Tomorrow is my last day at Adaptive Path.
Tomorrow is the last day I ride Spry through San Francisco.
I’m gonna try real hard not to cry.
Like tweets, but with grammar.
Tomorrow is my last day at Adaptive Path.
Tomorrow is the last day I ride Spry through San Francisco.
I’m gonna try real hard not to cry.
It narrowly beat out “driving a Prius”, “pissing on the sidewalk”, and “being a huge dick every time you get behind the wheel and pulling U-turns in the middle of the fucking block”.
What does Dane smell on a typical day during his bicycle commute?
I might channel some Dave Seah on this one and create a series of printed, fillable bubble forms. You know, to capture the olfactory rhythm of my ride.
You can tell a lot about a neighborhood in San Francisco based on how frequently they need to clean the streets. While biking around Sea Cliff today in a super-ritzy part of town I noticed that they have scheduled street cleanings twice a month.
My street? Three times a week.
I went for another bike ride today, starting out towards SoMa then up Embarcadero into Fisherman’s Wharf. I took lunch at the In-N-Out Burger, based on its legendary status in certain enclaves. A number of folks from WWDC were haunting the joint, along with perhaps the rest of humanity. Tables were scarce, and people were hunched over their claim hissing at passersby who would dare wrest it from their filthy clutches. I stood and waited for fifteen minutes in that awful purgatory between “In” and “Out”, getting jostled and manhandled by every other packet of flesh in the joint. That’s the thing about cities. No matter where you are, someone else always wants to occupy the space that you are taking up.
As for the burger? Not very good. The fries have promise, being truly potato-based in origin, but mine were as though they had been dipped in tepid oil and set to soak through their paper basket.
I continued on my journey, stopping at the Palace of Fine Arts on my way to the Golden Gate Bridge. I crossed over this time around, buffeted by strong winds for the entire length, and got to witness firsthand the circus that is the parking lot at the north overlook. I crossed back and continued west to Land’s End, a decidedly classy locale where a woman with a solid gold tooth asked if I could point her to the nearest restroom.
I dropped in at Seal Rocks and headed south past the Cliff House, and swung back east through the south edge of Golden Gate Park. Following my usual route I went out through the Panhandle, and took the Wiggle to Sanchez to Delores Park. It was here that the jeans got noticeably tighter, the keys began dangling on carabiners clipped to belt loops, and the U-locks were safely stowed in the left back pocket. I spun down Valencia and was soon hauling my (beautiful, lightweight) bicycle up to our third-floor flat.
All in all it was probably a 25-mile bike ride, and I’m hoping I slathered myself with enough sunscreen to stave off any further burns. My arms are peeling like crazy after last week’s ride, and everywhere I go I leave a disgusting trail of skin in my wake.
Kate noted how funny it was, that I had to move to one of the biggest cities in the country to become active in the outdoors again.
Today I bid farewell to the Frankenbike, as my friend put the finishing touches on a more proper bike that he’s been building for me to use for my mighty summer. I talked to Kate, and she said the going price for a used bike in Walla Walla was about thirty bucks. I paid a bit more than that, but I shudder to think what a $30 bike transaction in this town would look like. It would definitely involve a stolen bike sold by a dangerous tweaker covered in scabs, who would demand that I meet him in the Tenderloin.
No. This bike is good and proper. Swift and nimble, it is a third the weight of the Frankenbike with a playfulness all its own. Small frame, large wheels, road tires, one speed, and one speed only. It has a lovely green finish and an aggressive racing posture, but most importantly it has brakes and it can stop.
I need to take this new bike for a good long spin before I can truly give it a fitting name, but that hasn’t stopped me from rolling a few around inside my head. You know, to see how they feel.
This morning I learned that I might need to start dosing myself with caffeine before starting my daily bicycle commute. While traveling in a pack of bike commuters I realized I was pretty zoned out, which isn’t exactly the safest thing when biking in traffic. Things can turn gnarly in an instant, and it’s imperative that I stay in tune with my surroundings.
