If there is one thing that we have learned here in our first year at the Rapha Cycle Club San Francisco, it’s that this great city has a lot to offer in the way of cycling. It’s so understated and so rideable that I’d go so far as to suggest that San Francisco and its outlying areas has some of the best riding in North America.
While the Rapha Cycle Club adds plenty to the city’s cycling mix, it would be a bit bold to state it’s the only game in town. Which is why we put together this handy little guide, following on from our original feature A Day in The City, for those that are looking for some cycling-related exploration in the City by the Bay.
This is not the definitive guide.
This is not the final word on San Francisco. Get out, explore and ask people who are riding the streets of this town where they’re going. Or, if you’re the shy type, just follow them. That’s one thing I’ve noticed living in an urban environment. The bike lanes, while sometimes the best way through a densely populated or heavily traveled area, are not the only ways through a city and people who ride bicycles all the time tend to find the best routes.
We like it here.
We really, really like the Cycle Club and this city it resides in. If you have ever had anything close to a clubhouse you might have an inkling of what we are talking about. To be able to walk into a place that not only knows your sport but also has an understanding of its various attendant interests is not only life-affirming but also extremely exciting.
We need you San Francisco.
To make this work we need others. We need to know what other people are up to. We need to know what races they’re holding, what parties they are throwing, what new and cool products they are bringing in. To build a network of familiar cyclists that can be activated at a moment’s notice. People to ride with whatever your choice of bicycle may be.
So if and when you drop into this fine city, and if you rent a bike, borrow one from a friend or beg one off someone on the street, then make the most of it and ride all over town. The aforementioned bike lanes are going to be your best bet (at least initially) as you start to explore. Then the world, or at least San Francisco, is your oyster.
BIKE SHOP (we wish we had seen)
2250 Bancroft Way, Berkley, CA
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 11- 5
OK, this one is actually out in Berkley and we know that might be a bit of a ride. However, the folklore that surrounds this place makes it deserving of inclusion. They don’t have regular hours, so it might be best to e-mail or call ahead to make an appointment. But start asking your riding friends what they’ve heard about Jitensha and you will be amazed by stories of handmade wheels, sew-ups, and Japanese steel.
247 Shoreline Highway, Mill Valley, CA
Another one not strictly within the city limits but one of the places associated with riding in SF. In addition to being a full-blown Rapha retailer (with section focused primarily on women’s apparel), Studio Velo offer group rides, a coaching service and a bike fitting service as well. Everything, in fact, you could ever want from a bike shop. The great thing about these guys is that they like to ride. The shop is located close to sweet, slow climbs, to punchy short switchbacks and even the ever-dusty (but always fun) Mt. Tam. All of which makes it an ideal spot to stop, once you’ve have made it over the Golden Gate Bridge and into the valley. As a bonus feature, we also know from experience that they pull a mean shot of espresso.
Una Pizza Napoletana
210 11th Street + Howard Street
Hours: Wednesday – Saturday 5pm – out of dough
Also back over the bridge you will find a man by the name of Anthony Mangieri. Anthony is the owner and proprietor of Una Pizza Napoletana and offers five pizzas – “no slices” – with an extra addition to the menu on the weekends. Anthony makes making each and every pizza to come out of his brick oven. As with all amazing restaurants, there’s plenty of oohing and aaahhing when this place comes up in conversation. We strongly advise you to try it. Open Thursday through Saturday, from 5pm “until we run out of dough”.
Check out this article about Mangieri from New York Magazine Restaurants. Published in 2009, before he made the move to San Francisco, word on the street is that he made the trek west for California’s superlative mountain biking conditions. Apparently he owns a few custom bicycles to boot.
SF Cycle club
OK, time to blow our own horn. The new City Riding range is available in its entirety at the Rapha Cycle Club. The launch of the Women’s Merino Jersey marks Rapha’s first foray into city riding apparel for women, while other new additions include a new Long Sleeve Shirt and the lightweight City Trousers. The City Riding range alone makes a visit to the Club a must. But then we would say that.
MASH Transit Shop
773 14th Street
If you are looking for something local to the San Francisco scene but with a bit more of a street feel, then look to the Mash Transit shop. Mash have a reputation for staging track bike races through the city streets but to be fair, they more than hold their own with anything to do with bikes. Cyclocross? You’re sure to see some of their kits out there. Road Racing? They followed the entire route of last year’s Tour of California on track bikes and aim to do it again this year.
As a bonus feature, proprietor Mike Martin makes his own like of fashion-forward clothing. Check out Martin Clothing for some great examples of the sort of riding-related apparel associated with the MASHSF brand.
SHOP WE NEVER VISITED (but would very much like to)
The Voyager Shop
365 Valencia Street
What might you get if you took one of the best fashion shops in Austin, Texas (Spartan combined it with another from the San Francisco area (Revolver then combined the result with a roving art gallery and shop (Needles/Pens. The Voyager Shop gives you a good idea. This is one of those spots that is so special that when people tell you about it, you get the impression they don’t want you to visit and ruin the coolness factor for them.
So there you have it, another selection of great destinations to help you explore San Francisco. We could go on all day but the point of all this is to check out new places for yourself. To find those destinations where you can drop in for the best drinks and shopping in all San Francisco. And if you choose the SF Cycle Club in the coming weeks, not only will you get just that but you can also watch each and every stage of the Giro d’Italia before heading off to work.