From the days, when gunpowder was king.
These batteries housed guns 12″ in diameter with 36 foot long barrels that fired thousand pound shells 268 football fields out into the Pacific Ocean.
That’s my bike in the sunshine on the other end of the tunnel.
After riding uphill steadily for 4 miles (from the town of Sausalito), bicyclists will dive sharply toward the sea, before the road flattens out and heads toward the spit of land seen off in the distance where the Pt. Bonita lighthouse sits.
The section of road seen below is most certainly the steepest stretch of pavement I’ve ridden. Although the steepness may not be readily apparent from the image, looking at the elevation graph on the route map page, one can see that the road drops away precipitously right after the summit.
What a beautiful, clear winter day! The image below is a popular picture taking spot just where the road reaches a plateau (below Hawk Hill) and before it plummets back down to the sea.
The Park Service made some major infrastructure “improvements” along Conzelman Rd., expanding parking and creating new scenic vistas and pullouts. Now, more people driving up here in cars can enjoy the scenery, but my sense is there’s more traffic and delays. On this day, cars were lining up and I was sometimes overtaking vehicles on the uphill!
I have to admit, it was a rich, satisfying feeling passing snarled cars while pedaling uphill on my bicycle. The Germans, I believe, have a word for this sense of delight in the misfortune of others: they call it Schadenfreude. Studies have shown the human brain’s reward centers are activated in these schedenfreude-like situations, which confirms my own experience.
For the record, I’m not proud of this at all — humility after all is one of my velosophic tenets — but noticing unconscious negative habits, and then slowly perfecting oneself is what life is all about.
Overall, this is an incredible 15-mile ride. The loop has views that tourists come from a world away to take-in; roads in very good condition with a bike shoulder for much of the way; and, interesting and varied terrain.
If this ride were a restaurant, it would earn a 3-star on the Michelin scale!
Beginning at sea level in downtown Sausalito and cresting at the top of the Marin Headlands near Hawk Hill, I was surprised the elevation gain was only 800 feet. It felt like much more. That’s barely a third of the way up Mt. Tam (elevation 2,571′)!
Here’s a map and elevation chart extracted from the gpx file created by the gps logging device I sometimes carry with me.
[This announcement will remain at the top of the blog for the next week. New posts will show up below]
Some tragic news to report close to home: The same beaches I’ve been photographing and enjoying recently have claimed three lives in the last week. Read the rest of this entry »
January 1, 2013
6:05pm to 6:07pm
The little nub of land (barely visible) on the right side of the horizon are the Farallones (also known as California’s Galapagos), a set of small islands which help form a highly productive ecological web of sea birds, fish, mammals, and reptiles including the Black-footed Albatross, Chinook Salmon, and Great White Shark.
It’s also one of my favorite geotag locations. So make sure you click on the icon under the picture to see the location on a map.
Whenever I’m standing on rocky outcroppings like this looking out onto the Pacific Ocean, I think of the words of the Beat poet Lew Welch.
Here’s the last two stanzas from his glorious poem, THE SONG MT. TAMALPAIS SINGS:
This is the last place. There is nowhere else to go.
Once again we celebrate the
Headland’s huge, carin-studded fall
into the Sea.
This is the last place. There is nowhere else to go.
For we have walked the jeweled beaches
at the feet of the final cliffs
of all Man’s wanderings.
This is the last place
There is nowhere else we need to go.
-Lew Welch (1921-1976)
Have a Happy New Year Everyone!
I spent most of the long holiday weekend in bike-friendly Fairfax (with my mother, brother, nephews and my brother’s extended family). Taking advantage of one splendid sunny day, I went for a short ride up into the surrounding hills — the same hills where legend has it the “mountain bike” was invented.
Make of this account what you will:
‘Twas the day before Christmas, when all thro’ the land,
not a storm cloud was in sight, not even in San Fran.
I set out on my ride with an Italian holiday treat;
’tis called Panettone, ’tis all I had with me to eat.
‘Twas packed with a thermos filled with hot tea;
but where to stop and enjoy I must wait and see.
My handlebar bag deftly handled the load,
as I pedaled my way up Bolinas-Fairfax Rd.
The summit was sunny, ’twas a true joy to be there;
yet riding down ’twas cold, so I descended with care.
Then who should I see — why it happened so quick.
But if I’m not mistaken it was good ol’ St. Nick!
I heard him exclaim, as his lugged, steel-framed bike disappeared out of sight –
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
And one of the creation legends surrounding Panettone, according to Wikipedia:
“…a 15th-century legend from Milan gives the invention to the nobleman falconer Ughetto Atellani, who loved Adalgisa, the daughter of a poor baker named Toni. To help her, the nobleman disguised himself as a baker and invented a rich cake to which he added flour and yeast, butter, eggs, dried raisins, and candied lemon and orange peel.
The duke of Milan, Luduvico il Moro Sforza (1452–1508), agreed to the marriage, which was held in the presence of Leonardo da Vinci, and encouraged the launch of the new cake-like bread: Pan de Toni (or Toni’s cake).”
Mailbox art work.
It’s pouring rain here in the Bay Area and Sausalito is windy and stormy.
