Monthly Archives: July 2012

Peak of the Month Club: Tourists on Mt Tamalpais

It’s July now, which in San Francisco means two things: hoards of tourists and rolling banks of fog. That is, shivering tourists spilling over from Fisherman’s Wharf across the Golden Gate Bridge into Marin to visit the quaint town of Sausalito, the tall trees of Muir Woods and mighty Pacific Coast at Stinson Beach.

If we had thought harder about it, we might have chosen another month to tackle Mt Tamalpais, but we were already behind in our Peak of the Month Challenge and Mt Tam is a popular destination climb. And as Bay Area suburbanites we are tourists too, albeit better prepared for the fog than visitors from back East or overseas.

In an attempt to get out ahead of said tourists, who have the natural advantage of jet lag, we drove up to the city and rolled out before 9am, the time that weather report said the fog would lift. It didn’t. The fog didn’t clear until as we dropped down into the town of Sausalito, but it stayed clear for our 10 mile climb up Mt Tam.

In contrast, the tourist traffic didn’t clear until we were near the top, making the ride more hectic than usual. Cars and shuttle buses filled with tourists bound for Muir Woods and Stinson Beach roared past, leaving scant space on the edge of the road for us. I worried that my friends doubted my route choice.

But we did meet a tourist that wasn’t whizzing by in a vehicle, a man from Copenhagen riding up the mountain on a time trial bike. He stopped to chat us up and expressed his appreciation for American women riding the backroads. “Not so many women on the road in Denmark,” he said. “It’s great!”

As the traffic petered out and our legs tired, the road kicked up for the final steep assault between the twin peaks of Mt Tamalpais. From the top, the view of San Francisco Bay below was much appreciated, even if it was obscured by a marshmallow blanket of fog. We had conquered our second peak, we were sitting in the warm sun, and we had cold drinks and junk food from the snack bar. A heavenly reward.

After that it was (almost) all downhill, which means some sweet twisty descending and less concern about car traffic since we were moving at their speed. Strong and buffeting winds on the Golden Gate Bridge made the final few miles back more intense than expected, but it didn’t spoil our excitement. We celebrated in the parking lot with the most important question: “Mission accomplished on Mt Tam. What’s next?”

What’s next on your challenge list for the summer? Are you on target or are vacations getting in the way?

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Posted by on July 11, 2012 in Backroads


Bike Lane FAIL: Cowper Street in Palo Alto

If it’s a bike lane, then why are cars parked in it? If it’s legal to park (per the signs on the lamp posts) then why is it marked as a bike lane? Even the long-term bike folks in Palo Alto can’t fully explain the history of these decades-old bike lanes. Either the parked cars or the bike lane have to go. Sadly, I know which one will.

Location: Cowper Street near Loma Verde Avenue in Palo Alto, California, USA


Bike Spotting: Whizzer Motorbike

It’s a bike! It’s a motorcycle! No, it’s a motorbike! This Whizzer motorbike caught my eye outside Walt’s Cycle in Sunnyvale. I was perplexed: the pedals and chain are clearly driving the rear wheel, as are the gas motor and belt. Is a motorbike pedal-assisted like a moped? Or are the pedals just used to start the motor?

An internet search revealed that Whizzer got its start in the late 1930s and had to petition Congress to continue production through World War II. Sales took off after the war, selling hundreds of thousands of motorbikes until they shut down operations in 1965. In 1998, the Whizzer brand was revived with reproductions like this one.

But I’m still perplexed about how they work. If you know, please enlighten me…

This Whizzer may be a reproduction less than 10 years old, but it could have fooled me.

Location: Walt’s Cycles, Sunnyvale, California, USA

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Posted by on July 7, 2012 in Bike Gallery, Bike Spotting


Bike Commute Diaries: Lunchtime Escape

When I get bored with all the lunch spots near my office building, I hop on my bike for a change of pace. At 20 minutes round trip on foot, my favorite Mexican place is a little far to walk and get back to my desk within an hour. But on my bike I can get there as quickly as I would by car, and the parking is much easier.

About the Bike Commute Diaries: Launched in May 2012 for National Bike Month, this series explores the unexpected and surprising things I’ve learned about bicycling for transportation.

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Posted by on July 6, 2012 in Commute Diaries


Freedom to Roll, Freedom to Roam

Today was the Fourth of July, Independence Day here in the United States. For Americans, it’s a day to celebrate freedom–breaking away and being in control of your destiny.

Last fall, I attended the book signing for Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom. The author described how in the late 1800s women took up bicycling as a hobby and found the freedom they longed for. With a bicycle, for the first time they could go places far from home unchaperoned, even places where they might find themselves in the company of men. Gasp!

I identified immediately, not as a woman, but as a child who found freedom through my bicycle. With our bicycles, my friends and I roamed our subdivision, riding from house to house gathering friends, rolling down to the creek to throw rocks and exploring trails that led to other equally isolated subdivisions. On our bikes we cruised the streets, mastered the trails and even dared to sneak through the cow pasture.

Freedom was knowing we could go wherever we wanted under our own power, moving fast with the wind in our faces. We could go places without our parents and make our own decisions, for better or for worse.

If this sounds like a trip down memory lane, it is. But it’s exactly how I feel when I roam all over town, rolling down the creek trails, cutting through on bike-only passageways, and stopping whenever something catches my eye. On my bike I have the optimism of a young girl with the world ahead of her. Some things never grow old.

What does freedom mean to you? Where or when do you feel most free?


Posted by on July 4, 2012 in Around Town


Fashion Holiday Edition: Let Freedom Roll

Wherever you’re headed to celebrate Independence Day–to a picnic, the beach or a fireworks display–an easy cotton knit dress and espadrilles will give you the freedom to roll effortlessly. Happy Fourth of July!

About Fashion Friday: Inspired by a 2011 Bike to Work Day challenge sponsored by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, this series highlights the broad range of “dress for the destination” bicycling fashions.


Posted by on July 4, 2012 in Cycle Fashions


Bike Commute Diaries: Garage Parking with Security

The bike rack that isn’t good enough for your darling baby suddenly looks perfectly secure when the elevator is out of service and your office is on the 7th floor. The security guard promises to keep an eye on her.


About the Bike Commute Diaries: Launched in May 2012 for National Bike Month, this series explores the unexpected and surprising things I’ve learned about bicycling for transportation.


Posted by on July 3, 2012 in Commute Diaries

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