September 18, 2011, was a beautiful day. It’s not often that it’s short-sleeved weather well after the sun sets in San Francisco but this was one of those extraordinary days. I started my adventure at Sunday Streets (SS) in Chinatown which due to the narrow streets was a no-bike SS. I decided to walk my bike through the Chinatown SS blowing bubbles to show my support and appreciation for the event but still have my bike and bubbles along for a ride after the event ended. I got a late start that day but once I arrived, I got a lot of love and even some “where have you been” from attendees and a police officer helping with traffic. It sure was nice to see Chinatown without any cars. It was peaceful. Everyone was smiling and I’ve never seen the area so calm and colorful. Any other day, the parked cars block the storefronts and even slow moving traffic through the area diminishes its personality.
Afterwards, I decided to go out on a random bubbling around the neighborhood, down to AT&T Park, back along the Embarcadero, around Pier 39, through Fort Mason and out to Fort Point. From there, I gazed up at the Golden Gate Bridge and considered that the timing was just about right for crossing it exactly at sunset. But—I hesitated. First there’s a very long and steep incline to get up to the GGBridge and quite frankly, I’m scared of bridges. Maybe I’ve seen too many movies showing bridges collapsing or maybe it’s the collapse of the Bay Bridge not so long ago but it’s also the way the GGBridge is designed. The railings just don’t seem high enough. I’m 5’7″ and they’re just a bit taller than my waist. When you’re on a bike, you obviously sit up higher than you would standing and even though I’m an experienced biker, I start imagining the worst. But once I decided to face my fears, I made my way up the steep incline blowing bubbles the entire way and began my journey across the GGBridge. On the way over, I let the bubbles fly and got a really wonderful response since most of the people in the southbound lanes were stuck in traffic. I got yay’s and woo-hoo’s and thumbs up and honks. All that amazing positive reinforcement helped me forget my fears and enjoy my trip across.
However, once I made it to the other side, I was immediately approached by a police officer. Uh-oh, this is usually NOT a good thing. But oddly, this officer was grinning from ear to ear. He introduced himself as one of the officers on duty for the Department of Homeland Security for the GGBridge, double uh-oh. Yet, as he approached, he just shook his head and laughed as he spoke, “I’ll have to ask you not to blow bubbles on the way back. We’ve had several panicked calls into 911 from people saying there’s something hitting their windshields on the Golden Gate Bridge.” He continued, “It was pretty funny. I got a lot of heckling because I had to call into headquarters to call off the SWAT team and explain that the cause of all the calls was a girl on a pink bike blowing bubbles.” He was extremely nice about it and thought it was pretty hilarious. We had quite a laugh and a very interesting long talk about the GGBridge, his responsibilities there and GGBridge biking accidents (which, as it turns out, I should be nervous about that railing). Since that evening, we’ve been in touch several times by email. Thanks for making my day, Officer Rocha. 🙂
So, without my bubbles and the healing enthusiastic response from my GGBridge fans, I set out back across towards SF and instead focused on the glistening golden City and spectacular setting sun to calm my nerves. 🙂