West Coast Trip Pt. 2

In my previous post, I described my day of biking in the big, hilly city by the bay. It was enjoyable, but a little less enjoyable than I had hoped since I didn’t have a bike that fit me well. I came away from the trip feeling that cycling is the perfect way to see a city. If you’re driving a car, you have to pay attention to navigating the unfamiliar city and you can’t enjoy the sights. Even as a passenger in a car, you’re going too fast to really appreciate the sights as you travel. Traveling by foot, you can only cover a small percentage of the city before you get tired. Taking the subway, you just experience the city as a series of islands connected by a train, missing everything in between. But traveling by bike, you can go along at about 10-15 mph, cover a lot of ground, and pause occasionally to take in the sights. I had always been intimidated by the hills in San Francisco, but I now have seen that with a little bit of planning, they are not insurmountable (or at least, instead of surmounting them, one can avoid them).

After my day of biking in San Francisco, I rejoined my East Bay friends for a few days of relaxation on the other side of the bay. My friend works the breakfast shift at a delicious restaurant that has no signs aside from the sign for the hardware store that used to occupy its space:

Don’t be fooled by the “Ghardware” store sign, inside you’ll find tasty treats like artisan bread and frittata:

They also have a barista skilled in the art of the latte. As a lactose-intolerant person, I appreciate his ability to do this with soy milk which is usually difficult to foam:

What do you think? Pac-Man eating a squid? Maybe just a squid?

I think this is the ideal way to spend a vacation: pretend you are independently wealthy – how would you spend your days? Me, I’d live in the bay area and spend each morning at a local cafe: eating delicious foods, sipping amazing coffee, reading the newspaper, and chatting with the locals. This particular cafe was close to the Berkeley/Oakland border so that meant one morning I got roped into a conversation with a woman who lives in a bus is very devoted to a philosophy she likes to call  “anarcho-capitalism” (sounded like hippy libertarianism to me). The long political discussions aside, most of the time it was quite pleasant.

I was hoping to do a little biking in the city, but hanging out with my friends took precedence. One morning (at my request), my friend took his car to work at the restaurant, and I left about an hour later on his somewhat beat-up bike. So, now I know what it’s like to bike through the streets of Emeryville and Oakland on a three-speed bike, but I couldn’t figure out how to shift, so it was just one speed essentially. Every once in a while, I think I should pick up a $50 dollar “beater bike” to ride on rainy days or in the winter. I now know that I’d rather just ride my fairly well-tuned bike in all weathers and try to keep it clean instead.

Because Providence no longer has a restaurant with California-style burritos, my friends took me on a quick BART trip to the Mission in SF to find a truly epic burrito. And epic it was. Unfortunately, I did not take a picture of it. Instead, I took a picture of a Tesla Roadster parked outside:

I’m not a big fan of this color, but the more I read about this car, the more I like it. Although I don’t really see a $110,000 electric car in my future. I mean, I’d really need a garage first.  It would look a little silly having an extension cord hanging out the window of my 3rd floor apartment running into the electric plug on my car, right. Oh yeah, I’d also need $110,000. I just heard that Tesla will be making a four-door sedan in a couple of years called the “Model S” (what’s with the generic names, btw?) And it is an affordable $49,000. Looks like a totally practical car. But I don’t need to own a car, because I have a bike, and that’s what this blog is all about, right? Not electric roadsters that are 1.5 times as efficient as a Prius, but can go from 0-60 in less than 4 seconds. -sigh-

After my 6 night stay in the Bay Area, I headed down to San Diego for a few days of visiting with the family and enjoying some singing. I rented a bike for an hour to tool around Coronado Island (which is not an island), but that was about it on the cycling front for me. I did a little bit of traveling in the far suburbs of San Diego, and I noticed that all of the major, 4-lane streets had bike lanes, which was very nice to see. About the only people I saw on these bike lanes were VSBs tricked out in spandex and traveling in packs. Still, it’s good to see it as an option, I guess. Maybe the impending rain storms were keeping all of the non-VSB cyclists off the road. San Diegans are a little weird about their weather. Everyone I met kept apologizing that it was going to rain while I was there. (The implication being that San Diego must be sunny all the time so that visitors will be eternally jealous). Here’s my parents enjoying the weather:

One last post-script on my San Diego visit. I walked by a bike shop in San Diego and did a double-take on these rims:

The shop was closed, or I would have gone inside for a better picture. But a quick use of a search engine yields this gem:

They are made by Velocity, which I’ve learned from BSNYC, is the hipsters’ choice for over-priced bike rims. You can see the full selection here. You’re welcome!


One response to “West Coast Trip Pt. 2

  1. Pingback: The Providence Wiggle | Car-Free in PVD

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