These images are from a sunnier moment last weekend. I’m guessing the bikes belong to some of the nearby houseboat dwellers.
This hidden trail runs a short distance along the estuary behind Sea Trek kayak rentals to the small, but lovely little beach at the end of Liberty Ship Way.
Here’s the electric bike I mentioned in a previous post.
The electronic motor is a sensible addition for a city like San Francisco. The Faraday’s other design choices are simply brilliant and informed primarily by real bicyclist enthusiasts (rather than just by engineers).
I’m especially pleased that it comes with my favorite rack design (i.e. the porteur, a front rack pioneered by newspaper deliveryman in Paris in the 1940s and 50s).
Full disclosure: it may not be apparent from these glowing statements, but I am generally biased against electronic bikes. With the motor, it feels like cheating…a little.
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.
It was a partly solitary Thanksgiving. I took a hike by myself and then gathered in Fairfax with a small group of friends and family. On the hike I made this image.
I’m so thankful this year. Words cannot describe how grateful I am. But here goes:
To all beings. To everyone who contributes to my sustenance wherever on this planet you may be. To those who came before me and brought me to life. And to anyone who needs to hear it.
Thank you…Thank you…Thank you!
Here’s another image from my hike, but I judged it too melancholic to lead off the post. In fact, I nearly deleted it for being too sad. Anyhow, if you’re interested check out some of my previous holiday images like this Christmas day photo or even last year’s Thanksgiving photo.
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!
I recently came across this little movie (made in 2011-12 when I was living and bicycling in Tucson, AZ). This was my second crude attempt at shooting video from a moving bicycle. My first attempt can be seen here.
The setting is Sabino Canyon — an incredible little jewel in NW Tucson replete with waterfalls and riparian ecosystems. The paved walking and biking pathway ends 4-5 miles up the canyon at which point there are only unpaved, steep switchback trails leading into the wild Santa Catalina mountains.
I pass this scene almost every morning riding from the Ferry Building to work.
On this morning, there was a feeling of intense presence infusing the whole cityscape created by the arrangement of the sculpture, the bridge, the plaza, the water, the sky, and the light!
Christopher Alexander‘s writings come to mind:
Centers are those particular identified sets, or systems, which appear within the larger whole as distinct and noticeable parts. They appear because they have noticeable distinctness, which makes them separate out from their surroundings and makes them cohere, and it is from the arrangements of these coherent parts that other coherent parts appear. The life or intensity of one center is increased or decreased according to the position and intensity of other nearby centers. Above all, centers become most intense when the centers which they are made of help each other. (From Volume I, The Nature of Order)
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).
The mysterious ‘Bubbleman’ of Dunphy Park.
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!
This past Friday, SF’s Critical Mass rolled out from Justin Herman Plaza in the Embarcadero as it has for the last two decades. In fact, September marks the ride’s 20th anniversary. Here is artist, Mona Caron‘s poster marking the milestone.
Below, is the poster she created for the 10-year anniversary.
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.
On my second attempt, I finally made it to the top of Mt. Lemmon! This time, I started earlier in the day (8:30am at the base rather than 12 noon on my first try). Still, the temperatures climbed into the upper 90s during long portions of the ride and I wasn’t really in the kind of shape to make the ride carefree and enjoyable.
It helped that I went with a friend (thanks Marc!). He’s in good shape and runs 5x a week and described this ride as very, very tough. We took our time. Well, I took my time. I stopped 4-5 times, 10-20 minutes each time to rest, refuel, drink water, and desperately find some tiny patch of shade. And, once again, I still didn’t bring enough water. My two bottles were virtually depleted after the first 20 miles of hot, uphill riding.
Plus, the altitude is a factor. I noticed the air above 6,000 feet is palpably thinner. I honestly thought I might abandon midway through the ride. Nonetheless, I soldiered onward and upward. After 4+ hours of riding and stopping, I had a re-birth and actually began to feel pretty good. But that was when my friend Marc had his trouble spot. He wasn’t drinking much water and was eating little if any food (while I had consumed an apple, a little cheese, two small granola bars, some nut bars, and even a power gel). So I found a package of powdered electrolytes in my handlebar bag and poured this in his water. That seemed to bring him back to life for the final 5-mile climb to the summit, which took us over 8,000 feet in altitude.
At the top, we each savored a pizza at the pizzeria in Summerhaven. Best pizza ever — we both agreed.
I force a stop on the descent to make this image. The descent is about 60-minutes of pure downhill riding in which the air progressively grows hotter and hotter until, dare I say, it feels as though you are riding through an actual oven.
Last year, I wrote about my attempt to ride the Catalina Highway all the way to the little town of Summerhaven on the top of Mt. Lemmon. That attempt — for the record — was unsuccessful.
I attempted this epic climb again this past week-end and — this time — I reached the top! The long climb was quite challenging for several reasons. I plan to write a brief report about this 53-mile climb and descent soon.
Meantime, here is a view along the descent (and oh my, what a descent it is!), which takes you from Conifer forests above 8,000 feet in elevation down to the valley floor in Tucson.
Han and Chewy taking a breather after tearing up some single track.