Peak of the Month: The Bayway to San Bruno Mtn

21 Oct

There are peaks like Mt. Diablo and Mt Tamalpais that are destination rides for cyclists from all over the Bay Area. There are peaks like Twin Peaks that are destination drives for tourists from all over the world. Then there are peaks like San Bruno Mountain that are largely ignored, despite their impressive views of the bay and coast.

The name doesn’t help. San Bruno the city is your basic working town: more grit that glamor, more substance than style. And the peak’s principal landmark is a Hollywood-style sign that proclaims “The Industrial City.” So it was only fitting that the route for this month’s peak ride explored the grittier side of the Peninsula, the often-abused land along San Francisco Bay, the home of garbage dumps, heavy industry and even a county jail.

Located just south of San Francisco, San Bruno Mountain is 40 or so miles north of Mountain View so we planned to ride from there and take Caltrain back. The route was loosely based on the “Bayway” route that the San Francisco to Google (SF2G) long distance commuters take every day.

None of us had ridden the complete route before, but we were able to piece it together without too many stops and no wrong-way detours. In addition to the grittier side, our route along the bay offered well-built bike paths sandwiched between the freeway and the bay, the headquarters of high-tech and biotech giants, jets landing and taking off, a multitude of bridges and fewer joggers and dog walkers than I expected.

The ascent up San Bruno Mountain was relatively short, relatively steep in a few places, with views of the city and the bay, Twin Peaks and Mt Diablo. And like all respectable peaks, it had more than its fair share of aging radio towers. We dropped down the ocean side into the fog, whistled quickly through the graveyards of Colma and managed to find something decent to eat in the industrial city at the base of an underrated peak.

Do you have favorite routes that you consider scenic in an non-traditional way? What is it about the routes that appeals to you?

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Posted by on October 21, 2012 in Backroads


4 responses to “Peak of the Month: The Bayway to San Bruno Mtn

  1. georgie o

    October 22, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    We’ve returned from a lovely 2 weeks holiday in San Francisco. Two of the best rides we did were up Sweeney Ridge and even better, up to Chabot Space Station. Lovely to get away from the usual places that people choose to ride. How many tourists from the North of England have cycled either of those!? Not many I suspect.

    • ladyfleur

      October 22, 2012 at 4:16 pm

      You definitely found some local secrets. I’ve ridden up to the Chabot Space Center as part of an organized ride, but I’ve never been up Sweeney Ridge. I didn’t even know it was open. The neighboring land south is part of the San Francisco watershed and is closed to the public except by special passes/permission.

      I rode with a group once there and it was very interesting. So much animal scat on the gravel roads. With no people in the park, they use the road more than animals do in most places.

      • georgie o

        October 22, 2012 at 4:21 pm

        Chabot was certainly my favourite part of my holiday. We left late after the centre closed and had just the moonlight and our bike lights to lead the way.
        We cycled up from San Bruno BART onto the northern part of the ridge. At the top its dirt tracks. The bit with the water treatment areas isnt open, but you can ride on top of the ridge and there are some views. The descent to Pacifica was fuuuun – but blazing sunshine on top, dropping into that cold fog. Brrrr! We were prepared thankfully.


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