Archive for the ‘BICYCLING CALIFORNIA’ Category
I snapped this on an iPhone (waiting to transfer buses) on my way home from work last Friday.
Days like this make me think I really should be riding a bicycle over the bridge to work. But a few preconditions stop me in my tracks.
For instance, I stubbornly insist on:
- arriving at work sweat-free
- riding in normal clothes
With the hills and the distance (it’s a 19-mile round trip) there’s really no way to do both. In a flat city like Amsterdam or Copenhagen it might be possible. But the elevation changes and the considerable mileage preclude a Sausalito-to-SF commute that meets this criteria.
Maybe it’s time to lighten up and just adapt. But what then? Do I carry extra clothes; shower at a nearby gym; etc.? Things just start to get complicated.
I did consider the option of an e-bike (and I really, really love the Faraday Porteur), but the battery range is only about 10-12 miles. And, I do not have access to a charging outlet during the work day.
Still, the Faraday could be the answer to my dilemma.
Ecker Place is a narrow, two-block, pedestrian alley that connects Mission and Market Streets. I love walking down this street!
The graffiti marks the entrance as you turn down the alley from Mission. The little street has a modern, urban, reclaimed vibe that just works for me architecturally. About half way down, there is a Dim Sum place and a little vegan cafe and chocolate shop. I’ve never tried either place, but may stop in for some Dim Sum soon!
My apologies to Giovanne for snapping this image while he was in mid-chew — but I wanted to highlight the do-it-your-self trailer he added to the back of his Citizen folding bike. I had seen this rig pass by once before in the neighborhood, but this time I caught up with him and took a closer look.
I’m guessing Giovanne is a design student or something. I found him sitting right across from the Academy of Art University at the lunch hour, but who knows. We didn’t chat too long, but he did say he’s hauled about 40 pounds of stuff using this set-up, which is impressive.
The trailer looks to be made mostly of materials you could easily pick-up at a hardware store (plus a couple large milk crates). The attachment point is at the rear rack where a re-worked caster wheel acts as the swivel or pivot point — a rather elegant solution!
In case it’s not clear — this is supposed to be an ironic photograph. (hint: There’s nothing to see, beyond the sign except a dense bank of fog.)
Although it’s typically foggy and there can be inconceivably fierce crosswinds (going up Alexander Ave. from Sausalito), the ride up to and out Conzelman Road is quickly becoming my favorite way to get a little exercise in during the week.
It’s a relatively short ride, but has significant climbing, and there are different options and loops one can take.
It has some of the characteristics of the ride to Alpine Lake, which I loved so much when I lived in Fairfax.
I didn’t have my bicycle with me on Friday, but I was walking down Market St. toward the Embarcadero as bunches of cyclists began flocking to Justin Herman Plaza.
The Huffington Post and the SF Chronicle both have photos from the occasion. I particular like this aerial view by photographer Jason Henry. (You can see more of Jason’s photographs on his website. He’s a great, young photographer. Check him out)
Today, the bridge was cold, foggy and windy.
But this is how it looked just a day earlier.
These folks know how to enjoy a Saturday afternoon Bay Area bicycle ride Fridaycyclotouriste-style!
They are proof that the bicycle can be a means to enjoying the outdoors, the sensations of the seasons, and good food — in addition to the often hyped and well-known cardiovascular and athletic benefits.
These Spanish-speaking visitors (from Spain
and Colombia) are luxuriating in the beautiful Bay Area Fall weather (yes, it’s Autumn, hence the lack of fog on the Bridge).
I count five people in this picture, but there was a sixth. She was in deep siesta, curled up under a jacket behind the bicycle on the right and was not to be disturbed by this pesky photographer.
Thanks for the photo op and enjoy your visit good people of Europe
and S. America!
Here’s a snapshot from my SOMA to Sausalito ride. I’ve stopped on the bridge with the Pacific Ocean 692 feet below.
Read on for some further thoughts on this ride from a somewhat finicky, urban commuting perspective.
