Wednesday, September 19, 2007

San Francisco trip

Rachel and I spent last week in San Francisco. Neither of us had spent more than an afternoon there before, and we really enjoyed the city. Our first impression was: "Wow, this place is tiny!" It turns out SF has a population similar to Portland's--only in about one-third of the space. Walking and transit are approximately, um, way better because of the density.

On the bicycling front, the riding looks a little tougher to me, but we didn't actually ride in the city. We saw a fair number of bicycle riders, but I'd say bicycling is not nearly as evident as in Portland. The hills are really steep but pretty short, and it seems like a smart rider could avoid most of them without missing much. Bicycles were much better locked on the streets than in Portland, generally with two good locks. Maybe the neatest bike scenes were the clever ways that surfers get their boards to Ocean Beach. Unfortunately, I only had a cell phone camera, and most of the neoprened pedalers were too quick for me. I saw a couple of different "surfboard-as-wheeled-trailer" setups. For minimizing length, though, this one's tough to beat:

The surfboard sits in the two hooks, obviously, sort of like a sidecar...a sideboard?

Also had fun chatting with my cousin Chris, who was a messenger in SF starting in 1990. It was interesting to get his take on how messenger bikes have changed. Messengers he knew mostly rode mountain bikes, partly because of rough streets after the earthquake. They also took pride in retrofitting their bikes with ultra-low gears, so they could shortcut over hills. That's quite a contrast with today's fixed gear/track frame messengers.

A couple of workbikes caught my eye:
A Danish-looking cargo trike seen on Market Street.


A longbike holds up the pile on the west side of Telegraph Hill.

We also had a chance to ride BART out to Rivendell Bicycle Works in Walnut Creek. When we arrived, head honcho Mr. Grant Petersen was earning his next executive bonus the hard way: hand painting what looked to be 50 or more touch up paint samples. He insisted on loaning us bikes, and then spent a good half hour setting them up for us and riding with us down to the bike trail. He then pointed us toward some pretty impressive-sounding gelatto joint (three different coconuts!) and sent us on our way.

Rachel was set up on a Glorius. She liked the ride of the 650B tires immediately, finding them as quick as the 559x32's on her "fast" bike and cushier feeling than the 622x37's on her commuter. Mixtes are great. I need to find a really big one for my Dad.

Glorius with Big Loafer Bag and Rachel

I rode a 66cm Quickbeam--a lot of bike, but I fit just fine. Grant swapped on one of the newfangled slotted leather saddles. I think I like it just a hair better than my Brooks B-17s.

I signed the helmet waiver

The gelatto was good, and when we came back, Grant pulled out a 52cm Glorius for Rachel to ride (she usually rides a 46cm bike). After riding it barefoot, she confirmed it was a nice fit. We both loved the clear powdercoat finish on the bike (sorry, no pictures). It really looked like a suit of armor with the grey tubes and brass visible around the lugs.

The Riv crew were all super nice. Grant, in particular, really went out of his way, and the visit capped off a great trip to the Bay Area. We look forward to going back and maybe riding more next time!

1 Comments:

Anonymous Daniel said...

Joe,

If I had known that was you visiting us at Rivendell, I would have definitely said something. I've enjoyed reading your blog for at least a year now. I'm glad you had a good experience on your trip!

Daniel

11:34 PM  

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