June 17, 2004

San Francisco Celebrates NBG

Our reception in San Francisco last Friday June 11 was filled with action as cyclists and their bikes and members of the Mayor's office filled the City Hall steps. The group was so large that it took a while to organize everyone so that they would fit in the photo. When Faye Saunders on her recumbent, Barbara Hatch on her Rollerblades, Max Chen, on his Bike E, Don Loomis on his trailer towing recumbent and myself on my Penny Farthing arrived, Joe Breeze and John Doidge from were already there. Joe, one of the widely revered inventors of the mountain bike, and his partner at Breezer bikes, John Doidge, had just biked the Golden Gate bridge on their Breezers and were fully invigorated. Our rides were studies in opposites. While we both had fun, we had just biked in from Palo Alto 45 miles away and saw lots of trains and train tracks. This as Joe and John and Elaine had had spectacular views of the Bay and Alcatraz and the magical San Francisco skyline.

For Barbara, her efforts were, at times, grueling. This was so because in some of the industrial areas through which we passed, the road surface was a checkerboard of patched asphalt, each with its own little berm that gobbled up her tiny wheels. I felt them in my arms on my Hi Wheel but in some sections near the airport and the South San Francisco industrial area, they blistered her feet and vibrated her muscular little body to fatigue.

As Barbara and I were pushing the envelope to go 9-12 miles an hour, Max and Faye and Don were all luxuriating on their recumbents as they sauntered along. So for them seeing the small crowd that had already assembled at City Hall was a relief from the tedium of having to roll at the slow pace I had set for them. THX to Max Chen's expert guidance we snaked around all but one hill, on, for the most part, lightly trafficked streets. Max even guided us through the curious maze of paths under freeways and through neighborhoods that the San Francisco Bike Coalition (SFBC) and Peter Tannen, the SF Bicycle Program Manager, have been responsible for .

And it was fitting that Leah Schaum of the SFBC, was there with her bright smile and happy demeanor when we arrived. Also there was Mayor Bob who went ahead of us to hold the fort down and meet his wife, Susan, who had come down from Arcata. Elaine Martinez who rowed in from Sausalito on her Rowbike was also there and yet while she loved the ride over the Gate, grinding up the long downhill to it from Sausalito frazzled her nerves. When Faye reminded her that we were riding to petition for safe cycling infrastructure, she smiled and said, "Oh yeah". And yet my heart still went out to her. I forgot that a sharp drop off to the dirt shoulder right next to it, bordered the white line at the edge of that road. Tho this is a popular route, it still requires skill if you are not on a mountain bike where you can use the rock strewn shoulder if that were to become required. This not to mention the tedium of not being able to let your guard down on what is a climb made even trickier by cross winds that often make their presence known.

At the ceremony itself, Dave Gutierrez, who had been asking about our progress with calls to my cell phone for almost an hour prior to our arrival, welcomed us with open arms. Acting in Mayor Newsom's stead (the Mayor who really wanted to be there, could not break free from United Nations Day which was also taking place on that day), Gutierrez from the Dept of Neighborhood Services, treated us like Kings! He made sure other members from the Mayor's staff with whom we had been in touch came out and greeted us. It was especially fun to see Jimmer Cassiol there. He had been more than accommodating in helping make last minute changes to the official city decree that we received.

Patrick Thomas whose last day of class was the day before, got there an hour late. On his unicycle. With all of the provisions he would need for his trip to Chicago. On his back. A sweetheart of man, he at least was able to join us for the delicious free lunch that Faye Saunders had arranged for us at Ananda Fuara . Located just around the corner from City Hall, the place was packed and the food was not only surprisingly affordable for San Francisco but it was also extremely delicious.

I knew the road to Chicago had officially begun when we then watched Patrick pedal away. He might have only been going ten miles an hour but his legs were spinning furiously. And here now in hindsight after seeing him again in Davis and then Folsom 50 miles away on the same day, I feel like I had been witness to the same daily miracle our NBG Summer of 2004 has already become!

Posted by mkrieg at 09:15 AM | Comments (2)