Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV


August 8, 2012

San Francisco bike tour: Scents, sounds and sights


There's a choice of four basic tours, ranging from nine miles (14.5 kilometers) in three hours to 18 miles (29 kilometers) in six hours, and some custom options too. Somehow, they manage to wiggle around — not up— almost all of the famed San Francisco hills.

Our journey started in Alamo Square Park, looking out on the "Painted Ladies," a row of exquisite Victorian houses against a backdrop of the city below. Guide and SoSF co-founder Eoin Canny set us up on the bikes and gave us an overview of the day as well as some safety reminders. Then we were off, and immediately overcome by the simple joy of turning the pedals around, feeling the breeze, and savoring new sights. It was like being 10 years old again.

After a few more stops in Golden Gate Park, we pedaled to the Presidio, a woodsy former military post now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation area, with spectacular views down to the San Francisco Bay. Then it was on to Crissy Field, with the Golden Gate Bridge rising from the fog in the background, and some magical moments listening to water music through the Wave Organ, an "acoustic sculpture" on a jetty across from Marina Boulevard.

A cruise down the Embarcadero took us to the Ferry Building, whose grand past recalls the history of commuting by boat on the water rather than by car over bridges. It was the perfect place to pick up what amounted to picnic supplies, which we then enjoyed on the vast grassy lawn across the street, as kids and dogs frolicked around us.

Onward we pedaled, checking out AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, before heading on to the Mission District and an extended stop to chat with an artist painting another addition to the neighborhood's famous street murals. Timothy and I are big fans of street art, so Canny gave us a look at some more murals, on the Women's Building, and then of course the Duboce Bikeway Mural in celebration of our favorite activity.

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