Bicycling in San Francisco

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yukonjack
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Bicycling in San Francisco

Post by yukonjack » Thu Aug 01, 2013 6:28 pm

I have a short trip planned to SF and was interested in cycling in the city. I will be staying downtown and was thinking of doing a ride across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito and possibly another through Golden Gate Park. The ride would probably be on a Sunday. Are these trips recommended by some of you with experience. Also, are there any bike rental shops that you would recommend? I noticed that there are shops that just do rentals and then there are traditional bike shops. Not sure which would be the best. Thanks for any tips.

swaption
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Re: Bicycling in San Francisco

Post by swaption » Thu Aug 01, 2013 7:00 pm

So cool, actually sitting here on a flight home from San Francisco. My wife and I rented bikes at Blazing Saddles. Several locations, mostly near Fishermans Wharf. We were staying on Market Street, so we took an early morning cable car ride from Powell to Hyde, and Blazing Saddles was right there. Really an efficient operation getting lots of people in and out. They give you a ferry ticket good for Sausalito of for the longer ride to Tiburon. Maps and directions are very clear. We did the self guided thing, but guided tour also available. Discounts available on maps and local guide books. Timing is flexible and I believe you might be able to return the bike the next day, but has to be same location. Bike included helmet and lock. Cost was about $31 after $5 discount. Awesome activity.

We walked Golden Gate Park, but a bike might be better as it is quite big.

Make sure you spend time at the Ferry Terminal Market. Really great food options everywhere. Farmers Market on Saturday was particularly good. Also, bring warm clothes.

Stonebr
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Re: Bicycling in San Francisco

Post by Stonebr » Thu Aug 01, 2013 7:40 pm

yukonjack wrote:I have a short trip planned to SF and was interested in cycling in the city. I will be staying downtown and was thinking of doing a ride across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito and possibly another through Golden Gate Park. The ride would probably be on a Sunday. Are these trips recommended by some of you with experience. Also, are there any bike rental shops that you would recommend? I noticed that there are shops that just do rentals and then there are traditional bike shops. Not sure which would be the best. Thanks for any tips.
There are several bike rental places near Fishermans Wharf area. I have no idea which one we used -- I think it's an efficient market. The idea is to ride the bike across the bridge to Sausalito or Tiburon and take a ferry back to SF. Part of the bike rental package is a bad map and a good ferry schedule. After the ferry you ride along Embarcadero back to the bike rental place. My wife and I did it a few years ago. It's scenic and not terribly difficult if you are already semi-fit. We started around 10:30 AM and were back to Fisherman's Wharf well before happy hour. That included a leisurely lunch in Sausalito on the waterfront and lots of photo stops.
"have more than thou showest, | speak less than thou knowest" -- The Fool in King Lear

rj49
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Re: Bicycling in San Francisco

Post by rj49 » Thu Aug 01, 2013 8:05 pm

I was in SF for a few days on a cruise, and rented a bike from Blazing Saddles also. They gave me a limited map that helped, and I skipped the Golden Gate/Sausalito/Ferry (fear of heights and bridges). Instead I biked to the Presidio, which has lots of roads for biking (although it's easy to get lost there). Then I followed the bike route south to Golden Gate park and visited the art museums there and rode through the park. Then I followed paths going back downtown and found a reasonably non-hilly street going through downtown and back down to Fisherman's Wharf. I was able to get a good bike ride in and see a lot of museums and sites, but I do a lot of urban riding in Seattle, so I'm comfortable with city riding. The city has a site where you can look at their bike paths and map out something you like, and there are sites like bikely.com that probably have some SF bike ride routes you can print out or download to a GPS or smart phone. Another option is to see if SF has a bike club with a Sunday ride at your pace, and then just join in and have a ride leader show you around. If you really want it easy, one of the bike rentals has electric bikes, which are good for the hills. Lots of people ride in SF, and even going through downtown during rush hour wasn't too scary for me, although on a Sunday I'd be very careful around Fisherman's Wharf, which will have a ton of tourists sharing the bike/pedestrian paths.

rj49
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Re: Bicycling in San Francisco

Post by rj49 » Thu Aug 01, 2013 8:15 pm

One other idea...if you get a Go San Francisco Card, it includes an all-day bike rental (with optional upgrade to an electric bike), as as well as admission to most museums and other tours around the city...definitely a good value. I've used the Go Card for LA and SD, and saved a lot of money and was encouraged to see and try a lot of new things using the cards.

http://www.smartdestinations.com/san-fr ... fo_Prod_Go

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g$$
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Re: Bicycling in San Francisco

Post by g$$ » Thu Aug 01, 2013 9:58 pm

its a fun bike ride. you can take the ferry back from sausolito if you're too tired to bike back.

