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March 10, 2010

San Francisco by Bike

Filed under: San Francisco — anotherheader @ 11:27 pm

Some of San Francisco's imported street cars

When Becky and I were young, we rode our bikes everywhere.  Bikes meant freedom for us.

Statue of Willie McCovey on McCovey Cove

Even now I look back with amazement at the distances I covered on my Schwinn Stingray or a cheap ten-speed.  Often, it wasn’t as if I had a destination in mind.  I just kept going as I saw interesting things along the way.  You see things from the seat of a bike that you might otherwise miss.  And what I saw, it seemed, always lured me into turning the chain over and extending the day’s journey.  When it was time to return, home was impossibly far away.  These were inadvertent adventures.

Perhaps enveloped with feelings of nostalgia, Becky and I decided to take Flash, the tandem, on a ride to the City.  We’d head up for dinner at Coi, a restaurant in North Beach.  By car, the distance from Belmont on the Peninsula to San Francisco is about 25 miles.  Our bike route would be longer but The City was still within range.  If I were a kid, I would have ridden back after dinner.  As an adult, we shipped our clothes up to a B&B in the City and planned on spending the night.

Flash and Becky loiter near the concrete baseballs on Third Street

About noon we rolled Flash out of the garage and headed to the bay.  Across 101, we hit the Bay Trail and turned north.  The level Bay Trail works pretty well for a trip to the city.  Tracing the edge of the bay, with only short sections of confusion, we crept towards San Francisco.

The not so wild parrots of Fort Funston

There are a few of downsides to riding on the Bay Trail.  The trail winds along the water’s edge and substantially increases the ride’s distance.  Weekend pedestrians clog the trail in sections making for slow going.  There is also one personal issue I have with the trail.  It comes very close to every biotech company I worked at in the area.  Sometimes the triggered recollections were good.  Other times passing a former employer is an incentive to pick up the pace and leave the unpleasant memories behind.

Past the airport on the Brisbane end of South San Francisco we ran out of paved trail.  The roads, Sierra Point Parkway to Lagoon Road to Tunnel Avenue, were fast and virtually car free to Third Street.  On Third we ripped down the hill through Bayview-Hunters Point.  We braked for a street fair where we picked up a slice of sweet potato pie and continued on Third past AT&T Park ending at our B&B on Bush Street.  Overall the ride took us slightly less than four hours and covered close to 35 miles.

Down slope ahead at Genentech

The next day, after our fine meal the night before at Coi, Sylvia joined us for the return trip.  We chose a different route this time.  From Bush Street, we headed to Market Street.  The wide bike lanes on Market took us to the start of The Wiggle.  We followed the clog of cyclists on The Wiggle to Golden Gate Park’s panhandle.  More paved bike trails and the Sunday closed streets of the park took us to the ocean and the Great Highway.

Weathered traffic light

Pushed south by a quartering tail wind on the Great Highway, we climbed Daly City’s West Lake hill and connected with 35.  Highway 35 and the paved San Andreas and Sawyer Camp Trails put us close to home.  Using familiar near home road connections, we were soon rolling Flash back into the garage.  The return trip from the City took us a little more than three hours.

We had a great time.  Plans are in the works further outings of this ilk.  There was much along the way that we had never noticed before.  And now, when we drive to the City, we can look back with amazement at the distance we covered on our bike in our middle ages.

Sylvia and Becky doing The Wiggle. (Notice the street names of The WIggle in the stream.)

A few more pictures can be found here.


  1. […] in March of 2010, Becky and I rode our tandem up to San Francisco to dine at Coi in North Beach.  Coi (pronounced “Kwa”) is one of the nine […]

    Pingback by Coi « Another Header — March 10, 2010 @ 11:43 pm

  2. […] we saw historic streetcars parked at Muni’s maintenance lot in 2010 we had a harebrained notion of trying to ride them all. It didn’t seem like it would be […]

    Pingback by San Francisco: Streetcars | Another Header — January 1, 2019 @ 8:38 pm

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