Monday, January 30, 2012


I spent the weekend in San Francisco: all day Friday in meetings at Berrett-Koehler Publishers about the imminent 3rd edition of Repacking Your Bags; daytime Saturday bopping round the Mission District, drinking coffee and admiring humanity and its varied forms; Saturday night carousing with friends and their families; and Sunday morning doing yoga and riding the BART train to the airport.

As usual when I visit the City (by the Bay), I experienced, along with shin plints from walking a lot more than normal and on much harder surfaces than usual, a serious case of hipster overdose; I saw, among other things, a thirty-something guy with the requisite ironic facial hair, arm sleeve tattoos, and multiple lip piercings, carrying his newborn on his chest in the Baby Bjorn. Shades of Zach Galifianakis in The Hangover; he even looked like he was still wasted from the night before as he waited in line at the grooviest of the groovy coffee places for his morning latte.

I also got to admire numerous bicycles, which seem more and more numerous each time I visit. I saw lots and lots of brakeless fixies, including spying more than one helmetless rider talking on his cellphone, thereby scoring the trifecta on my Darwin Awards observation bingo card.

But there was also an increasing number of city bikes, I guess you’d call them: some new, some vintage frames with wider tires, fenders, upright handlebars, geared or single-speed, lots with Brooks saddles, many with front baskets, bikes that people ride in everyday clothes, to get around.

Two things struck me about the local customs, though. First, I saw a much smaller percentage of riders than here in Seattle wearing helmets. Maybe it’s fashion, maybe it’s the kind of riding people do, but brain buckets are less common.

And stranger still: I saw lots of people carrying their U-locks draped over their handlebars. The rattling alone would drive me nuts, but maybe helmetless I wouldn’t care.


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