Hello, Cathy here! Last night while online, plotting out ideas for today, I read some raves from people who had rented bikes in SF and biked along the waterfront, and then over the Golden Gate bridge. Prices were reasonable, and Mark and the kids were excited, so we sallied forth today to do it (after a quick tour of the nearby Jelly Belly factory, to the great joy of our kids. The boys' favorite "treat" there was a box of "Bean Boozled", which features jelly beans that taste like --I kid you not--- vomit, earwax, and pencil shaving, to name just a few flavors)
Our great biking adventure wasn't quite as great as we had hoped, though. Actually in Brennan's words: "Worst decision of the trip!" Here's why:
1. Hand brakes. Our kids aren't really used to them, since their bikes have the pedal brakes instead. The place offered tandem bikes, but the boys really wanted their own bikes instead. We made them try their hand brakes a few times at the rental place and they seemed fine. But in hindsight, it was a lot to get used to, especially since...
2. San Francisco has HILLS. Big ones. and though our path mostly followed the waterfront, there were a few times it had to curve away from it, and so we invariably ended up going up and down steep hills. My kids are used to the flatness of Joliet, so it was tricky, but that still might have been okay, except for....
3. The bike path from the waterfront up to the Golden Gate bridge was under construction. So, for about a half mile, we got shunted onto a steep, curvy not-all-that-wide road that offered little room to ride or push bikes. It was a detail that somehow our cheerful Brazilian bike renters had neglected to mention. It would have been a bit stressful even with just Mark and me. Having kids on bikes made it a LOT stressful. Then to add to our frustration, we found it really hard to actually bike on the bridge itself, since the walkway was so crowded with pedestrians and other bikers. We tried, then gave it up, and Mark watched the bikes while I walked the kids out a ways to catch the views.
4. Even with all that, we still were having an okay time, but on the ride back from the bridge, things went downhill (hey, look, a pun!) Brennan had a tough spill and skinned his knee. Then Nate flipped over his handlebars on a bump and hit his elbow hard. Then Annie skidded on some gravel and went down hard, twice in five minutes. A lot of tears, and vows to never ride again, and remarks to the effect of "WHY did we have to ride bikes today?!" At the end of it all, Annie had fallen twice, Brennan three times, and Nate four times. We limped back, pushing our bikes up the hill to the rental spot, only to find out that we had been gone so long that we had to pay the whole day rate. *sigh*
But, on the bright side, no one got too badly hurt, and after limping to a nearby Ben and Jerry's we were all suitably cheered up to be able to joke about it. I predict that "Let's bike the bridge!" will become a favorite expression in our house for truly awful ideas.
Here's some pics of the "adventure," We're still having fun in this one.:
Pushing the bikes uphill here. Not quite so much fun...
Things are still okay here, and the views were spectacular.
Brennan coming down a hill, though fortunately this wasn't one he fell on.
Our Ben and Jerry's therapy put us all back in a cheerful mood. In Brennan's words, "Sadness plus icecream equals happiness." Maybe we can sell that slogan to Ben and Jerry's.
We finished the day on a high note. A "Ripley's Believe it or Not" museum (the kids' choice) and then, before driving back to the hotel north of the city, Mark took us on a "roller coaster" ride of some of the San Francisco hills. Yee-haw!