San Francisco Bay Trail report

I’ve been riding for six months and have mainly lurked here: thanks to all of you for excellent learning advice, trip reports and unicycle mindset comments.

Today I took my first real ride on my new Nimbus 29, with splined 5" cranks, and Nimbus gel seat, 10 miles down the edge of the SF bay. shop Ok, now I get it about wheel momentum; the difference between a 24 and a 29 is much, much more than I was expecting. On the 29, everything happens lazily, and it’s really easy to ride too quickly.

Here’s the complete route: Gmap-pedometer Has anyone started a Google map mashup of “cool unicycle routes in your area”?

I took Caltrain to San Mateo, then third avenue to Ryder Park. This park is a gem for anyone with children, it has a geodesic climbing dome, a stunning pedestrian suspension bridge, and huge sunshelters built like inverted hulls of boats.

On third avenue in San Mateo there is a weird cycle path inside a concrete U tube, right in the middle of the highway. On the downhill stretch I lost control and jumped off backwards: the cycle bounced away down the tube for 20 yards. Thank goodness for pedal protectors here which not only protected the pedals, as advertised, but also stopped the cycle from skeetering off into the distance.

Then, I cut through a school yard which was huge, and full of kids. I’m concentrating hard because the surface is uneven and undulating, and hear kids screaming “Unicycle, Unicycle”, and a huge mob of them start running after me … if I was on my 24" I’d have done tricks, but as it was I exited the yard as fast as possible: there’ll be another day for hi-jinks on the 29. Has anyone else experienced being mobbed?

San Francisco Bay has a perimeter of about 500 miles, over half of which are covered by the Bay Trail, which is typically metalled, banned to motor vehicles, and flat. Once I left the San Mateo traffic behind I hardly saw anyone (this was late morning) apart for a few exercise walkers and half a dozen cyclists.

I’m still feeling out the 29 inch wheel, so was experimenting with letting it ride me, and pushing it: alternating between no hands (wobbly seat), left hand on seat (good to counteract the wetherhelm from the wind), and right hand on seat (good for correcting poor posture). I’m still finding it really easy to get run away with by my own momentum. I wonder whether that’s a problem on a Coker?

The SF Bay Trail is amazing: I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve only seen small portions of it. I now intend to actively go and explore it. Right next to high density tech development, there is this beautiful smooth path adjacent to the bay’s tidal marshes.

For me the sea view was dominated by the San Mateo bridge (highway 92) as it strides across the shallow bay (world’s longest bridge when it was first built). I was pleased to make it all the way from Ryder park to the bridge with no dismounts, about three miles.

I stopped at the bridge for energy bar and coffee, and played on the defunct fishing pier, then tried to remount. Oh dear, something seemed to have happened, mentally, it was really hard, and I fell off in the teeth of the wind repeatedly.

I’ve not seen much comment about the mental effort needed to ride a unicycle here: what do people think? I wasn’t particularly fatigued physically, but suddenly riding became really challenging. I became irritated with myself that I couldn’t mount, and at one point walked for a few hundred yards to compose myself. Then the moment passed and I started to enjoy the ride again.

The trail skirts Foster City: Venice of the Bay Area, then leads into the salt marshes of Redwood Shores. A corporate shower and sauna completed a perfect morning off.

2miles + 9miles + 4miles home … I guess Ride the Lobster is some way off.

Maybe Lobster 2009.

Thanks for coming out of the lurk-shadows and sharing this ride write-up. With the length of that trail, it sounds like you have lots of good exploring ahead.

I think your fear of getting going too fast on the 29-er will pass when you get some more miles under your belt. What length cranks are you using? For me, that’s a bigger factor than the size of the wheel. With 150s on my 29-er, I feel like I can go up or down almost anything. I have adjustable cranks on my 36-er, and hills that I ride down easily with 150 or 170 cranks are terrifying at the 110 setting. You might consider going a bit longer on your crank length until you’re really comfortable with the ups and downs, then cut back to shorter cranks for more “spinability”

To the “ever been mobbed” question, yup. The Uninam tour in March had a lot of that…pedaling through a small Vietnamese village just when school let out, with the kids just going nuts. There are a few shots of the kid swarms in my gallery here.

Good observation on the “mental fatigue” element. That can be a real factor. I’m not a great rider, and on my 36-er I feel like I have to pay constant attention or I’ll get bounced off by something. There was one stretch of road during the 'Nam tour that was 8 km or something of all torn up dirt, ruts, holes, mud, and I had my 110 cranks on. It was mostly flat, so not challenging that way, but my eyes and brain hurt by the end of it just from having to pay such close attention to the terrain.

I’ve done hardly any riding in the east bay. All of it’s been w/ the Berkley Uni Club (PM Tholub).

Much of the Bay Trail in Marin is not flat (some nice technical single track in parts) but quite a bit all the single track is not legal to wheeled vehicles. If you do ride these trails, use exemplary trail etiquette, and try to ride at less popular times.

Bigger wheels have can have tendency to get away from you, but won’t be much of an issue when you get used to the size. Really big wheels w/ small cranks will often do this on steep downhills if you’re not paying attention.

Ride Everywhere

I love that Bob Burnquist quote: and have taken it to heart.

I bought a 29, not a 36, because I could fit a 29 into my (small) car trunk, so that the cycle is always with me … I unicycled to the dentist recently.

50 and More

I unicycle inthe Tampa Bay area where beaches , parks and bridges are second to none. I ride a 29er which is a good long distance and hill 10% grade climber. I do this all at the age of 50. If u r ever in the Tamap Bay area give me a ring.:smiley:

Hi Karl,


There is a strong Uni presents in the BAy area. There is a group in the East Bay and also in the Santa Cruz area.

Every year there is a SF Uniride that you might want to be aware of.

Here are some other related threads. One is to Corbin’s ride list and the other to the pix link for the most recent SF Uni Ride.

I grew up in Palo Alto and Los Altos, so I have a fondness for the Bay Area.