Sunday, September 10, 2006

the point of no return

I was assigned to go pick up meat from the store today for the barbecue. (No specific instructions about how many people were coming or what kind of meat, just "get meat".) So I figured I'd get out some on my bike first, and get to the store the long way around - by going down our hill to the east, looping north around the big hill, then approaching the hill from the west where it is a more gradual climb (the store is at the top, whereas our house is steeply down from it a few blocks). I've done a few different routes this way, but wanted to try something new today. I remembered Zach saying that he usually took 17th st to go east from Haight towards our neighborhood, so I thought I'd try that. (Wiser heads would remember that Zach thinks the hill on our street is "quite bikeable" if a little tough...) At the bottom - 17th and Valencia - the hill looked pretty tough, but I figured I was already sort of stuck in a neighborhood where most of the options "out" are "up". (Which is also not true. There's a bike path at Church/Market that hooks up with Fell.) Anyway, after about a third of the way up you can't see the top anymore because of the sharp grades and level intersections, so at each block I'd think I was almost done, then realize really not. Two thirds of the way up I thought I'd throw up. But at that point you really can't turn back. I made it all the way to the top without having to walk any of it. (The internet tells me that by 17th/Roosevelt it's a 17% grade) By the time I coasted into Haight Ashbury I'd earned an ice cream at the Ben&Jerry's.

The rest of the 10 mile loop I did is pretty nice, though - through Golden Gate Park to the Sunset, then back up Taraval (a reasonably gradual steady climb) where it meets up with Portola, and at Portola/Diamond Heights it's downhill to my house. The west half of the route was completely fogged in today, although the east half of the city was blue skies.