First off, Steve, owner of the venerable DDB building and architecture boutique and Dave, randonneur and creator of the all-time greatest front handlebar bag asked in the last post how the Brompton handled on the trip.
So at their prompting, I offer a few reflections:
- The Brompton is a champ: no complaints at all. I have the 3-speed Brompton and the low gear was just low enough to get up the very steep stretch from the warming hut up to the Bridge. I did have to stand up on the pedals and work hard to turn them over. Climbing too much further would have been a chore. Still, I like the simplicity of the 3-speed and the extra work up the hills seems like a fair trade-off. However:
- Wingtips, not recommended: the ride would have been more comfortable in normal street clothes (and a wool beanie to cover the ears). I won’t deny this truth. I tried not to work up a sweat at any point, but it was unavoidable. This reinforces the idea that:
- Holland (or Denmark) this is not: I think covering 11-12 miles one-way, on flat ground, while wearing professional business attire is the extreme limit for a regular daily commute. In actuality, 5-6 miles is a more realistic distance. But this assumes you are pedaling those miles over flat ground. Factoring in the hill going up Bay Street and the steep hill getting up to the Bridge from Crissy Field, it becomes clear that riding home on the Brompton (on a daily basis) is not an option for me.
- Micro-climate is a factor: I rode on one of the warmest days of the summer, but I still encountered some extreme headwinds riding along parts of this route (but very little wind on other parts). Add micro-climate to the factors that separate San Francisco bicycle commuting from Dutch bicycle commuting.
All in all — a world-class ride, but probably not one I plan to do more than 1-2 times a month.
Here’s the specific route: 11.6 miles (as always, use the buttons to change the map type or zoom in or out)
Rather than using the Brompton to take me to the ferry to shuttle me across the bay to Sausalito, I decided to ride my folding bike the whole distance home.
Starting in SOMA, I rode along the Embarcadero, then rode Bay St. to Marina Blvd., eventually crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, before heading down to Sausalito.
It was an experiment. I wanted to ride this route to see if could be a viable alternative to taking public transit.
Here, I’ve stopped on the bike path just as you cross under the bridge (right before circling around and riding onto the bike lane on the ocean side).
My Brompton bicycle is finally fulfilling it’s raison d’etre: bridging the gaps in my urban commute.
If I don’t feel like walking .75 miles to the Sausalito Ferry, I unfold the Brompton and cover this distance in less than 5 minutes. After a 25-minute ferry ride to downtown SF I have another .75 miles to my office in SOMA. The Brompton covers these little gaps with ease.
Plus, while wearing shorts and sneakers and then changing (and maybe even showering) on the way to work is one way to go. I like just wearing professional business attire (including leather lace-up shoes) for commuting.
Interestingly, the first time I tried to enter my building with the Brompton the guards said that bikes must be parked in the auto garage. So I made the fold, picked it up in one hand as if I was carrying a briefcase, and asked, “How about this?”
They smiled and waved me through.
So now I always fold the Brompton, walk right past the guards, and stow the bike under my desk!
Most cyclists are eager to get further north as quickly as possible and tend to avoid this bikeway; they take Camino Alto instead. That route is more scenic and more efficient. Still, riding so close to Hwy 101 (and its speeding freeway traffic) needs to be experienced at least once. Plus, on the Horse Hill path, there are no cars to contend with like there are on Camino Alto, which doesn’t have shoulders or bike lanes.
My friend Steve is one of the most mild-mannered people you’ll meet, but for some reason he looks angry and badass in this picture.
Local bicycle advocates have been working for years to re-open the Camino Alto tunnel, which would then provide a truly safe and easy bike-ped connection between Corte Madera and Mill Valley. As of now, the Horse Hill and Camino Alto routes both filter out causal cyclists who would otherwise happily stroll or pedal back and forth between these two communities. Check the Walk Bike Marin site for the latest news on this project.
A pleasant ride on Sunday and some happenstance led to some encounters with several old and new friends.
