Tips & Tricks: A Harsh Reality of Biking – Bike Theft


There is a sinking feeling of walking up to a bike rack and noticing that there seems to be one less seat post in the air and realizing that missing seat post is yours. When it happened at a restaurant only three blocks from home that realization was rattling. In San Francisco the problem isn’t just common it’s an epidemic. According to lock manufacturer Krypotonite, this is the 6th worst city in the US for bike theft.

(The belief that crowded areas deter bike thieves is but a myth. The bustling, preoccupied crowds overlooked the wire cutter on the Embacadero where Jon’s bike was stolen.)

Even though the National Bike Registry estimates that 1.5 million bikes are stolen each year, don’t expect a government task force to clean up the problem any time soon. The threat is real and the only solution is to take precautions to prevent theft and precautions to enable a likelihood of recovery or at least financial recovery should it happen to you.

As the Boy Scout Motto goes: BE PREPARED!

No local bike registry exists, but there is a National Bike Registry. This agency works with police agencies around the country to return stolen bicycles to their rightful owners who have either registered their bike prior to it being stolen, or who register a stolen bicycle. Registration is $10 for 10 years for one bike, or $25 for 10 years for an unlimited number of bicycles in the same household which gets you a thief deterring sticker engineered to be indelible that identifies your bike as listed with the National Bike Registry. Registering a stolen bicycle is $0.99 and it will stay on the list for six months.

PREPAREDNESS:

1. Save your bike’s information — Your receipt should include:

– Your name and address;

– The serial number of your bike; and

– Bike shop where you purchased it.

Keep a in a hard copy safe place. Also, make a digital copy and store it on your computer or emailed to yourself. Also, take a photo of the serial number on your bike and of the bike itself.

Use this guide from the National Bike Registry to locate the serial number on your bike.


2. Have homeowner’s or renter’s insurance — There’s no such thing as bike insurance in the United States, your bike will only be covered under a homeowner’s or renter’s policy. This especially makes sense for high-end bikes with high value. Or if you rely on your bike for transportation, such as to and from work, and need reimbursement for the bike immediately without the timeliness of having to save for a new one.

DETERRENTS:

We knew a bartender in the market for a bike, so we made suggestions on bikes and shops – the bikexperts that we are. The next time we saw her we asked if she’d found a bike. She had. She’d literally “found” a bike. “It was just sitting there and by the time my friends and I came out again it was still there. So I took it.” And the poor fool that never bothered to lock up their bike had to walk all the way home.

If left unlocked, even if you have insurance on your bike they aren’t required to pay your claim. Like helmets, bike locks are not optional.

1.  Use the lock properly — Place the U-Lock around the frame, at least one wheel and the bike rack.  A cord tying in the other wheel is a good a secondary measure, but the cord alone will not protect your bike by itself…Trust me.  For more information see the National Bike Registry and this awesome article from FunkedUpFixies.

Though cord locks are lighter, they are less effective and can but cut easily.  Here the cord only goes around the frame and does not tie in the wheels. One more thing that can make worse off, even if your bike isn’t stolen, your saddle bags, lights, pumps, etc. can easily be removed and stolen by anyone.

2.  Keep your eyes on the prize — One way to prevent bike theft is to keep your eyes on it whenever it’s locked up – only break or eat where you can see your bike.  In the time it takes to notice an all too curious admirer of your bike with a bolt cutter, you’ll be able to run after the person (while on the phone with the police) and apprehend/report/photograph the thief.

3.  Patronize places that are bike friendly — Bike friendly can mean that they let you bring the bikes into the store or restaurant, provide a secure area to park your bike, or have a bike rack directly in front of the store windows.

RECOVERY:

1.  CALL THE POLICE RIGHT AWAY! — This DOES NOT mean call 9-1-1, that is for emergencies only.  Find the non-emergency line for the police of the city where your bike was stolen, call in and make a report.  In San Francisco 3-1-1 is the number you can call to report a stolen bike.

