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Commute From Hell (SF Bay Area)(9 posts)

Commute From Hell (SF Bay Area)wily in pacifica
Oct 30, 2003 1:34 PM
The first two days of this week have been the bike commuters dream. Warm in the AM and warm on the way home. It is now light after my first half hour of riding, whereas, last week it was completely dark all the way in.

I have had to leave work around 4ish to be sure to get home before dark. Lately I have been driving 3 miles form home and parking the van near the Daly City/Pacifica border. Up above Pacifica there are a bunch of wood chip piles left by tree trimmers. I am doing a bunch of work in our backyard so each evening I ride back to the van, load up the bike, drive to the wood pile, fill a couple of trash cans with woodchips, then drive home and put empty them in the backyard.

Yesterday was a nice ride in but the conditions have changed a bit. It was a bit foggy and windy but no big deal. But you could definitely tell the nice warm conditions are over.

I had planned to ride home at 4 as usual but had a 3:30 meeting that didn't end till just before 5. I changed and got out of the parking garage right at 5. I could have taken BART to Daly CIty then ride to the van about 4 miles, or I could have riden to BART and taken a bus to the van, or I could have taken a bus home then ride the 3-4 miles back to the van. Any way you look at it I was not going to be getting any chips tonight since it was going to be dark.

Well I decided to just ride all the way back to the van and see what it would be like riding in the evening in the dark. Not a lot of traffic on the way in in the AM but there will be lots on the way home. Well this will be a good test to see if commuting home will workout in the coming months as the days get shorter.

I start hauling butt along the Embarcadero, thru Fishermans Wharf, along the Marina then turn into the Presidio. Up Arguello to Lake St then south to Golden Gate Park, West to the Old Great Hwy where I head south. I am really movin along the Old Great Hwy as I must have some humungus tailwind behind me. The Old Great Hwy actually runs parallel, and just east, of The Great Hwy with a big berm between the two to shield residents from the winds. I am heading south toward Sloat and the Zoo. With my tailwind I must be moving close to 30 MPH without much effort. I am in heaven.

I am almost to Sloat where I need to jump on The Great Hwy for about a mile to Hwy 35/Skyline. Well just as I get to Sloat, and lose the berm, I see that the winds off the beach must be blowing 50MPH. But worse is that these winds are packed with sand. I am right in a major sand storm with nowhere to go without making a major detour.

Well I decide to go for the one mile in the sand storm in the dark. I am well equiped with front and rear lights. I actually walk my bike accross the Hwy and start riding south in the parking lot so I am not on the actual hwy. This will get me down the road a bit but then I will have to get back on the Hwy.

I try riding my bike but just about get blown right off and the winds are very strong with occasional gust that you cannot anticipate. So I get off and start walking in my cleats. I am walking in the bike lane but cant walk when there is traffic since the bike lane is filling with sand right before my eyes. I am forced to walk in the traffic lane so have to wait for a break in the traffic then run about 50-100 yards before jumping back in the sand and waiting for another break. Each time I look back for a trafic break I have to shield my face or I will be blinded by the sand flying horizontily . I was trying to figure out what color I should repaint my bike as I was sure the paint was being sandblasted right off the frame.

Well I finally made it about half a mile to some protection and got back on the bike. I headed down a slight hill with a 40-50 MPH wind behind me. As soon as I was on the bike and clipped in on one side I took my other foot off the ground, lifted my remaining foot and was off like a shot. If this w
re: Commute From Hell (SF Bay Area) Part 2wily in pacifica
Oct 30, 2003 1:47 PM
Well I finally made it about half a mile to some protection and got back on the bike. I headed down a slight hill with a 40-50 MPH wind behind me. As soon as I was on the bike and clipped in on one side I took my other foot off the ground, lifted my remaining foot and was off like a shot. If this was a uphill I would have had to ride my brakes all the way up it.

Now it is right (south) on Hwy 35/Skyline and about another 2-3 miles to the van. This hwy is shielded to the west by a hill and a bunch of eucalyptus trees so not bad as far as wind goes. But what do you get when you mix eucalyptus trees and 50 MPH winds? A mess of branches on the road. Luckily I was on my Ritchey SwissCross bike so I just rode right over them and hoped I did not end up with a branch in the spokes.

