Once Upon a Ride…Dishing it Out

Shoutout at the Stanford Corral

Dish Hill around 1980. One of Jobst Brandt's many excellent photos taken with a Rollei pocket camera. This photo was used in a Palo Alto Bicycles mail order catalog.

(Back in the day, cyclists could ride on the paved roads around the radio telescope located behind Stanford University. That all ended around 1987; today we see hundreds of hikers using the roads.)

Date: November 30, 1980
Riders: Jobst Brandt, Olaf Brandt, Keith Vierra, Rick Humphreys, Ray Hosler, Jim Westby, Tom Ritchey, Bill Robertson
Weather: Cloudy, cool, rain
Route: Alpine Road, up Stanford Dish Road, back on Alpine Road, Portola Valley
Tire/Mechanical Failure: Ray- flat; Olaf – flat; Keith – flat

At 8 a.m. the scent of rain in the air was about as strong as a skunk in heat, but rain would not stop the Jobst Riders. We rolled into a mist and two hours later made it home in a soppy rain.

Tom’s encouraging words spurred us on. “Come on you guys, it’s clear up on Skyline.” Yeah, right.

With young Olaf along, Jobst’s son, the ride assumed more humane levels. Nobody was dropped and we had normal conversations. The chatter died down as we started the climb up Dish Hill Road behind Stanford University.

Jobst led the way up the winding road through majestic oaks (free of cars), young Olaf spinning madly to keep up.

Things turned nasty on Dish Hill. Even the cattle looked like they weren’t having any fun munching on soggy grass. The road went from pavement to dirt with a top layer of dust that quickly got muddy. Then Keith flatted and the fun began.

As we were talking about the previous night’s premier of Breaking Away, Olaf discovered he too had a flat (we were riding sewups). Olaf’s clincher flat occurred on a wheel without a quick release. Not to worry: Jobst removed part of the tire, located the flat, then patched it.

Meanwhile, Keith was covered in mud from changing his flat. When he caught up to the group, he said, “I know this is a nightmare and I didn’t wake up this morning.”

Our dreams took a turn for the worse. We rode through the Interstate 280 cattle underpass on the dirt road and then passed Felt Lake before arriving at a gate. Behind the gate was a rancher’s barn and corral.

Inside the corral Rancher Bob looked like the ornery type, and he was. He took one look at us and bellowed, “I don’t want any bike riders on this property!” Seeing there was no use stopping us as we rolled to Alpine Road, the rancher repeated his demand.

Jobst replied in an equally loud voice, “That’s right, bikes start fires!” A war of words ensued, but there was no reasoning with Rancher Bob. Just then a trio of runners passed our way, but Rancher Bob had nothing to say to them.

With the rain coming down hard, we headed around the Portola Valley loop and called it a day.

Quite by accident, I found a group photo that was the start of the Dish Hill ride shown above. It was not the ride described in the story.

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3 Responses to “Once Upon a Ride…Dishing it Out”

  1. Jeff J. Says:

    These old school adventure bike ride stories with this ensemble of characters has had me laughing since the mid 80s. The Bay Area’s unique climate is perfect for these wild rides. I can remember riding (5mph) down Page Mill back in the mid-80s with Joanne Klebe in a fog so dense and thick you could not see more that a few feet forward. And long rides in the freezing rain out in the San Mateo area. Those were the days!

  2. Jim Says:

    Love the old stuff, Ray. And damn, I think that is me in the second photo in a red and white jersey standing next to Roger. The bike I had I bought from Roger; it is in Velo Sport orange. That ride included Old Spanish Trail and some trails in Los Trancos. The finish of the ride was straight down the grassy hill to Junipero Serra where Roger endo’ed and bent his Cinelli’s. A stop at Palo Alto Bikes, a large rubber mallet, and the bars were straight again. (Not that I recommend this.)

  3. Slonie Says:

    Great story! This weekend lived up to the typical Bay Area weather as four friends and I were all caught unawares (shoulda known better) on our Old Haul ride… It’s a trip that you used to be able to ride “The Dish”… That’s a bit before my time!

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