Archive for the ‘News’ Category

A Cinelli Frame with Stories to Tell

September 19, 2012

Ray Keener holds his frame, built by Cinelli and ridden by Jobst Brandt back in the 1970s. Behind him is his Peter Johnson frame, built in 1980.

While visiting Ray Keener in Boulder, Colorado, I had a chance to see Jobst Brandt’s last Cinelli, the one ridden before he switched to Tom Ritchey and Peter Johnson frames.

Ray is lovingly restoring the Cinelli with a new paint job and no doubt some good components. While Cinelli made excellent frames, they had one design limitation (in hindsight) — lugs. That meant the tube diameter had to be one-inch or one-and-an-eighth for the down tube. Ray says the bike has a lot of flex, although it never seemed to affect Jobst.

By contrast, also shown in the photo, is a frame built for Ray by the Bay Area’s Peter Johnson in 1980. It’s fillet brazed, has no lugs, and that meant Peter could build bikes with larger diameter tubes.

Fillet brazing offered a big advantage when Tom Ritchey started building mountain bike frames starting in 1979. He used larger diameter tubes for more durable bikes.

Jobst started riding Cinelli frames sometime in the late 1950s or early 1960s. He purchased his first one from Spence Wolf, owner of Cupertino Bike Shop, which Spence ran out of his house. Jobst showed me the receipt and I think the entire bike cost something like $157.

Ray still rides Peter’s bike day in and day out after all these years.

Jobst Brandt rides his Cinelli (circa 1977) in a field of poppies just off Mines Road after the long descent. Photo by Peter Johnson.

Bike Lanes or Oil Refineries: What’ll it be?

August 12, 2012

Hedding Street just beyond First heading west. A bike lane on Hedding would be a good thing.


I for one am a big supporter of San Jose’s city government and the actions it’s taking to plan the city’s future. Bicycles are front and center in the transportation plan, which you can read about in the San Jose Bike Plan 2020 – all 20 megabytes.

One small step to a sustainable transportation future calls for bike lanes crisscrossing the city. By sustainable, I mean fewer oil refineries and I think we can all agree we don’t want one of those in our back yard! A little white paint for a bike lane doesn’t sound so bad.

Bike lanes are nothing more than white stripes on the side of the road. However, they can include parking restrictions and that’s the sticking point with a few residents on Hedding Street where a bike lane is planned.

Some 20 street parking spaces in a four-block stretch could be eliminated as the street is reconfigured from four lanes to two, with a center turn lane.

I rode Hedding today going southwest from First Street, not to check it out, but because it’s a route I often take when returning from a ride to the Mt. Hamilton summit. Hedding is a wide boulevard with not much traffic and that’s why I like it. I wrote about crossing Santa Clara Valley east to west in a previous column. Today I prefer Hedding (right on First Street) over Taylor.

As far as I’m concerned the residents can keep their street parking, but let’s stripe the bike lanes. This street should have had bike lanes long ago. As for going from four lanes to three, I’ve seen it done on a short stretch of Pruneridge Avenue and I have no complaints both as a motorist and a cyclist.

As I read the Mercury News editorial column and the Hedding Street hullabaloo, it’s pretty clear that the bicycle remains the whipping boy of transportation. It’s nothing new. Even when bicycles became the king of the road around 1895, we had to fight for our rights.

Whether or not people will take up cycling on safer roads remains to be seen. Sadly, many people stigmatize cycling as degrading, especially for getting around town or commuting. Cycling is the most efficient means of transportation. It’s good for your health and it’s good for planet Earth. Everyone may not agree, but what’ll it be: more bike lanes or more oil refineries?

Ride bike.

Mabury Road approaching King Road in San Jose. Nice street design. Everyone is happy.

Curiosity Robot Arm Built by Litespeed

August 6, 2012

Curiosity Mars rover arms were built by Litespeed (NASA photo).


Remember Litespeed? They started building titanium bikes about a million years ago. They also made the robotic arm of the Curiosity Mars rover, which made a successful landing on the red planet last night.

ABC News showed workers in the Tennessee factory during their prime time news segment Monday night. Out of this world.

Rumble on the Coast

April 11, 2012

Rumble strips on Hwy 1 between Santa Cruz and Davenport add another obstacle for cyclists to overcome.


A proposal to add rumble strips on a 10-mile stretch of Hwy 1 from Davenport to Santa Cruz has cyclists up in arms, and I can’t blame them.

Rumble strips make cycling hazardous. They reduce your options when maneuvering around road debris and parked cars. This stretch of highway has plenty of parked cars whose drivers use nearby beaches.

Rumble strips have been gouged into the middle of Hwy 9 between Saratoga and Skyline Boulevard. These strips haven’t changed driving habits all that much, from my experience. Because they’re in the middle of the road, they don’t affect cyclists.

There’s one stretch of Hwy 108 east of Sonora that has a long rumble strip. On the steep descent to Sonora on many a Sierra ride I’ve cursed these strips up and down. They’re positioned in a such a way that if you ride to the left you’re in traffic, but if you ride to the right you’re in a ton of debris and glass. At 40 mph there is little room for error.

I’m also wondering just what kind of rumble strips are proposed. There are quite a few different arrangements, some worse than others for cyclists.

On stretches of Hwy 1 with 5-foot shoulders and no parking, rumble strips might not be so bad. That’s not always the case on this stretch of road as it passes beaches and state parks with parked cars.

Caltrans generally does a good job maintaining our roads and making them safe. I hope they listen and take cyclists’ needs into consideration. Hwy 1 is one of the best places for cycling in all of California. Let’s not ruin it.

Distracted Driving (Cell Phones) Kills Cyclists

April 10, 2012

Channel 5 TV news photo


Have you had a close call as a result of a motorist using his cell phone — texting, talking, etc? I have, more than once.

The latest incident came last week on Monroe Avenue at the San Tomas Aquino recreation path. I stopped, punched the bike light button and waited to cross.

With a green light I started across when to my left comes a car going about 5 mph. A woman driver stopped only feet in front of me. The stop line was about 20 feet back. She was on the phone, of course, peering up at the stop light, a dumbfounded look on her face.

Her window was down. I felt like ripping the phone from her hands and tossing it into the creek. I would never do that, but it would have been justice served.

I did a quick check to find cyclists killed by cell phones. There are plenty. It’s too early to tell what happened in Concord last week when a man and his daughter riding along were mowed down by a 17-year-old driver. He was speeding is all that’s certain.

Recent deaths:

Bend, Ore. 2011

Kirkland, Wash., 2011

Compton, Calif., 2010

Harrisonburg, Va., 2009

Scottsboro, Ala., 2009

But the most egregious of all accidents and one that took the lives of two people I knew, occurred in 1986 when an 18-year-old driving a Chevy Blazer reached down to fetch a cassette tape. She veered into the bike lane and took the lives of four cyclists enjoying a Sunday ride, just like that.

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 Magcloud.com. 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 Magcloud.com.

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.


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