2.  Be clear and specific in the report — It will take 10-15 minutes in order to properly report the theft.  Details you will need are:

–  Location of the bike rack or other object your bike was attached to;

–  Time you locked up your bike;

–  Time you found your bike missing;

–  Make, model and year of your bike;

–  Anything that is specific to your bike (i.e. yellow stripes on your tires, a marking on the bike, etc.);

–  The serial number of the bike — you can file “additional loss form” or “report amendment form” after your initial report if you don’t have this handy; and

–  Have a copy of the report sent to you, preferably by email, you will need the report number when reporting the loss to your insurance company.

3.  If you have renters or homeowner’s insurance, file a claim — File this as soon as possible. Have the information from the police report and the report number handy when making the report.  The sooner you report your loss, the quicker you can get a replacement.

4.  Report all of your bike’s upgrades — When you talk with your insurance agent about the loss, make sure to mention anything else of value that was added before it was stolen, like the SPD clips, S-Works tires and Body Geometry saddle on my bike that almost doubled my insurance recovery.

When you first realize your bike is stolen, there is a feeling of being violated.  No matter if it’s your mental escape from everyday life, your exercise, or your commute, it is more than just a material object. It’s fine to grieve about the loss and the unfairness of theft, but when it first happens, you need to act rationally and report the incident quickly.

MISSING

2010 RALEIGH CADENT FT3

GREY WITH YELLOW PIN STRIPES

YELLOW STRIPE ON FRONT WHEEL (PICTURED HERE)

SOLID BLACK REAR WHEEL

BLACK SHIMANO A530 PADDLE/SPD CLIP PEDALS

BLACK BOTTLE CAGE WITH PUMP MOUNT

BLACK SPECIALIZED BODY GEOMETRY SONOMA 175 SADDLE

Reported Missing May 21, 2010 from Pier 1-1/2, San Francisco, California

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Trail: THE JAWS OF LIFE – Tiburon


Distance: from San Francisco Ferry Building (see Golden Gateway Trail): 22.21 miles, from Marin Crossroads: 7.78 miles
Difficulty: Enough to give you saddle sores but not enough to break a tourist on a comfort bike.
Download your route sheet here: Directions – The Jaws of Life
FOR A MORE DETAILED LOOK click here for the full Geoped Map provided by g-map-pedometer.com.
From Marin Crossroads: 
There are two routes to Tiburon: Strawberry & The Quick Fix.  This is decision-time, do you have time to go the scenic route?  Or are you cutting it close to the last ferry?  If you have the time, take the Strawberry route! It is worth the time!
SCENIC ROUTE: Strawberry Fields of Heaven
 
If you make the decision to go the scenic route through Strawberry, you will make a right off of the bike path and follow Route 8 over a bridge and onto Hamilton Drive.
All you have to do in this section is stay on Hamilton Drive until it dead ends at Redwood Highway Frontage Rd, a road running parallel to US-101, at the stop sign pictured below. At the stop sign, make a right and head towards the water.
This path will wind you once again under a US-101 bridge and then back in the opposite direction.  Just watch the signs for Route 8 as you go along the road.
 
Emerging from the underpass you will reach a strip of gas stations Keep following the road here until you see the 7-Eleven.
 
Pay attention for the Route 8 sign, this will be at the corner of Seminary Drive.
Make a right on Seminary Drive and you have entered the town of Strawberry!
Though you will keep following Seminary Drive, this gets a bit confusing at the first intersection because instead of going straight, you will make a right.
 
Once you are into Strawberry, you will see marsh lands to your right, and then just up the road, you will see the bay with the US-101 bridge off in the distance.
After passing the Golden Gate Baptist Seminary on the left (yep, there is actually a seminary on Seminary Road, go figure) you will then wind around and find yourself with San Francisco in the distant foreground and Sausalito marina to your right.
This is one of the most beautiful parts of the ride to Tiburon, so take it in and take plenty of pictures!  As you can see, we did!
The Undertow Hill
 

Following the road will lead you to a hill that looks deceptively short and easy. It encourages you to charge right up only to suck you in. Fatigue at this point in the ride only makes this worse. However the lack of traffic make it manageable if you need to take it slow and you have a nice downhill ahead of you.

Once you have crested this hill, there will be a fork in the road, head to the left, this will take you towards tennis courts and Strawberry drive.

