October 20, 2014
The lengths a crazy bike enthusiast will go to to enhance her
coffeeneuring challenge may surprise some readers. But is not the spirit
of the challenge to encourage riders to try new things and pursue
adventure on two wheels?
I flew to San Francisco on Sunday and drove with the Cycling Yogi to
Monterey for a visit with his 92-year-old mother. She lives in Pebble
Beach, just off one of the country's most magnificent roads: 17 Mile Drive. His mom borrowed a bike for me, and the Cycling Yogi already had a
vintage Schwinn in her garage (see his guest blog, posted 9-23-14).
So on Monday afternoon we rode from her house to Carmel, where I had
found the Carmel Coffee House and Roasting Company, boasting the area's
best coffee. But I hardly needed an incentive to ride the hills along
the ocean, stopping to see (and hear) the seals on Seal Rock, to take in
crashing waves and windswept pines, and to glimpse a red headed
woodpecker. The hilly terrain was enjoyable because every up had a
down...none too extreme...well, almost none.
The least favorite part was the last mile or so, which became very
trafficky. Once we entered Carmel, I had to walk my bike up the few
steep blocks to the coffee shop, where I enjoyed an iced mocha (with
just a bit of whipped cream), having worked up quite a sweat - even in
the high-60s temperature. On the long stretch down into Carmel, I
correctly predicted that I'd have to walk back up, but the rest of the
return was smooth pedaling, taking the slightly shorter inland
Total distance: 12.5 miles
October 24, 2014
On Wednesday, after a day hiking in Pinnacles National Park, we returned
to San Francisco, where I had a few days of work, followed by a
mini-vacation continuation. I had two goals for my first-time SF bike
experience...to try the Bay Area Bikeshare, and to ride "the wiggle" -
an east-west route that avoids climbing the hills for which SF is so
I had checked out a Bikeshare the previous afternoon to get a preview. My big mistake was making my foray during downtown rush hour. It was
one of the first times I concluded that I would rather have walked than
biked. How sad is that? To its credit, the SF bike shares have 7 gears
(most cities have only 3) and they proved adequate for the hills I
tackled on my first ride. The challenge was going up hills punctuated
every block by traffic lights. I'm used to climbing my biggest hills on
bike paths...not having to stop and start. Hats off to SF cyclists who
are up to stop-and-go hill climbs!
In the large public parking garage near the Moscone Center, I happened to spy protected bike parking. If you have a fancy bike, the very modest 5-cents-per-hour charge for a locker seems like a good investment.
San Francisco has one of the highest cycling and bike commuting rates in
the nation. This astonishes me, not only because of the terrain, but
because of the grossly inadequate infrastructure. In my brief experience, I observed sharrows on busy streets and almost no dedicated lanes.
Traffic is clogged and drivers are aggressive and impatient. A big
problem with the Bikeshare system is that it only operates in a tiny
section of the city, so it's hard to find docking stations close to
one's desired destination. After my first short ride, I docked and
walked, which took me past the fanciest upscale coffee boutique I've
ever seen: Nespresso. I took a photo, but was turned off by its sleek
glamour, and was not in the mood for a $5+ coffee.
The next day, in the dark of early morning, the Cycling Yogi and I
walked from our SoMa hotel to the Coit Tower, where I captured the
sunrise over the bay and we got some private instruction in Qi Gong and
Tai Chi from a local practitioner. It helps that the CY speaks Chinese!
From there we walked down the Filbert Steps, where we nabbed the last
two bikeshares in the nearest dock. We rode along the Embarcadero, which
had the skinniest bike lane I've ever seen...proving that you can be
too thin...certainly if you're a bike lane!
But the coffeeneuring trip was scheduled for the afternoon. We rode down
Market Street to where the wiggle begins - behind the Safeway at Duboce
Park. On our way, I chatted up a nice young cyclist as we made our way out of the busiest section of Market St., and he told us there would be a dedicated lane and less traffic soon. Even once we got to the wiggle, there was a lot of traffic, but indeed, the route was quite level, despite steep hills all around us. The route was clearly marked with green bike sharrows, painted at
close intervals on the roads. Cute little "bike
highway 30" signs also were posted frequently.
We ended at the panhandle of Golden Gate Park. Had we not
been on bike shares, which charge up the wazoo for rides over 30
minutes, the park would surely have provided a nicer place to pedal.
But we turned around to stop at Mojo Bicycle Shop and Cafe for our
liquid refreshment...just a few short blocks (and one modest hill) off
the wiggle. Bringing our bikes inside was no problem, and I ordered an
iced Thai Tea - a slightly sweet, rather orange-tinged, cream-laced
concoction, which provided a tasty and refreshing treat.
The Cycling Yogi did not enjoy the SF bike infrastructure, noting that
he feels much safer riding in his home town of Philadelphia, or in my
DC/Arlington area. I'd have to concur. In addition, I had numerous
glitches with docking station malfunctions. After returning my bike, I
repeatedly got text messages exhorting me to return my overdue bike. I'm
now BFFs with the consistently friendly and helpful customer service
staff at Bay Area Bikeshare, who repeatedly checked their computers and
promised to remove any overdue charges from my credit card. Also, the CY
informed me that the Bikeshare seats were not
scrotum-friendly...something I am incapable of evaluating on my own.
But all-in-all, I enjoyed getting to know the Golden Gate city by bike.
The weather was glorious, and I got to coffeeneur on a Friday, since I
will be flying back home all day Saturday.
Total distance: 5 miles
October 26, 2014
This morning required a quick adjustment to East coast time, as I had to get to the yoga studio by 9 a.m. to teach my two Sunday morning classes. With the beautiful October weather, I added some "errandaneeing" to my coffeeneuring. From yoga I cycled to Clarendon, where I was picking up a new set of glasses, then on to Trader Joe's for a pound of coffee and some tea. I try to avoid the big chain stores for my coffeeneuring adventures, but my home supply of beans was not going to last the week and TJ's was on the way home. I selected an organic, fair trade, blend. I added some extra hills to make stops at the ATM and post office before returning home for lunch and preparations for my return to work.
Total distance: 8 miles