Urban Bicycling in Oakland, California

Emeryville train stationNeeding to stage a trial run for my Le Tour adventure I arranged to meet my friend Austin for a day of cycling, eating, shopping and fun in Oakland. I barely made it to the Davis station before the train’s departure. The station manager helped me purchase my ticket and directed me to the right car. I pushed my Brompton onto the train and folded Black Beauty and stowed her on the luggage rack. I was a little nervous about leaving her on her own as I climbed the stairs to my seat.

Riding the train is so much more fun than driving. 1. No traffic. 2. I can use the time to finish my book, or stare out the window; either way it is very relaxing. 3. My round trip ticket cost $54 for an adult fare. If you compare to the mileage ($0.56 per mile equals $72.80) plus bridge toll ($5.00) plus potential parking fees.  Temescal Alley

Austin and I exchanged emails earlier to share ideas about places to go and things to see. I have been collecting Oakland travel articles from Sunset Magazine and other publications. It was 9:30 a.m. and we set off on our bikes to Temescal Alley, featured in two magazines. Have you noticed how some places get all kinds of attention and then you go and wonder what the fuss?

We parked our bikes and stepped into Doughnut Dolly for a creme filled donut. Dolly has a focused approach to doughnuts–you select either raised doughnut with granular sugar or powdered sugar, then select a filling and they inject them and they are ready to go. It’s an interesting idea and we munched our doughnuts on a bench outside. We compared our Yelp rating systems and I like Austin’s. One or two stars neither of us bother to review. Three stars we would go back if friends all wanted to go there. Four stars is awarded to a great place we would return to if we were in the neighborhood and five stars for a fabulous place that we would go out of our way to visit again and again. Doughnut Dolly was a 3 for me and a 3.5 to 4 stars for Austin.

Bee Healthy HoneyWe took off on our bikes to Telegraph Avenue towards downtown Oakland. We made a U-turn to stop at the Bee Healthy Honey store. We both love bees and are fascinated with beekeeping. It is a lovely shop and smelled like hamsters (pine shavings from the newly constructed hives reminded us of a clean hamster cage).

Continuing on our way we took a slightly circuitous route to the Oakland Museum. I have been meaning to go to this museum for years. We looked at the current exhibits and decided we really wanted to see the Giant Robot exhibit. My Crocker Museum membership includes a North American reciprocal benefit so I did not have to pay the $15 entrance fee. The “SuperAwesome: Art and Giant Robot” exhibit was super awesome.

And when did museums step up their quality of their cafe dining? I bought a bowl of sweet potato pistachio soup at the museum’s Blue Oak Cafe and it was delicious. Note to self, bring protein to eat with donuts to avoid bonking from sugar rush and plummet.

Next we rode around Lake Merritt. The trails around the lake are not exactly bike friendly. We stopped at one point for a march organized to keep attention to the plight of the kidnapped girls in Nigeria. By this time we were feeling peckish so we began riding our bikes to Homeroom, a highly recommended eatery in another part of Oakland. (Review to follow in next post). We departed from the recommended route on Google Maps and discovered that Google Maps bicycle routes had probably been saving us from big hills. Black Beauty’s brakes work.  I also discovered Oakland has not paved some of their streets for decades (think cobblestones) and the Brompton is a comfortable ride. By the time we got to the restaurant we were ready for a good long lunch break.

Yarn and fabric storeWe had one more stop: a yarn store called A Verb for Keeping Warm at 6328 San Pablo Avenue. The yarn and fabric store is terrific and we enjoyed a good browse and a little shopping.

At this point we were close to the Emeryville train station and we pedaled there. The return train trip was very relaxing and just as easy to travel with my bike. The day made a successful test drive.

I have to figure out a lightweight option for locking the Brompton. And my bike repair classmates feel I should always keep my Brooks bike saddle with me. I am also very interested in the foldable helmet that my friend Hetta brought to my attention.

Children's book author Austin Lan was my bike buddy
Children’s book illustrator Austin Lan was my bike buddy

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