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When Lori Shannon first announced her intent to run a marathon, people responded with more than a hint of incredulity. Lori had no experience and, at 5’3” and a size 16, she didn’t cut the form of a typical distance runner. Even so, she set to work and completed the 1993 New York City Marathon, proving to herself that with the proper training and dedication, she need not live life as a spectator. Since crossing that first finish line, Lori has never looked back; she has since run multiple marathons, competed in triathlons, and ridden her bike cross-country.
Seven years later, Lori founded See Jane Run in San Francisco, hoping to empower women to test their limitations and bolster their own fitness and self-confidence. The female-operated fitness company has since grown to encompass four West Coast locations that sell women’s running gear, including shoes, sports bras, and aerodynamic shower caps. At its four retail locations, like-minded runners come together with free weekly run clubs, giving them a group setting in which to train to meet their own individual goals or prepare for one of See Jane Run’s half marathons or 5Ks.
Since 1961, Bamboo Reef has been unlocking the depths of the ocean by training scuba adventurers, outfitting them with gear and repairing equipment on the fritz. Skilled instructors guide swimmers during diving classes that range from paddling in an 82-degree pool to advanced night navigation in the Pacific's dunk tank. Refresher and specialty courses continue students’ aquatic education after they’ve mastered the basics of gliding through the deep blue. Bamboo Reef also coordinates dives off the shores of Monterey, Carmel, and international coasts that count toward specialty, advanced, and master diver ratings as well as black belts in underwater kickboxing.
The water wizards also rent and sell gear from brands such as Aqua Lung and Mares. Professional technicians—who maintain more than $10,000 in parts inventory—stand at the ready to repair all major brands of scuba equipment.
Ride The Ducks ranks among the nation's largest amphibious-tour operators. Captains welcome guests aboard amphibious vessels called "Stretch Ducks"?a significantly improved model of a 1940s General Motors DUKW military vehicle that served as an indispensable resource to both General Patton and General Eisenhower during World War II.
During 90-minute tours, Ride the Ducks' vessels spend 60 minutes navigating through San Francisco's streets before splashing down into the Bay. The voyage gives passengers views of the city's most noteworthy sights, including Union Square, Fisherman's Wharf, AT&T Park, and the Bay Bridge. The captains narrate each tour as well as encourage guests to make calls with Wacky Quackers, provided they say nothing rude in duck language. Every vessel maintains US Coast Guard standards, such as maintaining a plentiful stock of personal flotation devices.
As a surfer and cyclist, Marcel Mijares was drawn to the Pacific Coast many years ago; since then, he’s found little reason to leave. A native of Venezuela, Mijares spoke only Spanish when he made the move, but his love of the Bay Area fueled his drive to acquire the English language and graduate with honors from the Lincoln School of Business. Now, as the owner of High Trails Cyclery, Mijares combines his passion with his determination, sharing both with riders in the heart of Russian Hill. He leads a team of cycling experts equipped to repair cycles and perform tune-ups, overhauls, and bike fittings. Team members also share their expertise during maintenance classes, in which they teach students to care for their own cycles and understand the dangers of trying to change a bicycle's transmission fluid.
Housed inside of a graffiti-slathered old garage, Pedal Revolution is a non-profit bike shop. Inside, bicycle frames and wheels hang from the ceiling, while merchandise and decoration mix throughout the walls of the store. This is not only a terrific place for an alignment, but also a job training center for at-risk youth, where interns get hands-on training in how to run a small business, as well as the more mechanical aspects. Selection is on the smaller side, but the prices undercut nearly all the neighborhood’s power players. For the last fifteen or so years, Pedal Revolution has been keeping the Mission’s burgeoning cycling culture going, doing good all the while.
The friendly mechanics at Everybody Bikes nurture two-wheeled transports of all styles, helping urban commuters traverse city streets unencumbered by a car’s demands. Mechanics perform services such as tune-ups, repairs, and custom bicycle builds amid racks stocked with bikes by Kona, Fuji, and Linus. To educate their customers, they also lead private and group lessons on mechanics, safety, and riding techniques. The mechanics also maintain the shop’s blog, which keeps customers in the know about everything from what helmets to buy to when tricycle mating season starts.
Blazing Saddles' rides whisk guests through California's rugged, oceanic beauty. Riders embark on self-guided expeditions atop the plush seats of a hybrid bike. On self-guided sightseeing tours, riders leisurely pedal through while following provided maps or their own ancient heirloom treasure maps.
Savvy staff at Cruz Skate Shop enables the fine arts of roller derby and skateboarding by purveying a hybrid equipment roster of gear and apparel. Feet can fly across indoor rinks, hardwood floors, and beds of sulfurous coals inside Riedell Diablo roller skates, composed of a red synthetic boot over a lightweight plate and Radar Evo indoor wheels ($149). Decorative skateboard decks elevate the simple board from function to fashion with brands such as Blood Wizard, Rasa Libre, and Baker ($35–$60), and wheel riders can parade their dominance over beast by wearing the Cruz Goat Lord hoodie ($35). Safety seekers, meanwhile, can take cover behind a host of protective apparatuses, including helmets ($30+), knee pads ($20+), and teammates.
