Archive for the ‘Ride reports’ Category

Bike art comes in many forms

June 16, 2013

I'm not sure what it all means, but I still prefer bike art over modern art.

I’m not sure what it all means, but I still prefer bike art over modern art.


On a perfect 10 weather day I rode up Hwy 9, where I met a couple of riders willing to slow down enough to hold a conversation. Eric Gray and his brother duked it out. Turns out Eric had recently ridden down Hwy 17 with Fast Freddy Markham. “We hit 58 mph at the Lexington Reservoir descent,” he said. I believe it.

According to Wikipedia, in 2006 Fred set a one-hour record distance of 85.99 km (53.43 mi) on the track at the Nissan Technical Center, near Casa Grande in Arizona. He’s a rocket on the bike.

I continued down Hwy 9 to Boulder Creek, one of those rare days when you won’t freeze while wearing a short-sleeve jersey. I continued up Bear Creek Road. Over the years I’ve grown accustomed to the climb. It’s on the verge of being annoying at 8 percent for long stretches and traffic is more like moderate than light.

At least the first four miles is mellow and the road has a wide shoulder here. There’s even some bike art at the side of the road. It’s not really clear to me what it symbolizes, but what the heck. It’s a bike.

I continued up Summit Road to Skyline and enjoyed delightfully refreshing cool air under sunny skies. We have a fair amount of weather like today’s, but when you’re only riding on weekends, you learn to appreciate them.

David Bruce knows how to make a fine wine. End of the climb on Bear Creek Road.

David Bruce knows how to make a fine wine. End of the climb on Bear Creek Road.

Guadalupe River path paves the way to Alviso

June 9, 2013

Wow, talk about a great ride: be sure you do the Guadalupe River Trail from San Jose to Alviso now that it’s paved the entire way.

I’ve been waiting years to see it happen and today was my chance to do the ride. I started using the river’s unpaved levee in 2006, and watched as short sections were paved, anticipating the big day when it was paved beginning to end — downtown San Jose to Alviso.

Guadalupe River Trail near Hwy 237 is newly paved.

Guadalupe River Trail near Hwy 237 is newly paved.


The paved path runs on the river’s east/north bank starting at the San Jose Airport. I’ve always ridden the path’s western/southern side, which is still open and still dirt.

Lots of people already use the path, which runs under just about every road along the way, the one exception being Airport Parkway where you ride over the bridge to stay on the path.

The only negative that will take some time to fix is that there’s flooding at low spots during heavy rain: Hwy 101, Trimble Road, Montague Expressway, Tasman Drive, Hwy 237.

Signs of the times
You’ll enjoy the interpretive signs as you ride past interesting landmarks. There’s Lupe the Columbian mammoth at Trimble Road. In 2005, Roger Castillo found the juvenile’s bones sticking out of the riverbank. Its remains were exhumed and given to the San Jose Discovery Museum a couple miles away. Also, a ramp was cut at Trimble Road for easy access. It was probably in the plan all along, but when I saw it the ramp hadn’t been added.

I learned a lot at the interpretive sign in front of the airport. Did you know the first flight took place in 1949? Pacific Southwest Airlines carried seven passengers and 2,550 chickens. How times have changed.

I’ll be riding this trail often in the years ahead. Now on to Coyote Creek Trail. Once that’s complete to the Bay, we’ll have a top-notch creek-trail network.

Progress is being made on the San Tomas Aqunio Creek path extension from Cabrillo Avenue to El Camino Real. The concrete barrier is done and the sound walls are about halfway complete. The sign says mid-July for completion.

Lupe the mammoth has an interpretive sign at Trimble Road.

Lupe the mammoth has an interpretive sign at Trimble Road.

Purisima Creek Trail – a culvert gone bad

June 2, 2013

washout

Trail washout on Purisima Creek Trail. About halfway point.


When a culvert is blocked on a rainy day, watch out! Roads and bridges don’t stand a chance against rushing waters. Just check out the damage on Purisima Creek Trail.

I’ve been riding this “trail” since 1980, so I have some knowledge of its history, its good times and bad. This was a well used logging road up until the late 1970s. The canyon has been logged many times.

