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Old 06-10-14, 01:40 PM   #1
datlas
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Road Bike Rental in San Francisco

I am a road cyclist ("enthusiast," not racing) who will be coming to spend a week in San Francisco with my family in August. We have rented an apartment in Nob Hill for our stay.

I do want to rent a road bike for at least a couple of days so I can get in some good rides, ideally including one out to Mt Tam and back. I don't think I want a full week rental as this vacation is a "family" vacation with cycling on the side.

I have done some research online and in BF and have come up with a few rental options: Blazing Saddles, San Francisco Bicycle Rentals, Bay City Bike, and Pacific Bicycles.

I am looking for a decent road bike, Aluminum Frame and Tiagra/105 level is fine. I wouldn't mind full CF and Ultegra/DA level but that's really not necessary.

Any specific recommendations regarding these outfits from those who have directly dealt with any of them??
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Old 06-10-14, 05:21 PM   #2
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Sports Basement.

SF Bike Rentals Sports Basement

Forget Tam, Do Diablo
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Old 06-10-14, 06:27 PM   #3
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Sports Basement.

SF Bike Rentals Sports Basement

Forget Tam, Do Diablo
I asked my friend from the Bay Area and he said Diablo in August is a bad idea. You think otherwise??
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Old 06-10-14, 07:05 PM   #4
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It is a bad idea unless you like high 90's/low 100's heat. Not only no, but hell no.
Tam is beautiful at that time of the year. Can be warm, but not like Diablo.
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Old 06-10-14, 10:22 PM   #5
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I asked my friend from the Bay Area and he said Diablo in August is a bad idea. You think otherwise??
Yes. It can be warm, if we're having a heat wave in August, come in the morning.

You know why Amgen Tour of California doesn't do Tam? Because DIABLO!














This is August 31, 2013...

https://vimeo.com/73540971
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Old 06-11-14, 12:05 PM   #6
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It is a bad idea unless you like high 90's/low 100's heat. Not only no, but hell no.
Tam is beautiful at that time of the year. Can be warm, but not like Diablo.
On a weekday, I'd definitely choose Tam over Diablo; on weekends, probably not, due to traffic. If you ride early enough, Diablo heat shouldn't be unbearable.
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Old 06-11-14, 12:08 PM   #7
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Tam: Cooler, more varied terrain, better views, can ride there from SF, can also access via ferry, lots of car traffic.
Diablo: Hotter, great views, can't ride there from SF, can access via train (BART), very little car traffic.
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Old 06-11-14, 12:45 PM   #8
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Tam: Cooler, more varied terrain, better views, can ride there from SF, can also access via ferry, lots of car traffic.
Diablo: Hotter, great views, can't ride there from SF, can access via train (BART), very little car traffic.

When @datlas gets back to PA from his California vacation, his riding buddies will say - "Hey wow, did you do Diablo?", and then he could either say "Hell yeah!" or "No, I did Mt. Tam... it has more varied terrain and is a little less hot."
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Old 06-11-14, 01:19 PM   #9
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When @datlas gets back to PA from his California vacation, his riding buddies will say - "Hey wow, did you do Diablo?", and then he could either say "Hell yeah!" or "No, I did Mt. Tam... it has more varied terrain and is a little less hot."
Or he could ride both.
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Old 06-11-14, 01:42 PM   #10
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If the weather permits, I would love to do both. But given that I will have to start my rides in SF and typical August weather, the Mt Tam ride is a definite, and Diablo will have to be a "maybe."

I was told there is no water on the climb up Diablo, is that true?
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Old 06-11-14, 02:05 PM   #11
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I was told there is no water on the climb up Diablo, is that true?
Nah, there's a few spots you can refill, but Diablo Scott can probably give more detailed info. I didn't mean to shortchange riding Mt Diablo at all. It's a great ride, particularly the light car traffic factor. But Tam has a lot of strong points too, particularly the biking access from SF, including a ride across the GG Bridge which is sort of a rite of passage when touring the area. The bridge can get a little crazy on the weekends with bike/ped traffic though, and the Tam roads are pretty much a zoo. Try for a weekday if you can.
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Old 06-11-14, 02:09 PM   #12
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If the weather permits, I would love to do both. But given that I will have to start my rides in SF and typical August weather, the Mt Tam ride is a definite, and Diablo will have to be a "maybe."

I was told there is no water on the climb up Diablo, is that true?
Coming up from the south, there's usually water at the first ranger station, the junction, Juniper Campground, and the summit. Due to the drought, there have been a few times with no water. If you're concerned the rangers should be able to tell you over the phone the day before.
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Old 06-11-14, 02:14 PM   #13
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I was told there is no water on the climb up Diablo, is that true?
The park has its own potable water system, fed by the streams and creeks on the Mountain. This makes the water supply in the park especially vulnerable to droughts like we're having now and most of the fountains, sinks, showers, and flush toilets have been turned off as of a few months ago. Not likely to get any better in the next couple months either. But there are still a couple running for water bottle filling, and there's a little snack shop at the Summit Visitor Center that sells water and other drinks. It's usually not a problem if you're aware and prepared.
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Old 06-11-14, 04:53 PM   #14
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I would second the recommendation to rent from Sports Basement. You could get a carbon fiber bike from them, and the location in the Presidio makes Mount Tam fairly accessible, and you get the ride across the Golden Gate Bridge thrown in for free.

