Hyde Street is one of the steepest hills in San
Francisco. You’ll definitely want a powerful
bike to climb these. If you stop, you’ll learn
the trick of starting off perpendicular from the
curb first before turning up the hill.
FROM WHENCE IT CAME
Originally a Spanish (later Mexican) mission and pueblo, but
was conquered by the United States in 1846 and taken over
by an army of invading prospectors following the nearby discovery of gold in 1848. It is one of the Pacific’s largest natural
harbors, and the hills create breathtaking vistas.
The city grew rapidly with horses and carriages, taking
exception to each other as they competed to fill space on
the bustling streets. After witnessing a tragic crash on damp,
steep streets, Andrew Smith Hallidie, a British ex-pat living in
the city, started the first cable-car system in 1873. These were,
and still are, powered by a 380-kilowatt electric motor driving
1.25-inch steel cables at 9. 5 mph underneath the street.
Of course, no history of “Frisco” is complete without
acknowledging the massive 7.8-magnitude earthquake and
resulting fire in 1906 that destroyed 80 percent of the city.
Severely bloodied but determinedly unbowed, the city set to
THE UP-AND-DOWN GEO
grow anew. And over the course of the next 110 years, the
city by the bay grew into one of the most talked-about cities
on not just the national stage, but a worldwide stage as well.
Known for its beauty and amazing views, San Francisco is
now one of the most desirable—and most expensive—places
Having toured the densely populated city numerous times
in cars and on traditional bikes, on a recent visit we decided
give electric bikes a try. For those unaccustomed to steep
grades, some of which are over 30 percent, cars can be a
scary experience. On a traditional bicycle, those can be both
taxing to climb and scary to descend. In addition to the outright size of the city ( 47 square miles), another problem with
San Francisco is an over-abundance of visit-worthy tourist
attractions—from the Golden Gate Bridge to Chinatown and
Fisherman’s Wharf and North Beach, which makes any talk of
“touring the city” a full-day adventure.