where cycling takes you

this article was written by: andrew

they started writing it: Jul 10, 2022

it was last updated: Jul 11, 2022

I took my first road bike ride on Sept. 26, 2021.

I had bought a road bike earlier that day. It had no pedals (which I now realize is common when buying used road bikes), so I coasted home and then threw on my pedals from the commuter I've ridden for better part of the past 10 years.

This was all a relatively sudden thing. I had made an agreement: I was going to race a triathlon and to do that, I needed to be able to cycle a hefty 56 miles within three to four hours. It had long confused me - who the heck wants to just sit on a bike and ride for hours on end...don't you get bored? I've done long runs before and most of those wrapped up before the two hour mark. Apparently, I was now one of those suckers that was going to be riding all day. Committed to the race, I searched around a bit, found a bike on Craigslist and went for it.

On the ride, the traffic was buzzing as I made my way across the city and towards the Golden Gate Bridge. By the time I left the traffic behind, the wind picked up as I pedaled through Chrissy Field and eventually up and over the bridge - I'd later learn that a non-windy day on the bridge is a lovely and rare treat.

I met my friend on the other side of the water and we started up Hawk Hill, a place I'd only been up once before and never by bike. The climb was short, but hard - twelve minutes of what was pretty steep climbing for me at the time, the pedals so slow to turn even set to the lowest gear.

Reaching the top, we stopped to rest and relax. The city I had just biked through appeared distant and foreign compared to the green-and-tan hills that we were standing on. My friend handed me a beer that he brought up with him and we celebrate a new undertaking. The beer tastes good, the views look good, and it's hard to not feel good.

The downhill off the back was both terrifying and beautiful as the sun started to settle down towards the ocean. We zipped down and climbed back around, stopping for a hot dog from a cart before making our way back home.

In total, I clocked 28.5 miles in 2h30m that day. I put the description for the workout as "new bike, new me". Meant as a bit of fun, it's aged quite well some nine odd months later.

Since then, cycling has taken me to parts of the Bay that I had never been before. It led me to beautiful sunrises and beautiful sunsets, and had me coasting through fog-filled trees. After 6 years in the Bay I had seen so much, but cycling helped me see so much more - spinning down all the little roads that wind through the hills and to the adorable little towns that blot the greenery they nestle in. It took me along the coast where waves crashed in the morning light and it took me to National Parks and off-country roads with no cars and nothing but awe-inspiring nature.

It took me on amazing rides and trips with old friends and on group rides where I met wonderful and kind new friends. It took me to a birthday celebration three hours deep with two hours left to go in the ride. It woke me up early and it had me fixated as I learned all about the strategy and world of cycling.

From a sport that once baffled me, it has since taken me to breathtaking places and to fulfulling friendships and beautiful memories.

A view of the Golden Gate Bridge from Hawk Hill, with the city in the background. The sun is just beginning to set and the fog is just starting to filter in.
The ride up Hawk Hill is one of the most beautiful and rewarding rides per watt1 you'll ever do.