In this video, I’m riding my bike south towards San Francisco around the north tower of the Golden Gate Bridge. I used a GoPro HERO3+: Silver Edition
In the video poster frame, you can see the water just outside San Francisco Bay in the gap between the orange barriers. That doesn’t help my acrophobia, especially knowing that there is a 227 foot drop to the water. And it’s only blocked by a temporary Cyclone fence.
There’s almost always a constant wind off the Pacific Ocean, blowing across the bridge to the east . This year, the bridge authority retrofitted the railings to withstand 100 mph gusts. Now, when the wind is >25 mph, the new sidewalk railings emit a deafening hum that can be heard miles away. Add the sound of cars and trucks three feet away going south at 50 mph, it’s not a wonderful experience.
I just try not to look to the right.
When I go on my bike rides, for some reason, I set a goal to climb 3000 feet (914 m). With the combination of my age (67.74 years) and weight (194 lbs, 88 kg, 13.86 stone), it started to get harder for me to turn over the pedals on steep (12%-15%) grades.
I’m riding an Eddy Merckx Professional frame with 2015 Campagnolo Chorus components. I set it up with an 11 speed Campagnolo Chorus compact crank with 50/34 chainrings and an 11-29 Campagnolo Chorus cassette, which had the lowest gear at the time. The wheels are Mavic Open Pro UST rims, Campagnolo Record hubs and DT Competition Double Butted spokes.
In the 11 speed range, Campagnolo is now offering a 11-32 cassette (11–12–13–14–15–17–19–22–25–28–32). I thought that the lower gear on the new cassette would make climbing easier but the maximum sprocket size for my Chorus rear derailleur with the short cage is 29 teeth. Campagnolo has a rear derailleur technical document with the specifications. (PDF)
Campagnolo makes a medium cage for the 2015 (and later) Chorus rear derailleur (p/n RD-RE102m
With the medium cage derailleur, 11-32 cassette and a new longer chain, I’m no longer killing myself to go up the 12%-15% grades, though the difference wasn’t as dramatic as I thought it would be. I could probably also accomplish a similar effect by losing 15 lbs.
To do a little extra climbing on my short bike ride to Battery Townsley at Rodeo Beach, after I ride across the Golden Gate Bridge, I’ll ride down Alexander Avenue then south on East Road. East Road winds it way through Fort Baker past Cavallo Point Lodge and the Bay Area Discovery Museum to Center Road and Moore Road to the beginning of Conzelman Road. There, it’s about 15 ft above sea level near the Moore Road Pier, pretty much under the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge.
As Conzelman climbs up the headlands, it passes several scenic turnouts where all those generic Golden Gate Bridge photos (with the San Francisco in the background) are taken. The road climbs up Hawk Hill for almost 770 feet in a little less than 2.5 miles to the Marin Headlands Vista Point.
If you venture down the hill past the Vista Point parking lot, you’ll be rewarded with this view of the Marin Headlands, the Pacific Ocean beyond the Golden Gate and a brief but very steep 18% drop in the road.