Monthly Archives: July 2012

Bike Spotting: ElliptiGO Everywhere

A couple of hot Saturdays ago as I struggled to turn the pedals on the climb up Old La Honda Road, I heard a strange whirring sound behind me. I looked back and saw two men in matching t-shirts pumping away on matching machines. As they passed I thought: “What are those things?” and “Man, I’m really dragging today.”

Fortunately, they were still at the top when I arrived so I got a closer look. The ElliptiGO is what happens when exercise equipment escapes the gym and hits the open road. The riders said it gives then the intense workout of running without the impact on the knees. Given my struggle on the hill that day, I’m sticking with my bike.

If you want to try an ElliptiGO for yourself, Sports Basement in the Presidio in San Francisco rents them for $25 for three hours. And there are plenty of hills and a famous bridge nearby to challenge yourself.

Location: Top of Old La Honda Road, Woodside, California, USA


Posted by on July 15, 2012 in Bike Gallery, Bike Spotting


Fashion Friday: Turning Up the Heat

When the temperature soars and you’re stuck at work instead of at the beach, it’s time to bring a little summer sass into the office. A bold print dress and bright white accessories go from the resort to the city with style.


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 13, 2012 in Cycle Fashions


Bike Commute Diaries: Urban Trail Poacher?

The gravel section of the Guadalupe River Trail that I use every morning is now closed for paving. The official detour is a busy, unpleasant city street, but there’s a perfect alternate path that’s closed for flimsy legal reasons. A massive hole in the fence beckons, but I ignore it. This goody-two-shoes can’t take the stress.


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 13, 2012 in Commute Diaries


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

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