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Four Great Road Bike Rides That Avoid The Golden Gate Bridge

Photo by Dan Harrelson at Flickr

Most local riders think of Marin as the ultimate road biking paradise—and in many ways it is. No one can argue that its gorgeous vistas, ocean views and perfect rolling hills make for world-class cycling. But with the Golden Gate Bridge bike lane closed through September, it’s tougher to reach that paradise, especially if you don’t have a car. So with the help of the folks at Mash Transit, the newly opened bike shop on 14th Street, I pulled together four great rides that that will keep you off the bridge and on your saddle. 

You can or try these routes on your own time, or join Mash Transit for their Tuesday morning quick-paced rides (coffee at 7:30 and ride at 8). Feel free to add your own bridge-free rides to the comments section below. Who knows, after trying some of these options, you just might declare Pacifica or Walnut Creek the new biker’s paradise. 

Planet of the Apes Ride: 36 miles round trip

This 36-miler has been a long-time favorite—and sometimes secret—ride for SF cyclists. This ocean-centric route starts at the SF Zoo and ends at the scenic AYH Hostel in Montara, a fun overnight option if you’re into touring. Named after the abandoned stretch of highway that makes you feel like you might actually be the last human on earth, the Planet of the Apes ride is a great alternative to some of Marin’s popular rides. Ride map here.  

Mt Diablo Summit: 38 miles loop, plus a BART ride

East Bay riders know the hulking Mount Diablo well. Its glorious views and steady climb make it a favorite for those who live at its base. With the bridge closure, SF riders should get to know this great ride as well. Consisting of nearly 3,500 feet of climbing, Mt. Diablo can be a real leg burner, but on a sunny day there’s no better place to be. Rumor has it that on really clear days you can see Yosemite’s Half Dome from its apex, but even on ordinary ones you can see all the way to the Farallons. Take BART to the Walnut Creek station and make your way through this hilly wonderland. Ride map here

Peninsula Pedal: 43 miles with Caltrain return or 86 round trip

This is a favorite commuter rider for the growing number of Peninsula tech workers who have opted for their own legs over the shuttle. (This particular map comes from a group of Google cyclists). Consisting of the Cañada bike lane and fun Hillsborough rollers, this ride is a gorgeous and relatively car-free medium length ride. In addition to pedaling along the reservoir, this route has plenty of peel off options, making it great for new riders. Start anywhere in the city and make your way to Skyline Blvd. You can take Caltrain home from Mountain View or Palo Alto, or go the full 86-miles out and back. Added bonus—this ride will give you some of the Marin sun you might be missing. Ride map here. 

City Circuit: 25-mile loop through SF

Even though San Francisco rests on a small plot of land, there’s still plenty of great riding within the city limits. We’ve got ocean views, steep hills and plenty of scenic roads to keep your legs pumping. Here’s a perfect 25 miler that hits up the Embarcadero, Ocean Beach and Twin Peaks, among other city landmarks. And if you’re quick, you can get it all done before the workday even starts. How great is that? Ride map here