After a few more hills you will reach a point where the road becomes one lane in either direction.  Make sure to stay to the right and go in the same direction as the car traffic.

The next decision comes toward the end of Strawberry Drive, right after the road comes back together.  At that point, you will see a very inviting SuperFast downhill!

If you choose to go this way, be warned, you will have to apply your brakes quite soon after you reach the bottom because the path you take around the small peninsula is very narrow and tends to have joggers and dog walkers along it.

f you do choose SuperFast Downhill, just keep following the path until you get to the parking lot, there just head toward the 76 gas station and make a right on Greenwood Cove Drive.

 

If you chose to forego SuperFast downhill and stick with Strawberry Drive, you will go down Strawberry Drive and then intersect Tiburon Boulevard at the stop light.

At Tiburon Boulevard, make a right and enjoy the downhill section of this trip. At the next light, make a right at the 76 gas station onto Greenwood Cove Drive.

I’ll finish the route on the other side of Option 2.

OPTION 2: The Quick Fix 

If you are running a little short on time and you choose to stay on Route 5, then about half a mile from the Route 8 intersection you will come up on East Blithedale Avenue and a stop light.

 

The signs for the bike paths are a bit confusing, but just enter the road in the bike lane and follow East Blithedale Boulevard.

Be careful along this route as there are a few different intersections where cars will either be exiting the road onto a highway ramp, or just exiting the highway onto the road.  Keep following the road as it goes over US-101.  Once you have passed all of the intersections around the US-101 overpass, the rest of the ride is less dicey.

Keep straight on Tiburon Boulevard and you will intersect Strawberry Drive at a light.  At the next light, make a right at the 76 gas station (Greenwood Cove Drive), the bike path sign signals Route 10 to the right, and the rest of the route is the same for everyone (pictured above).

Options Merge:

Following Greenwood Cove Drive you will encounter another uphill area before gliding down to the end of the court.

To the left side of the court is an entryway for a path over to a parking lot.

This lot leads to Route 17 and the Tiburon bike path.  When you first enter the bike path to the right of the parking lot, you’ll see the path fork to the left and to the right.  If you head to the right, you better have a mountain bike! This is a gravel path that leads along the shoreline.

Your better option is to veer to the left and up the next hill.  Once up the hill you will see the bike path and, more than likely, a whole lot of pedestrians! Just take it easy through this section and if you have a bell, use it!

Follow this nice and easy path all along the shoreline.  Take in the beautiful scenery, take some pictures and just enjoy how much fun bike riding in this area can be!

 

The path will cross a road at a stoplight, so you’ll have to watch for cars coming around the bend.  Cross the road and the path continues for a little long, or if you’re confident enough, go ahead and get back onto Tiburon Boulevard, the rest of us will be joining you soon.

If you stayed on the path, just keep going along the path.  Eventually, you’ll make it to another intersection where you’ll have to make sure to stay to the right for the short split and just head down the path.

 

Just a bit down the way the path will end and you’ll have to merge back on to Tiburon Boulevard.  Once you’re back on the road, it’s just a straight shot to the end of this run. No worries, as a bike lane is provided the whole way to the ferry terminal.

 

From the Ferry Terminal at the round-a-bout, you have a great view of Angel Island, San Francisco and the marina.  Once you reach the ferry terminal, park your bike and enjoy one of the local restaurants before the ferry ride back to Pier 41.

Our favorite restaurant is Sam’s Anchor Cafe.  Here, there is both indoor and outdoor seating.  Be warned though, on a nice day in the spring and summer, the wait can be an hour and a half for a table outside, while you may be able to walk right in to one inside.  Just be aware of how much time you have before your ferry arrives.

 

On nice days, you’re likely to run into a long line of tourists and cyclists.  Beware that the Tiburon Ferry stacks bikes one top of one another because there is only one bike rack!! We call this the bike massacre!  It also doesn’t help that the ferries from Tiburon stop in Sausalito as well most of the time.  Even more bikes will be piled up in that mess.  Just put your gears into 1-1 in an attempt to protect your derailers. For more on how to fend for your bike read about “The Hat Trick“.

Make sure you take plenty of pictures from Tiburon.  You’ll pass by Angel Island, Sausalito, the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz.

