The Rolling Romance of a Bike Date

This story originally appeared in Bike Fun in the online edition of the Mountain View Voice on June 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?

Bike Date Map:
Restaurants Reviews on Yelp:

Bike Date at Cafe Vitale

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