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The Rolling Romance of a Bike Date

Original post made by Janet Lafleur, Rex Manor, on Jun 20, 2013

A few years ago my husband Dick and I were in a dining rut. Unlike when we were dating, we just didn't go out anymore. We decided that we needed a standing weekly date night, one set in stone on our calendars. Otherwise, it would be too easy to say we were too tired, or to fritter away time at home and then decide to eat in rather than face the crowds and a long wait for a table.

Dick's day off from work was Friday, so that was an easy decision. I wanted the romance of him picking me up like a real date, so Dick offered to come by my workplace and get me. The twist: since I rode my bike to work, he would ride his bike too.

At the time I was working in Palo Alto, where a seemingly limitless choice of restaurants were a short ride from my office near the Baylands. That first Friday, I waited for him in front of my office building with all the excitement of any first date. When he rolled up I was tickled to see he was wearing a nice sweater and his going-out shoes. He had swapped the clip-in pedals on his bike for flat pedals just for our date.

We rode across the bike bridge over Hwy 101, rolled down to University Avenue for a relaxed and tasty Italian dinner, and then cruised home by the light of a full moon. With rush hour long over, the neighborhood streets were quiet and peaceful so we continued our dinner chat the whole way home.

It was a very romantic night.

That's why nearly three years later, we're still at what we now call Bike Date Friday. The rules are simple: we eat at a different restaurant every week and we arrive by bike. In the winter we grab heavy coats and bright lights. If it's drizzling, we grab our raincoats. And if it's raining hard, we grab a big umbrella and walk the mile to Castro Street.

Now that I work near the airport in San Jose and commute on Caltrain with my bike, our options have expanded. Sometimes we meet at the Diridon Caltrain station and eat in downtown San Jose. Sometimes we meet at the Mountain View Caltrain station and ride across town or to Palo Alto, Los Altos or Sunnyvale. And sometimes we meet on a northbound train for dining in San Carlos, San Mateo and beyond.

In three years, we have yet to exhaust all our dining options. Some restaurants have been better than others and some routes were more fun than others. But one thing's for sure: our dining rut is now a romantic roll.

Planning the Perfect Bike Date

For your first date, keep it simple and stay closer to home. Castro Street is a perfect destination since it's within three miles of home for almost every Mountain View resident. To make the bike ride a bigger part of the date, head across town or to a neighboring city. The map link below shows our preferred quiet neighborhood routes to destinations like University Avenue and Town & Country in Palo Alto, Murphy Avenue in Sunnyvale, downtown Los Altos, and more.

More Tips for Bike Dates

* Choose a calm route, even if it takes longer, so you can chat. It's a date, not a race to get to work on time.
* If you ride slowly you won't sweat much, so can wear nicer clothes if you like. I love riding in dresses.
* Bring front and rear lights for evening dates, even now when the sun doesn't go down until 8:30 pm. Dinner may take longer than you think and it would be a shame to have to skip dessert to beat the sunset.

About Bike Lights. To ride legally and safely at night, you need: a front light that's visible from the front and side at 300 feet away; a red reflector visible from the rear; and white or yellow reflectors on your wheels and pedals, shoes or ankles. A red rear light is very highly recommended. I also installed amber spoke lights to make my bike more visible from the side. Don't forget that people out walking don't have headlights to hit the reflectors.

Have you ever gone out on a date on a bike? If so, where did you go? If not, where would you go?

RESOURCES
Bike Date Map: Web Link
Restaurants Reviews on Yelp: Web Link

Comments (11)

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Posted by alan funt
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jun 20, 2013 at 11:36 am

Or you could just drive.


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Posted by Janet Lafleur
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jun 20, 2013 at 11:58 am

Janet Lafleur is a registered user.

@alan We occasionally drive on our dates, like a concert in Los Gatos a couple of weeks ago that was out of biking or transit range. But it's really not as much fun for us as when we ride our bikes, walk, or take the train. The moderate activity before and after dinner feels really good.

