sf ibob ride -- "tour de fixie" -- saturday june 4, 2005

Saturday was a super day for cycling, especially on a fixed gear! It was warm and sunny and only a light breeze (although some of the sailboats in Sausalito Bay were heeled over quite far)! I removed the normal commuter attributes (locks, lights, yellow Caltrain destination tab) from my 1988 Nishiki Sport fixie-conversion and, borrowing from the RB-1, I attached my Banana Bag to the saddle and post, filled with the usual kit (toolbag, spare tube in protective sock, small vial of Finishline chainlube, Leatherman tool, Advil and allergy tablets in a ziploc, cellphone in padded case, mini first-aid kit) plus a banana. Whole wheat apricot/rasberry bars went in my jersey pockets...on the bike were also a bottle of water and a bottle of Cytomax (mounting that 2nd bottle cage was definitely a Good Idea).

We left around 9:30am and, as is automatic by now, headed north towards the GG Bridge. I was worried about the steep section of Arguello Ave just before the Presidio -- I haven't topped that climb on a single-geared bike in a good couple of years, but I managed with little difficulty, even passing another cyclist on a geared bike. I continued on through the Presidio, making the usual left turn to drop down to the bridge itself. Another cyclist went straight at this intersection, leading me to think he was headed towards Chrissy Field, but then he reappeared in the GGB parking lot, coming at me from the opposite direction! I must investigate this alternate path...

Rolling across the bridge now; there's lots of other cyclists so I take my time and hold my place in line; we're not in any hurry. At the other end of the bridge, I manage the climb up out of the parking lot fairly easily, then drop down and continue through the tunnel, making sure to stop at the stop-sign on the other side. Blasting down the hill towards Sausalito, I actually pass a couple of guys on geared bikes, riding side-by-side, oblivious to overcoming traffic! "On yer left" I call out as I spin on past. Feet really spinning now, I can feel my knees beginning to protest, so I let my legs go limp and just flow with the cranks. I'm glad I left both brakes on my bike here!

After the usual roll through Sausalito's tourist district, I paused at the end of the bike path to contemplate my options and to shed my fleece vest. Happily I noticed that I left the bungie on my rear rack, so I simply tucked the rolled-up vest under the bungie, not having to fiddle with the toestraps on my Banana Bag. The original plan was to make this the turn-around point, but it was still early and I was feeling good so I decided to take on a challenge: climbing Camino Alto on a fixed gear! Really, I just wanted to see how far up I could make it...I'd be happy if I could get to the short & steep section which marks the halfway point. As I settled into a climbing rythmn, I guesstimated that I was actually climbing faster than I would on a geared bike -- I found myself standing out of the saddle nearly the whole way up, necessitated by the bigger gear. As I got to the halfway point, I realized that this wasn't as difficult as I'd thought, and started thinking "if you can just get over that steep part, the rest is cake!" As my legs burned from the effort and I gasped for breath, I got through that steep part! Sitting back down in the saddle, I gave my screaming quads a rest by pedalling in fluid circles and shifting the load to other leg muscles. Once I recovered I was back up out of the saddle, and I passed another biker on a geared bike. Soon after, I saw the roadside wooden fence that marked the approach to the summit, and I was at the top!

Decision time! At that point, I could turn around and SPIN back down the rather longish hill I just climbed(not very appealing what with legs so tired), or I could ride down the other, somewhat shorter side of the hill...but doing that commits me to a significantly longer route, consisting of a lot of rolling hills. I let inner voice talk me into taking that longer route. ;) Spinning down the other side, I could see several cyclists lining up behind me, impatient for a chance to pass. A voice calls out "Hey, you gotta shift that bike!" and I glimpse a mountain biker passing on my left. I smile back "No gears, dude!" and he returns my grin. On the other side of Camino Alto, we make the right onto Paradise Valley, which runs flat through suburbia until it crosses over the 101, where you hang a right past the Harley dealership. There's a bit more of the flat'n'straight, and then a right-hand sweeper greets you with the first of those rolling hills. We had a couple of hangers-on running up that hill, but they were soon left behind.

Rolling up and down through those rural hills, with the occasional views onto the Bay, is what makes the Paradise Valley Loop so nice in my book. I usually get lost in thought as I navigate the swooping turns. Today was no different. Suddenly, I hear the click of shifting gears behind me, and in my stealthy little rear-view I see that someone's decided to draft our wheel. I glance up and down and notice carbon-fibre and aerobars. What a pair we make -- me riding a nearly 20 year-old budget fixed-gear beater with fenders and a rack, and this guy riding thousands of dollars of carbon and tri-bars! I rode steadily on, expecting that he'd make the courteous move ahead to pull at some point, but even after what seems like 20 minutes, it never comes. Frustrated, I finally just sit up, and he rides around me. Fortunately our paths split at that point -- he opts to continue on the loop, while we break off to take the shorter route home.

Back in Sausalito now, rolling through the salt marshes, past the seaplane dock (tide's out, making it look like the plane's grounded) and the houseboats. We notice a green Carradice on the back of a bike, and realize that it's iBOB Mike, out for a spin on his go-fast bike. After chatting for a bit, we continue on up out of Sausalito. Feeling strong from the day's riding, we forgo the usual switchback ascent up Conzelman, and ride right up Sausalito Lateral.

SF iBOBs & Friends,

This Saturday (6/4) I'm organizing a fixed-gear ride.  Fixed
gear/single-speed bikes are encouraged, but not required!  Let's meet
in front of MacLaren Lodge (East entrance to Golden Gate Park, Kezar @
Stanyan) around 9am and, unless anyone has a better plan (?), ride our
bikes across the Golden Gate Bridge then SPIN on down to Sausalito
and/or Tiburon and back.  Total mileage: 20-30 miles, no-one gets
dropped, etc.  Not huge miles, but climbing back up Conzelman will be
BLISS in that 42x16, trust me!;)  Weather predictions are sunny, high
60s, with 20% chance of precip (rain never cancels).  Please RSVP if
interested, feel free to invite others.  Be a rebel...ride that fixie
outside of the Mission!  ;)

-JimG /SF_Cyclotouring