The mother of all views of the Golden Gate Bridge has to be the ride up and over Conzelman Road on the Marin headlands west of the bridge.
On Saturday morning, cyclists get the first shot at a group ride – without cars – up Conzelman kicking off at 9 a.m. The ride celebrates the reopening of Upper-Conzelman Road as part of the initial phase of construction improvements along the Marin Headlands.
“This is really to say thank you to the bicyclists who have been so patient and wonderful during construction in this popular riding area,” said Alexandra Picavet, spokeswoman for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. “We know many people love that ride.”
People will gather at 8:30 a.m. on the Northwest Bridge parking lot, where Conzelman intersects with Alexander Avenue at the north end of the bridge. The park service will stop auto traffic at 9 a.m. to give bikes a 30 minute head start to shoot up to Hawk Hill overlook where there will be food, some free bike accessories and information booths about the next phase of improvement projects.
Keep in mind this ride is just as tough as ever, even with improvements. It is steep and not for the novice rider trying their wheels for the first time. The steep, single-lane downhill at Hawk Hill will give any newbie the shakes.
It is possible to see some of the fresh construction as far away as San Francisco. A swath of bare mocha-colored hillside can be seen from across the bay, marking the major erosion protection portion of the project.
Picavet said decades of erosion compromised the road and created gullies 20-feet deep and 40-feet wide in some spots. The federal Highways Administration restored the slope and the bare land was hydro-seeded with slurry of wood fiber and native plant seeds. The seeds are protected under jute mats and will sprout next spring, she said.
This is only the first phase of four years of projects to rehabilitate 11 miles of historic roads and trails along the headlands. In February the Northwest Bridge parking lot will be reconfigured and closed for 90 days. And in April another section of Conzelman Road near McCullough Road will be closed for reconstruction to add a bike path, and realign the coastal trail to be a true coastal path closer to the ocean.