And besides, Drive Date Friday doesn't have a nice ring to it.


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Posted by Sean
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 21, 2013 at 9:01 am

I just wasted 2 minutes of my life reading this, and probably 2 more responding. Who cares? You have a job you say? And still find time to write this article? When you worked in Palo Alto you said you crossed over 101, did you work in east palo? Or just dine there? Cause I'm sure the latter would make for a better article.


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Posted by Janet Lafleur
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jun 21, 2013 at 10:51 am

Janet Lafleur is a registered user.

@Sean My office was near the corner of East Bayshore and Embarcadero Roads, behind Ming's Chinese Restaurant and Anderson Honda. That's definitely Palo Alto even though it's the bay side of Hwy 101.

You reminded me that we never made it out to the Four Seasons Hotel in East Palo Alto. From my office it would have been a very pleasant ride along San Francisquito Creek on Edgewood Drive and Woodland Avenue. The restaurant is on the spendy side, though. It's probably a more appropriate place for us to celebrate a birthday or anniversary.


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Posted by Anthony
a resident of another community
on Jun 21, 2013 at 11:25 am

I live in SF. My wife and I don't have a car. We enjoy pub. transit only dates. This winter we took the Marin Stage (GG Transit) to Stinson Beach for 2 nights at an Inn. The feeling of arriving by bus and waiting for the return somehow made it feel far away. With no car we could only hike nearby. We were more in tune with the place than if we were darting around in a car. We talked to people and watched the night fall on the beach. You can do all these things with a car, but somehow it's better without. Kick the gasoline habit people, act like you're on vacation where you live, you will feel better.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Janet Lafleur
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jun 21, 2013 at 12:09 pm

Janet Lafleur is a registered user.

@Anthony Your trip sounds very relaxing. I love the Marin coast. Have you stayed overnight in Tiburon before? Dick and I went for his birthday last year and had a great time.

We took Caltrain to San Francisco with our bikes and rode over the Golden Gate Bridge to our hotel in the center of town. That night we walked along the bay to The Caprice for his birthday dinner. We took the ferry back to San Francisco so you could do the whole trip on bus/foot/ferry.


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Posted by Winona
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jun 21, 2013 at 12:49 pm

Great ideas! My husband and I are always going somewhere on our bikes together but usually it's a mad dash to meet him somewhere or we're off to the train to go up to the city. You remind me to slow down and make the journey a romantic get-away. Tonight we're off on short ride to met friends - I'll try to remember to leave little early and enjoy the ride with my sweetie!


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Posted by GSB
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jun 21, 2013 at 2:02 pm

What's with the negative responses from the first two people? Geez. If you don't like the subject matter, move along.

While I don't bike myself, I like the ideas you put out there. Sometimes the best part of the date is the journey itself (walking, biking, "scenic" drive).


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Janet Lafleur
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jun 22, 2013 at 12:53 pm

Janet Lafleur is a registered user.

@Winona Sometimes we end up hurrying on our way to dinner too. Like when we have a reservation in Palo Alto and we forget that there's a strong prevailing headwind from Mountain View in the summer. But I don't know that we've ever hurried on our way home. There's something about riding after rush hour that keeps you from rushing.

@GSB Thanks for the support, especially as someone who doesn't bike herself. The journey is part of the activity indeed. We sometimes do motorcycle dates, say up to Alice's on Skyline or Duarte's in Pescadero. But those are more for daytime because I don't like riding the motorcycle at night.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Observer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 23, 2013 at 4:13 pm

I haven't been to the Marxist coast in a long time. But it's good to know there is a bus that will take socialists there.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Food Bike
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 24, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Some great ideas. Even with non date dinner gatherings its a blast to ride. We've left as a group from our place; 6 or so. There is a special kind of fun slowly rolling home on a warm summer night, laughing with friends after a great dinner. Regarding the topic of dates, will someone please get these cranky negative people a date? Sounds like they need one :)


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