 

Fisherman’s Wharf

Once you make it back to Pier 41 at Fisherman’s Warf, you have a lot of restaurants to choose from.  We enjoying going to the outdoor stalls for dungeness crab.  When this becomes our dinner of choice, we go to Nick’s Lighthouse.

These guys have their fresh, live crab out at the steaming stall on the right.

 

It can be prepared either just steamed, or if you ask nicely at the counter, they also can prepare it in garlic butter, or our favorite, the spicy garlic butter!!!

Make sure to try not only the crab, but the crab chowder or lobster bisque as well!! Both are just amazing on a cold day.  You can get them in either a cup or a Boudin Bread Bowl.  They also serve beer and wine outside, you can see my Anchor Steam in the brown bag.  Nick’s is a great place and the service is awesome!

You might ask, “Hey, what did you do with your bikes?”  That’s a good question! The closest bike racks are down the street in front of the Boudin Bakery.  That’s a bit of a hike when you’re hungry! So what we did to ensure that our bikes were not only safe, but visible, is to lock them to the anchoring chains around the parking lot across the street.

Using the U-Lock and cables, just run the sides of the U-Lock through the chain links and your cables after connecting your cables to your rear wheel, frame and front wheel.  This is as secure as the bikes can get.

Just think of dinner as your reward for making it through the jaws of life!

Trail: MARIN CROSSROADS – The Source of Great Beginnings


Marin Crossroads

Crossing over the Golden Gate Bridge is one thing, but riding into Sausalito is its own reward on a stretch of Alexander Avenue we like to call “Weeeee Fast Fun!” There’s room for slower speeds in the bike lane but if you know you can keep up with the cars you can take to the lane. Watch how we descend into Sausalito and see more about the exciting possibilities of biking in Marin from crossing the bridge.


The Marin Crossroads are where you make your decision on which northern Marin destination you will bike to today (or to an extra eight miles for a more hearty ride to Sausalito). Going north out of Sausalito takes you onto both the road and a wonderful bike path with a whirlwind of other cyclists that will hopefully make you feel like one and also keep you on the right track.
Distance from San Francisco Ferry Building (see Golden Gateway Trail): 14.43 miles
Distance from Sausalito: 4.02 miles
Difficulty: It’s not about the road, it’s about the destination. With a mix of on-road riding and multi-use paths, this relatively flat four miles is beginning portion of trails to other Marin destinations or a great adjunct to your Sausalito run.
Download your route sheet here: Directions – Marin Crossroads
From Sausalito:
In favor of a longer ride through Marin, from then end of The Golden Gateway, ride past the Sausalito Ferry Terminal, continuing to follow the main drag, Bridgeway Drive, out of town.
On the north edge of town past the central tourist traps in Sausalito you will find some restaurants worth your pit stop and a handy gas station to get you on your way.
Why stop at a gas station on a bicycle?
 
We need to fuel too! Gas stations are the quickest way to prop up your bike without the hassles of locking it, so you can get in, get your fuel (energy/sports drinks, water, power bars) and get out in less than 5 minutes. We like biking superhero, Lance Armstong, endorsed FRS drinks when we’re riding. Great energy and no crash! (No, he does not endorse this message. We wish!)
 
The Sausalito Taco Shop is a colorful gem tucked away in the northern section of Sausalito and a great place to stop for lunch. The restaurant itself grew out of a small family business near Cabo San Lucas, Mexico when the son migrated to Sausalito and opened up his own restaurant. Try the Taco de Carne Asada which makes us say “Ole!” Total stop time: 30 – 40 minutes.
 
If you’re more in the mood for breakfast or brunch, then the Fred’s Place Coffee Shop is the perfect diner. Here you will find a bevy breakfast foods, eggs however you like them and hearty sandwiches.
 
