The ride

I had planned out the first three days of my vacation starting with Friday. Yes, I was still at work on Friday, but in this business you have to plan for getaway day else you’re liable to be trapped by someone else’s last-minute emergency. “Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part” is a great retort, but if the ultimate responsibility lies with you to provide the result it isn’t much comfort.

I won’t get into the details of the day. It’s enough to say the day started well and ended in overtime. I had ridden my bicycle  in that morning, getting a late start from home. Because of that, I planned to cruise in so as not to arrive too sweaty. Despite those good intentions I was led astray by the traffic conditions. I really tried to be good, but all it takes is one rider who doesn’t anticipate traffic down the street and one truck that turns first and signals later, and there it goes: me pedaling faster to stay in front of the crainium-vacant and barking at the hearing-impaired-by-iPod.

My point for riding in was to participate in the Ride. It was the last Friday of the month, the weather was fine, and it would be a great way to start my week off of exploring and relaxing. Unfortunately, I didn’t leave until 6:45 and by the time I hit the street, the plaza was empty and the Riders had gone. I was not dispirited, though. I rode up Market Street, asking likely folks along the way if the group had passed this way. A couple of times I ran across people who needed directions. They didn’t ask but you can tell just by how they stand agog at streets that don’t line up across intersections, and even if thy come close, don’t have the same name on either side of Market. Usually I try to help, but I was selfish today and didn’t volunteer time.

I came upon a small cluster of people helping one person fix a flat tire on a bicycle. That was a sure sign the Ride was somewhere near by – no one ever is left to fix a bike by themselves. Someone helps work on the bike, and someone watches for traffic. One of them pointed up the street and there was the tail end of the group, climbing the hill up to Haight Street.

The Ride gets a lot of bad press, but the message gets lost in the action. Sometimes, the message is best told by a picture:


The mobile quick-fix guy

This guy is actually a Muni inspector. He rides a bicycle around at rush hour triaging broken-down Muni buses. The operator is on the sidewalk making a call.

What will be reported is this scene in the opposite direction:


The intersection of Haight and Stanyan.

They cheered a hovering helicopter that lit us up with its spotlight.


Police copter or news copter? The illumination provides anonymity.

We made our way down to Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Warren Hellman’s annual gift of music in Golden Gate Park.


The entrance from John F. Kennedy Boulevard

The event organizers provide parking for thousands of bicycles. All the racks were full.


Racks further up the Drive.

I lingered here too long and lost the group.  I rode back up Cabrillo and through the Park to the Inner Sunset, and up 7th to Portola. I stopped at Tower Market to buy makings for salad. I rearranged my backpack and rolled down dark and twisty O’Shaughnessy back home. I still had four hours or so of work to do, but I decided later to park it all until Sunday night and get on with the weekend. And so it was.

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