Reliving the early Cold War era by mountain bike
A cloudless sky, and no place to go.
But all it takes is a mountain bike and a passing whim to bypass laundry,
forget about errands, and screw that thing that I'm supposed have written by Monday to
pedal across the Golden Gate into the backyard of San Francisco. It's been
a long rain season this year, so it felt like ages since I had seen skies like these.
With all the Bridge closures lately due to terrorism,
it's been awhile since I rode the Headlands.
My plan was to ride to the top of Conzelman, coast down to Point Bonita, crank up
Hill 88, and then head back to
the city along the Coastal trail.
From a military standpoint, the inlet to San Francisco Bay has always been a vulnerable area. Forts constructed
during the Civil War still remain, and gun batteries from the WWII era line the Marin coast ready for a naval invasion.
On the tops of the hills, scattered around the Bay, are Nike missle launch sites
and radar platforms. These were constructed in the mid-50's, early in the arms race, shortly after the Soviets had
begun atomic tests. They served as early warning and protection systems against bombers. Within a decade
intercontinental ballistic missiles had replaced aircraft for nuclear delivery,
and shortly therafter these sites were abandoned.
Click to expand
That was a nice little warmup getting to the top of Conzelman. While roadsters go no higher than that road
down there, mountain bikes can keep going that steep little path to the Hawk lookout with prime views of the
bridge and the city beyond. Past Hawk lookout, Conzelman continues along a fast downhill grade toward Point Bonita.
After flying down Conzelman, here's another look back at the Golden Gate and Hawk Hill.
I don't recall the name of this battery here, but the highest point along the ridge in the distance (of the
second picture) is Hill 88.
Continuing further toward Point Bonita is the entrance to Battery Wallace. This is one of the few forested areas
in the Headlands. I don't know if the trees are natural growth or planted, but in either case
enjoy the shade while you can.
From Point Bonita it was a quick coast down to Rodeo Beach where the trail to Hill 88 begins.
Here's a couple shots of rodeo beach cranking up the ridgleline.
Futher up the hill, you get a better shot of Fort Cronkite, and the Richmond district beyond. Dang, seems pretty far
away. Home, sweet home.
Ahhh, Hill 88 at last.
Radar beacons were placed on the two platforms, which relayed targeting information to launch sites below. Dang, my memory card was full. Otherwise I'd
have taken a bunch of pictures of the really beautiful views. Oh, well, I guess I'll save more space for next time...
I suspect it being at 882 feet has something to do with it's name. The only Nike missile launch site kept intact
is in the Headlands as well and can be toured.
Well, thank goodness ICBMs were invented or these trails might still be off limits to bikes!
(b. January 19, 2002)
Back to top.
On the way back down, be careful not to go airborne because...
Image and joke courtesy of Duane Fey of the Nike Historical Society Site.