While the service is friendly and swift, due to its small size there may be a wait for a table or you will be seated at a communal table. In the meantime the heavenly aromas will wet your appetite. Total stop time: 45 – 60 minutes.
Continuing along Bridgeway alongside traffic, you will begin a slight hill climb right after you pass the last restaurants.
At each traffic light continue to go straight and follow the bike lane (the beauty of following other bikes can be as helpful as Rudolf to reindeer at times like this.)
Recognize your second hill by the side-by-side bike lane and parking lane, which give you extra room next to the traffic.
After short while longer on Bridgeway, you’ll come to the entrance of US-101 North. Though bikes are allowed for a short distance on 101, it is advisable to take the bike-friendly multi-use path after the traffic light.
The entrance to the bike path is to the right of the road when you cross the intersection.
You’ll be able to identify it because Mike’s Bikes will be on the right hand side.
Sometimes, the very beginning of the bike path is flooded.

To avoid getting your ride (and butt) wet and muddy, avoid the puddles by making a right at the stop light (at Mike’s Bikes) and instead of crossing the road turn into it.
After passing the set of buildings that includes Mike’s Bikes make a left into the parking lot.
Intuitively make your way around the back of the buildings.
You’ll find another cross-over from the parking lot right onto the bike path between the trees on the left. Mind the cyclists coming from the other direction around this tight turn. Turn right onto the bike path.

The Multi-Use Path

This path is quite pleasant and a great change from riding on the road in traffic. You’ll be riding along the northern part of the bay up Bike Route 5. The only drawback is the stop-start juxtaposition of casual walkers and speed demon bikers screaming “ON YOUR LEFT!!” Just keep an eye open and an ear out and savor this truly beautiful and otherwise peaceful bit of trail.

When you want to stop and take pictures (inevitably because of the beautiful area) just pull over to the dirt shoulder. Remember: blocking the trail with your person or bike is like double parking on a highway and brings out the inner bike douche in everyone! So try to stay aware of yourself and pose for your calendar wisely.

On this multi-use path respect all your multi-wheeled friends.

The bike path will take you under US-101 and you will continue through the marshes. Another mile or so down the road you will intersect Bike Route 8 next to a skateboard park.

Bike Path 8 is the first intersection of the crossroads.

If you choose to make a right turn, this path will take you to Tiburon through the very scenic route of Strawberrry. If you make a left here, you will follow Bike Path 10 and go to Mill Valley which is the entrance to the Mt. Tamalpais climb, Stinson Beach through the Panoramic Highway, Shoreline Highway or Muir Woods.
Going further along the bike path, you will find yourself at another juncture soon as the multi-use path faces a busy intersection.
The end of the Marin Crossroads is the light at East Blithedale Avenue.
If you decide to cross the road at East Blithedale, you will be heading towards Corte Madera. This path allows you to go not only to Corte Madera, but also will be used to go to Larkspur, Ross, San Anselmo, Fairfax and beyond.
Making a right at East Blithedale will take you the shorter route to Tiburon, explained further in my next post.
Even if you wait till the last minute to make up your mind on where to go, or just turn back for the ferry at Sausalito, just enjoy the journey through the Marin Crossroads your entry into greater Marin County.
Want to know where this photo was taken in Marin? You’ll have to keep on reading and riding to find out for yourself!

Our Stories: “Mommy what’s a bike douche?”


You’ve heard us refer to the “bike douche” constantly along our travels because this particular brand of biker never ceases to amaze us with their lack of common decency, concept of acceptable social behavior (or lack thereof), and fundamentally warped spatial awareness and mathematical understanding (i.e. when a line of eight people are trying to cross through a narrow passage on the bridge does it make sense to try and pass them when there’s oncoming traffic in the other direction?)

How do you define a bike douche? They come in all shapes and sizes, (racing) colors and ages and they’re EVERYWHERE. . . so I suppose the more important question to ask yourself is:

Am I a bike douche?


1.) Do you bark out “On your left!” with hostility to put fear into every person you pass even when there is ample passing space and reverberate with a secret sense of joy every time you do because being faster makes you a better person?

2.) Do you have more than one matching helmet to shoe-cover “bike couture” outfit that you wear out on ordinary weekends for no other reason than for people to infer that your matchy-matchy glory makes you “bigger, better, faster, stronger” . . . or are you just primed for that chance side-by-side picture opp with Lance Armstrong that you dream about at night?

3.) Did you invest more money in the carbon fiber goddess that you affectionate call “Baby” (a.k.a. your bike) than your car . . . that you drive to work? (Assuming that you do work and don’t just terrorize cyclists.)

