Best of the Bay 2009: Sports and Outdoors

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Editors Picks: Outdoors and Sports

BEST "HOLY SH*T!"

Although it has only been a mere season and a half since Barry Bonds went loudly into a toxic sunset, the San Francisco Giants have already refocused with a formidable team of unlikely upstarts that boasts one of the best records in the National League. Built around a colorful but humble lineup of players with nicknames like the Freak, Big Unit, and Kung Fu Panda, the current Giants roster is everything that Bonds was not — egoless, team-oriented, and free of baggage. And just as the Tim Lincecum-<\d>led pitching staff was shaping up as the team's best asset for a successful playoff bid, along comes 26-year-old left-hander Jonathan Sanchez, from a demotion in the bullpen, to throw a masterpiece of a pitching performance. The Sanchez no-hitter against the Padres on July 10 was the team's first since 1976. It provided an up-from-the-ashes victory that invoked tremendous optimism for the future, to the point where you can already hear it, clear with conviction and confidence: "Beat L.A.! Beat L.A.!"

BEST KID-FRIENDLY SUICIDE RUN

Never underestimate the urge — especially in somber, grizzle-haired grown-ups and perfectly sensible adults — to jam shiny, decal-stickered helmets on one's head before shrieking downhill in plastic toy vehicles, playfully jockeying with others all the way to the bottom. Having just completed its triumphant ninth annual run this past Easter, the annual Bring Your Own Big Wheel race is spastic, daredevil fun. Any form of transport is legal, as long as it's human-powered and about a third your size. Past races have seen some imaginative entries: office chairs figured in one racer's wobbly run, while others constructed iffy rides from wood planks, masking tape, and a few ingeniously placed nails. Outlandish costumes never hurt, either: Big Bird, bunnies, and aliens run rampant. Once held on Lombard Street, the event now careens down Potrero Hill's twistier Vermont Street. The only thing you can't bring is alcohol. Shucks.

www.jonbrumit.com/byobw

BEST WORKOUT WITH A TWIST

Is it wrong to be kind of turned on by the Victorian-bondage-looking machines at San Francisco Gyrotonic? Even the word "Gyrotonic" makes us gyrate suggestively in our minds. (Pervs!) Intimately connected to the dance community, the Gyrotonic exercise program is an intriguing new approach to working out. The Gyrotonic Expansion System was invented in the 1950s by ballet dancer Juliu Horvath after an Achilles injury left him unable to dance. The workout uses a contraption with raised pulleys, similar to a Pilates machine, but moves your joints in a circular rather than linear motion, training the body to be more flexible. Classes are taught by former ballerinas who've danced in companies such as the San Francisco Ballet, New York's School of American Ballet, the Metropolitan Opera's American Ballet Theatre, and San Francisco's Alonzo King's LINES. In terms of dance workouts, nothing could be further from Billy Blanks' Tae Bo. The studio attracts a fleet of nimble, limber dance-types, but beginners should not be intimidated, nor overexcited.

26 Seventh St. # 4, SF.