Photo: Caitlin Johnson/Courtesy
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Today is Bike To Work Day in San Francisco.
Yesterday was also Bike To Work Day in San Francisco.
Tomorrow? Bike To Work Day in San Francisco.
Or at least, it is, was, and will be for the lycra-clad masses who make up SF2G, a decade-and-a-half-old biking club started by a handful of cycling-obsessed Googlers in the mid-2000s. They aimed at taking biking to work to its extreme with daily 40-mile rides from San Francisco down to Google’s Mountain View campus.
Run entirely via a public Google Group, the club has expanded to more than 3,600 members in the last 15 years, as have the destinations.
“Google, Facebook, Evernote when they were down in Mountain View — it’s also kind of an interesting Silicon Valley networking thing in some ways,” said Caitlin Johnson, a Mission resident who worked at Google from 2011-2016, during which time she biked to work more than 200 times. “I averaged 100 miles a week at one point, but there were people doing 40 miles every single day.”
And while that might sound daunting, Johnson said the hour plus ride on the Google bus in stop and go traffic was even more so.
“It’s a sanity thing, 100 percent for me,” said Johnson, who now works at Roblox, where she has converted three colleagues to what she calls her “religion.”
The club uses three different Strava routes from San Francisco down the Peninsula — Bayway, a mostly flat 41-mile ride from Ritual Coffee in the Mission to Google that takes you through a mix of residential streets, bike paths, and even alongside San Francisco International Airport; Skyline, an incredibly scenic, and incredibly challenging 45-mile ride that hugs parts of 280 and features 2,400 ft. of elevation gain; and Half Moon Bay Way, a cruise down Highway 1 the club describes as “somewhat impractical for commuting, but truly spectacular.”
Rides using any of the three routes are posted to the Google Group via a short code that covers what route they’re taking, when they’re leaving, where they’re meeting, and how fast the ride is.
“There’s always a way to make it harder. There are a lot of people that, as a badge of pride, will ride on a fixie. A couple people even do Skyline on a fixie. Anytime you do something hard, the first time, you get to your desk at work and stare at something for 30 minutes,” Johnson said with a laugh.
“But it’s nice the first couple times because you feel like a badass,” Johnson continued. “When you suffer the slings and arrows of the day at your job, to start with such a big victory feels great.”
But, as one of the club’s founders, Brett Lider, explains they’ll ease you into the group — no one is throwing you on Skyline on a fixie (unless you want to be there on one).
“We have beginner-friendly First Friday Friendly Frolics on the first Friday of every month,” Lider said.
That ride is geared at making sure everyone finishes — a no-person-left-behind trek where you’re shepherded by SF2Gers who’ve done the ride 100s of times.
Johnson’s first ride, in fact, was a Frolic.
“Even for a casual weekend cyclist it isn’t too grueling,” she said. “They’re also very safety conscious, teaching you the hand signals, how to communicate with one another, how to draft off each other safely. It’s definitely a community, you get to know people on the train ride home, and there are enough stop lights on the ride that you get to know each other. Some of my best friends came from this group.”
As have some of the most surprised looks from her co-workers when they find out she gets up at dawn to ride 40 miles to work.
“It’s almost like saying you went to Harvard,” she said. “You don’t bring it up.”
Grant Marek is SFGATE’s Editorial Director. You can reach him by email at email@example.com.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/SF2G-Google-San-Francisco-Bike-Work-Mountain-View-13832436.php.