Archive for January, 2011

Photo of the Week

January 30, 2011

Sprint! Back in the roaring '70s Jobst Riders would sprint for city limit signs, including this one on Skyline Boulevard, the Bermuda Triangle of city limit signs. Temperature 48 degrees today and cloudy before the rain (January 29, 2011).

Photo of the Week

January 23, 2011

While the rest of the country freezes, the backside of Mt. Hamilton was downright balmy! The old road in San Antonio Valley went off to the right at the gate and right past a rancher's house. It was rerouted in the 1960s. (Jan. 22, 2011)

Dumb Bills of the Year and Catching Bike Thieves

January 18, 2011

Bike bans everywhere, including Cañon Road in Los Gatos. Who paves it? Who maintains it?

I thought Oregon was one of the more pro cycling states, but this one is a real head-scratcher: State Rep. Mitch Greenlick introduced HB 2228, a bill that would create an Oregon law making it illegal to transport a child six years or younger on a bicycle or in a bike trailer.

How about banning kids from being transported in cars? That would reduce fatalities, if that’s the bill’s intent. Or was it one more way to get bikes off the roads?

BikePortland.org, which writes about the bill, is on top of it, and it looks like that bill will be amended, although it doesn’t say what’s in the rest of the bill.

State highways
As the state of California under Jerry Brown tries to shift financial burdens down to counties and cities, let’s hope it keeps a firm grip on state highways. Case in point: Ignoring the bike lane on Hwy 84, Woodside officials allowed “holiday shopping” parking on the roadside, occupying bike lanes.

Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition checked in with state officials and before you know it a letter was on the way to Woodside telling them they can’t do that. No parking, ever, period.

Towns around the country attempt to ban bikes from roads all the time, not for our safety, but because we get in the way of motorists.

License plates
In another bonehead move, an Essex County lawmaker in New Jersey withdrew her proposal that would require all bicycles in the state to have a license plate.

Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker (D-28th Legislative District) withdrew the bill (A3657) which she had introduced after receiving complaints from senior citizens who were knocked down by youngsters on bikes. The seniors said they had no way of identifying the riders.

Locally, we’re doing just the opposite. A requirement to license bikes in San Jose is being abandoned.

Did you ever license your bike? I never have. I always considered it a waste of time and money. Were there a database with a photo of the bike and a serial number that law enforcement would maintain and take seriously, sure. That’s not going to happen.

GPS catches thieves
Installing a GPS tracker on your bike may be a better way to go. Pegasus Technologies offers this technology to law enforcement.

Here’s how it works: Watching this video of Inside Edition on baitbike.com made me want to jump for joy!

Photo of the Week

January 17, 2011

Beautiful weather on Mt. Hamilton on Sunday! This is the old Mt. Hamilton Road alignment, right, at Grant Ranch Park.

Old route? Mt. Hamilton Road was rerouted to its present alignment in 1933 at the request of Joseph Grant so it would not run past his house. There must have been accessible water for horses back then for the builders to choose this alignment.

An Appeal for Help

January 14, 2011

At the Mt. Hamilton summit overlook, about 1970, from left: John Hiatt, Anwil McDonald, Dave Lucas, George Varian, Jobst Brandt (Photo courtesy Jobst Brandt)

This photo is the oldest I can find of cyclists on Mt. Hamilton. I hope someone out there can direct me to much older photos for my upcoming “Mt. Hamilton by Bike” magazine. I’ve tried all the obvious sources and came up empty.

Cyclists have probably been riding up Mt. Hamilton since the 1920s, or even earlier. If you have a solid lead, let me know. Even an account or a remembrance would be nice. The oldest account I have is 1955.

Once Upon a Ride…Mt. Umunhum in the snow

January 11, 2011

Rick Humphreys, Ray Hosler, John Porcella enjoy a snow ride on Mt. Umunhum in 1982. (Jobst Brandt photo)

Jan. 3, 1982

Riders: Jobst Brandt, Ray Hosler, Paul Mittelstadt, Rick Humphreys, John Porcella

Route: From Palo Alto through Santa Clara Valley, Novitiate property, Alma Bridge Road, up Soda Springs Road, through Almaden Air Force base, down Mt. Umunhum, Hicks Road, Los Gatos-Saratoga Road, home. Jobst and Rick – Loma Prieta Road, Summit Road, home.

Tire/Mechanical Failure: Ray – flat

This winter in Northern California is one of the coldest in recent memory. Fall came early and so did the rain. Snow has fallen along the Coast Range. The ski resorts are enjoying a banner year.

We met at Jobst’s house dressed in heavy woolens. It wasn’t enough. You could see your breath and in Northern California that means COLD (high 30’s). The humidity at 79 percent didn’t help matters.

Despite the cold, Jobst didn’t wear a hat, as is his custom. John had only a junk pair of gloves. I wore three wool jerseys, wool mittens, three layers of socks, and plastic bags over my feet. Still, my feet froze.

Novitiate visit
We got through the Valley without incident. However, Jobst (who attended Bellarmine High School) wanted to get closer to God, so we made our way into the Novitiate over a bridge that had once been used to hold a drainage pipe. We passed a high gate with a gap and got through that.

A derelict sat on a bench overlooking Hwy 17, apparently also there to meet God. At another gate, we dismounted and walked through a narrow gap that put us onto a hiking trail. After a short distance we passed an old man (Lucifer?) who started yelling nonsensical stuff at us as we passed. With this weirdness behind us, we descended the steep Jones Trail to Alma Bridge Road.

The ride continued around Lexington Reservoir on dry roads, but after turning left on the Soda Springs Road that changed. The road is long and winding with a grade of about 8 percent, and some steeper sections. The terrain is mostly brush and manzanita.

