Golden Gate Gong Show

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A couple months ago my friend Danimal invited me to San Francisco to join him on a big dumb stupid ride. At the time he was training for the Comstock Epic, a self-supported race across Nevada. Naturally he wanted to race it on a singlespeed. This was to be his gear shakedown trip, to test out the kit. Well I had just acquired a Surly Trucker Deluxe conveniently geared 32×18, so I bought a ticket. And prepared to take the ride of unknown trail suffering that is riding with Danimal. The group was rounded out by our very own Reverend Dick, and my good friend Nebraska Scott. A boorish crew if there ever was one.

  • Friday ~ 3:15pm: NE Scott and I arrive at Phoenix Sky Harbor. Shots and beers acquired.
  • 5:30pm: We’d been gifted a host of Southwest drink tickets. Scott asks our flight attendant for “…another round please, whenever you’re done with garbage duty.” She abides.
  • 9pm: Picked up by an old friend and delivered to her house in the Outer Richmond. Bikes assembled and we’re riding to The Haight district for local treats and whiskey.
  • Saturday ~ 3:07am: We’ve somehow made it home. Despite a wobbly bit in Golden Gate Park.
  • 5:30am: Phone alarms go off and gear is slowly and inefficiently mounted to our bikes.
  • 7:45am: A quick stop at Baker Beach to catch a view and survey the Marin Headlands waiting for us.
a bit hilly ahead
a bit hilly ahead
  • 8:53am: We rendezvous with Danimal at the Ferry Building. Buy very expensive sandwiches, and ride north. Rolling past Crissy Field we encounter a yoga festival, numerous aero helmets on a bike path, and a stage in front of 20+ rows of stationary bikes. Outside. In a field.  We’re confused. We stop at a Safeway for tallboys and whiskey.
  • 9:18am: Rounding the north tower of the Golden Gate Bridge we are greeted by Rev. Dick. Beers are distributed and the heckling begins.
things crack off according to plan
things crack off according to plan
  • 11:38am: We cross a road section and continue on to a path somewhere near Mt. Tam. Rev. Dick begins screaming at a pair of hikers to help push him up the hill. Surprisingly the husband obliges.


  • 12:14pm: We reach a summit of sorts after climbing for three hours. Danimal kindly points out all the pleasant climbs laid out in front of us. Having drank all the canned beer, this is also our first official safety meeting and whiskey circle.
  • 12:29pm: Descending down a rather wide path, single file, we approach a lady walking her dog. Apparently she didn’t appreciate having to adjust her stride or Dick’s bell. As she proclaimed to me as I passed, “Your friends are not very nice!”
  • 1:16pm: Lunch is had at the base of what we’re told is an hour long climb. From what I’ve seen so far, I believe this estimate.
more up
more up
  • 2:02pm: We arrive at the top of said climb and form another whiskey circle. There’s a cabin on this hill where we refill water. Rev. Dick spots an active kitchen and several bottles of wine on the counter. He attempts to offer them money in exchange, but he’s told that we’re not a member of the “club”. So we form our own club out front. With whiskey, and hookers.
  • 3:27pm: After a long and much needed road descent with ace views of the coast, we enter into a new heavily wooded section of trail. True northern California woods. Safety is discussed and another whiskey circle formed. We are approached by some dudes on cross bikes. There is a temptation to heckle. But they seem to be getting their shred on. And I think one joined the circle. Party on.


  •  4:01pm: We emerge from the woods to a view of a long descent to a town. We’re told that this town has food and a bar. We proceed to this town.
downhill to beer
downhill to beer
  • 6:03pm: After raiding a deli for dinner, we arrive at the aforementioned bar. They’re kind enough to welcome our bikes inside. Much to Danimal’s dismay, Rev. Dick orders a round of Wild Turkey.
and so it began...
and so it began…
  • 6:43pm: Rev. Dick orders another round of Wild Turkey.
  • 7:17pm: 
  • 7:27pm: Danimal is shooting pool with a girl who wandered too close. Rev. Dick is now begging the bartender bring him french fries, despite the fact they have no kitchen. He brings him a rack of potato chips to graze on.
  • 8:03pm: Scott and I notice that it’s getting dark. Danimal is still shooting pool with the girl. I suggest Scott bring him a beer and mention that we should head out. This is met with “We’re not leaving, get another fucking round.”
  • 8:23pm: Rev. Dick now agrees that we should go. There’s also a band setting up. Dick attempts to get Danimal’s attention by playing the band’s snare drum. This is frowned upon. We’re told that we now need to leave.
  • 8:27pm: We’re outside the bar. Rev. Dick cracks wise to a local. The local proceeds to bow up. Dick responds with “I don’t want to hit you. And I don’t want to get hit either.” The local begins to yell. His friend calls him an asshole.
  • 8:28pm: I start to look for Danimal. He’s now sitting on the stoop outside the bar with the girl. She’s now crying. He shrugs at me. It seems the girl has caught feelings.
  • 8:30pm: Another safety circle has been formed. It appears that all is forgiven.
  • 8:42pm: We wave goodbye to our new friends and ride into the dusk.
  • 9:47pm: We’ve found our way back on to the trail in search of a camp.
the stupid trail wouldn't stay still
the stupid trail wouldn’t stay still
  • Sunday ~ 6:50am: We awake to a beautifully foggy meadow.


