As cyclists in San Francisco, we often receive flattery from people visiting from flatter regions. We smile slightly as they are amazed how we can get up and down the steep hills of this city. We dismiss the compliments, stating "Oh, you just get used to it" or "you just need a low gear and good brakes." Hidden in our hearts, though, lie the fear and loathing of a few select grades that never get any easier and that we cannot avoid. These hills are not impossible; they are just evil. There is no pleasure in riding up them, and little sense of accomplishment in cresting them. Some of the worst:
|Therese Madden climbs 15th Street. Photo by Sam Laser|
For good uphill climbs, there's nothing like riding east on Sloat and then up Portola with a good tailwind, or the speed you feel going up to Coit Tower and passing the waiting cars.
What the lowly flatlanders miss out on is the satisfaction of coasting down a long, uninterrupted downhill. We've got Lincoln Ave. from the GG Bridge to Baker Beach; Presidio Gate to Lombard Gate; O'Shaunessey down to Glen Park; Fulton at Alamo Square to Franklin (if the lights are right); and 20th Street from Potrero hill down to 3rd Street.
A downhill isn't always a good hill. The absolute worst downhill ride is coasting down Page Street from Baker to Divisadero - then hitting the red light.
Got a favorite or most hated hill? send your nominees to firstname.lastname@example.org. Watch for returns on www.sfbike.org!