So this is what a hill looks like….
Video by Nick, words by Jay.
Round two of getting up at a reasonable hour. If it happens again room, it'll be a miracle. I digress. We had sweet potatoes, ricotta cheese, spinach and eggs. No more skipping meals. Hah!
We were warned away from the Tenderloin district, so little did we know that today’s first adventure would deliver us to it's grimy, soulless center. We were later informed that it's the heart of rampant drug use, though the poison of choice changes block by block. We were there, however, on the recommendation of an SF based SCUL pilot, to a bike shop named Yellow Bike, where we could rent a stand and pre-flight both our bikes for the road ahead. Outfitted with a list of parts and mods, it didn't occur to us that half the day would disappear there. Fortunately, the guys were supremely helpful and had nearly everything on our list. If you're out this way, check them out. The hours are bizarre but everything is inexpensive and the staff is incredibly friendly and helpful. Mind the needle caps outside.
On to lunch. Except it's 4pm already. So much for not skipping meals. We did have a few snacks at the shop, but the guys sent us to the farmer's market at Civic Center, just as it was winding down, and we bought a giant bag of greens. I insisted that we go have a picnic at Coit Tower, a mere 2 mi and 275 feet of elevation away. Could we go around the hill, I asked? But it was not to be. I'm beginning to understand why we were recommended triple chain rings in front. Which Nick has, and I don't. Coit Tower is at the top of a Hill. Not a Somerville hill, but an honest-to-goodness, oh-fuck-my-chain-just-jumped-i-quit Hill. And it was only the first of many the day would bring. The following road spiraled up the hill, as we huffed and grunted, views of the bay bridge, the golden gate bridge and the undulating city below emerged. Worth it for the picnic (and maybe the selfie).
The same pilot, Parmesan, who sent us to Yellow Bike also gave us a tip about a weekly ride called the Butter Lap. It’s casual, they said. Bring water and a jacket. Ride usually runs 7.15-9.30/10 PM, they said. Woof. So after our little warm up to Coit Tower they said. So after making friends with an incredibly inebriated gentleman at the Ferry Building who told Nick he was in love with and wanted to marry me, and could he buy me a drink, we met about a dozen other cyclists and the ride began. The group set off fast-casual and very spread out, the opposite of what we're used to with SCUL, with no defined leader. It proceeded to a park where folks dismounted and cracked beers. The whole day never really warmed up, at the park was fairly chilly. Thanks for the gloves, Maryellen, they're coming in SUPER HANDY.
An older gentleman, Manolo, said he would be happy to lead us and another girl to the next stopping point before we were thoroughly refrigerated. We meandered along the bike paths, down to a pretty park and along the beginning of an old base, up into the Presidio. Up gravel paths through the ruins of bunkers, under trees, to a lookout over the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset. Worth it. Manolo took pictures of us, as he was in his mid-sixties, for bike month, he was snapping photos of everyone who rode with him. Find him, and us, on Instagram @ manolospix
By now, other riders had caught up to us, and the group had swelled. They dismounted for beers again. Manolo had to go catch a train, but we made a new friend, Michael, who offered to take us the rest of the way. Did I mention there were hills yet? What we'd done so far was nothing. I huffed and puffed and whined, crawling up the hill, a snotty, sweaty mess. Nick had a problem with his bike, where it kept jumping gears, but he's better about soldiering on. We ended up at a plaza with a museum? Or something pretty. But the full moon shone down on us as I gulped my entire water bottle. Just as the remainder of the group pulled in, we set off again, down hill, to a segment aptly called the Coaster Race. A long winding downhill with a left hand curve at the end, then cruising down the beach til our momentum petered out. I've never tucked so tight. The route headed through Golden Gate park from there, dark and leafy, then out through the Haight and towards home. Michael left us to wake up early for Bike to Work day, and we were cold and hungry. For anyone who is unfamiliar, I'm nearly ALWAYS hungry, and I'm not afraid to let you know. So that salad we had at 4.30 was a distant memory by the time the ride had even started, and at 10pm I was ready to pick up a fork and make dinner out of an unsuspecting Nick! The ride typically proceeds to a bar, but historically they don't have good options fo wasr me, and there was a Paris-recommended taqueria nearby. We drove into the best proportioned plate of nachos I've ever had! Sure, they could have been a larger serving, but EVERY CHIP HAD A TOPPING! A miracle!
Even this wasn't enough, so we dropped into Safeway on the way to bed. I've never been to a grocery store with security before. They proved to be necessary, escorting several individuals out before we managed to leave. We will be glad to get out of the city for a few days after that.
Total distance according to my phone: 22mi biked
Nick's phone: 27 mi.