PCH Tour: Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

Day 43 – I was up early to shower and ready all my gear. I made some quick PB&Js and had some coffee with Russ, Wes and Debbie. It was time to say our goodbyes and to thank them for their friendship and hospitality. I had an amazing stay and it was sad to be parting ways. We exchanged hugs and I jumped on my bike, Trixie. I pushed off alone into the cloudy morning.

I headed south out of town, where I pedaled alongside kids on the way to school. At a stoplight, about 10 mins down the road, someone came up behind me in a truck yelling, “get off the road!” I turned around and it was Wes and Russ heading off to the Buckhorn. We laughed and waived and said goodbye one last time.

From there it was an easy straight ride south to Route 37. I passed farms full of sheep, and was passed by dozens of semi-trucks and a ton of rush hour traffic. I made great time, and my legs were feeling amazing after the days of rest. The clouds parted and the sun came out as I turned onto 37. It was an easy ride until I got to a narrow bridge that had a good 100 ft climb in the middle. Semis were passing me as I approached. The shoulder all but disappeared. I lucked out and got a gap in the traffic as I went up the bridge. At the top I had to dodge a 50 gal trash can that took up the entire shoulder. I sped down the other side and was glad to get back to my big shoulder.

Once I got to Novato, the route became more complex. I had to keep checking my Google Maps to find the turns. It was a collection of bike paths and side roads that paralleled the 101. I stopped in Novato for a quick sandwich and coffee, then made my way through town. I came across a great path that took me into the north end of Sausalito. I stopped again for a real meal, and to double check my route over the Golden Gate Bridge. I knew there were two sides of the bridge that bikes could travel, but I also heard that one side closed to bikes depending on the time of day. At the same time I found out that my couchsurfing host had a guest that planned on staying another day. So she was unable to host me. I decided not to worry too much about it and messaged another guy, named Paul, to see if his offer to stay at his place was still available.

After eating I went next door to a bike shop and asked them for guidance on the bridge crossing. He made it sound pretty simple. Follow the road that we were on, go up a hill and head toward the bridge. Okay, seemed simple enough. I passed through the city of Sausalito. There were all kinds of great looking shops and restaurants next to the bay. I grabbed some photos of the islands before heading up the hill. It was steep and I had to downshift to my granny gear, but after all of the crazy coastline and big climbs, that hill seemed like cake.

At the top I could see the Golden Gate in the distance. Headwinds from the ocean smacked into me as I came down to an intersection. I could go left to the east side crossing, or straight ahead through a tunnel for the west side crossing. It looked like there was a vista point near the east entrance to the bridge, so I turned and headed there.

I was finally at the edge of the bridge. It was the first time that I had seen the Golden Gate Bridge. It was an amazing site. Tons of tourists gathered to take photos. I started to snap some with my 7D, when I noticed that my camera was giving me an error. I kept fiddling with it and then had to resort to formatting the CF card. I lost a ton of photos that I took earlier in the day, but I had to get shots of the bridge. Luckily, the camera began to function again, and I snapped away.

Golden Gate Bridge North End

After soaking it all in, I decided to make my way across the bridge. I went down to where I saw pedestrians coming up from the sidewalk. That’s when I noticed the, no bikes beyond this point sign. I thought about walking it down the east side, but then I decided to backtrack it to the west side and ride over properly. I went back to the intersection and turned left to go through the tunnel. I saw the bike route as I went back up a hill, but then I saw signs for another viewing point way up a big climb. I could tell that the view would be good from there, so I said, “Screw it,” and pedaled my way up.

The wind was strong and almost knocked me over a couple of times. I was out off breath at the top, but the views were so worth it. I snapped tons of photos. After exploring a few different lookout sites, I coasted back down the hill and over to the bridge entrance. There was a strong cross wind, and I had to slow to let people squeeze past me coming from the other direction. It was an awesome experience, going over the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time, and I was on a bicycle that I rode all the way down from Vancouver. The ride over was one of the most rewarding experiences of the trip.

John Jurko Goden Gate Bridge

I stopped on the bridge and grabbed some more photos before pedaling over to the other side. I got off the bridge and found a good spot at the base to get a picture. I found someone to snap a photo of me holding my bike over my head next to the bridge, to continue the tradition that Rama and the Hammock Guys had started. I biked lazily along the coast toward the Fisherman’s Wharf. I found out that Paul had room for me at his place for a couple of nights. Things always seem to work their way out. I could ride around the wharf and then bike up to his place in the Mission District around 7pm.

It felt like I had come full circle when I got to the wharf. It’s the first place that I visited when my sister Candace and I came out to the West Coast a few years back. I got some clam chowder in a bread bowl to commemorate our last visit. The wind off of the bay was cold. I put on my wind breaker and began the few mile ride up Market Street. There were a ton of cyclists riding in the rush hour traffic. I hung along with them, dodging cable cars and pedestrians.

I found my way to Paul’s place and waited outside until he got back from work. When he arrived, we chatted a bit and I cleaned up. That night we went and grabbed a beer and talked about my adventure and some adventures that he was planning for the future. We ended the night at a karaoke comedy night, where we watched some newbies try to make the crowed laugh. It had been an epic 70 mile day. I went to bed excited to explore the city in the morning.

(Repost of my 2014 Pacific Coast Tour Instagrams)

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