Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Trail Work Moves Ahead in South Bay

January 12, 2012

A dodgy section of trail from Zanker Road to Coyote Creek next to Hwy 237 is being paved in 2012. The sheep stay.

We have lots of good trail news in the South Bay to start the new year. First, the unpaved portion of the Guadalupe River Trail from I-880 at the San Jose airport extending to Alviso at Gold Avenue will be paved starting later this year.

The bad news is the trail will be closed for up to a year.

On another bright note, the notoriously bad section of trail (0.6 miles) paralleling the north side of Hwy 237 from Zanker Road to Coyote Creek will be paved in 2012. It’s actually not bad if you like a funky mix of old pavement and firm gravel. I will miss it in a way.

Now if only we could see the Coyote Creek Trail opened under Hwy 237. That one has always been a mystery to me.

Finally, it took millions of dollars to buy the land from Union Pacific, but we now have the land needed to build a trail linking Los Gatos Creek Trail with Guadalupe River Trail. It’s called the 3 Creeks Trail extension.

I didn’t see any projected opening dates, so I imagine it will be a few more years before we have a place to ride.

Niles Canyon Widening Project Has Opposition

January 8, 2012

Many sections of Niles Canyon Road (Hwy 84) have good shoulder, but not here. (Google Maps photo)

OK, raise your hand if you think riding a bike through Niles Canyon is hazardous to your health. Just as I thought. Lots of hands went up.

There’s a three-year $60 million plan by Caltrans to widen the road, but that doesn’t include widening the bridges, which is too bad. The bridges are no fun crossing because they’re so narrow.

However, the plan is in jeopardy because a lot of people — mostly people living in the area — oppose the project: they don’t want to see hundreds of trees cut down and possibly upset fish habitats in Alameda Creek.

East Bay Bicycle Coalition supports the road improvements, although opponents argue (rightly so in my mind) it won’t make things safer. More people will use the road and they’ll just drive faster.

I’ve ridden through Niles Canyon dozens of times and never had any issues, unless you consider the many close calls that are part of the cyclist’s life. I would welcome shoulders, but not rumble strips, which are already in place down the middle of the road. All in all, I think the plan is a mixed bag, same as the canyon road. Some parts are nice with good shoulder, but other parts have no shoulder. The only thing that’s clear-cut is the trees.

Smug Cyclists? No Way!

January 7, 2012

Smug cyclist sends a clear message.

Cyclelicious posted this funny video and it sends an interesting message. “We are the cyclists, the intermediate stage between humans and pure energy.” Right.

I like the part about cycling being so natural, although they’re riding carbon-fiber tungsten bikes that required 14,000 metric tons of C02 to build.

A Free Adventure Ride Around the World

December 24, 2011

A book written by Thomas Stevens about his around-the-world ride is available online for free.

Thomas Stevens has to be the ultimate adventure rider and one of the most interesting characters in cycling. Since I’ve been on my share of adventure rides, I can relate. He rode his 50-inch highwheeler around the world starting April 22, 1884, in San Francisco. His journey took him across the U.S. to Europe, the Middle East, Africa, China, and Japan.

Now you can read his two-volume book — Around the World on a Bicycle — and it won’t cost you a penny-farthing. Here’s how. Just download a Kindle application for the PC, available online. Then download volume 1 and volume 2 online, no charge.

I advise doing this sooner than later because who knows how long it will be before Amazon starts charging.

Tom was British so the language of the time was a bit stilted, but it gets better as you read along. It’s a fascinating read. I was disappointed he didn’t offer much detail on the U.S. leg as compared to the European tour a year later. You can probably piece together a fairly close approximation of the roads he traveled just by reading.

Tom rode through Wyoming along what is today Interstate 80. It must have been a lonely ride. What’s amazing though is to read about how many people he did meet back then in the Wild West. The West had pretty much been settled with the railroad going through. He spent a lot of nights at housing used by the railroad workers.

Reading about the adventures of Thomas Stevens is a great way to enjoy the holidays.

