Summer is almost here and when school is out it will be a perfect time to hone your biking skills with your family.Â Marin offers multiple opportunities for family biking adventures on or off road.Â There are unique pathways through towns, mountain bike rides for beginners, and even San Francisco adventures which will engage kids of all abilities
Safe Routes to Schools teaches basic skills of riding in 4thÂ and 6thÂ grade.Â Those skills should be practiced with parents or professional cycling groups to Â ensure your child is ready to ride to school when he or she reaches the appropriate age.Â Once the child has mastered balance and control, she or he needs to learn to ride on the street and learn the traffic rules.Â Practice with your child on side streets and designated bike routes which often have modern improvements to make cycling easier.Â You my obtain a Marin bike route map from MCBC at www.marinbike.org or at local bike shops.
Additionally, talk with your child about cars and how to be alert to their backing out of driveways and opening their car doors.Â To enhance your teaching knowledge of rules of the road and street safety, please strongly consider attending a Basic Street Skills Class in which you will learn best practices for riding visibly and predictably, taking lanes and turning, signaling, avoiding obstacles in the street, and the laws as they apply to cyclists.
If you want your child to get better riding skills there are three mountain bike camps in Fairfax and one bike camp in Tiburon
The Fairfax Cycling Camp offers camps through June and July and the beginning of August for ridersÂ aged 8 and up.Â They gather Monday through Friday in the morning for a funÂ day on wheels, covering 8-16 miles,Â whileÂ learning safety, skills,Â & maintenance.Â They will also offer a special camp for girls.Â Â http://www.fairfaxcyclingcamp.com/
Otis Guy Mountain Bike Camp is run by Mountain Bike legend Otis Guy.Â Their goal is for campers to have fun and come away with the skills and knowledge to not only increase their abilities but also to be able to go on some great bike rides out of Fairfax.Â http://www.otisguymountainbikecamp.com/
Bike Adventures MarinÂ founder Laura Childres offers biking classes for ages 7 and up on a weekly basis 8:30-3:30 through the summer.Â Rides leave from the Java Hut in Fairfax http://www.bikeadventuresmarin.com/
In Tiburon, Wheel Escape is going to be running a Family Library Run.Â This is for the whole family so parents pump up your tires too.Â It goes from Blackie’s Pasture to Tiburon Library (downtown) every Thursday afternoon starting July 2- August 6. They’ll meet at Blackieâ€™s @4:30 and return at 6.Â Call 415-729-4529 for program and event info.
Here are some suggestions for rides off road:
Samuel P. Taylor- Cross Marin Trail
This is a lovely easy ride along the old railroad grade through Samuel P. Taylor Park that goes along the creek.Â Take Sir Frances Drake past Lagunitas.Â There are three options for starting your ride.Â For those with sturdy tires, go to the Salmon view area on the left at Shafter Bridge (green bridge).Â Cross the street carefully to the Inkwells and start your ride â€“ the first part is dirt so youâ€™ll need sturdy tires but not necessarily a mountain bike.Â You can drive further to the park entrance, pay the entrance fee and start on the paved portion of the path.Â Â You can also start your ride at Platform Bridge road which is the other end of the park.Â Turn right on Platform Bridge road and the bike path will be immediately on your left.Â The paved portion is 2.5 miles and the dirt is another 2.5 miles. Also park on SFD at Devils Gulch turnout. Â Ride .25 mi west on SFD and cross the bridge on left to get to the paved part of the trail. Â There is no more free parking along SFD. Â
The Cal Park Tunnel
Did you know there is a bicycle tunnel next to the SMART train that will take you from San Rafael to Larkspur Landing?Â Park on a street near Office Depot on Anderson in San Rafael. Cross the street. Ride the path thru the SMART train tunnel. Itâ€™s 1.5 mile one way.Â You will come out at the Larkspur Landing Theater.Â Go on the weekend and enjoy the Farmerâ€™s Market and the Food Trucks.
