Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Super-Commute Circa 2006 Part Two

Continued from Yesterday:

...I was going 35, maybe 40 miles per hour down the hill coming from the bridge. An old couple in a Cadillac came barreling out of a driveway just before the corner. This sent me into the other lane over those little reflective knobs that act as the yellow line through much of California in a sideways slide. As I slid around the corner I came face to face with the back of a van.

It gets hazy after that but I found myself in a crazy nose wheelie going around the left side of the van into oncoming traffic. If a car had been there, that might have been it for me. Next thing I knew I was stuffing the bike underneath me, spread-eagling over the bars, the contents of my pockets sailing through the air around me like a Salvador Dali photo, then I was running, but not fast enough to deal with my velocity so I started rolling and tumbling through some bushes. I've seen footage of Moto GP riders crashing in the low-side to high side manner in which, I imagine I crashed. But I've never seen footage of cyclists doing it. Except maybe Beloki. Ugh.

When it was over my bike was on the sidewalk, my lock, cell phone, keys, and other assorted crap were all over the road, and not one driver stopped to see if the guy in the hedges shaking the birds and stars off from around his head was alive or well. I got back on the bike and began rolling down into the scene pictured below. Then BAM! The rear tire suddenly popped. The skid over the reflector bumps had turned a portion of my rim's braking surface at a near right angle to where it should have been.

I went to figure out how to get a bus back up to Fairfax but a concerned cabbie saw me walking and stopped to see what was the matter. He was a cyclist himself and knew by my slumping gait that I was in a bad spot. He gave me a ride up to Bicycle Odyssey. They were closed but the Cab driver knew the owner and gave him a call. Within seconds the door was open and I was fixing my flat on a professional bike stand and bending my rim into a ride-able configuration. The wheel wouldn't last long but it got me home that night. And I wasn't even close to being actually dead, which from time to time since then I have thought might be a good thing.

Little bit nicer weather than the Tour of CA guys had

As gorgeous as this bridge is, riding across it could be a nightmare, for various reasons. The wind and the rain could be formidable. Causing you to come to a grinding halt or slide sideways on one of the many expansion plates. The ocean side was only open to bicycles after 4 or 5 (I forget) so in the morning I had to ride on the city side, which on a Saturday morning would be completely overrun with tourists. Some on horrible rental bikes, weaving out of control. Then there were the Japanese families, each one of them viewing the world through their own, personal digital video camera, even the smallest child. You could scream your lungs out but they would continue backing into your path undeterred. The truly frightening thing is that up until a few years ago the only thing separating Cyclist from traffic traveling at 50+ MPH was a hub-high railing. Just enough to launch you into space after making contact with a tourist.

Chrissy Field

An interesting piece of information in case you ever want to jump off The Golden Gate Bridge (wouldn't really recommend it. 10% of the people who do it live...but not very well). The gates close at night but not for cyclists. You hit a buzzer, wave into a video camera, the guard makes a judgment call "Well, he looks happy and well-adjusted" or "That dude has jumper written all over him". Then he opens the gate. Or not. You let yourself out on the other end.

I always thought that if someone wanted to jump at night all they'd have to do is show up with a bike. As I did more reading on the subject I came to the conclusion that snuffing yourself by leaping off a National Landmark is such an inherently narcissistic act that very few people were going to do it without an audience. There's a documentary about The bridge and suicide called, strangley enough, The Bridge, not exceptionally well executed, but interesting nonetheless.

I'm going 30MPH with very little effort, this is awesome...
oh, but it is going to suck on the way home

Down along Chrissy field I would get my spin on. Practicing maintaining an absurd cadence for prolonged periods of time. Going through the park at the end I once came upon a tour group on Segway Scooters, all with giant headphones on. I couldn't help myself. "Oh my god, it's an expedition from the planet LAME!" I yelled.


Market St. Bagel stop

Every day I'd grab an Egg sandwich on an everything bagel with Swiss cheese, spinach, and scallions at Noah's Bagels. I like food. It's important to me. It's why I ride really.


I don't have a picture of Brainwash, my favorite coffee spot in the neighborhood where I worked. It was rad, I'd come into town sopping wet and cold. Roll straight to the cafe which was also a laundromat. I'd change in the bathroom, throw my clothes in the dryer, get my coffee, and head to the shop. When I'd come back later (not much later) on for second coffee my clothes would be dry. Now I just hang my clothes by the furnace, they don't really dry, and I ride home in wet clothes. That is far from rad. Hey Starbucks in Newton - get a dryer.

Road Rage

This shop had its share of problems (and it purchased stock in other people's problems as well) but we had fun. It was a great experience overall.


Jorgen was a worldly lad, raised by Dutch/Finnish parents but he could do the best Massachusetts townie accent around.

Ferry Building

There were nights I would feel too tapped to ride home. The double shot of Espresso I'd get just before crossing the bridge wasn't enough inspiration. On those occasions I would take the ferry to Larkspur and spin the twenty or so minutes up the flat valley to Fairfax.

Beats the hell out of the bus

Often this rack would be full of swinging bikes getting pelted by the salty spray from the wake. If you want get out of San Francisco and do a real ride, the ferry is the way to go, cuts out all the crap, gets you right to the good stuff.

I don't think I will ever get tired of this view

Wow, I totally shot myself in the nuts with this "little" project. Wasn't the cop out post I had planned it to be. Not like when sitcom writers do those "remember when?" episodes. When I do my contrasting current commute photo essay tomorrow I'll try to keep it more photo, less essay.

In Other News:
  • I posted a little something over on the 29er Crew Site
  • Also posted a How-To article for folks looking to get started with mountain biking over on the IBC Blog. Astonishingly it contains almost no sarcasm.


Ryan said...

I almost uninvited you to my birthday party after reading this series describing fantastic sunny riding.

But then I realized you're currently caught in the Ice World Hell which is slowly destroying what remaining will to live I have.

I will be sure to eat Waffle House in your honor while in SC.

Philip Williamson said...

Great post - thanks! I got to your blog from Igleheart's, and got sucked in with your commute retrospectacle. I used to do the SF-San Rafael commute, and take the ferry back sometimes with a big Samuel Smith.