4.) When another cyclist or pedestrian smiles at you on a multi-use path do you think the socially acceptable convention and appropriate response is to growl, grimace or grunt at them . . . because in an ideal world they wouldn’t even exist on your path?

5.) When another cyclist is attempting to pass you do you think the most productive and logical solution is to speed up to make it more difficult for them to do so? Do you think they are covertly trying to drag race you? Therefore would letting someone pass you make you less of a person?

6.) Is biking at your fastest anytime, all the time more important than anything else? Is it paramount to causing traffic accidents, forcing bikers into fences, stationary objects or OFF THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE, causing people to be thrown off their bikes, resulting breaking of bikes, injuring someone or otherwise ruining their day, putting people off biking altogether, making people lose faith in humanity, etc.? Is not caring about other bikers what gets you through the day?

7.) Do you consider your “training” of the utmost importance even though it is for no particular reason or goal except simply a hope that someday you’ll qualify for some currently unknown event that will make it all worthwhile – or as we like to call it ‘Le Tour de Douche’?

8.) Do you joy in offering mock encouragement to others such as “Oh keep going, don’t worry you’ll make it!” on minor obstacles such as small hills to reinforce your superiority? (And did that biker reply with “Bite me!”? Nice to meet you.)

9) Does reading this make you feel guilty, defensive or uncomfortable? Do you feel like you need a drink, cigarette or shower right now?

If you answered YES to one or more of these questions you could be a BIKE DOUCHE. But fret not for therapy comes as cheap as $40 by renting a comfort hybrid, complete with front saddle bag and brightly colored helmet. Put on your jeans and a t-shirt to look like a cycling tourist and witness bike douches behaving at their worst to the fine people visiting our fair city. It just might change your life.

On a serious note Jon and I had completely different experiences riding different rentals that cemented our belief in this bike culture. When we rented the comfort bikes and even on our current hybrids we’ve been yelled at and taken advantage of by bikers who think they’re better than us and try to take advantage of the situation without realizing that it’s more dangerous to do so around people with less experience. On a $3000 road bike I was blatantly given more respect and treated with courtesy. It was an appalling double standard considering I was no better of a biker that day than the day before or the day after. We too get frustrated by tourists with less experience but we have patience. While we might make fun, in the end you are a bike douche if your biking puts other people’s safety in jeopardy, you frighten or terrorize people with your voice or riding, you make other’s riding less enjoyable for the sake of your own or you’re just plain douchey.

We like to bike, so don’t be a bike douche.

Who are we and what do we know?



How we started...

Who we became!

1. We were not born or raised cycling enthusiasts.

Growing up Miko never rode or owned a bicycle and wore high heeled boots (see below) on our first ride. Somewhere between Fort Mason and Crissy Field one sunny day, on rented rides, we learned: WE LIKE TO BIKE.


Scenic Sausalito

Miko at Fort Point, under the Golden Gate Bridge

2. We never knew you could bike around the Bay . . . or did we?

We used to make fun of people boarding their bikes on the Sausalto ferry. Why would anyone want to work that hard when you can take the ferry there and back? The first time we made it across the Golden Gate Bridge we felt like real athletes! It’s all just opened our eyes to how many athletically challenging and beautiful ways you can bike around the Bay Area.

3. We like being tourists

(in our own city)!

Just because something is frequented by tourists doesn’t mean it’s not worth partaking in, especially considering how far people travel from all over the world to enjoy it. You can cover a lot of ground on a bike and we’ll give you some pointers on some great recreational trails and trip plans that will give you a new found appreciation for this city. It may change what you consider “local” and “authentic”.

Junction just across the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin. An array of cyclists congregate there

Jon and Miko at the Marin Headlands

4. We are currently training for the Tour de Nowhere.

On our rides we savor the scenery and each other’s company at an athletic pace that gives us a good workout too. We created this blog to share our experiences and tips with people who just genuinely enjoy riding bikes. Simply that.  When you see the music videos we have created on some of our trails, these are just embodiments of why we like to bike. We encourage everyone to get out and enjoy a ride.

