Liquid Air(port)

August 12, 2018    25 miles

Little by little I’m working on riding as much of the 500 miles of the San Francisco Bay Trail as I can. It’s not all official or even all built yet, but there’s a lot of it to ride. One particularly narsty-looking section is near San Francisco International Airport, or SFO. The area north of it is not particularly scenic either. But, it’s flat. And the sky was blue. The marine layer was keeping it cool. I was looking for adventure. A recipe for success, no?

I drove up to a spot just south of the airport where I had ended a ride a couple of years ago. I was about to try riding around a major international airport. Amazingly there are bike lanes on the access roads around it (I even passed a bike parking place). I first saw that riding around here was doable when I learned about the SF2G ride. SF2G is a 45 mile route from SF to the main Google campus in Mountain View. It’s not a pretty ride but a good way to get from A to B.

So here we are at the start, just south of San Francisco International Airport, and first view of the liquid for the August challenge. You can see the fog on the hills to the west, the airport control tower, and this marsh at lowish tide. And what’s hard to see is a plane on the runway to the far left, about to start take-off.
Great riding conditions, eh? I’m not there yet at this point, but let me tell you the air quality at the butt end of the runway is really bad. Now why would that be a surprise to anyone.
About to go under and therefore avoid the spaghetti of the entrances/exits to arrivals and departures.
A freeway to the left, an elevated freeway to the left also, an air train above me, not a lot a traffic right next to me, but the noise was REALLY REALLY LOUD here.

When I got past the main part of the airport I came upon some construction that completely blocked the street. Grrr. The detour would be major and nasty. Ah well. I decided to just poke around the north side of the airport and see what there is to see. There was an alternate part of the Bay Trail I was going to skip but We Are Nothing If Not Flexible (TM) whether we like it or not (TM). I thought it would be fun to get by the water that I only see on takeoffs and landings.

After being thwarted by a construction blockage from continuing north, I decided to just explore the north end of the airport area. It has lots of weird stuff there. Luckily I like exploring industrial areas, and it is right on the water.
I’m at the tip of a teardrop-shaped landform, a shape that is not unknown in marshes, filled long ago. A halfway house and a bus yard live here now. Across the way is Genentech, a biotechnology powerhouse. I’ll be coming back along that way.
The north side of SFO had hangars for repairing jets, cargo offices, FedEx offices, a tank farm for avgas, a water treatment plant (sigh) and the Coast Guard airfield. That’s the Coast Guard hangar off in the distance. It was my turnaround point since a biological imperative was being imperative.
But first we had to make a side trip to check out where the City College of San Francisco has their aerospace technologies classes. Their college mascot is painted on the tail.

As I was exploring the sights I had been thinking about that construction blockage. The SF2G bike route goes through there. Bike commuters around here are being more proactive about keeping ways open through construction, and thankfully the agencies and contractors are listening. So, I was going to look for a way to continue north. Sure enough, though not obvious, there was a way through. Phew.

Aha! There is a way to keep heading north! Secret passages come through again. It wasn’t obvious coming from the south but it sure was as I was heading back. Also, hotels with public restrooms ahead. Phew.

The scenery became office parks and hotels. I knew there were secret passages to find that made the SF2G route so good to secret passage nerds like me.

Another secret passage. To get from one office and hotel park on this side of the bridge to offices and hotels on the other takes a 5 mile route by car. Heh.
As far north as we’re going on the Bay Trail today. The bike paths stubs out just to the left. The city limit for San Francisco runs along the foot of that hill on the right.

When I got as far north as I was gonna get today, there was a couple on a tandem who also were stopped at the end of the path, also hoping the maps were wrong. We had a lovely conversation about doing the AIDS ride and Adventure Cycling and touring and they too were trying to get more miles of the Bay Trail done.

Then it was time to head south. My route was more along the water now. The plan was to maximize the prevailing wind so it would be at my back on the return leg. That plan did not work as well as I thought since the area is so incised at right angles from its shipbuilding days that sometimes I turned right into the wind. Nothing major but shoulda known.

So we start south, this time hugging the shoreline more closely and being on more of the actual Bay Trail. This is the City of Brisbane Marina. Yes, you Aussies, there’s a another Brisbane, just south of San Francisco. Not much to it though.
The shoreline here is pretty rectangular due to all the shipyards and shipping that used to happen here. This inlet was part of a Liberty shipyard during WWII.

It’s interesting how perspective is changed over water or when landforms intervene. That’s the San Francisco skyline in the distance. You wouldn’t think you’d be able to see it so well from so far away.
I actually had a hill to climb.
Just one of many little creeks crossed today. Most are channelized or canalized. This one’s water is amazingly clear. That cheered me.
Speeding through the maze near SFO. Had a tailwind so I was able to get into double digits.
Back where we started. The tide did not wait. Nor did the dozens of planes that took off and landed while I rode.

What I didn’t show you were all the photos with planes in them. They of course were a constant presence. I’d hear a roar and then look for the plane but sometimes wouldn’t see it taking off. Finally I figured out I was also hearing the roar of the jets landing, putting out all that power to slow them down.

I had a lot of fun poking around here.

tricycle tricycle tricycle I want to ride my tricycle tricycle tricycle I want to ride my tricycle I want to ride my trike I want to ride my tricycle I want to ride it where I like (And I like to ride my bicycle too)

7 response to "Liquid Air(port)"

  1. By: Lednar De Nalloh Posted: August 31, 2018

    SFO was my first and last sight of continental US 32 years ago, I bet it’s changed a lot, some nice cycleways

    • By: Kathleen Jones Posted: September 1, 2018

      Yup, SFO is changed, but only a little I’m sure since you saw it. The riding was a lot easier than I thought it would be. And being a Sunday it was a lot nicer than it would be on a work day.

  2. By: Seasidejanet Posted: August 31, 2018

    Glad you enjoyed Brisbane….my son is the Park & Rec Supervisor for the City of Brisbane. Little town but they have good parks and a great swimming pool.

    • By: Kathleen Jones Posted: September 1, 2018

      Whaddya know! I didn’t realize it was a city facility until I looked it up later. I was thinking how spic and span it was. Nice restrooms for the public and the marina folks. Tell him I was impressed with how well the staff kept it up.

  3. By: The Navigator Posted: August 31, 2018

    Wow – you have made concrete, fences, and busy roads interesting! I like the goal of riding all the bits of the trail. Section-riding local trails would be fun to plan through the week, too. All the best to you!

    • By: Kathleen Jones Posted: September 1, 2018

      Sometimes those things have their own attractiveness, when you just allow them to be what they are. I would rather be riding through the hills near the Murray but being near San Francisco Bay is all right by me.

  4. By: Bikerdockeith Posted: September 2, 2018

    Hi Kathleen,
    That’s a pretty snazzy ‘bent you’ve got there. Is the trike jealous?
    I like rides like these. Especially if there are information panels to read.
    And i would agree that San Francisco bay is a fine place to spend some quality time on the bike.
    Cheers,
    Keith

Leave a Reply