Nevertheless, I have learned a few things. While the working-class Mission hipsters like myself typically commute to downtown on Harrison, the hipster-class Mission hipsters commute on Valencia. Truly, the flow of bicyclists represent two totally different demographics depending on what street you take.
Tonight Chris and I grabbed some falafel goodness at Ali Baba’s Cave, and took in a late showing of Pixar’s Up, which was surreal, touching and absolutely beautiful. The story was heartfelt and lovely, and I couldn’t stop geeking out over the texture of everything. From paper to glass to fabrics to embroidery, everything had this complex richness to it that made it believably tactile. Incredible.
Today I saw a gal riding a bicycle in high heels. “How did that work out for her?” you might ask. The answer is apparently not well at all, as her right ankle was all scabbed and bandaged up.
I biked out to Ocean Beach this afternoon via Golden Gate Park, and spent some quality time in the Botanical Garden. It’s truly a beautiful, remarkable place, all split up in worldly biomes that let you trot the continents without leaving your skinny jeans and All-Stars. Really, it was the orange construction fences, road cones, weed whackers and front-end loaders that made it such an enlightening experience. I don’t know where I would have been without the delightful serenade of heavy machinery in reverse.
Gah. You ever wear the coat of sarcasm for so long that you don’t know how to shrug out of it? No really, I loved the Botanical Garden. The redwood forest was almost spiritual, with its cool damp air, soft mossy ground and towering trees. The garden even features all sorts of fun, interactive exhibits:
Some of which border on the truly ludic:
All in all I biked about 17 miles today. It’s reassuring how quickly I’ve been able to abandon that bullshit graduate school lifestyle and instantly reengage with my formerly active self. It gives me hope that if I can endure one more year of satisfying the sedentary demands of academia, I can actually enjoy being myself again.
Yes. I am alive. So very sunburned and alive, in this enchanted land nestled intimately between the ocean and a bay and the other side of a bay. I am snug here in the heart of Mission, living at the House of Many Doors with my trusty Frankenbike at my side. Together we will get to the bottom of this fair city, discover its history and nuance, and learn Great and Amazing Things that we will share with you.
From satellite images San Francisco appears relatively flat. I come to you bearing witness that this is not the truth. Indeed, today while struggling up the beautiful wooded hills of Presidio the giant eucalyptus trees filled my strained lungs with a soothing perfume.
Yes. We have eucalyptus trees. And koalas, as I can safely assume. Also, I have learned that fruit grows on trees, and that these trees grow in San Francisco. There are fat and healthy lemons and oranges and grapefruits that beckon for me to hop the fence into the neighbor’s backyard and eat my way into a citrusy coma.
There are mysteries in this town, such as a bridge that disappears into the side of an island only to emerge from the other side of the island. This is a mystery.
Let me tell you a story.
I arrived in San Francisco at one o’clock Friday afternoon. By four o’clock my friends had already bought me a burrito from a truck and built me a single-speed bike out of spare parts. Thusly armed with my Frankenbike, they pushed me out the door to go toe-to-toe with San Francisco rush hour. Despite a few wrong turns and some freaky-crazy intersections between here and SoMA, I found my way to the Adaptive Path office and joined them for happy hour, Battledecks, and a brief tour of their studio. For how much I love Post-It notes, whiteboards and Sharpies, I may have just found my heaven.
After returning to the Mission I dashed out the door with my friends to catch a burlesque show, as this would seem the only proper introduction to San Francisco culture. Zooming down city streets with a pack of friends on bicycles made me feel like I was ten years old again, on my way to blow the week’s allowance on a sugar rush at the Minnetonka Mills gas station. This time, however, the goal was a bar in Mission, serving up IPAs that taste like grapefruit.
