Karen Salinger is a cyclist on the Go Greenbelt! Ride, a fundraiser for the San Francisco-based Greenbelt Alliance. When not balancing on two wheels, she promotes sustainable agriculture by distributing organic produce through Veritable Vegetable.

Sunday, 27 Apr 2003


Every April for the past nine years, I have set out on a 480-mile, seven-day bicycle ride whose primary goal is to raise money for the Greenbelt Alliance. This year is no exception. The ride is in its 14th year, and there are many among the group this year who have done this ride more than once. For me, it has become something that I do without question. It would be a surprise to many if I didn’t do it. In my house, between my partner Laura and I, amongst my friends and family, it is just known as “the ride.”

The Go Greenbelt! riders are ready.

Photo: Mike Kahn.

Unlike the AIDS Rides that attract 2,000 to 3,000 riders, the Go Greenbelt! Ride fills at 75 registrants. It’s a small, intimate group. This morning one of the other riders likened this event in April to summer camp, where you come back every year and see your friends. It’s a smaller than usual group this year. Many cite the uncertain times and the poor economy as the reasons for the low turnout.

As I have come to know many of the people who ride, I realize that we all have at least two things in common: we love to cycle, and we share the vision and hope that we can make a difference in furthering the mission of the Greenbelt Alliance, which is “to make the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area a better place to live by protecting the region’s greenbelt and improving the livability of its cities and towns.”

Coasting along the coast.

Photo: Mike Kahn.

Day 1 of the ride departed from San Francisco this morning. The day began early, with a nervous energy in a room at the St. Francis Yacht Club, an unlikely setting for all of us milling around in bike shorts, colorful jackets, gloves, and helmets. There was a sense of time standing still, a split second between waiting to get on the bike and begin, and those first thoughts with 480 miles to go.

The first day’s ride hugged the coastline from above on Highway 35. At times, it felt a little bit like riding along the rim of a teacup, with wonderful panoramic views of the ocean on the right, and wide-angle vistas of the San Francisco peninsula on the left.

I was born and raised in San Francisco and had no idea that some of the places I have seen on this ride existed. As the days progress, I will try to make observations about the changes I see, and also make note of the parts of the Bay Area that haven’t changed thanks to the hard, diligent work of the Greenbelt Alliance. If you’re interested, check out more images from the ride, taken by our fabulous photographer Mike Kahn.

As I sign off, rain is falling. We are all hopeful that the clouds will rain themselves out overnight.