Nothing beats exploring the 7 Hills of San Francisco on two wheels. Here are some highlights from the year’s rides, 2010. Our favorite route? Castro to the Marina. . .
my ride is radioactive
Riding the scooter up and down the hills of San Francisco is always a thrill. The views of the Bay from the crests of our many hills can’t be beat (when the view isn’t hopelessly obscured by a blanket of fog, that is) and when you’re on a scooter, it’s easy to pull over on a whim and take a moment to enjoy the surroundings. . .
Saturday was both sunny and cool, a great day for a ride. Here’s the view from Pacific Street, moving downhill on Steiner Street. . . note the pretty melange of sailboats traversing the Bay in the distance.
Yesterday was a beautiful day, and when there’s ample sun in San Francisco, one has to capitalize on the opportunity to be outdoors before the FOG rolls back in. After a workout at the gym Saturday, I hopped on the scooter and made myself a little itinerary. From SOMA I would head south to Bernal Heights via Folsom, check out the oldest still-running farmers market in San Francisco, then head east to the Dogpatch, home of Flora Grubb Garden Center. Heading back from Flora on Third, I spontaneously decided to take Evens to Bayview, and explored the hinterlands along the all-but-unknown India Basin shoreline there, studded with warehouses, powerplants, junkyards and the like. I was delighted to see an amazing view of the city skyline from there, to boot!
If you’re a fan of farmers markets, you’ll love Alemaney. The selection of produce is extensive and varied enough to include lots of fruits and veg I ‘d never encountered, and all of quite high quality. I bought some cherries and strawberries for the crisp I’m going to make tomorrow.
I discovered something called the tay berry, billed as a cross between a black berry and a raspberry, so I bought some of those, too.
And the donut peach. . . ! It’s sort of short and wide and does look like a doughnut, and it’s incredibly sweet. I will toss a few slices of those in the crisp, too. The prepared food vendors are topnotch, including great soul food, MEXICAN and wood fired pizzas made to order. . . I had a salvadoran mushroom and cheese papusa for breakfast. . .
From here I wound my way to the Dogpatch. It’s a neighborhood of heavy industry, warehouses and a nasty reputation for being rough. It’s not pretty but there’s something I find kinda cool about the aesthetic, the rusted metal, huge cargo ships just off shore and the bare bones of the power plants. Lots of abandoned buildings which is a shame because as I said, the view of the San Francisco skyline from here is pretty cool. Some say this neighborhood could be the next up-and-coming success story and I hope it can be revitalized. The City extended light rail service to the neighborhood and some artists and small business owners are gradually moving in, like Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous, of my previous post!
Flora Grubb is another star of the neighborhood, with her gorgeous store that celebrates the idea of reclaiming discarded materials and making art of them. More than rare plants and an amazing succulent collection, she’s educating people on new and creative ways to pot and display plants, a talent which has earned her recognition beyond the city.
Check out this centerpiece of the store, an old car that Flora turned into a huge planter.
Flora Grubb must have been celebrating a sunny day as well- there was a food vendor tent set up in her garden selling huckleberry lemonade and fried chicken sandwiches, and even whoopie pies. I was happily surprised to see my buddy Michael waiting in line for plants, we haven’t seen eachother since last year, so we had a spontaneous lunch and caught up right there in the garden.
The ride ended with a leisurely exploration of the industrial coastline before heading back into the city. Thank God for gorgeous days, and for scooters!
No doubt the scooter is one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. And yes, I’ve named him. I call him Kaiju.
Having spent years using public transit (which was a fine, if time consuming option) life on two wheels of my own has made getting around San Francisco a dream. It’s given me a newfound feeling of freedom. It’s my wings.
I never realized until I had one just how FUN they are. I originally bought Kaiju to get to and from work quickly, putting behind me the hassles of waiting for bus connections, or waiting through service delays of the subway system. The gas is cheap relative to using a car; I use a gallon every ten days or so. And parking is far easier than it is for a car; I can utilize the gaps between parked cars, or the tiny bits of sidewalk between the driveways of houses, or any of the plentiful motorcycle parking places in the city.
But all those eminently useful arguments aside, riding on two wheels is just plain fun. And going for a ride has become an aim, in and of itself.
San Francisco is made for it. As cars inch block to block, stuck in a city not made for traffic, the scooter can leap ahead, when it is safe of course, getting you there just a little bit faster. Riding along the beach or over the hills, the scooter becomes a means to explore. There are seven hills in San Francisco and I believe I’ve ridden every one of them. It’s nice to be able to pull over easily whenever you want to take in the view. It’s nice to be able to feel the air as you ride.
I ride a 2006 Blur, a 150cc bike made by Genuine Scooter Company.
Occupying that sweet spot that is the nexus of two of my favorite things, scooters and coffee, Vega is an unpretentious, very reliable and very cool spot to get your coffee. Not a place to hang out and work on a laptop, the operation is small, located inside a roll-top garage. The coffee menu is limited so for those that like to add syrups and flavors this may not be the environment for you. It is all about the coffee here, and a perfect cup at that. Run by and for purists the focus is narrow, Vega makes your coffee to order using Blue Bottle Coffee Co. beans, so you know you’ll be getting that extra attention to detail that comes with the Blue Bottle name. (With Blue Bottle comes strict quality controls to ensure the best cup of coffee, every time.)
Service is sincerely friendly and the space reflects the neighborhood, the “garage grittiness” is fun and aesthetic and natural here . . . without the appearance of being “urban cliche”. The owners happen to be long-time scooter aficionados and gorgeous Lambretta bikes are suspended around the garage, lending to the theme without being gimicky. You can tell this place is a labor of love!
The coffee pictured here is the New Orleans Iced- nutty with that little pinch of chickory. Also, consider the sweet & creamy Macau. ~Complex and delicious!
Vega at Landon
1246 Folsom St
(between 9th St & 8th St)
San Francisco, CA 94103