I first met my buddy Steve, who I know from Berkeley grad school days. We casually pedaled, vaguely northward, chatting most of the way as we rode. After turning off Shady Lane in Ross and passing through San Anselmo we rode by The Bicycle Works. There we saw Jelani Bertoni, who was curbside, making preparations of some sort. He informed me that that afternoon there was a big party to celebrate the 3rd anniversary of this cool little non-profit.
Then another Bicycle Works star — Heather — stopped in on her bike at a yard sale Steve and I were checking out just on the edge of Fairfax.
And finally, a big shout out to Gino and his girlfriend Starla (of Teddergreen Bicycle Fitting Services). Gino and I had exchanged some emails, but had never actually met in person. However, these two were gracious enough to stop and say hello (after seeing my Ebisu on the side of the road) as they cruised south for some adventures out in the Marin Headlands.
In terms of the route, there are a few different options. But in my opinion, this is the best way to ride from Sausalito to Fairfax if your concern is not speed, but fewest cars and most bike-ped paths:
A couple of pro photographers were out here making a GigaPan of the bay. A GigaPan is a massive photographic file made up of thousands of individual exposures captured by a robotic camera, which are all then stitched together by a computer to create a super file with extraordinary detail.
There’s a website dedicated to hosting these images. Here’s a captivating GigaPan of the Shanghai skyline. Note that it’s possible to zoom in and find a small, broken egg on a rooftop or to see the red high heel shoe of a woman crossing a street.
Naturally, I agreed to let these photo pros take a picture of me with my humble iPhone camera. The same camera I used to make the images above.
The wind is gusting about 35-40 mph here, although it doesn’t look it!
I’ve been transferred back to San Francisco!
Although Tucson is a charming place and there’s a lot I miss about the Old Pueblo — it’s really amazing to feel the ocean air again.
This is the view (at approximately 7 PM) after riding about 3 miles up the hill from my new place in Sausalito, CA.
A few more pictures courtesy of my Sr. bicycling and beer correspondent. This one is of a smart looking lady astride a very rare Pedersen bicycle.
I don’t know what the heck this contraption is, but you can bet that plenty of micro brews (I’m guessing oatmeal stouts) were consumed in preparation for the voyage!
Since I was unavailable to attend, The Friday Cyclotouriste sent its Sr. bicycle and beer correspondent to last week-end’s Biketoberfest — a biking and brewing hootenanny in my hometown of Fairfax (here’s a link to my coverage of the event from 2010).
My intrepid correspondent (seen here) does have other interests besides bicycles and beer. He can often be found at MIXTAPES and Hurqalya when he’s not teaching middle school religion classes in Marin County.
From the Rivendell stall at Biketoberfest. This is the unorthodox Sam Hilborne frameset with the double top tube.
I love the bakfiet design. If I had kids or had lots of stuff to routinely lug around this would be the design I’d chose.
This place absolutely oozed San Francisco-hipster bike culture: a designer, bike clothing shop with an espresso bar and gallery attached; the machine the barista was pulling shots on: a La Marzocco — of course.
I loved it…but deep down I began to wonder, Is this all a bit excessive?
Is the bicycle’s renaissance (see my Golden Age of Bicycling post for more background) entering a kind of Dionysian-type decline, whereby the luxurious aspects of this utilitarian machine are fetishized to an unhealthy degree?
Are these kind of commercial ventures simply utopian celebrations of modern bicycle culture’s still-to-come zenith?
Featured Comment by Hassan-I-Sabbah: “As I understand, Dionysus is associated with the chaotic beginnings of creativity not the eventual decadence and hedonism (for which I would ascribe the great god Pan).”
I suppose I miss living near the ocean because I recently found myself looking through these photos from a memorable one-day trip down Highway One to Santa Cruz made in the summer of ’09.
My brother rode a classic Trek with city bars (see the final image below) and I rode my quasi-touring Ebisu, fitted with some snazzy Nishiki front pannier bags that I found on Ebay.
The photos are a couple years old, but looking at them gives me so much pleasure that I’ve decided to post them anyhow (and give them a nostalgic vignetting to account for their age).
