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View Full Version : People with San Fran biking experience


Krampus
05-04-2009, 07:26 PM
I've been offered a really lucrative job in San Fran and am contemplating making the transition. Riding my bike is a huge part of my life though and while I know San Francisco seems to be quite a friendly bike place, I'm constantly wondering to myself 'how??' I've visisted SF several times and each time I'm just flabbergasted by the sheer grade of most of the hills there... I just don't see how everyone in that city can ride up those hills and not hate it so much that they never attempt it again. Does everyone who lives in SF just become acclimated to riding up incredibly steep hills to the point it's no big deal for them? Have any of you lived in SF and be able to share your perspective on this?

I'm semi ok with hills I guess... riding on SE Salmon from the river up to SE 39th pretty much depletes my energy though and while this job offer seems awesome, the thought of riding my bike as my main mode of transportation around San Fran just seems impossible.. but when I see the volume of cyclists there I wonder if maybe my view of the hills is more daunting than riding them really is? (I've been to SF many times but never rode a bike there.. didn't even attempt it, it looked far too intimidating)

Any advice/tips/perspective is appreciated

tfahrner
05-04-2009, 09:27 PM
I moved up in 2004 after living there 8 years car free, biking everywhere. You must learn the best routes to avoid the worst grades. They are not obvious. Get a bike map. Unless your destination is actually on top of some monster hill, you can almost always avoid arriving a sweaty mess. Definitely a bike with wide-range gearing and good fit for climbing helps; I ride much more relaxed upright bikes here than I would/did there.

The bike culture has apparently continued to develop in my absence (imagine!) but i think there's still a stronger us/them, combative mentality among bikers there than here. Less mellow. Lots o' cars, not a lot of space. It's more of a scene or statement than just a way to get around.

On the upside, you just can't beat the weather, and my god the scenic escape rides you can manage within an hour or two of your door are just epic. I miss them.

Downside: it better be lucrative, because you'll need to be pulling in a lot more to keep up a given standard of living there than here.

Krampus
05-05-2009, 02:33 PM
Yeah, even considering the jump in cost of living I'll still be making more. It's an enticing deal. Thanks very much for your post about riding in SF. I must admit I've never been into "bike culture" and the clique-y mentality that goes along with it so that's definitely a strike against SF if that seems to comprise the bulk of ridership there. :/

I have heard from friends who live there about trying to get to your destination using the least possible hilly route (ie "the wiggle") -- I don't know.. I think this is one of those things where I'm going to have to make another trip down there, rent a bike and test out the rides myself and see how I fare. One part of me knows I can acclimate my body to ride the hills there, but I feel so cozy with Portland right now and even though SF is bike friendly I know it has absolutely nothing on Portland's ease of bike transportation. Decisions..

tfahrner
05-05-2009, 08:20 PM
I think this is one of those things where I'm going to have to make another trip down there, rent a bike and test out the rides myself and see how I fare. One part of me knows I can acclimate my body to ride the hills there, but I feel so cozy with Portland right now and even though SF is bike friendly I know it has absolutely nothing on Portland's ease of bike transportation. Decisions..
You're right that you can acclimate. It's a good place to develop into a more hardy/skilled cyclist (in a good way), because it is physically more challenging, quite beautiful, and remember the weather part. You might be discouraged with a brief rental. It took me months to get a basic handle on the routes to/through all parts of town, and I was refining routes until the end. Portland is comparatively boring in its ease and consistency, and it's just a lot smaller place.

letsroll
05-07-2009, 06:51 AM
I moved up in 2004 after living there 8 years car free, biking everywhere. You must learn the best routes to avoid the worst grades. They are not obvious. Get a bike map. Unless your destination is actually on top of some monster hill, you can almost always avoid arriving a sweaty mess. Definitely a bike with wide-range gearing and good fit for climbing helps; I ride much more relaxed upright bikes here than I would/did there.

The bike culture has apparently continued to develop in my absence (imagine!) but i think there's still a stronger us/them, combative mentality among bikers there than here. Less mellow. Lots o' cars, not a lot of space. It's more of a scene or statement than just a way to get around.

On the upside, you just can't beat the weather, and my god the scenic escape rides you can manage within an hour or two of your door are just epic. I miss them.

Downside: it better be lucrative, because you'll need to be pulling in a lot more to keep up a given standard of living there than here.

Never lived there but the last two times I was down there I took my bike and loved it. It is a great city to ride around (rode mostly downtown and north of Golden gate). That being said I like riding in the city dodging cars and what not. Yes get a bike map, I could not find one (sold out and the LBS is was near). Their bike lines and bike ways is much more developed than her in portland. You can usually find ways around the hills or learn the trick to hold onto truck and have them pull you up the hill (besure to have full finger gloves on). Super fun:D I don't plan on going back there with out my bike, just too much fun. I just used a 10 speed but if I was going to live there a larger gear ratio would be a must. Now if I can get the g-friend down there on bike I would be a very happy biker.