It’s been five days off the bike, in San Francisco. In lieu of pedalling, I’ve been hucking up SF’s steepest hills with a backpack and a 36 pound 5-year-old on my shoulders. I have a few observations from my trip.
1. I miss my local bike shop. The shops in the immediate downtown area (at least those I’ve seen) have been overpriced tourist-magnets. I didn’t get to Black Mountain Cycles or any of the cool shops in the Bay Area, and I didn’t even get over to Pacific Cycles (which was quasi-ok from what I recall of my last trip). But what I have seen has been super-douchey.
2. They have the makings of a great bike scene here. They have the right laws in place, they have the right signs…
They have beautiful scenery, challenging hills, etc. They have a huge population of bike-commuters. And yet, things still seem confrontational. I cannot tell you how many adverse interactions I’ve seen between cars and bikes–and there’s no clear rule on who is being the jerk. I’ve seen cars drive like total a-holes, and I’ve similarly seen bikers instigating adverse interactions with careless riding. Certainly the downtown riding scene isn’t symbolic of the whole area (man, I’d love to do some riding in Sonoma), but what it does show is that you cannot create a harmonious bike scene simply by creating bike lanes. It makes me think, more and more, that what we’re doing with Axletree is the model of things to come, nationwide. Working on civility and positive bike/car interaction is just as important as building infrastructure.
3. People want to bike. You wouldn’t believe how many tourists come here and rent total piles of crap–dangerously unsafe bikes–and huck them across the Golden Gate Bridge. No, really.
(Sidenote: I can’t believe how many ride without helmets. With streets that are loaded with cars, taxis, RR tracks, trolley tracks, e-train tracks, etc., I wouldn’t be caught dead without a helmet…pun intended).
This is also reinforcing what we’re doing with Axletree. People want to ride bikes. They see it as fun. We just have to find ways of having these same people ride bikes when they get home…to make it a recreational activity at home…not just on vacation.
4. Pedaling a paddleboat is challenging.
Pedalling at a low RPE (rate of perceived exertion) produces a base speed. Doubling effort increases speed by perhaps 10%. Doubling effort again increases speed by perhaps another 5%. These bad boys just don’t want to go fast.
5. BPaul is a monster. Seriously. He came in second at his first ‘real’ crit in 3 years. Lenny is a monster too. I ride with monsters.
I like to ride with Monsters.
We’ve got to do something about this. We have the legs. We need to get a team going.
(Note: a ton of pics of the new Salsa Carbon Mukluk have been released, following Saddledrive. If you haven’t read about Saddledrive, read about it here. I’ll have my thoughts at some point in the near future.)