May is National Bike Month, and here in San Francisco, one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country, there are plenty of ways to celebrate the action. One of the most buzzed-about events is Bike to Work Day on May 14, but the month involves a lot more than just commuting: It's a celebration of bikes across the board, as well as the people who ride them, from newbies to hardcore cyclists. Get rolling with these five fun ways to celebrate Bike Month in San Francisco.
1. Explore the 49-Mile Scenic Drive.
How many times have you been intrigued by those vintage-looking signs featuring a seagull and blue-and-white color scheme? There's no better time than Bike Month to check off the 49-Mile Scenic Drive , one of San Francisco's most famous, yet overlooked (at least by locals) bike routes. Prepare to soak up plenty of San Francisco treats, from the glorious architecture of City Hall, where the ride starts and ends, to the greenery of Golden Gate Park to the Pacific Ocean along the Great Highway. But keep in mind that, although the route is fairly easy to follow thanks to the signs, it's not one for newbies, with several heavily trafficked sections and plenty of hills.
2. Join the rollicking good times of a group ride.
Bike Party is quintessential San Francisco fun: a rollicking group of costumed riders that cruises a mostly flat route throughout the city on the first Friday of every month. This month’s theme is witches; the group will cast its spell on SF’s streets starting at 8 pm sharp. (Costumes aren’t required but are highly encouraged; get inspiration from the kick-ass lookbook on the group’s website.) The ride stops at several spots along the route, with music and merriment (and, usually, adult beverages).
This month is also an appropriate time to check out Bike Party’s hardcore predecessor: Critical Mass, which was founded in San Francisco nearly 18 years ago as a way to draw attention to the need for motorists' awareness and bike infrastructure. The ride, which takes place on the last Friday of every month, has drawn quite a bit of controversy over the years, but it’s hard to argue with the statement it’s made about the need for cars to share the streets with cyclists (and cyclists, too, to be responsible riders at the same time).
3. Grind up the hills of the Marin headlands.
The views of the city skyline, the Pacific Ocean, and the Golden Gate Bridge are some of the most spectacular in California, and you’ll savor them even more after earning them. Whether you prefer pedaling on pavement or dirt, choose from miles of world-class options. Go ahead and snap some selfies at the top of whatever peak you choose— Mount Tam on a mountain bike or Alpine Dam on your road wheels—you’ve certainly earned it.
4. Volunteer for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.
This hardworking nonprofit deserves plenty of credit for its tireless efforts in making SF a much safer place for cyclists. Recent victories include 24 miles of improvements to city streets, and a testing phase of three-bike racks that will go on the front of MUNI buses on certain routes, making it more convenient for cyclists. Show your support for the great work of the SFBC with a few hours of volunteering. You’ll partake in fun stuff like handing out snacks and swag to riders, helping spread all kinds of bike-centric karma.
5. Bike to work on May 14.
This much-promoted event is the anchor event of Bike Month; do your part in National Bike to Work Day by doing just that. The SFBC is leading the effort in San Francisco; stop by one of its 25 Energizer Stations for free coffee and goodies.
Another option for commuters to Silicon Valley is the May 8 Friendly Friday Frolic, hosted by bike-commuting club SF2G. The 30-to-40 mile ride starts in the Mission and continues down the Peninsula to Mountain View, Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, and several stops in between. And don’t fret if you don’t know the route or don’t have mad cycling skills: It’s a casual, no-drop ride, so you’re guaranteed not to get lost or left behind.
And don't stop there after you bike to work: the SFBC is also hosting a slew of other bike-friendly events, from rides to bookstores to music venues and even camping sites.