Best Bike Ride - 2002
Marin Headlands Loop
With their careening, rocky shoreline, rolling coastal hills, and bountiful wildlife, the Marin Headlands are about as perfect a place as you'll find for an in-town vacation. Oddly, except for surfers and cyclists, the Headlands are all but ignored by locals. As the season of long summer evenings nears, the two-hour ride to Point Bonita and back makes for a perfect after-work spin -- a sort of miniature version of a weekend in Yosemite. After punching out and changing clothes, ride across the west-side bike lane on the Golden Gate Bridge, go through the gravelly parking lot that follows the bike lane, then turn left at Conzelman Road. For the next mile and a half you'll struggle up a 12 percent grade until you reach an overlook parking lot, and the start of a single-lane, cliff-side descent that has to be one of the most spectacular -- and dangerous -- in the Bay Area. Turn right onto Bunker Road for a rolling mile or so to McCullogh Road, then turn right for another half-mile of climbing back to Conzelman Road. From there, descend back to the Golden Gate Bridge and head home. On a good day you might see bobcats, hawks, snakes, and every manner of vermin -- one lone cyclist even claimed to have seen a mountain lion. Which makes for a great change of pace after a day at the office.