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Traipsing about on bicycling adventures

It feels as though it has been taking a while to sort out good bicycling adventures in this area. On Saturday, we tried out something new. Our friend Ls invited us on an "Easy mountain biking" ride down in Joaquin Miller Park, so we hopped on the BART to Fruitvale, ate a couple of fresh beignets, and toodled our way up the hill to our rendezvous point.

Over the early stages of the ride, it quickly became apparent that something funky was going on with Ls's shifting. One of the tricky parts of sorting out bicycling in a new place with new people is learning different peoples' proclivities, and it seems that Ls had gone with the strategy of "dust off the ol' mountain bike and hop right on!" Fortunately, scrottie is well-versed in roadside bike repair. After some inspection and tweaks, he decided that the rear derailleur hanger was probably bent, so we teamed up to straighten it and got things back in line. Crisp shifting is useful for mountain biking.

For the Annals of Roadside Bike Repair

Our approach to the park followed a narrow, winding, wooded road that was peaceful and lovely.

The park itself was a touch more challenging, mostly because none of us were at all familiar with the trail network, so we had to keep on pulling over to check the map and the useless GPS that couldn't figure out where we were among the trees. S had to remind the rest of us to try and keep the trail clear whenever we pulled over. There was also some sort of Mormon LARP group out, blocking the trail in various spots with various sheets and blankets and paper jellyfish. That made the whole experience feel decidedly Berkleyish. We were able to successfully follow the good signage for the Sunset Trail, but missed our intended connection point with the Sequoia Bayview Trail. As usual, I spent a good part of the ride either walking or mildly terrified, but I was in good company, as Ls and Lk did the same. Mountain biking takes practice. The trails were dry and a little loose in spots, and it didn't help that I have 1.35" high-pressure tires on the Jolly Roger. Slippery. Still! We had a few glorious moments of riding through the redwoods, and at the end, popped out at an overlook:

Mountain biking with a view of Oakland

Next time I think I want to look at some options that are closer to home. Joaquin Miller was nice and all, but trekking over on the BART added a bunch of time to the expedition. It looks like there are some options in Tilden, and probably the best way to figure out what's the most fun is to just get out there and try more things out.

At the end, we sailed back down the hill and back to the BART station. From there, S and I headed in to San Francisco for a bicycling protest ride, where we both got sunburned and came to the conclusion that this region is operating in what we would term the "post-advocacy era." We went on the same ride in Austin several years ago and it was about three times as big, so we were a bit surprised by the smaller turnout in San Francisco, the birthplace of Critical Mass. Basically what we mean by the post-advocacy era is that cycling is sufficiently mainstream that it seems most cyclists just go around doing their own thing instead of clinging to cycling groups and events out of a strong sense of necessity. Obviously there's still a lot of work needed to improve multi-modal transit, but the bicyclists don't seem to feel so strongly compelled to band together and protest about it. This is probably also a product of being in a place where there are a lot of protests and related spectacles happening, so not everybody does everything. Ah well.

Anyway. Bicycling for that event was painfully slow, so after we decided we'd had enough, I still wanted to get in a bit more riding before heading to campus for some work. S suggested stopping somewhere for a refreshing beverage, so we took the BART back across the bay and rode through Oakland to a little brewpub with excellent beer next door to a tasty vegetarian Cajun joint:

Hoi Polloi and Easy Creole

Altogether, a satisfying set of expeditions for a Saturday.


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