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San Francisco: Bay Area biking

It’s one thing to have boots on the ground, but two wheels on the road is so much better — especially if you’re visiting the beautiful, temperate San Francisco Bay Area. If you’re seeking fresh air, exercise, and a killer tour of the region, then rent a bicycle, peddle yourself over the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, and get ready to go exploring. Here’s how to get the best out of Bay Area biking.

It’s worth noting: The sport of mountain biking was actually born on the slopes of nearby Mt. Tamalpais, located just north of the city in Marin County. Hop in the saddle and pedal your way to Mill Valley, Sausalito, Fairfax, Bolinas — any of the towns surrounding the mountain that rises from the redwoods of Muir Woods — and you’ll be regaled with stories of the sport’s local founders. These include pioneer Gary Fisher, who notoriously rigged two pogo sticks to the front fork of his bike in the mid-1970s, making him the sole biker on the planet to enjoy front suspension for nearly a decade.

We should mention: there’s no need to bring your own bike with you, as the San Francisco Bay Area has plenty of bicycle rental companies. The various outfits can offer your choice of beach cruiser, road or mountain bike, and some even have hybrid electric bikes for those seeking a little boost up the infamous hills of S.F.

Blazing Saddles, based near Fisherman’s Wharf, outfits riders of all types and skill levels, and sends them off with maps of the area. Follow their advice and cruise over the Golden Gate Bridge before making your way to the lovely fishing village of Sausalito, where lunch, plenty of shops, and photogenic vistas of the city await.

Those who want guaranteed sunshine and a little adrenaline rush can book a Bay Area biking experience with Mountain Biking Marin. The outfit employs seasoned trail riding enthusiasts who know single track, fire road and backcountry routes better than most. Tours include loops through Tennessee Valley (which brings you from lowland scrub through a forest and out to a secluded beach) as well as a 7-mile loop off Lucas Valley Road called “Big Rock”, which is teeming with wildlife and vistas across the North Bay.

A lesser-known destination for bikers is the Western Marin region, which abuts Point Reyes, a thin peninsula that skirts the rugged coastline. Point Reyes National Seashore is a 71,000-acre park teeming with bird sanctuaries, coastal vistas and a staggering number of trails for riders of all levels.

And if big thrills are your speed, don’t skip the opportunity to visit the Lake Tahoe region, three hours inland from San Francisco. The winter ski town is rife with well-maintained trails, for both lakeside and mountain biking adventures.


Written by Brian Berusch

Image credits:

Bay area biking © Todd Barbee, Be Creative Studios
Mt Tamalpais © iStock