Corte Madera Creek
This is another railroad grade that goes along the open creek and wetlands in Kentfield.Â There are lots of bird watching opportunities and you can take a spur off to the Hal Brown Park Playground in ????.Â Start at Kent Middle School, or if you want a little longer ride, park at the Ross Post Office and take the back trails to Kentfield, go through the college and cross College Ave to the rest of the pathway.Â You can even extend your ride to Larkspur Ferry by taking South Eliseo Road.Â Â The total ride is 7 miles roundtrip to the ferry building.
Mill Valley Bike Path
This is a popular bike and pedestrian path so make sure your child understands how to both share the path and to watch for the faster riders.Â It goes along the wetlands and you can take it all the way to downtown Sausalito for a snack or lunch.Â Park at the Mill Valley Recreation Center.Â Â 4 miles round trip.
Tiburon Bike Path
The Tiburon Bike path provides a lovely ride to downtown Tiburon with spectacular views of the Bay.Â Start at Blackieâ€™s Pasture and ride along the bike path all the way into Tiburon. Some street riding in downtown Tiburon is required. Enjoy the view from the benches in the grassy area in town.Â This ride is 8 miles round trip.
You can drive to the Ferry or take the Tiburon bike path from Blackieâ€™s Pasture, and then take the ferry over to Angel Island. The loop around Angel Island is approximately 5 miles with a couple of steep hills (but you can always walk and talk over them). This ride can be especially fun on Opening Day on the Bay, Blue Angels day or Civil War day.Â The views are great, but the history makes it even more memorable. Historical buildings line the road and make this a ride that could keep your family interested all day.Â Special tip:Â bring bike locks so you can park your bike and have a picnic or explore the area.
Puerto Suelo Hill/Lincoln Bike Path to Marin Civic Center
This is a tricky one to find.Â The entrance is at the corner of 5thÂ and Heatherton.Â It can be steep so itâ€™s a great opportunity to practice hill climbing in a safe environment.Â It ends at North San Pedro Road.Â Getting to the Civic Center from there is tricky as you have to cross a freeway off ramp so itâ€™s best to walk your bikes at that juncture.Â You can ride to the Farmers Market on Sundays or the County Fair over July 4thÂ weekend.Â There is valet bike parking at the fair.Â 6 miles round trip.
Mountain Bike Rides
Rush Creek Open Space, Novato
This is a lovely, almost flat dirt fire road narrowing to near single track in some places that goes around the wetlands.Â Great birds and views.Â Take 101 North. Exit San Marin/Atherton. Right turn. Go 300 feet, left turn to Gnoss Field, park just past Park n’ Ride.Â 6 miles round trip.
The classic mountain bike ride.Â You can take the easy lower trails or try some hill climbing to get the fabulous views.Â Parking is scarce at Phoenix Lake so you might want to park along Lagunitas Road and ride in.Â From the lake you can to up to Five Corners and then there are multiple loop opportunities.Â Download an open space map and see your choices.
Â San Francisco Rides:
Golden Gate Park, SF
Sundays they close the road in the center of the park.Â Park outside the park or west of Park Presidio.Â Â Ride to Academy of Science, DeYoung, Japanese Tea Garden, Conservatory of Flowers, or Children’s Playground. Loops run from 2-5 miles.
Â Golden Gate Bridge
For the really adventurous.Â Park at last Marin exit–big lot. Ride the bridge to SF. Ride down to the Marina or to Ft. Mason.Â There is some street riding through the Presidio, then long. Scenic, flat bike path along Chrissy Fields. Lots of bike and pedestrians traffic on bridge so go slow and yield to pedestrians.
Crissy Field, SF
Extend your bridge ride or drive over the bridge and park at the Palace of Fine Arts and ride to Fort Point. There is a Warming Hut for snacks.Â Â Ft. Point is free, has a museum and lots of real cannons. 5 miles round trip.