The next morning we took a surf trip down to Pacifica. I got my first taste of surfing a few years ago, during a scorching-hot fall weekend at the Oregon Coast. The water was still blindingly cold despite the air temperature, so I had some idea what those guys were paddling out in. While I am certain my future in San Francisco will entail taming the mighty surf, I decided that surfing through traffic on a bicycle was harrowing enough, and I didn’t want to push my luck by tackling the ocean. Yet.
Sunday the city of San Francisco threw a carnival in my honor, welcoming me to the neighborhood. This celebration featured an awesome parade that went right by my house and was jam-packed with thongs.
Yesterday I set out on foot, exploring Mission, Dolores Park, Castro, Buena Vista Park, Haight, Alamo Square and Market. I put some serious miles on my Converse All-Stars, which to this day remain a staple of hipster culture. I feel I have a lot more cred than a lot of the posers here, though, cuz these All-Stars I got way back in ’97. Hear that? These kicks are Pre-Dot Com Boom, suckas.
Today I took in an epic bike ride to the Golden Gate Bridge, which was named after the Golden Gate, which was named long before there was a bridge. This I learned from the San Francisco Maritime Museum, which was amazing and had awesome things like copper plates that were more than a hundred years old from which nautical maps were printed. Yes, the San Francisco Maritime Museum is a wonderful little museum, and it broke my heart that I was the only person there. I gave them a donation, but it probably wouldn’t hurt if you were willing to give them a reach-around as well.
So yes. I blasted through SoMA past Adaptive Path and IDEO and a Ferrari, through Fisherman’s Place-To-Get-Lousy-T-Shirts and Impossible-To-Spell-Something-About-Chocolate Square, almost fell off my bike laughing at a pack of tourists on Segways, took in Alcatraz, talked shop with some windsurfers and kiteboarders at Crissy Field, and before I knew it I was freezing in the shadow of the Bridge.
Now, I tend to observe a rule, perhaps unconsciously adopted from Goonies, that one should never go out the same way that he came in. Thus I went up and over Presidio, descended into Golden Gate Park, went out via the Panhandle, and did the Wiggle back into Mission. All told it was probably a 19-mile bike ride, which is not too shabby considering that graduate school has destroyed any trace of my athletic physique.
Tonight my legs feel like rubber, and tomorrow they will no doubt burn like crazy. However, I know that in those Fires of Tomorrow will be forged the Iron Legs of Thursday, and such are the legs that will carry me forward into the summer.
It’s hot. So hot. 99 degrees outside, 99 degrees in here. It’s so hot that even the mountains are spontaneously combusting.
Clothes are too burdensome, so I lounge around in my underpants. I sit here sweating away in my own home office, sticking to and peeling off my fake leather chair as I shift around, trying to eek some comfort out of this day.
Meanwhile, my neighbors continue their weekly three-day drinking binge in the backyard, which they host with such regularity that they have already worn away most of the grass. They don’t seem to mind so much. A cube of Icehouse is cheaper than a tank of gas, now more than ever. Beer is the new Disneyland.
This morning I went mountain biking at Knebal Springs up near Mount Hood, hitting the trail early to avoid the midday heat. It was a killer ride that I’ve done a number of times before, a nine mile singletrack loop with a thousand feet of elevation. The lupine is in full bloom, and the trail cuts right through some huge fields of the stuff.
It was a hot and dusty ride, and the straps on my backpack are now crusted with salt, where my sweat soaked them completely through. After getting back into town I left my bike in my Subaru for half an hour, and when I went to pull it out I nearly burned my hands on the frame. It was six hours ago that I took my hydration pack out of my car, and the water in it is still hot enough to steep tea.
Dane Petersen is a one part interaction designer, one part design technologist, and three parts troublemaker. He enjoys playing outside, talking loudly and waving his hands around.
Dane has worked as a wilderness guide, snowboard instructor, windsurf technician and envelope stuffer. He loves space, airplanes, saunas, running, backpacking and homebrewing.
He works as a lead interaction designer at GE, building software for jet engines.
His portfolio is at thegreatsunra.com.
You can email him at