Kelsey on the Panhandle Path Photo: Kelsey Morrison
Woody and Scott on their bike tour of Asia
Women Who Bike is a collaborative effort by BIKE NOPA and Bikes And The City that features San Francisco women and their bikes. Each Monday and Wednesday check both blogs for the experiences, stories, and ideas that women who bike the city want to share with you.
How do you describe your biking style?
Progressive. My biking skills, style, and frequency have progressed over the years from timid to comfortable, and now ... eager. I find biking to be one of the most practial activiites I can engage in, and each day I bike I become more excited about using my wheels to get where I'm going.
What makes you most passionate about bicycling?
I'm amazed by how efficient a bicycle is. It provides the rider with exercise, green transportation, and entertainment. There is also a sense of camaraderie that I feel when I bike, especially in a city like San Francisco where you're sharing the road with so many other cyclists of different natures. I also love the rush of flying down a hill with the wind in my face and, alternately, the feeling of accomplishment I get after reaching the top of a steep hill.
How often do you bike and what for?
I bike several times a week, as often as I can. During the weekdays, I sometimes use my bike to get to and from work. My office is in the Tenderloin, and I prefer not to leave my bike on the street with the risk of parts or all of it getting stolen or tampered with. My office has very little space to keep a bike. I wish there was more secure bike parking in the more unsafe neighborhoods throughout the city. Because of this parking conumdrum, I tend to mostly use my bike after work hours.
I bike to get to social events around the city or to get quickly to and from the Hamilton Park pool where I regularly swim laps. During the weekends I take rides through Golden Gate Park and out to Ocean Beach or to the Mission via the Wiggle or to any other social activity that is practical to bike to (read: I won't run the risk of getting a BWI when biking home).
Are you involved with bike organizations or groups?
I've been following a bike-travel blog, AsiaWheeling, for several months now. It chronicles the travels of Scott and Woody as they cycle around different cities in Asia on their Dahon folding bicycles. They embark on various adventures in rural areas and cities, and they report their experiences with culture, commerce, ecology, faith and food. Their writing is filled with enthusiasm and intrigue. It engages me in a way that I can remove myself from my routine and imagine biking through the streets of Luang Prabang during the Pi Mai Lao New Year festival or basking in the sun on the beaches of Bali, or devouring a bowl of Pho in Saigon. It's the ultimate form of escapism for anyone interested in biking, travel, and adventure.
How does bicycling fit your social life?
My roommates are all bicyclists. Their passion for cycling has motivated me to be a more active cyclist. When I first got my bicycle, I didn't use it that much because I was intimidated by all the expereienced cyclists on the road. My roommates and friends encouraged me to develop my own personalized biking style. I took their advice and now two years later I feel much more acclimated to the lifestyle.
A few months ago my boyfriend took me on my first ride across the Golden Gate Bridge into Sausalito. I was excited about the ride but nervous about the degree of difficulty. Something about "crossing the bridge" seemed really daunting in my mind, but it turned out quite easy and a really memorable adventure for us. Bicycling also fits in with my professional relationships as I recently began working for AsiaWheeling and spreading the word to folks in the Bay Area.
I like bicycling in NOPA especially because...
It's right on the Wiggle! NOPA is in the center of the city so you can easily get to Golden Gate Park, the Sunset, the Richmond, the Mission, the Civic Center, the Castro...anywhere! I love living in NOPA because it has a real neighborhood feel to it. There are great locally-run shops and restaurants, and fun community events like the Divisadero Art Walks or the Divisadero Street Farmers' Market. We also have beautiful parks on every side of us: Alamo Sqaure, the Panhandle, Duboce Park, and Buena Vista Park. Sometimes I find it hard to leave NOPA on the weekends because I can get to everything I need within a short ride or walk.
My message to women who want to try biking:
Start off with a mid-price hybrid bike that's relatively light and has low gears so you can get up all the hills. Also be aware of hand signals and traffic rules. Pick up a bike map and find yourself some nice and easy routes to start with. Before you know it, you'll be cycling to Sausalito ...or throughout Asia!
Check here for previous posts in this series and stop by Bikes And The City every Monday and Wednesday for even more Women Who Bike.