SF Urban Riders may be relatively new to the trail advocacy scene.  But the history of San Francisco is full of cycling, off road as much as on.  Back in the day, riding fireroads was road riding.

We’ve gathered here a bit of a visual history for everyone, to see how our parents, grandparents and their peers have used our parks and natural areas to recreate on two wheels, ever since the velocipede or penny farthing was available on the west coast.


This shot was taken in 1898 in Golden Gate Park, of the GG Freewheelers association (source unknown).  Odd thing is how the Penny Farthing, or boneshaker is making a comeback.

Before the Mountain Bike, before fat tires were rolling through Golden Gate Park, the city enjoyed (and still does quite a cyclocross tradition.




Image credits: Ray Stafford

Fortunately for all us modern folk, the city still does enjoy quite a cyclocross tradition.  And if you don’t believe me, just head on over to pilarcitos cyclesports, and sign up for next years GGP ‘cross race.  Best event in Golden Gate or Candlestick park (pictured) all year.


Image Credit: Pilarcitos Cyclesports

Here at SF Urban Riders, one of our favorite historical facts to point out is the original use of the sloping, grassy area below Mansell street in McLaren Park.  During the late 70’s, this area was a well used, well populated BMX track, drawing children of all ages and their families out to the park on weekends to enjoy competition, fun, and social use of the park.  Thanks to a variety of sources found online, we’ve found the following hisorical documents.  Click on an image to follow them to their source.



The next photo was provided by Roger Serafin, who came to race at the McLaren track in 1979.  His father happened to snap off this classic McLaren Park photo.  Roger is still riding and likes to spend his free time at the dirt jumps.  One of the spots he enjoys is the Calabazas Park in San Jose.  Check it out at http://www.calabazasbmxpark.org/.  This is the sort of  bike park we would like to see developed in San Francisco.


Now, in the exact same spot where many of these pictures were taken, the area is rife with illegal dumping, hobo encampments, and drug deals, but according to the parks department, the type of fun you see above is the un-desireable usage that merits a sign posted.


It’s a shame about the present, but let’s work together to figure out ways that illustrate the cycling community’s commitment to caring for and bettering our natural parks, and though we don’t need 20 foot wide tracks ripping through beautiful grassland, it would be nice to improve on the trails that exist, build some new ones, and have thin, beautiful corridors passing through and around our parks for hikers, dog walkers, and cyclists alike to enjoy.  Stay with us, and the future is bright for SF Urban Riders and every other San Franciscan who enjoys moving through our beautiful park lands, regardless of their non-motorized transit choice.


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