It was slow going but at least it was "going". I am climbing up this half mile hill when it hits me that at the top it is again open to the west and there is no protection against the wind. As I get to the top sure enough the wind is back. The one benefit is that I am now a couple hundred feet above the beach so no sand is hitting me. I decide it is not worth riding along here since the bike lane is only about 3 feet wide and the wind is blowing me into the Hwy traffic. It takes me a good minute to figure out how to get off my bike. I usually lift my right leg back around my seat but if I try that now I will be blown right into traffic. I CANNOT TELL YOU HOW STRONG THE WIND IS HITTING ME. Well I get a break in the wind and instead swing my left leg behind my seat. To most this seems like no big deal but most bikers swing one particular leg off first. It is kind of like putting your pants on by puting the "other" leg in first. Try it some time and see how weird it feels.

So now I have another half to 3/4 miles to the next protection (a hill). I am walking in the iceplant so I do not get blown into traffic. A few times my bike actully catches a gust of wind and it is airborne. If I did not have a grip on it it would have blown well into the traffic lane. About a third of the way to the next protection I see a mini SUV in a turnout. As I approch it I see it has a bike rack on the rear. The gal inside offers me a ride so I put the bike on back and thankfully jump in.

Just as I think my ordeal is over I get inside the SUV. Although i was the windiest day I have ever seen around here it was not particularly cold and I had been jogging a bit. As I get into the SUV it must be 120 degrees inside. She has the heat going so hard I could barely hear her speak. Plus I have a polypro shirt, SS jersey, and knickers on. Luckily we only have about 2 miles to get to the van.

Well she drops me of at the van and I don't even have the energy to take my shoes or helmet off. SO I drove home in full biking gear.

Once home I have sand evrywhere. In my jersey pockets, shoes, ears and especially my hair. I din't realize till I got home that I have a bunch of grit in my teeth as well.

Well it was quite the ordeal but not a typical bike ride home. I know a few other routes that I can take to avoid the beach but you just can't tell when the wind is that bad till you are smack dab in it. On my ride into work this morning they had the Great Hwy closed due to the sand covering the entire road.

Willy in Pacifica
great storygtx
Oct 30, 2003 2:00 PM
I once flagged down a cab to get back across the Golden Gate Bridge after practically getting blown off the bike before getting to the North tower.
Cut off!PseuZQ
Oct 30, 2003 1:49 PM
Yeah, it was howling last night. Heard GH was closed this a,m, from sand.

Anyhow, post the rest of your story!
Cut off!wily in pacifica
Oct 30, 2003 2:37 PM
The second part is the second post above.

And many a times I have been scared to death crossing the GG Bridge. You can head north on a beautiful afternoon only to return a few hours later and the bridge is almost unrideable.

And this is where they send all the tourists on the rental "Bag" bikes. You can always tell the rental as it is a MT bike with a handle bar bag and a rider with no helmet.

The GG Bridge is probably the most dangerous place in The City to ride your bike.
Oh, I agree.PseuZQ
Oct 30, 2003 3:45 PM
Especially coming around the towers. The other place that scares me sometimes is Skyline, esp. from Kings Mtn. area down to 92. There are a couple of exposed areas up there where the fog can roll in and the wind can pick up pretty fierce.
PseuZQwily in pacifica
Oct 30, 2003 3:59 PM
What part of town are you in?

I ride up on Skyline, above Woodside, all the time. I have the Bar-End red blinky lights just because of that area. Many a time I have riden up one of those hills and it went form not a cloud in the sky to complete fog.

by having the bar-end binkys I am always prepared for low visability.

My weekend route is from Pacifica, over Devils Slide to HMB. Up Higgins, back to coast, up Lobitos Creek to Tunitus Creek, down Skyline to 84, to San Gregorio then up Hwy 1 back to HMB for lunch with the Girls.

The girls are my wife, Jaci (6 yo) Gabi (3 yo) and Lauren (2 months)

Always wanted to take my digital camera and snap off some pictures for a ride report on this forum. Love to show everyone how beautiful the San Mateo coast roads are.

Willy in Pacifica
NEVER ride along PCH in SF in high windThe Human G-Nome
Oct 30, 2003 2:44 PM
". I am right in a major sand storm with nowhere to go without making a major detour. "

I denfinitely learned my lesson. i once put on a whole bunch of suntan lotion because it was sunny and windy and then decided to stroll down PCH in SF. bad move. all the sand stuck to my bike and especially my face and i looked like some kind of sand creature.
Road Tires and Branchespeter in NVA
Oct 30, 2003 4:26 PM
I too have a Ritchey SwissCross and noted your remark about riding over branches. Assume you are using road tires. I did quite an endo the other day off road riding with road tires because a large one inch branch got pulled up between the brakes and rim stopping me immediately. There's so much clearance between tire and fork crown that I think you are safer with a road bike in that situation. I saw the bike go by at least once.