  •  7:06am: Coffee is brewed and breakfast beers emptied.
Danimal surveys the crew from his coffee perch
Danimal surveys the crew from his coffee perch
  • 7:45am: Bikes are packed again and we’re rolling down a trail to a campground in search of water.
  • 9:21am: After a screaming descent and a restock of water, Danimal points us up another hour long climb. Back to the top of the ridge we just descended…..
up again
up again
  • 9:34am: Scott and I are questioning our dedication to singlespeeds. They can surely seem foolish at times. But Rev. Dick is spinning marginally faster with his 1×10 than we’re pushing.

IMG_5450 IMG_5479

  •  10:13am: Rev. Dick gets a flat. Scott pulls out some cheese he’s been hoarding. Danimal tells a story about a close friend who recently passed while out riding with friends. This makes me start to think of all the people I’ve pedaled with over the years. I feel pretty lucky.


  • 11:23am: We run into some acquaintances of Rev. Dick’s on the trail. A hilarious bunch of guys. We regale them with our story from the night before. They seem shocked that we wore out our welcome at the saloon. Apparently that’s hard to do. They also inform us that we do not have to climb this stupid hill to get to where Danimal is taking us, and provide alternate directions.
  • 12:03pm: Danimal pretends that we’ve gone too far and missed the turn to the singletrack finish of the ride. In reality he just wanted to make us go up one last bullshit climb. The one we got directions to avoid. I was suspicious, but he claimed it meant we’d get more singletrack in this way.
oh hey look, a hill to climb
oh hey look, a hill to climb
  • 12:20pm: We arrive at the top of the last dirt road climb. 360° views of the Bay Area.
nowhere to go but down
nowhere to go but down
  • 12:47pm: We drop in to the Tamarancho Trails and swoop our way down into Fairfax. Full of tight switchbacks, fun descents, and a couple punchy climbs. A killer way to close the ride.
closing out on some legit twisty trail
closing out on some legit twisty trail
  • 1:11pm: Beers and bratwursts are acquired at the Gestalt Haus in Fairfax. The place is littered with Marin mountain biking memorabilia. Danimal tries to convince us that we need to ascend Mt. Tam one more time to get back to San Francisco. It was a good effort, but unfortunately for him I know the Bay Area pretty well. I was more than capable of leading a bar crawl back south to the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • 3:27pm: Pit stop at the Silver Peso in Larkspur.
  • 6:27pm: After a brief stop on the GG Bridge Danimal, Scott, and myself roll back into San Francisco. Once last whiskey circle and we part ways. Scott and I head to meet my old friend and our couch host for margaritas.
damn right
damn right
  • Monday ~ 7:15am: We’re up with the working crowd and enjoying some breakfast beers and our host’s view of the Pacific.
  • 12:15pm: Scott and I hop a BART train to go visit my old college roommate who lives out in Walnut Creek.
  • 2:13pm: We’ve decided that Olde E in champagne flutes is a good idea.
East Bay classy
East Bay classy
  • 5:29pm: Back in San Francisco we pop in at Trad’r Sam, the most legit tiki bar ever. A quick scorpion bowl before we break down bikes and head for the airport.
eye of the scorpion
eye of the scorpion
  • 10:40pm: Scott and I arrive back at Sky Harbor. He comments that we covered a lot fucking ground in just over three days. Yes, yes we did.

I discovered a while ago that in some ways the long weekend is superior to the typical American two week vacation. If you don’t dick around you can squeeze in a lot of adventure. And you can do it way more often.

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9 Replies to “Golden Gate Gong Show”

  1. Pingback: Golden Gate Gong Show | PEDAL CANTON

  2. Holy shit, I haven’t had friends like this since college! It’s my fault for mainly being a roadie (some cross). Fuck, you guys sound like goddamn fun to hang out with and ride with too.

    Do they sell liquor and beer in grocery stories in CA? Been awhile since I’ve visited. This should be national law. I hate going to a new state and running into terrible blue laws. Such as…MS. They don’t sell cold beer! Anywhere!

    Also, goddamn, been so long since I’ve had a scorpion bowl that I had nearly forgotten about them. Okay, this has me jazzed for the weekend in 3.5 hours. Gonna have some drinks, head to the double feature at the historical theater (Friday 13th and The Burning on 35mm), and have a rocking Friday night.

    Good on ya, boys!

  3. Damn fine time y’all had. Next time stop by my shop. I’m next door to the Western. Well, in this town, everything is next door to the Western.