There's no excuse for not commuting to work by bike, as far as the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is concerned. Worried that a bike chain will snag your trousers or that the exertion will compromise your professional appearance? Cuff your pants with sparkling rhinestone-studded ankle straps or stash a toiletries kit in your desk, the SFBC suggests in the "Beauty and the Bike" section of its Web site. (It also suggests reviving leg warmers, but let's not get into that.) Under the assumption that you can sail right into a downtown parking space or get to work more quickly on Muni? You're obviously new in town. Afraid of risking life and limb in city traffic? That's a valid concern, but the coalition supplies information on San Francisco's bike lanes and recommends safer routes, and also offers classes and online tips for sharing our crowded streets. In fairness, these guidelines apply to scofflaw cyclists as well as to aggressive drivers.
So what more would it take to encourage locals to haul their bikes out of their garages? Free snacks? Gifts? A big party? People shouting praise from the sidewalk? Because the SFBC is offering all that, too, on Bike to Work Day. The coalition is setting up "energizer stations" in neighborhoods throughout the city, at which volunteers will dole out coffee, comestibles, information, and tote bags filled with goodies. They will also cheer on two-wheeled commuters; regular cyclists, accustomed to being harassed by impatient motorists, may find this perk especially endearing. And that night at the Bike Away From Work Party, as the Vikter Vz Xperience plays "Schwinn Cruiser," its ode to heartbroken cyclists, celebrants will be treated to drink specials and CD giveaways while they swap stories. Think you can find this kind of social life from the driver's seat? Think again.
Energizer stations are open from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. and from 5 to 7 p.m. The party runs from 6 to 9 p.m. at 26 Mix, 3024 Mission (at 26th Street), S.F. Admission is free-$5; call 431-BIKE or visit www.sfbike.org. -- Heather Wisner
Very, Very Hot Rods
Saturday! Saturday! Saturday! At the Infineon Raceway! Raceway! Raceway! It's the Nitro Nationals Nostalgia Drags, presented by Big O Tires and the lovable greasers of the Goodguys Rod & Custom Association! SEE: two days of nitro-burning speed demons tear up the quarter-mile track in less than six seconds! HEAR: 2,500-horsepower retro-rods cranking it up to 250 mph! SMELL: the burning rubber, the flaming exhaust, the disintegrating nose hairs! GAWK: at more than 400 "nostalgia racers" and 1,500 custom and classic cars! It's been 35 years since Robert Marshall Jr. and Jim Coleman built their track at Sears Point, and the strip has hosted many racers from the upper echelons of motor sports. But one of the most revered events in recent times has been these races, held annually since 1989. The crux of the weekend is the '60s- and '70s-style 470-cubic-inch rocket racers, squeezing out sparks in time trials and elimination rounds. The event includes many more types of engines facing off in 12 classes of competition, as well as a classic car "Show & Shine." Races take place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days at the Infineon Raceway, Highways 37 & 121, Sonoma. Admission is $5-45; call (800) 870-RACE or visit www.good-guys.com. -- Kevin Chanel
Go for Break
All the fun that's fit to run
As San Francisco's signature sporting event, the Bay to Breakers is populist, obsessive, absurd, and healthful, reflecting our own best attributes. Case in point: the World Centipede Running Championships. This long-standing subculture of the B to B has many rules, among them Fun Runner Centipede Rule No. 5, "Twinkie feelers on the head of each segment are required." Emphasizing the noncompetitive feel of the event is another popular twist on racing: The Back of the Pack Club is for those who intend to have too much fun to even consider winning.
Of course this is a serious race, too, and along with the seeded-bagel-costumed "runners" are the top-seeded athletes, aiming to be the first to cross the finish line. This year, organizers are proud to have country-blues sweetheart Bonnie Raitt headlining Footstock, the annual post-race concert and festival. Lace up your sneakers -- and your cocktail dresses -- at 8 a.m. at Howard and Spear streets, S.F. Registration is $32-37; call 359-2800 or visit www.baytobreakers.com. -- Hiya Swanhuyser
High and mighty academics may thumb their noses at sports literature, but the genre inspires heartfelt writing with none of the Harlequin schlock. Anyone who's read Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch, a droll memoir of his obsession with British football (soccer in these parts), would understand. "Thrills of Victory, Agonies of Defeat: A Celebration of Sports Lit" brings together authors for an evening of readings that ESPN fans would approve of. There's local celebrity writer and pretty boy Po Bronson, author of What Should I Do With My Life?, who takes a break from analyzing people's career paths to share his love of soccer, and Alan Black, who enlightens us about Scottish darts legend Jocky Wilson. Also on the bill is Mary Roach, who took a crack at alligator wrestling and bullfighting as a columnist for Sports Illustrated Women. The reading, which benefits the annual festival Litquake, begins at 8 p.m. at the Edinburgh Castle, 950 Geary (at Larkin), S.F. Admission is $5-10; call 885-4074 or visit www.castlenews.com. -- Lisa Hom