This is the last place. There is nowhere else to go.
but for a few,
Another picture of my traveling companion.
From here, I rode to the dowtown Berkeley BART station, folded up the Brompton, and took the train to the SF airport. At the airport, I repeated my successful gate checking of the Brompton.
Without a doubt, this little British folding bike helped make a great trip even better.
Jitensha Studio projects a humble store front, yet inside Hiroshi Iimura — a modern bicycle constructeur — creates some of the most beautiful, functional, and harmoniously integrated bicycles I’ve ever seen.
A constructeur (as opposed to a framebuilder) assumes a holistic approach to bicycle creation. The constructeur integrates lighting, fenders, racks, and pannier bags; and, simultaneously, balances the bicycle’s intended use with its frame geometry, tire size, clearances, and a myriad of other choices, e.g., stem length, handlebar width, chain ring sizes, saddle and peddle type, etc., etc.
I love this quote from Hiroshi published in a 2006 New York Times profile: “If a customer wants a component that is not to my taste, I refuse…I have to satisfy my own tastes first.”
Unfortunately, Hiroshi’s shop was closed the afternoon I was in Berkeley so I missed the chance to say hello. Although, I suspect he gets tired of people dropping by to say hello since he always seems to have a bicycle project or three in the works.
[Full disclosure: I own one of Hiroshi”s production Ebisu 650B models]
A beautiful Jorg & Olif internally geared 8-speed with chain and skirt guards, rear rack, wicker basket, sprung saddle, double kick-stand, and a front generator light. The rider says she frequently commutes to work in the financial district on this classic ride.
It’s hard to say which is lovelier the bicycle or the rider?…I have to say — it’s the rider 🙂
The next few posts will contain more images from my short trip to SF with my Brompton folding bicycle.
The SMART car and the Brompton make a good couple in a dense, urban city like San Francisco.
The Brompton fits snugly (from hatch-back door to seats), but rather perfectly in the Smart car’s tiny, cargo area.
I’ve positioned the Brompton just north of Pier 1 and the Ferry Plaza (which boasts a good Saturday morning farmer’s market) with the western span of the Bay Bridge and Yerba Buena Island faintly visible in the background. It’s still early in the morning and there are few people around.
A new, eastern span of the bridge will open to automobile traffic in 2013 with a dedicated bike path (costing a cool $100 million) soon to follow. However, the western span (seen above) will still lack bicycle access.
Here’s an article with more details about this massive planning project. If you’re interested in getting involved in local bicycle advocacy issues, I’m sure these organizations would love to hear from you:
For a quick, week-end trip back to the Bay Area I wanted to travel light — no checked bags — just my folding bicycle and a backpack with the goal of leaving the airport via bike.
Last time I flew with the Brompton, I checked it as baggage. However, I had to deal with a giant, hard-shell suitcase once arriving at my destination.
So this time I tried a different approach: I brought the bike through security, put it on the x-ray machine’s conveyor belt, and gate checked it at the last minute like you would a child’s stroller.
The plan, which included carrying my back-pack on-board as a carry-on, worked perfectly.
The Brompton doubles as a luggage roller (albeit a tippy one) as you can see in the picture, made outside the Embarcadaro BART station early on a Saturday morning after my arrival from the airport.
At this point, I was able to easily ride to the Marina district where I was staying as well as make my way multi-modally (can I use this in adjective form?) to other appointments in both Marin and Berkeley.
End note: There is a solution to the Brompton suitcase dilemma which requires packing a portable, folding trailer. Here’s a chap elegantly demonstrating this option in a video in which he unpacks, assembles, and rides out of the Copenhagen airport on a Brompton with his luggage in tow.
Sad, but true. I’m relocating to Tucson, AZ and (at least for now) leaving the Bay Area.
The truck, my Honda, and the bikes in tow, make for a pretty long rig! Rolling into and out of gas stations (see picture below) was not easy. And I was always concerned about pulling in some place and not being able to get out again.
