park
  11. Atherton
  12. Redwood City
  13. San Carlos
  14. Belmont
  15. San Mateo
  16. Highlands - Baywood Park
  17. Hillsborough
  18. Millbrae
  19. San Bruno
  20. South San Francisco
  21. Pacifica
  22. Daly City
  23. San Francisco
  24. Marin County
  25. Portola Valley
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