Sunday, September 29, 2013

Cycling out of San Francisco: loaded mini-tour

My pannier-equipped city bike poses on the Golden Gate bridge
I've been thinking about loaded bike touring again. I went on a loaded tour a few years ago in the Canadian Rockies and it was really great. But, since my injury a few year back, I haven't been confident that I could pedal a heavily-loaded bike.

Approaching aquatic park during sunrise
A work-offsite in nearby Marin presented a great opportunity-- I'd pedal my commuter bike with two panniers to the one-night, two-day retreat. How would I do with a light load?

Golden Gate bridge at sunrise, viewed from Fort Mason
I left the house at around 6:30 am, aiming to get to Fort Baker by my 8am conference call. I had two panniers, with about 22.5 pounds of gear (I weighed them when I got home :)  ). Why so heavy? I took along my lead-brick laptop, heavy charger and a heavy lock, along with two days of clothing, toiletries, bike clothes, and shoes. 

My destination: Cavallo Point in Fort Baker
I rolled along the Embarcadero just as dawn broke. The Bay bridge lights twinkled as I rode under the bridge. The traffic was fairly light and I made good time to Fort Mason, where I stopped to take some pictures of the bridge in the pretty dawn light.  In no time at all, I was on the Golden Gate bridge.

Golden Gate bridge viewed from Fort Baker. The glass structure is a viewing stand built for the America's Cup
I took the eastern sidewalk of the bridge for the first time even- not congested at 7:30 am, and I was pleasantly surprised to see a steady stream of riders heading into the city from Marin. I rolled up to Cavallo Point in Fort Baker in Marin in good time for my conference call. What a great commute!

View from the top of Hawk Hill- the morning was clear and gorgeous with hardly any fog!
The next morning, I rode up Hawk Hill with some work colleagues (I left the panniers in my room). It was a glorious clear morning and the ride was a lot of fun.  After a morning of meetings, I loaded up my bike and headed home, back across the bridge and through the Presidio, etc.  

Sunrise viewed from Hawk Hill
How did it go? I think it was a smashing success. The two panniers balanced one another and the bike handled very well, even out of the saddle (I notice some shimmy when I ride with just one pannier when commuting). I really didn't notice the weight or bulk of the panniers and I think this is tremendously encouraging for my prospects on a longer tour! While 22.5 pounds is probably a pretty light load for a camping tour, I think that this will do me just fine on a credit card tour, where I'd stay in hotels and largely eat at restaurants. I may try to do a short tour in the next couple of months. Excited!


djconnel said...


Yokota Fritz said...

Bike tour to work sounds kind of heavenly :-Y

NadiaMac said...

Yes, it was a lot of fun. I have another work trip to Sonoma in a few weeks and I am considering if I can get to that one by bike as well. It's a bit far for me at the moment and a longer trip, so not sure if it will work