Stocking Stuffer: Adventure Rides in the High Sierra

December 17, 2011

Available now on For anyone interested in riding through the Sierra.

Looking for a memorable Christmas gift, I managed to finish Adventure Rides in the High Sierra in time for the holidays. Anyone who has been on a Sierra ride with Jobst Brandt will want to check it out on

But there’s more. I included some history of the passes and a little about the amazing Super Tour, multi-day journey that has been alive and well since 1976! The tour often goes through the Sierra, and takes in other venues out West.

The maps and profiles of five major passes will give some insight into how steep the passes can be in places. Thanks to John Woodfill and Vance Sprock, Cupertino Bike Shop owner, for photos; and Perry Stout for Super Tour information. Enjoy.

New Bike Physics Blows Away Myths

December 11, 2011

New studies show how bikes stay upright.

OK, this happened in April but I’m just learning about it. Scientists have discovered that everything we believed about why bikes stay upright is totally wrong. It has nothing to do with the gyroscopic effect of wheels turning or with bike trail, the caster effect.

Turns out it’s all about a moving object turning to the direction it’s leaning in an attempt to stay upright. Duh. We do the same thing when we’re running.

Now there’s a chance we’ll see even crazier bike designs in the future. I’m not sure that’s possible.

Not All Bike Shops are Alike

November 20, 2011

This Singapore bike shop with its jeweled interior catered to the high-end crowd. (Ray Hosler photo)

As much as I like Yelp, it leads me to a topic that calls for a discussion – choosing a bike shop. Don’t always believe what you read in Yelp, and that includes comments about bike shops.

I’m pretty sure every bike shop with a Yelp review has multiple dings (low star ratings) from upset shoppers. I’m not surprised. Bike shops run the gamut from mom and pop hole in the wall to big business, like Performance.

A big disconnect here circles back to the reviewer. For some reason they go in with blinders on. Would they do that at a car repair shop? No way. I’d never take my beat up Mazda 323 to a high-end Mercedes shop for a repair. I wouldn’t shop for an affordable car at the Jaguar dealership.

Casual cyclists who walk into any bike shop somehow expect they’ll receive the same level of service and the same products being offered. Take a look at the bikes. Do you see rows and rows of bikes that look like yours? If not, you’re in the wrong shop.

That’s not to say a high-end shop will refuse service to repair a junker (although some do), or that a low-end shop will ignore a performance cyclist, although performance cyclists are more likely to know where to go.

While the biggest oversight is between what the shop sells and what the buyer needs, next in importance is sales support. Let’s face it, bike shops don’t cater to the Saks Fifth Avenue or Nordstrom crowd.

Nobody in the bike shop business is getting rich. They can’t hire lots of sales people. On Saturdays when shops are busiest, don’t expect instant service. If that’s what you want, go on a weekday morning after the shop opens.

Most bike shops operate one step away from chaos. Handling a million different requests and trying to support the myriad bikes in the market is a big reason why shops specialize.

Remember, look around at the bikes being sold and compare them to what you ride. If they match, the shop is probably for you. Get to know the people who work in the shop by first name and you’ll get their attention. It’s human nature.

Unlike Saks or Amazon, a bike shop is still a place where you can get to know people and make a connection. It’s those customer friendships that make owning and patronizing a bike shop a worthwhile endeavor.

Wacked Out Wireless World

November 12, 2011

When on, LED lights may generate weird errors on some bike computers. Welcome to the wacky world of wireless.

What’s wrong with the above photo? Note the speed – 59 mph. The bike isn’t even moving. It’s not trickery, but I wish it were. It’s the result of radio frequency interference (RFI), also called electromagnetic interference (EMI) between the light and bike computer.

My bike computer is wireless. The light has light emitting diodes (LEDs), which are tiny die cut from a semiconductor wafer. Apply a small current and they light up. And therein lies the problem. These highly efficient LEDs need power for an integrated circuit (IC) to make the LED light up. In addition to batteries, the light’s power module needs an inductor, basically a small wound copper coil.

