Biking the Golden Gate Bridge with Kids

biking the golden gate bridge

The first time I biked across the Golden Gate Bridge, I was still in my mom’s belly. Six months pregnant, my mom made the trek from San Francisco to Tiburon by way of that iconic orange spanway. At least that’s what she told me when I balked at biking the 22-mile route with my son along. The message was clear: if she could do the bike ride pregnant, we could certainly manage it with 4 able-bodied adults and an energetic 5-year-old.

Still, I knew he couldn’t bike the whole thing solo, so I made the decision to tote him on our Mac Ride seat for the trip. The obvious choice for a 22-mile paved ride would be a road bike, but all we had on the trip with us were mountain bikes, so that’s what we used.

On a sunny spring Sunday, we left Pier 41 for our bike outing–three generations of bike-lovers. Our first stop, The Buena Vista, was only a mile or so into the trip. At the iconic breakfast spot, we fueled up for the day and drank Ramos Fizzes (grown-ups) and fresh squeezed orange juice (kid).

Bellies full, we continued on toward the Presidio. The bike path thru the old fort was full of joggers, walkers, and bikers. The ride has become increasingly popular with tourists in recent years, and we had to navigate our way around rented bikes, but the wide path made it easy to do. Fortunately, we weren’t in a hurry. There was plenty to see: sailboats jockeying for a position at the start line of a race, swimmers taking laps in the ice cold bay, cross-fitters swinging kettlebells on the beach.

As we merged our way onto the bridge, the wind picked up and the bike traffic intensified. I held my line as riders zipped past in both directions. At a small pull-out, we stopped to take in the view. Below us, the water swirled menacingly. My son started howling like a wolf and I joined; the experience of the water raging below and the wind raging above was surprisingly primal.

golden gate bridge

We regrouped on the far side of the bridge, as did several other families. We were joined by a dad pulling two kids in a trailer, and a mom pulling one on a trailer-cycle. It was awesome to see other families making the journey as well.

Consumed by this train of bicycle traffic, we descended down to Fort Point and then onto the city streets of downtown Sausalito. This is where most bike tourists end their day, taking the ferry back to the city. We chose to continue on toward Mill Valley and Tiburon.

The bike traffic dwindling, a sense of peace took over. We took our time –stopping to look at houseboats, choosing a book from a little library, and burning energy at a playground. A myriad of bike paths and routes made us feel as if we’ve left the U.S. and landed somewhere in Europe.

Several hours after we began, we ended up at the ferry dock in Tiburon. With time to spare, we bought ice cream cones and lounged on the grass beside the bay.

ferry ride

When the ferry pulled up to take us back to Pier 41, I thanked my mom for encouraging us to do the whole 22 miles. Indeed, thanks to an abundance of bike infrastructure, anybody with a modicum of fitness–pregnant women, kids, grandparents, cubicle-dwellers–should consider doing this ride on their next trip to San Francisco.

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