It’s always difficult coming back from vacation and settling into the “real world”. San Francisco is one of those cities that should be on everyone’s list of places to visit. The city is an eclectic mix of neighborhoods surrounded by the stunning views of the Bay, as well as the surrounding mountains. Needless to say, we were really excited to visit.
San Francisco also hosts a HUGE bike scene. Some people don’t equate the city with cycling (have you seen their hills?!), but San Franciscans don’t brag about it as much as say Portlanders. Companies such as Marin, SOMA, Merry Sales, Rivendell, and Public all call NorCal/San Francisco home. There’s also a really amazing selection of shops to choose from. We didn’t get to hit up all the shops we wanted, but there’s always next time!
While we didn’t do any riding while in the city, we did see a large population of city dwellers using bikes to navigate the busy streets. We unfortunately missed the opening of the San Francisco bike share by about a week. Kind of a shame, but we walked pretty much everywhere we went. It should be noted that there are many companies who rent bikes to tourists for a relatively decent price. Most people seem to opt for half day rentals and bike across the Golden Gate Bridge.
Part of our vacation took us to Mount Tamalpais via the Panoramic Highway. It was unbelievable how many cyclists we saw huffing and puffing their way up gorgeous Tam. It’s understandable why many US based cycling teams train in Northern California, those grades are intense. We met a woman cycling up Mt. Tam all the way to the East Peak. It’s a gnarly climb and was scary enough navigating it via car let alone bicycle! We commended her on her efforts and she was nice enough to point out some cool little towns and beaches to check out. She was a transplant from Michigan originally and insisted we return, but next time with our road bikes. WILL DO!
Once we returned to the city from our night spent on Mt. Tam, we made it our mission to visit a couple of key shops. The first was Public Bikes. Public is tucked away in an unassuming alleyway that opens up to a small city park and streets lined with hole in the wall cafes. Outside the shop they had many closeout models on display on the street and then a covered bike shelter with new models on display. My favorite was the outdoor coffee bar staffed with a knowledgeable barista with a beautiful pour. I think San Francisco has had the best coffee of any city we’ve visited (yeah, that means they beat Portland AND Seattle).
Inside public was an open, clean, and spacious display of bikes, accessories, and artwork. Even their bathroom had a cute display and a leather toe clip strap as the door pull. The staff was very friendly and we decided to buy a couple of t-shirts. They were having a sale to try to clear out the stock, so we were more than happy to bring home a little piece of the city.
We’ve been considering partnering with Public for our brick & mortar store. Their bikes are so simple and beautiful. The price tag is also pretty fair for what you get. There’s nothing like seeing a display of beautifully colored rentals decked out with racks, fenders, and baskets!
The next destination we had on our radar was Huckleberry Bicycles. Huckleberry is one of the newest shops in San Francisco, but it didn’t fail to please. The location of the shop is a little on the sketchy side. Not a neighborhood I’d want to hangout in late at night, but was manageable during the day. The city actually gave them a grant for opening in that specific location as they are trying to revitalize the area.
As soon as we walked through the doors of Huckleberry, we felt at home. Rows of beautiful commuter bikes, brightly colored Brompton Folders, and road bikes lined the left side of the store. On the right hand side was a great selection of men’s and women’s commuter clothing as well as a plethora of awesome accessories. The service area was at the back of the store (smart move, much like the milk at the back of the grocery store concept) and hosted a waiting area complete with a gaming system.
The staff at Huckleberry were all very friendly and helpful. Keri and I tried on some clothing items we’ve been interested in, but couldn’t find locally. Sadly the pants I wanted fit oddly, but it was still fun trying things on. We both decided we needed a memento from Huckleberry and bought a couple of t-shirts. We always try to buy a little something from shops we visit around the country. Not only is it a way to remember the trip, but it shows that even though we aren’t there to buy something as large as a bike, that we still support their efforts.
Both shops were great models of what we could do in Madison. It’s definitely time for a bike shop that boasts something a little different 😉
Overall our trip was a lot of fun. We weren’t really used to the time change, so we were a little groggy the entire time. Also, it was oddly really hot in the city and smelled kind of like pee everywhere, but minus that…it was fantastic.
Check out the photo collection below of our travels! Photos are property of Cassandra, so please don’t use without permission.