We do recognize there are many just out to ride for speed, who will request that you watch out “On your left” and on occasion even say “Thank you” while passing. But there are those who scowl and rant to the tune of “Move or I’ll hit you!” or “You know you’re in the way don’t you?!” and feel the need to literally brush shoulders with you on the Golden Gate Bridge. . . these are who we call bike douches. The bike douche can be recognized by their multicolored “sponsored” team jersey, custom built bicycle worth as much as a car, and menacing expression that says “I hate that you share the road with me.” They sometimes travel together in a shared silent bitterness, although we’re not sure why.

The Blazing Saddles crowd, namely tourists that rent bikes from Fisherman’s Wharf and like mosquitos tend to come out when it’s hot, are considerably slower and less experienced, hence are the natural born enemy of the bike douche sharing the same trails. They can be recognized by their matching helmets, trail maps, heavy bikes with comfort saddles and handlebar fanny packs marked with the name of their rental company.

[If you’re interested in renting don’t be afraid to ask them if they liked who they rented from. We had mixed experiences with Bike and Roll, whose service was good (friendly and affordable) but bikes were sometimes subpar (small selection and poorly maintained).]

MY POINT (and yes I really have one) is that just like the real road has bad drivers, biking is no different. There are speedy sports cars that cut you off and unpredictable student drivers that nearly crash into you. Worst of all you have pedestrians! (Which will make you ponder the question: Why don’t you know how to WALK?) But if you spend your ride concerning yourself with other people on the road you’ll fail to enjoy the exquisite connection between mind, body and bike, with the land beneath it and the air around you.


This is a blog built from our shared experience learning to bike around the Bay Area and where we’ll give you information, trails and tips so you can create your own special biking memories. Please feel free to comment and share your own wisdom as well. (But if you sound like a bike douche or wannabe bike douche we’ll delete you. JK.)


Trail: INAUGURAL RUN – Ferry Building to Fort Point and the Golden Gate (and Back)


Whether you are just learning to bike, a tourist that want to join all those people you see riding from Fisherman’s Warf or want to experience San Francisco in a new way, the ride to Fort Point and back is a beautiful ride along the San Francisco Bay to the Golden Gate Bridge.

Distance = 11.36 miles

Difficulty = Cake! Full of easy alternatives to on-road riding for the novice or “rusty” rider.

Download the Route Sheet here: Directions – Inagural Run

You can find a detailed map of The Inaugural Run HERE. The Gmap Pedometer (gmap-pedometer.com) we used is a great resource for planning and recounting trips. It includes a mile and calorie counter (!!!) to track the productivity of your ride.

OUR INAUGURAL RUN TO THE GOLDEN GATE

Beginning at the Ferry Building means traveling along the Embarcadero, where there is both a narrow bike lane on the street and a wide sidewalk. Drivers along the Embarcadero can be aggressive and unforgiving while pedestrians are absent minded and slow. Both ways are more congested on the weekend but it’s not unusual to alternate between the two to avoid vans or a particularly slow group of Sunday walkers.


At Pier 39

The first fork in the road comes at the junction of Kearny and North Point where the Embarcadero ends and the straight through is the bumpy brick path of the trolly tracks. There’s no “easy” way around this. If you feel safest on the sidewalk and have zen-like frustration tolerance for slow, absent minded tourists . . the best solution is to enter the pavement towards Pier 39 and enjoy this Scenic Route through the marina, Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf. (Otherwise see Run Over Route, below.)

 Scenic Route

Expect this area to be extremely tiresome because pedestrians and cyclists coexist about as well as toddlers and teenagers. It’s all about me and nobody’s happy. Take a deep breath because it’s only a short span that will make you reevaluate your own habits of jay walking and walking while talking on the cell.

At Fisherman’s Wharf a way to escape the crowds is to take a hard right into the parking lot driveway. Parking lots are the second greatest thing for beginners next to bike paths. Drivers tend to be more aware, there are fewer pedestrians, plenty of space and slow speeds are encouraged.

Miko with Mt. Tamalpias in the background

Miko at the Entrance to the Aquatic Park Trail

Once through Fisherman’s Wharf the soothing, stress-free bike path is a no-brainer and as pleasant a ride as it gets. (Picture time!) However, the “DETOUR” here perplexes EVERYONE . . . including us the first time around.

