The California Marathon Roadskating Championships ain't your grandmother's roller derby, though technically she could participate: This fun, fast dash is open to anyone. Whether you aim for the 50-kilometer course or the shorter 10 kilometers, you'll zip over gentle hills. The race begins at 9:15 a.m. at Canada Road and Highway 92, along the Crystal Springs Reservoir in San Mateo. Entry fees are $20 for California Outdoor Rollerskating Association members, $10-30 for nonmembers, and proceeds benefit the Skate Against Violence Campaign; call 752-1967 or register at www.cora.org. -- Jenn Marshall
Beer Bust! Roll out the barrel for Oktoberfest
Isn't it great to have a reason to booze it up? New Year's Eve, birthdays, Thursdays, and, this weekend, yet another enticing excuse -- the multitudinous pleasures of Oktoberfest by the Bay, the traditional Bavarian festival of beer, bratwurst, music, and lederhosen that has found a receptive home in our party-loving town. The bad news: hangovers. The good news: You don't have to fly across an ocean to develop one. Our rendition, touted as the largest in California, boasts overflowing kegs of grog, a wide array of hearty sausages and succulent sauerkraut, and foot-stomping entertainment from the Chico Bavarian Band (fresh off a triumphant gig at Munich's own Oktoberfest) and the singing, dancing Almenrausch Schuhplattlers.
Raise a stein or two starting at 5 p.m. on Thursday and Friday (11 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday) at Fort Mason's Festival Pavilion, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is $12; call (888) 746-7522 or visit www.oktoberfestbythebay.com. -- Sunny Andersen
Time of the Season
The phrase "gentle as a lamb" is apt. We'd assume that the beasts would struggle when faced with the prospect of having their woolly coats stripped off by a clipper-wielding human, but instead they lie peacefully on their backs, seeming to accept the inevitable. See for yourself at the Harvest Festival, a fall-friendly fiesta of food, wine, and demonstrations of homey skills like pumpkin carving, beekeeping, butter churning, and, yes, wool-shearing. If gazing at Little House on the Prairie style activities doesn't grab you, perhaps Barnyard by the Bay (a small corral of friendly farm animals) and a horde of tastings of autumnal treats like pumpkin bread, pear pastries, and seasonal chocolates will. Begin nibbling at 5 p.m. Friday (tastings and events continue through Sunday) at the Ferry Building, Market & Embarcadero, S.F. Admission is free (the closing Sunday Supper runs $150); call 291-3276 or visit www.cuesa.org. -- Joyce Slaton