Anyhow, Tucson is supposed to be a great biking city so once things settle down I hope to continue dispatching bike-related rides and photos from the Southwest.
It’s not obvious from the picture, but this fellow is chatting away on his mobile phone while taking in this awesome view.
To get to this spot I went through an old WWII tunnel off of Conzelman Rd. heading toward the southwestern tip of Pt. Reyes. Then, I scampered up a ridge going to the summit of Hawk Hill (where volunteer bird watchers tally an average of more than 9,000 turkey vulture, 9,000 red-tailed hawk, and 4 bald eagle sightings each year). But before the ridge turns toward the summit, through a stand of trees, there’s this awesome view looking toward the lighthouse.
In the middle of the tunnel, on the way up to this spot, is some graffiti suggestive of the famous cave art of Lascaux. Lightning was awful (about 80 percent darkness), but I used a tripod and a 25-second exposure to make this image.
Finally, here’s an example of some of the new road work on the way to the lighthouse (the view is looking back to the east — with the guardrail shielding a precipitous drop-off to the ocean).
I’m taking a leave from my National Park Service (NPS) photography duties. So these three images will likely be the last I’ll post from this gig.
It’s been really warm this past week (70s in some spots) and it’s only January! Many trees are starting to flower if you can believe it. Great for cycling, not so great for the fruit trees (presuming it gets cold again).
Anyhow, the above image was made from the bike path on Lincoln Ave. above Crissy Field. The image below is from the same spot, but looking north.
…and below is a close-up of what was happening down on Crissy Field (I made this with a very long telephoto lens). All three are archival images that I produced as a photography volunteer for the National Park Service/Golden Gate National Recreation Area. I’m grateful to be able to share the images and for the chance to volunteer in the GGNRA. Here’s a link to all their volunteer opportunities in case you’re interested.
This may not look that steep, but it often feels it (as it’s part of a fairly long climb that eventually crests at the top of the Bolinas ridge).
This rider is almost to the Lake Lagunitas turn.
Here are a few more of my photos from outings for the National Park Service/GGNRA.
Conzelman Road begins at the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge and heads west to the Pt. Bonita Lighthouse. There’s been lots of construction work recently: new parking areas, roundabouts, and road widening (see how the cliff face has been cutback from the road).
I made the above image on a recent outing for the National Park Service and thank them for permitting me to post it here (photo courtesy NPS).
This is a Conifer species that was new to me, the so called Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla) which is endemic to a small eponomously named island in the South Pacific. Norfolk Island looks like quite a vernal landscape with low temperatures rarely below 50 degrees F (and high temperatures rising to only about 80 degrees F), which may explain why this specimen appears to be doing quite well in San Francisco.
I’ve fallen in love with some of the trees scattered around this historic military base. I will post a few pictures soon.
Meantime, here’s a picture of a cyclist cutting through Fort Mason, probably on her way toward the Marina neighborhood.
Note: that’s a Metlife blimp slipping behind the chapel’s bell tower in the image above.
This image from my recent ride along the Bolinas Ridge captures the specific time of the evening — civil twilight — when ambient light takes on a lovely bluish hue prized by painters and photographers.
But twilight (both morning and evening) is divided, more scientifically, into civil, nautical, and astronomical segments based upon the number of degrees the center of the sun is below the horizon (6, 6-to-12, and 12-to-18 degrees respectively).
Evening nautical twilight (nautical dusk) is said to end once sea navigation via the horizon line is no longer possible. Evening astronomical twilight (astronomical dusk) ends once the dimmest celestial objects (e.g. galaxies and nebulae) become properly visible to astronomical observation.
Commentary: in the context of the virtual world of Texting, Tweeting, and Tagging (from which I claim no exception) it feels palpably iconoclastic (if not downright subversive) to patiently witness our solar system’s sun disappearing ever so gently beyond the planet’s watery horizon.