Mount Diablo is also accessible from downtown San Francisco by taking bart. Rent the bike for 2 days, do Tam the first day as a warm up, keep the bike overnight, get on bart early the next morning out to walnut creek, and ride the northgate route up to Diablo.
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Old 06-11-14, 06:13 PM   #15
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Blazing Saddles is focused on allowing tourists to ride across the GGB to Sausalito. They do that by the thousands.

Most of their bikes are low-end models that get pretty thrashed by the heavy usage by often abusive tourists. They advertise some higher-end bikes but I would have pretty low expectations.

I rented from them once when I was in SF on a spur-of-the moment thing; the "deluxe comfort hybrid" was a very heavily used tank with a front der that didn't work and a chain that looked like it had never been lubed. No water bottle holders; just a handlebar bag. When I returned the bike and mentioned that the FD was not working the staff didn't give a rip; they just put the bike back in the queue for the next tourist.

So I would not recommend them for an enthusiast looking for a serious ride.

One final comment... expect EXTREMELY heavy bike and ped traffic on the GGB... scary in spots.
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Old 06-12-14, 08:57 AM   #16
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Thanks for the tips. I will take everything under consideration. Honestly, if the weather is not too hot I am game to try Diablo. Will investigate BART option to get to Diablo.

I don't mind obstacles on the GGB, will go into "tourist mode" for that section of the ride as the warmup and warmdown from Mt Tam.

Regarding the bike rental, I don't need anything quite as nice as my current road bike, but I do want something that rides, shifts, and brakes reliably. Would be fine with aluminum road frame and tiagra-level components, as long as they are working well. I would consider bringing my own bike which fits me perfectly, but too much hassle.
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Old 06-12-14, 10:46 AM   #17
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The park has its own potable water system, fed by the streams and creeks on the Mountain. This makes the water supply in the park especially vulnerable to droughts like we're having now and most of the fountains, sinks, showers, and flush toilets have been turned off as of a few months ago. Not likely to get any better in the next couple months either. But there are still a couple running for water bottle filling, and there's a little snack shop at the Summit Visitor Center that sells water and other drinks. It's usually not a problem if you're aware and prepared.
Not being a Diablo regular, I can only say that last Saturday, June 7, the fountain was on at the entrance station on South Gate (yeah, doesn't help those on North Gate), at the junction (around the back of the building), and at the summit. Don't know if those are always on, but 5 days ago, yes.
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Old 06-12-14, 11:32 AM   #18
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When @datlas gets back to PA from his California vacation, his riding buddies will say - "Hey wow, did you do Diablo?", and then he could either say "Hell yeah!" or "No, I did Mt. Tam... it has more varied terrain and is a little less hot."
And if datlas is a wise man, he doesn't give a fig about what his riding buddies will say, he cares about what will give his life the most pleasure.

Maybe getting to ride from his apartment without a 40 minute one way ride on public transit will make him happier. Maybe the better views from Tam will make him happier. Maybe getting to add the Golden Gate Bridge to the ride will make him happier. Maybe, being from eastern Pennsylvania where there are no climbs like there are in the Bay Area, avoiding the greater challenge will make him happier. OTOH, maybe the greater challenge of Diablo, the greater bragging rights of Diablo will make him happier, maybe the absence of heavier traffic on Diablo will make him happier. It sounds like he has gotten the info here to help him make his choice - do Tam, and if it works out, also do Diablo.

I would echo what you have suggested, that the friend of datlas who says Diablo in August is a bad idea is dead wrong. Diablo in the afternoon in August is usually a bad idea, how early in the morning one should go depends on the weather, but even when we're having heat waves like last Sunday and Monday, Diablo weather shouldn't ever be TOO hot if you go early enough in the morning, just check the hourly forecast the day before to help decide how early you need to go. Also, the earlier in the morning, the less hazy the views will be to the east (more of a potential problem in August). OTOH, if there is a marine layer out west, less of a problem in August, the earlier in the morning, the more obscured the views to the west, and sometimes even to the east.
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Old 06-12-14, 12:08 PM   #19
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And if datlas is a wise man, he doesn't give a fig about what his riding buddies will say, he cares about what will give his life the most pleasure.

Maybe getting to ride from his apartment without a 40 minute one way ride on public transit will make him happier. Maybe the better views from Tam will make him happier. Maybe getting to add the Golden Gate Bridge to the ride will make him happier. Maybe, being from eastern Pennsylvania where there are no climbs like there are in the Bay Area, avoiding the greater challenge will make him happier. OTOH, maybe the greater challenge of Diablo, the greater bragging rights of Diablo will make him happier, maybe the absence of heavier traffic on Diablo will make him happier. It sounds like he has gotten the info here to help him make his choice - do Tam, and if it works out, also do Diablo.

I would echo what you have suggested, that the friend of datlas who says Diablo in August is a bad idea is dead wrong. Diablo in the afternoon in August is usually a bad idea, how early in the morning one should go depends on the weather, but even when we're having heat waves like last Sunday and Monday, Diablo weather shouldn't ever be TOO hot if you go early enough in the morning, just check the hourly forecast the day before to help decide how early you need to go. Also, the earlier in the morning, the less hazy the views will be to the east (more of a potential problem in August). OTOH, if there is a marine layer out west, less of a problem in August, the earlier in the morning, the more obscured the views to the west, and sometimes even to the east.
Very well stated. Much of what I ultimately decide on will depend on how ride #1 up Tam goes, as well as the weather. Either way, it should be good.
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