Monday, 9 May 2011


This is the week of Bay to Breakers, San Francisco's running street party that will reportedly be less of a party this year than in year's past, even though it's the 100th anniversary event.

The race organizers have decided this is the year they're pulling the plug on the centipede Tiki huts, human beer bongs, naked folks...and just about everything else for which this "race" is famous. I have it on good authority that fencing will be up in some neighborhoods to keep the residents sitting on their doorsteps from actually touching the runners. Truth is, the barriers will be to keep runners from peeing on said residents' doorsteps. I am not sure if actual fun will be permitted. (They'd better not ban the tortilla toss in the start area!) We'll know this time next week what came down...or didn't.

I got wind of most of the changes months and months ago. I decided then I would not take part, having run it so many times I don't recall how many times I've run it. Been there, blah, blah, blah. BUT, then I heard from a friend on the American Right Coast that she's coming to the Left Coast to tackle the I just have to go along. Word is she's buying all the beer at the end. This might well be the first she's heard of it, but, that's life.

Yesterday, as a public service to Ms. Fool (she calls herself that....really!), I got on my bike and decided to ride the Bay to Breakers route , the first 7 miles of the route on that link, and videotape it for her. Not sure she really wants to see Hayes Hill before she gets there, but...whatever. Never mind. Turns out I needed to listen to the voices inside my head before I set off telling me to put fresh batteries in the camera. I flunked Field Video Operations 101. Took a few still photos at the beginning...checked them...they were fine. Then assumed my Minolta had enough juice to video. Oh, well.

Here's what she would have seen...had I powered up.

Howard and Spear streets...the traditional start zone. There is a Starbucks here...but I doubt we'll be able to get close on Sunday. A straight shot up Howard, to 9th Street, right at the Chevron station, up 9th to Hayes, turn left here. Relax while taking in the Hayes Valley area, known for having more than its fair share of good eats. Once you clear the trees that line both sides of about 4 blocks, it's the way-hyped Hayes Hill. Okay, it's steep. But it ain't no thang...serious. And...there are so many people, it's not like you could sprint it if you wanted to. One catches one's breath and puts one's heart back in one's chest at the top...which is Alamo Square Park. Look behind you for a stunning shot of the City skyline. (Look at those cute Victorians, all in a row. That would make a cool post card. Really!) Next, we tumble down the downside of Hayes to Divisadero, turn left for a block, then turn right onto Fell. We're basically at the east end of The Panhandle, a little finger-like thing on the edge of Golden Gate Park. This is pretty much Mile 4...and the end of any climbing at all. The next three miles are a stroll in the park. It's bigger than NYC's Central Park, is all man-made, and features bison..and Dutch windmills. When you see the windmill on your right, prepare to turn left on the Great Highway. If you don't turn here, you might end up in Hawaii. That's pretty much it.

On the way home, I ran across the high point of the day. Once again in the middle of the park, I happened upon a group giving free Lindy lessons. One participant caught my eye...and I could not not TRY to catch him on video. Put new batteries in and shot a couple minutes...only to discover some setting or other on the camera was off. The picture quality's horrid...but his spirit makes up. I am jealous of his joy. He's got it going on. I only hope there's a healthy dose of that sort of stuff during next Sunday's B2B.

Gotta run...ride??


CewTwo said...

Some changes are not always for the better!
On the other hand, only with vending machines is change not inevitable!

rUntoNamAste said...

Ha, your camera is on my side because I want whatever's in store for me to be a SURPRISE!!! Yay dead batteries, but I do appreciate your effort :) I'll read the rest of this blog post after the debauchery! See ya soon amigo. And thanks for the free-beer-for-all heads up. Cashing in my 401k in 3..2..1..FUN FUN FUUUUUUUUUN!

-Le Fool

TokyoRacer said...

How many times did you do it with your butt hanging out?

Michael B said...

bob- i have never subjected anyone to will i ever!!