We got colder as we climbed, and the road got wetter. About two-thirds of the way up we saw patches of snow; pretty soon we were riding through a blanket of crunchy white stuff with ice beneath. We stopped so Jobst could drink from an icy stream. Paul, not feeling well, headed back down the hill.

A motorist was trying to jump-start his snow-covered car. A handful of residents live off the road, but they were no doubt staying inside.

At a gate where the pavement ended, we put our bikes over and continued right on a dirt road, which wasn’t so steep. We broke out into the open and saw Almaden Air Force base, a collection of low buildings that had been empty for years, but not officially abandoned until 1980.

[Fortunately, we did not see Loren McQueen, whose family owns the land on which communication towers stand. The pistol-packing owner died in 2007, but his children still maintain the property. They’re amenable to allowing public access to the summit.]

At this point we were riding through several inches of snow. We inched along trying to avoid falling. Finally, we reached the paved road through the base.

Military police
Our luck was about to run out. As we rolled uphill to a final gate and Mt. Umunhum Road, a groundskeeper driving a military truck (probably a Federal agent) yelled at us. “You’re trespassing on government property. Why don’t you get off this land right now!” [Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSD) did not buy the land until 1986]

“All right, you don’t have to get upset about it!” Jobst retorted. “You’re trespassing and it’s my job to tell you to leave,” the man repeated. “OK, OK,” Jobst said. “You’re just doing your job. I don’t yell at people at my job.”

After another exchange of vitriol, we got through the gate. But our problems weren’t over. Several hundred yards farther, John and I came to the descent of Mt. Umunhum Road, while Jobst and Rick went right on dirt Loma Prieta Road.

About a dozen people, who had driven up Mt. Umunhum Road [it was still open, but closed later], started pelting John and me with snowballs. We zoomed by and began the descent. At this point, our hands and toes were frozen. It was an unpleasant descent — to say the least — on the steep, winding road.

If this wasn’t enough, I flatted, and had to fix my tire with frozen fingers. Fortunately, I had switched to clinchers from sewups in January 1981. John sped down the mountain, but came back five minutes later after realizing I might have crashed.

We continued down Hicks Road into Los Gatos and stopped at the first 7-11 to buy a warm drink and thaw out. On a final note of excitement, in Sunnyvale we nearly got broadsided by a man driving a station wagon. John and I would enjoy a few more fun rides before he joined the military to fly P3s. He went on to be a pilot with Delta airlines. Rick, a geologist, moved to the Sierra foothills.

[Last I heard, progress continues toward cleaning up toxic chemicals (PCBs) and removing all the buildings, except maybe the Cube. MROSD has signed sections of Loma Prieta Road, bikes allowed. Jobst and friends have been riding on that road since the 1960s. Use extreme caution riding down Mt. Umunhum and Hicks Road.]

Photo of the Week

January 9, 2011

Skyline Boulevard, 32 degrees (descent windchill 18 degrees). I've never seen the road get narrow. This ride reminds me of another cold ride. "Once Upon a Ride," coming Tuesday. (Jan. 9, 2011)

Diridon Station Makeover Needs Your Ideas

January 9, 2011


A Diridon Station planning session is set for Monday, January 10, at 6:30 p.m. in the Alma Community Center, 136 West Alma Avenue.

The San José City Council will receive an update on Diridon Station, including the work of the Good Neighbor Committee, on Jan. 25.

Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition (SVBC), Greenbelt Alliance, and residents of the Diridon area will be there to discuss shared goals for the future of this transit hub. Carlos Babcock of SVBC will give a presentation on how Diridon can become a bicycling magnet, as well as lessons learned from Portland and San Diego.

Amazing Race Indeed!

January 4, 2011

Just about everyone has ridden a bike, so it’s no big deal when a TV celebrity does it, unless it’s a ride across the U.S., done by Phil Keoghan, host of The Amazing Race, in 2009.

The New Zealand native rode 3,500 miles (Los Angeles to New York City), averaging 100 miles a day, so Phil is an accomplished rider. No wonder he looks fit. His ride, intended to increase awareness about Multiple sclerosis, raised $500K.

If that wasn’t enough, Phil joined Specialized for its annual Susan G. Komen for the Cure ride from its headquarters in Morgan Hill to Las Vegas, a 660-mile journey finishing at the Interbike show. Some 32 riders covered the entire distance over the Sierra and through the desert in September 2010. Founder and President Mike Sinyard participated.

While I enjoy watching The Amazing Race, I can’t imagine ever finishing such an event. It looks hard!

Gravel Roads, Take Me Home

January 3, 2011

Jobst Brandt rides up Old La Honda Road in the days of dirt, 1986.

A recent story published in NACo County News brought the government financial crisis close to home. We may one day soon see our rural county roads return to dirt!

It’s happening close to home, in Sonoma County. The county requires $55 million to maintain its many rural roads, but has an annual budget of just $5 million. Something has to give. They’re talking about not just ending maintenance, but literally grinding up aging paved roads and turning them to gravel.

I’ve ridden on many rural roads in Sonoma County, and you can bet your 52-tooth chainring many of the roads they’re talking about turning to gravel are popular with cyclists.

On the whole, I’d rather have paved roads, and I doubt that unpaved roads will save on maintenance. It may even cost more due to washouts.

It wasn’t all that long ago Old La Honda Road (west side) was dirt. I won’t soon forget those rainy winter days when the road became a mud hole in places. San Mateo County went on a paving campaign starting in the mid-1980s and paved every dirt road under its jurisdiction.

We all know how Tunitas Creek Road has been a patchwork over the decades, although – magically — the Tour of California competitors saw the road mostly repaved in 2009.

Maybe Gov. Jerry Brown can fix the mess we’re in, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. Enjoy those paved country roads, while they’re here.


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