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On the Road: Dan Sharp’s Bay Ridge Hot Lap

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015
When adventurist/photographer Daniel Sharp is short of time, he just concocts short adventures and invites some friends along for the ride. This time he’s on the Bay Area Ridge Trail, actually a series of connectible trails that circumnavigates the San Francisco Bay. It stretches north Napa and Marin and south to San Jose.

What makes this trip so cool, in our eyes, is that it doesn’t skip the ugly parts. Put another way, Dan and his friends engaged in the urban parts of this route, too. The Bay Area is a part of the world that serves up a lot of natural beauty despite its overall population density, and in some ways the reward of those views is enhanced by pounding the pavement from the city center to see it.

Here are some of Dan’s always-inspiring photos, and some brief prose about the trip:

They say the hardest part of any adventure is getting out the door, especially this time of year when in the Pacific Northwest rainy days start to outnumber sunny ones. For this, my fourth adventure of this project, the hardest part was choosing a route and finding a crew that could take time off to do a ride.
The word “ambitious” became the buzz word whenever we mentioned the route and our planned time frame. I took that to be a euphemism for crazy or just plain stupid. Well, if that’s the case then maybe this is a 3-day fastpacking trip within urban boundaries. Why get so hung up on terminology? Let’s just go ride mountain bikes around the bay and see what that’s like, so that’s exactly what we did.
The Bay Area Ridge Trail is not a classic bikepacking or endurance mountain biking route, not yet. According to the website, the first ridge trail segment was dedicated in May of 1989. Existing trails were quickly added and it opened 100 miles in 1990 and 200 miles in 1995. As anyone that’s ever ridden in the Bay Area knows, land access is tricky and the 300th mile wasn’t added until 2006. Today the Bay Area Ridge Trail boasts 350 miles of trails. A quick look at the interactive map reveals the reality that to complete the route, one will have to link dirt trail with plenty of pavement.