The last time I was in the SF Bay Area a few years ago was to follow the first few stages of the Tour of California up Mt. Diablo, Folsom, and Sacramento. My biggest regret was not having my bike with me and the cost of decent rental outweighed the amount of use I'd actually get out of it. It's a shame that it's taken this long for me to find my way back, properly equipped this time.
I flew into SF on the Thursday morning before Grinduro with the intent of finally experiencing a ride in the Marin Headlands, but the funny thing is how my interest has shifted in the intervening years; where I once dreamed of carving down the roads surrounding Mt. Tamalpais, I now wanted nothing more than to jam on some dirt single track.
Some Internet sleuthing led me to the Stammtisch Ride, a ~2 hour social ride starting at Rapha San Francisco up into the headlands and finishing with post-ride bratwurst and hydration at Biergarten. The routes apparently vary between tarmac and dirt-centric options, but with Grinduro coming up that weekend, it seemed like 99% of the folks who showed up were on knobblies. There were one or two who came on road bikes with slicks, but it wasn't a huge deal; the ride starts on some mellow multi-use path and asphalt and those riders had the option of continuing up on paved surfaces while everybody else took things off-road.
It's easy to take for granted the usual route(s) over the Lion's Gate Bridge here in Vancouver and the views from the North Shore. Crossing the Golden Gate felt both familiar and new at the same time and it was refreshing to see a different part of the Pacific Coast, especially as the sun set. With both WestJet and Alaska Airlines' more lenient policies regarding bikes as luggage, I hope to be able to come back to do more exploring in the area in the not too distant future.