Most guided sightseeing tours pose severe health risks—muscle atrophy, loss of bone density, and blinding rage, to name a few—due to the lack of physical activity. You’ve probably suffered one or all of those symptoms while on these tours:
In addition to carrying an extensive catalogue of premier brands such as Völkl, Burton, Salomon, and K2, Mountain West distinguishes its shop with a knowledgeable staff and personalized customer service. Those looking to coddle their current ground-bound foot timber can take advantage of tuning services ($10 to $50, plus labor costs if applicable), while those with short-term snow commitment can rent an adult ski or snowboard package for $35 for one day, $55 for two, and $10 for each additional day after that. Because ill-fitting boots account for 90% of hillside fashion emergencies, boots are custom fit in the store, and snowshoes are available for those looking to one-up agile elk.
The Purple Skunk is a sanctuary for skateboarders with an expansive selection of decks, hardware, and accessories. To help wheelers choose their low rider from the plethora of options, the Purple Skunk offers a “try before you buy” demo rack so customers can get some air under their wheels before purchasing. If nothing suits your style, the Purple Skunk also offers a build-your-own board option to customize your fully assembled skate setup with the latest trucks, wheels, and Tony Hawk bobble heads. The friendly, attentive staff are happy to help new boarders find the right first ride and can suggest various safety equipment and comprehensive insurance policies. In addition to boarding equipment, the Purple Skunk also carries discs from INNOVA Disc Golf as well as custom saucers for fearless flingers that may want to test their skills at the nearby Golden Gate Park course.
Whether gearing up to participate in the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon, restringing a tennis racket or rounding out some camping supplies for an overnight trip to Yosemite, Sports Basement has everything San Francisco’s athletes and outdoorsy types could need. For a city that’s blessed to have a national park so close to home (not to mention the nearby mountains or lapping ocean waves to the west), offering something to satiate every need is no small order. But Sports Basement is no regular shop; workers routinely put together outdoor adventure groups, lease snowboards and walk tentative customers through every part of the purchasing process. The Mission location of this five-store chain offers discounted brands beyond the nearby REI and Sports Authority, and corners for waxing your board or getting a full bike tune-up make a stop in this pleasing, century-old brick building a treat every time.
Just opposite the park in the Inner Richmond is Golden Gate Park Bike and Skate, the perfect place to rent a reliable, affordable cruiser for an afternoon of exploring. Grab rental wheels by the hour or for an entire day to trek from the Conservatory of Flowers down to the Dutch windmill, and anywhere else you care to see. It’s the perfect place to bring a visitor who wants to join a resident cyclist in pedaling to the Presidio and back, with options from mountain bikes and hybrids to cruisers and roller blades, each perfect in their own way for managing the bike-friendly streets of San Francisco. Golf bag rentals, consignment sales, standard bike tune-ups – Golden Gate is a full-service shop for locals as well. Arrive early for any Sunday rentals, when vehicular traffic is prohibited in the park, transforming it into a sloping urban idyll of people-powered wheels.
Right in the thick of San Francisco’s Pacific Heights sits Fresh Air Bicycles. Despite the hilly neighborhood’s somewhat unfriendly roads, and the traffic-clogged Divisadero Street that serves as a main artery for all points elsewhere, this sunny shop is dead set on providing outstanding bikes for anyone interested in a little pedal power. The storefront is run by a couple of lifelong racers with an affinity for rehabbing old rides and teaching others the skills to take up tuning their own ride to perfection. The knowledgeable team can be a bit intimidating at first, but once you’ve gotten some of the lingo down, it’s obvious the kids hanging around at Fresh Air are only talking about bikes, because they love the ride so much. With a la cart repair prices and plenty of gear to get you started, you might find yourself leaving Fresh Air with a rebuilt ride yourself.
To say that DD Cycles has a cult following is an understatement. More open workshop than slick retail outlet, this tiny outpost in the Outer Richmond neighborhood feels like it’s intended to keep novice riders away, though anyone is welcome. Remote though it may be, it has a strong fan base that actively seeks out their custom bicycle builds and queues up for repair work. As much more than just a neighborhood bike shop, DD Cycles crafts hand-made parts and reengineers bikes built before WWII. Owned by a salty industry veteran known simply as Mike, this borderline-one-man operation is a repository of inside knowledge and expert cycling advice. Need a 60-year-old vintage Italian bike restored? Just got a flat riding home from Ocean Beach? Mike will solve both problems, and tackle every cycling quandary in between.