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?