Featured Comment by Shoeless Joe: “There is a biological connection, too, as the rods and cones in our eyes perceive light differently at twilight. It is called the Purkinje Shift (or Purkinje Effect). Wikipedia has a good article on it. One of the beauties of cycling is that it affords many opportunities to “patiently witness” the world around us in a way that is unique to the sport.”
I somehow got it into my mind that I needed to see the Pacific Ocean.
The solution was a 25 mile loop — from Fairfax up to and along Bolinas Ridge offering winding roads; steep climbs; fast descents; water and commanding Pacific Ocean views; relatively few cars; redwood forests; oak-studded grasslands; colorful autumn foliage; and, a smattering of wild life (I saw a coyote on top of the ridge and several deer on the way down).
In other words: there’s a bit of everything on this ride.
I departed around 3:30 pm (it’s getting dark by 5:30 pm) so I attached a headlight that I bought for my Brompton folding bike on the Guerciotti. I packed a persimmon and a wool turtleneck in my handlebar bag and wore a wool t-shirt and wool knickers. The weather, however, was unseasonably warm and I was comfortable for most of the ride in just the t-shirt. (Toward the end of the ride, I draped the sweater around my shoulders and tied the sleeves in a loose knot to keep it from slipping.)
I spent most of this ride chasing the sun. I’d catch it, then it would dip behind a ridge. This continued until I got to the final, long climb with the sun well hidden behind the ridge. But as I slowly pedaled up the road — and the 1000′ vertical feet of switch-backs — I realized that at the very top the sun would make a final appearance.
As the image shows, I caught the sun for the final time as I rode atop the ridge.
So what about the bicyclist in the picture?
I passed him about 6 miles earlier, but since I’m always on-and-off my bike making photographs he caught up with me (think of the tortoise and the hare). When I noticed him climbing up the ridge about 100 yards behind me I set-up for this photo.
As the tortoise passed me, I exclaimed, “That’s a beautiful picture!” The tortoise turned briefly toward the sunset and replied, “it’s not real”.
At first I thought he was referring to the almost hyper-real colors (you know how sometimes nature reveals scenes — especially cloud formations and sunsets — that would be unbelievable had you not witnessed them with your own eyes?).
But on further reflection, maybe he was referring to photography itself and the philosophically problematic nature of attempting to reproduce reality with a machine!
Anyhow, I lingered on the ridge for 10-15 minutes and watched the sun dip below the horizon. Mosquitoes bit my arms and legs. I devoured a persimmon then turned on my headlight and rode home.
Part of the fun of having a bike equipped with a handlebar bag is how easy it becomes to carry whatever strikes your fancy. I’ll often pack bread, cheese, nuts — sometimes even a small amount of wine!
But the extras for this trip consisted of an extremely light merino wool turtleneck (for after sunset) and a persimmon — a sweet, refreshing bit of energy to consume at the turnaround point.
Roads like this are a big reason why I always recommend wider tires (28mm and above) at lower pressures (50-80psi).
Riding over rough roads on hard, skinny, racing tires (which 95% of bikes seem to have) doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Jan Heine, publisher of Bicycle Quarterly, who I consider an authority on the subject, has done extensive testing of tires at different widths and at different pressures and concluded that wider tires, at lower pressure, can outperform skinny racing tires.
My Guerciotti uses 28mm tires, my Ebisu uses 38mm tires, and I hope to design a future bike around 42mm tires.
(Note: The image was made on the climb through the redwoods up to Ridgecrest Blvd. on way to catch a glimpse of the ocean).
Northern California just had a glorious little heat wave. This last gasp of Indian Summer resulted in hot sunny weather with temperatures in the 70’s, and even 80’s, over the week-end.
And for some reason, I got it into my mind late Sunday afternoon that I had to ride until I could get a view of the Pacific Ocean.
The easiest way to accomplish this goal was a 25 mile round-trip with about 2,600′ of vertical climbing.
Here’s a route map and a one-way elevation profile from the ride:
The spit of land in the above image (just past the line of trees) comprises the town of Bolinas and the Pt. Reyes pennisula.
More pictures and a short ride report to follow.