WHEN your brother visits for the week and you live on opposite coasts, you try and cram as much fun into a week as humanly possible. We tried our best. Not only did he want to see all of San Francisco, but he was looking for a real sense of the bay area and to understand what California has to offer. Well it turns out a week is not nearly enough to do all of things we wanted…but after his visit something tells me he will be back to the area very soon. Highlights of our week trekking through the city included: a drink filled night with Europeans in North Beach, admiring all things Hippy in the Haight, a local’s only visit to Chinatown, and much more. After thinking back on the visit, we both agreed without question that the stand out day – the one when we truly did the bay area proud – was our bike ride from downtown San Francisco to Tiburon and back.
It was a clear and sunny sunday afternoon and we knew this was the day to do some sightseeing so we made our way to the downtown hub of San Francisco, getting off at the Embarcadero BART stop and finding the Bike and Roll tent on Market St.
A signature later, and we were peddling our rented bikes, passing Porsche convertibles, and smiling as everyone else wished they were doing what we were. Picking up the pace, we cruised through Fisherman’s Wharf and passed Ghirardelli Square. The ocean came into view and somehow it all looked fake – the unnaturally blue water, the bright burnt-orange colored Bridge and a million toy boats bobbing out at sea. The first hour of our ride was spent making photo-op pit stops along the way and then we were right under the Golden Gate Bridge. Where the roads had been clear and set for smooth riding, the 100 meters before the bridge were jammed with tourists from every continent, and the bridge itself was overflowing with bodies. A real clusterfuck. The views were too nice and the breeze felt too good to get worried about the crowds, and so we walked our bikes like pet poodles by our side and tried to soak in all 360 degrees.
Once we crossed the bridge the roads opened and we zipped down steep, curving roads with the whites of our eyes looking like dinner plates. 15-20 minutes later and we had entered the resort town of Sausalito. There’s something distinctly Italian about this area of the bay – beautiful homes dot the hillside which look back across the bay with a panoramic view of the San Francisco skyline. It had been an hour of biking so far and breakfast felt like years ago and so we locked up the bikes and found a gourmet deli from the old country. Sitting at a street side table, we unwrapped our meal from the crisp, white butcher paper and scarfed down fresh caprese sandwiches with droplets of balsamic vinegar falling from our faces, washing it all down with a little red wine.
It would have been easy to call it a day… have another glass of wine and just sit and admire this nice town and eventually, at some point much later in the day, get tickets for the boat from Sausalito back to San Francisco. Trust me we thought about it. Standing at the ticket booth we could see a ridiculously long line coiled back into the distance, the old man in charge looked as though he had been alive for centuries and seen more than his share, he turned to his friend and said, “Geez I don’t think I’ve ever seen it this busy… half of these people aren’t going back”. He followed with a hard, wheezy laugh and several coughs.
My brother and I had talked about riding farther on for another hour and a half to the next town of Tiburon and it turned out this was the little nudge we needed. The old timer pointed us in the right direction, handed us a ferry schedule, and told us to grab a beer at Sam’s once we get there. Yes sir.
The bike ride from Sausalito to Tiburon was incredible. We had escaped it all…no more tourists, cars, traffic, etc. just the open road and a warm sun above us. Peddling without a care, we made our way up and down steep slopes – huffing our way up and effortlessly rushing down. At one point we reached a perfect resting place and sat on a dry, beach-wood bench, letting the sun and cool ocean breeze dry the sweat on my forehead and the back of my neck, I turned to see my brother bobbing his head ever so slightly, and he didn’t have to say anything really, we both were thinking “Yep this definitely does not suck”.
Back on the bikes for the final stretch, we finally coasted into Tiburon as the sun was beginning to sink towards the horizon. The town is oh my how much does that house cost beautiful, and without herds of tourists clogging up the streets, we peddled like two kids riding around their own block. Pulling up to the ferry dock we were glad to be done with the ride, and now only had to kill an hour before taking the boat back across to San Francisco. We walked down the street lined with restaurants and found a bright deck right on the water with shady umbrellas, good music, and drinks on every table. The sign above said, “Sam’s”.
After a beer or two, the general tightening and tiredness of all muscles, and the warm sun shining on us, we may or may not have been too distracted. Who knows maybe we just didn’t want the day to end. By the time we made our way back to the ferry dock, we knew it was too late for our 6:30pm ride back. The boat honked a cold goodbye and departed. Ooops oh well. When you’ve had a day that good it really doesn’t matter. We were able to find chinese food to go and eat our dinner while we waited for the next ferry at 8pm. The boat back across was a thirty minute cruise and enjoying another beer, we watched as ominous clouds and waves of fog rolled in, the sun dipped under, and one really good day came to a close.
Highlights of the bike ride from San Francisco to Tiburon and the ferry back.