Most Saturdays begin with the subtle ‘click, click’ as you step into the pedals, leaving home just as the sun starts to rise. Each rider pedals their way through the damp and foggy streets of San Francisco, towards the Golden Gate Bridge. The procession always begins and ends there, at the bridge. Crossing it to seek a disconnection from the daily routing and a reconnection with the spaces, places, and people that surround you. Returning to it acknowledges the day’s escapism is over and you can return home tired, but satisfied.
Flow, feelings, patterns, and movement. There is always a certain tone you want to set on a Saturday. Is it to go as far as possible? To relax and catch-up amongst friends? Are we looking for something unique or traveling to a familiar view? How many café stops are too many? For us the decider is usually Mount Tamalpais, the tallest mountain in Marin County. Climbing up its slopes sets the mood for the day and once you reach the peaks and ridges often all you can see are the tops of clouds.
We may remember the perfect days, but they are not the stories we tell. Pick the dirt road, have the cheesesteak at the café, skip that water stop, and find the steeper way up the mountain. We long for these kinds of choices. Everyone chooses the most efficient path, the quickest connection, just to get the job done. On Saturdays we pick the opposite. We pick a dirt road that the group has never ascended, we have a michelada for lunch, and the group skips all the water stops to drink straight from the mountain runoff.
“What’s the plan for tomorrow?” Every Friday we all get that text message and the roll call begins. Who can be there to get lost, to discover new places, to get hurt, to make a new friend, to come home too late, to get into trouble, and to exist in the present moment? Saturdays remind us of a time when we could be less connected, before we had to know why we were doing these things and why it was so important.
Brought together by a yearning to go long and explore the least expected path. This is Away Message, from San Francisco, a crew that needs no reminding as to why we ride a bike - especially on Saturdays.
Words: Away Message
Photography: Bryan Markwardt