People have a lot of excuses. Excuses are one of the limitless resources I know. So many people craft and build lives that require a car then complain about having to use one as well as care and feed it. It’s silly. Build the life you want and find ways of keeping true to your heart. Here’s a snapshot of my ‘bike to work’ world.
Tomorrow is Bike to Work Day 2014. A good day to think about this stuff.
I’ve been a bicycle commuter for most of my life. I’ve even worked riding bikes. Over time and left to my own devices, I’ll find a way to structure my day around using a bicycle, or at the very least, a motorcycle. I do it for completely selfish reasons. It keeps me sane. It keeps me feeling alive. It keeps me young and strong. Here and there I’ve been in situations that force me to car commute (which I can’t stand). The car, literally, feels like a coffin to me. So life sucking and horrible. So much anger and no place to put it. Two wheels tends to solve that problem.
These days, I’m commuting to SFSU from Fairfax, generally four days a week (Friday is a rest day for the weekend) by bike. I use the bus (or sometimes ferry) to augment the highway section between San Rafael and the tolls at the Golden Gate Bridge. We call this inter-modal transport. I, then, ride across San Francisco to the University. On a road bike it typically takes about 40 minutes at a good clip. I’ve done most every route that I can think of as the years have gone by. A few years across Great Highway, Ocean Beach, and Lands End. Lately, I’ve been going up Portola, Twin Peaks, and the Arguello Gate. This is a nice route as it’s away from the sandblasting the beach offers on many afternoons. Nothing can really match being on top of Twin Peaks on a warm and quite morning.
Riding a bike so often isn’t easy. You have to do something I call ‘making an excuse TO ride’. We can always come up with great ‘reasons’ not to do something. To keep it real, you make an excuse TO do something. Does it look like rain? I bet it won’t, hasn’t all week. Gotta go to the East Bay after work? Take the #42 bus home from Richmond. Feeling tired? Fuck it, you’re ugly too. Simple. That’s how things get done.
I was finally getting around to converting my standard road bike to a flat bar road bike (after the last one died) as I prefer flat bars often in town for the most aggressive riding. I was doing a bunch of parts updates and transfers among my many bikes getting ready for the upcoming season so some down time was going to occur in getting the road bike back into service. I figured that I’d give the hybrid some saddle time and mix some dirt into my trek across lovely San Francisco.
This entailed a few trips through Mt. Sutro and Mt. Davidson. My first time, actually, was a little over a week ago. It’s not really a place worth riding for me recreationally (I do live in Fairfax) but it does add some adventure for my regular commute. Nothing about Sutro really warrants a real mountain bike (maybe a super pinner 29er) and the hybrid is just about perfect. Mt. Davidson, on the other hand, isn’t really worth the effort. I tried. I did it. I’m over it.
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This route brings my ride time across SF to about an hour. That’s not bad as it feels nice to get into the woods and get my head together. Doing this both ways makes me feel like a child cutting through town to school more than drudging back and forth to work again.
The bike is pretty dialed for this mixed terrain adventure.
* 42/32 chainrings
* 11-34 XT cassette
* SLX Shifter and clutch mid-cage derailleur
* Deore XT M785 hydraulic brakes with 140mm rotors.
* Deore XT pedals
* Aggressive riding position & 640mm wide handlebars
* Kenda Small Block Eight 700x35c rear tire
* Continental Cyclocross Speed 700x42c front tire
The gearing is perfect. Just enough for the road and just enough for the dirt. The tires feel light and smooth enough for the road and just at the good side of skiddery off road. The only real problem is the low performing fork which provides a brutally harsh ride. I will probably now be motivated to make a good fork for it although it will sadly be much heavier. Heavier but faster and more in control.
Here’s a nice map of the Sutro area.