This coil creates a magnetic field and you know that means. Magnetic fields generate electric currents that oscillate at radio frequencies. The printed circuit board design and the kind of power IC (switching regulator) can also come into play generating more errant signals.

The bike computer relies on a radio frequency that’s generated by the small magnet attached to the front wheel spoke and transmitted to the unit on my handlebar.

We experience EMI interference all the time, especially noticeable with cell phones as they encounter radio frequencies generated by our TVs, toasters, computers, most anything electronic, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) included.

Unfortunately, my bike computer is low frequency analog. Some bike computers are digital and digital signals typically transmit at higher frequencies where there’s less interference.

I can’t give advice on which devices have conflicts. You have to find out for yourself. Short of moving the devices farther away from one another, or wrapping them in lead, there’s nothing you can do. (I moved the computer onto the handlebar but it didn’t fix the issue entirely.) Some cyclists choose to run wired computers to avoid this issue.

I’ve used wired bike computers and they have their own problems. Technology rules, but not without some minor inconveniences.

Bike Gathering Supports Silicon Valley Advocacy

November 2, 2011

Bruce Hildenbrand and Andy Hampsten have been cycling friends for more than 30 years! They lead rides through France and Italy.

Now in its fourth year, the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition’s (SVBC) annual dinner is quickly becoming THE event of the year to celebrate an activity we’re all passionate about. It’s a great time to see cycling buddies and swap stories in a relaxed atmosphere. The open bar helped.

We met at the swank Palo Alto Golf and Country Club in the hills overlooking Arastradero Preserve. Talk about pampered. Valet parking!

I saw lots of familiar faces — bike shop owners and local luminaries. But there was also a strong showing of government agencies with a vested interest in cycling (Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) air quality watchdogs aka, Spare the Air), corporations, and bike racing team sponsors such as Webcor’s Andy Ball.

Fresh off a nasty bike crash (too many broken bones to mention here), the silver-tongued race announcer Bruce Hildenbrand livened the proceedings with an insightful interview of 1988 Giro d’Italia winner Andy Hampsten; then he had the dinner crowd in stitches and spending money like there was no tomorrow. Money raised from the live auction of expensive bikes, vacation getaways, and high-tech wheels helps fund the SVBC.

Giro victory
Andy’s accounts of winning the Giro, racing with Greg LeMond, and his legendary race over Gavia Pass in a blinding snowstorm were nothing less than uplifting. How could anyone maintain such a positive attitude with so much suffering? It’s no doubt why Andy still loves to ride and leads annual tours through the Alps.

Corinne Winter, President and Executive Director of SVBC, recognized the volunteer heroes of Silicon Valley over the past year. High-flying data storage company NetApp took home the award for corporate support.

Bike charity
Dave Fork, who has turned the Bike Exchange in Mountain View into an institution, won the 2011 Ellen Fletcher Volunteer Award, and deservedly so. His leadership has resulted in more than 500 bikes a year being donated to people who could never afford one. Dozens of cyclists volunteer their time restoring bikes that would otherwise wind up in the landfill.

Corinne concluded the evening with a “Vision Zero: Silicon Valley” plan for 2012. SVBC will continue efforts to address unsafe intersections and dangerous roadways, all with the goal of zero fatalities and injuries. SVBC works hand in hand with local governments to find project funding.

Some 300 people turned out for the fourth annual SVBC dinner.

Adventure Rides Available in PDF Format

October 30, 2011

Adventure Rides magazines are available online in PDF format

I’ve made available Adventure Rides in the Santa Cruz Mountains and Mt. Hamilton by Bike in PDF format on Magcloud, for $2 each.

Coming early next year — Adventure Rides in the High Sierra. I’ll have ride reports from the old days, newer rides, photos old and new, and lots of neat maps with elevation profiles. I’ve found some interesting history of the high passes: Ebbetts, Monitor, Sonora, and Tioga.


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