-g$$

Harold
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Re: Bicycling in San Francisco

Post by Harold » Thu Aug 01, 2013 10:22 pm

Seeing the city by bicycle is about the best way to see it. I often compartmentalize tourists into those who miss the real city by shuttling between Union Sq and Fisherman's Wharf -- and those who immerse themselves in the city by getting on bikes and going farther afield.

Although any part of the city is accessible by bicycle, you'd likely find that much of the northeastern part is congested and even a bit scary because of traffic -- similarly much of the southern part is more car-oriented. Based on what you describe -- the Presidio, Marin, and Golden Gate Park would be ideal for you. You could even combine that into one glorious route.

You could head from downtown (or wherever you get your bike -- can't really help there) to the northern waterfront, then to the Presidio (I'd make my way to Arguello, either from the main post or the Arguello Gate -- then take Washington across), then across the bridge to Marin. Rather than turning towards Sausalito, you should follow the other bikes up the hill -- which will open up to one of the most spectacular urban area rides you'll ever find. Going down the hill it feels like just you and the ocean. The road then loops back towards the bridge, and you have a choice of taking McCullough Road back up the hill so you get another glorious view of the bay and city as you head back to the bridge -- or if you're tired, you can stay straight and go through a tunnel back to the bridge. Then when you go back over the bridge, turn right onto Lincoln for another fantastic downhill, then head through the palaces of Sea Cliff, up El Camino del Mar to the Legion of Honor (nice museum if you want to stop), then down the hill and take a right on Clement which after a little climb will give you another nice downhill to Land's End. Can then hug the ocean past the Cliff House and down to Ocean Beach and turn onto JFK to head back into the city through Golden Gate Park. (A big stretch of JFK is closed to cars on Sunday -- which is really nice.) After writing this, I'm ready to jump on my bike and go do it -- it's wonderful.

Depending on your fitness or time level, that might be ambitious -- but I can't think of a better way to spend a few hours. You could of course do only pieces of that.

Here are a couple of clips of that ride in Marin:

Going up - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcZrjCg23do

And going down - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fnPN_wJQvQo

jhd
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Re: Bicycling in San Francisco

Post by jhd » Thu Aug 01, 2013 10:39 pm

SF resident here too. Harold's advice is spot on - sticking with Fisherman's Wharf and Union Square is like going to NYC and only seeing Times Square. The former is mostly just tourists, and the latter is mostly just shopping. The best parts of San Francisco are the outdoor spaces and the neighborhoods. Try Golden Gate Park, Presidio, Land's End Trail, the Golden Gate Bridge, Marin, Alamo Square, and the like. Beyond that, maybe just explore. It's an interesting city.

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yukonjack
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Re: Bicycling in San Francisco

Post by yukonjack » Fri Aug 02, 2013 9:35 am

Harold wrote:Seeing the city by bicycle is about the best way to see it. I often compartmentalize tourists into those who miss the real city by shuttling between Union Sq and Fisherman's Wharf -- and those who immerse themselves in the city by getting on bikes and going farther afield.

Although any part of the city is accessible by bicycle, you'd likely find that much of the northeastern part is congested and even a bit scary because of traffic -- similarly much of the southern part is more car-oriented. Based on what you describe -- the Presidio, Marin, and Golden Gate Park would be ideal for you. You could even combine that into one glorious route.

You could head from downtown (or wherever you get your bike -- can't really help there) to the northern waterfront, then to the Presidio (I'd make my way to Arguello, either from the main post or the Arguello Gate -- then take Washington across), then across the bridge to Marin. Rather than turning towards Sausalito, you should follow the other bikes up the hill -- which will open up to one of the most spectacular urban area rides you'll ever find. Going down the hill it feels like just you and the ocean. The road then loops back towards the bridge, and you have a choice of taking McCullough Road back up the hill so you get another glorious view of the bay and city as you head back to the bridge -- or if you're tired, you can stay straight and go through a tunnel back to the bridge. Then when you go back over the bridge, turn right onto Lincoln for another fantastic downhill, then head through the palaces of Sea Cliff, up El Camino del Mar to the Legion of Honor (nice museum if you want to stop), then down the hill and take a right on Clement which after a little climb will give you another nice downhill to Land's End. Can then hug the ocean past the Cliff House and down to Ocean Beach and turn onto JFK to head back into the city through Golden Gate Park. (A big stretch of JFK is closed to cars on Sunday -- which is really nice.) After writing this, I'm ready to jump on my bike and go do it -- it's wonderful.

Depending on your fitness or time level, that might be ambitious -- but I can't think of a better way to spend a few hours. You could of course do only pieces of that.

Here are a couple of clips of that ride in Marin:

Going up - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcZrjCg23do

And going down - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fnPN_wJQvQo
Wow Harold thanks so much for the details and thanks to everyone for the ideas. I'm really looking forwarding to cycling in such a grand city. I've visited SF numerous times but have never rented a bike. Thanks again to all.

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