Just to be clear, the signs point in the right direction. Up the steeper (right side) hill to Beach Street, along Beach Street past the bus stop to the path down Van Ness which rejoins the original trail.

(UPDATE: The path is open once again as of September 2010).

Map from Fisherman’s Warf through Aquatic Park

This map will crystalize things for you. (Note that when returning remain on Beach Street for a more direct route back to the Embarcadero as Jefferson Street through Fisherman’s Wharf is one way.) It’s not because we think you’re stupid but because when you hit the downward slope at the end you want to get some speed (barring annoying, loitering tourists and cars parking) before heading up the hill (or as I like to call it the Celebrity Fit Club) towards Fort Mason.

Jon on Celebrity Fit Club

(Jon pauses, for Miko, our first time up this hill. Feeling like a fat celebrity on the VH1 show gave this hill its name.)

ALTERNATE: The Run Over Route

If you, Mr./Ms. Super Duper Biker, can keep up with traffic and the thought of commingling with throngs of pedestrians makes your skin crawl, you’d best admire Fisherman’s Wharf from a distance and instead cross the street at the Publicis Building and head up North Point Street. This is called the Run Over Route (click here) for a reason: buses, vans, taxis, even big rigs are out to run you over – for the sheer joy of crushing cyclists!

(UPDATE: Thanks to the San Francisco Bike Coalition, part of North Point is now a dedicated Bike Lane in July 2010)

Patience my friends between stop lights and aggressive drivers, make a right at Columbus (right before the uphill) then head left on Beach. You will pass over most of the detour and come out at the top before heading down towards the hill at Fort Mason (a.k.a. the Celebrity Fit Club).

Looking up Celebrity Fit Club

The Celebrity Fit Club hill is the only challenging part of this ride. Some heavier bikes (and loftier fitness levels . . . ahem) may not be UP for it. Getting into a good gear setting and finding the right pace can make all the difference. In the meantime you can “like totally pause” or alternately walk your bike.

Miko with Ft. Mason and the Golden Gate Bridge at the top of Celebrity Fit Club

For what it’s worth, it’s genuinely joyful to reach the top and enjoy the views of Fort Mason, the Marina district, Crissy Field and the Golden Gate from this vantage point beneath the trees (and perhaps a perfect time for a water break and picture op me thinks).

The path gets more intuitive here with slews of other bikers around to follow. Coming out of the park here we suggest biking through the parking lot at Fort Mason, which runs along the waterfront – for all the reasons we like parking lots and because it’s more scenic.

After rejoining the bike path on Marina Boulevard, at the beginning of Crissy Field there’s the option to continue on the paved bike path or brave it along the dirt path along the waterfront. The views along the water are magnificent and we recommend taking this path at least once towards the bridge.

Crissy Field Bike Path

Alternately the bike path along Crissy Field is clearly marked and sufficiently wide for both joggers and bikers, for a swifter pass through the area. We recommend taking this route back.

 Where you decide to end your ride and turn back is up to you. Miko wanted as close to the Golden Gate Bridge’s underbelly as possible, while Jon wanted confirmation that Fort Point is actually one of the key buildings in Grand Theft Auto San Andreas.

There are rest spots with bathrooms at the end of the road to take the weight off your saddle sore bottom, along with plenty of great places to pose for your Christmas card photo.

Jon and Miko take a quick “pause” at the sea wall near the Warming Hut

Riding back is just backtracking with two small pieces of advice: (1.) the hill through the park at Fort Mason is less steep if you take the path on the right that winds it’s way back to the hill (which is “WEEE!” fast fun on the way down compared to “HELP!” dying up).

And (2.) when returning on the Embarcadero make a choice between pavement or street based on your first encounter. On the street pay more attention to lights and traffic in this direction and if you’ve started a little late, remember to turn your lights on after dark (white in the front, red in the back)!

A satisfying run for those learning to get their bearings on a bike and to see and photograph the city’s many tourist destinations in a short amount of time. The route to the bridge will be the springboard to many of our other routes including the delectable ones into Marin . . . good thing is it never gets old.

Post originally published February 2010

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