The road was better maintained then than it ever has been since falling into government hands. It all comes down to money. The logging companies had a vested interest in keeping the road serviceable. Today, not so much. It is, after all, a trail now.

But on with the ride. I left early to avoid the heat, although it wasn’t nearly as hot today as Saturday. On the ride up Kings Mountain Road, I joined participants in the Sequoia Century. Yesterday’s baking heat had hardly dissipated from the road, despite the fog that moved in overnight. I noticed temps climb into the upper 60s from the cooler valley.

After a short ride north on Skyline it was time for a left turn onto Purisima Creek Trail, where I saw a parked hydraulic excavator, and a sign next to it saying a bridge was out.

The first half-mile of steep descending had the usual layer of unpleasant rock ballast to hinder the ride. Heavy use, especially from riding in the wet, hasn’t done the trail any favors. At least I can say I took this road when it offered unspeakable pleasure — smooth and fast with a layer of redwood needles — that’s how I like my dirt roads.

Before the area of devastation, I came upon a couple of roadies making good time up the steep grade (17% in places). It’s nice to see the Jobst Rider creed hasn’t entirely disappeared.

At the last sweeping bend that marks the end of the steep stuff, I came across the blocked culvert. It’s so sad to see.

Farther down on the usually smooth flat section I noticed quite a bit of rutting. It wasn’t all that wet this winter, so it’s hard to fathom a cause.

Back on pavement I continued on Purisima Creek Road (53 F) through a wide valley marked by the occasional ranch house. One rancher has a pumpjack running. Water or oil? Next time I’ll stop and ask. He lives near a rusting oil well that sits forlornly on a hill overlooking the road. This is part of the Purisima Formation and Half Moon Bay oil field, which has yielded 58,000 barrels over 100 years.

On Hwy 1, heading south, I picked up a cavalcade of pedalers on their way from San Francisco to Los Angeles, raising money for AIDS research.

I decided to check out Lobitos Creek Cutoff as an alternate route to Tunitas Creek Road. It has a little extra gratuitous climbing, and the scenery is nothing appealing, but it offers variety.

Tunitas Creek Road gave me a chance to warm up and leave the fog-shrouded coast behind. Quite a few riders joined me and I cursed my bike as each one passed by. “If only I had bought a Trek, a Specialized, a Klein…”

I sped back down Kings Mountain Road and headed home on Foothill Boulevard to call it a day.

big oil

A little bit of extra income from Big Oil at the ranch on Purisima Creek Road?

Drippy days a welcome occasion

May 26, 2013

A brief break in the clouds allowed in some filtered sun on Tunitas Creek Road.

A brief break in the clouds allowed in some filtered sun on Tunitas Creek Road.


If you think cold, drippy days on Skyline are something to bemoan in late May, consider the alternatives: tornadoes, hurricanes, furnace heat, etc.

I took the back entrance to Huddart Park on Greer Road. It’s too bad the signs say no bikes here, when they really refer to the trails in the park, not the paved road.

By the time I got within a half-mile of the Kings Mountain Road summit, the road turned wet and the redwoods cried their hearts out with joy. They love this stuff.

I headed down Tunitas Creek Road into more wetness as the temperature dropped to 50 degrees, but things warmed up on the Coast. Parked next to a farm was a Tesla model S sedan, and I saw another one later on Page Mill Road. I’m all for battery-powered cars. If only solar panels had higher efficiency, they could be mounted on the car and there would be no more worries about charging.

I took the tsunami evacuation route (Hwy 84). Halfway to La Honda a sad and frightening scene played out as a rancher tried to move some cattle across the busy road. Something for drivers to think about when taking 84.

I headed up Alpine Road and enjoyed the company of other riders on the way.

BART allows bikes always

BART is allowing bikes full-time for a five-month trial starting in July. I support bikes on public transit. Caltrain has special cars for bikes and BART needs to do the same. I understand they’re moving in that direction but it’s not fast enough. Ridership would go up, as it has for Caltrain. I remember the days when you couldn’t even bring a bike on Caltrain, then they only allowed folding bikes in a bag. BART has the same history.

We’ve seen progress, but with way too much foot-dragging.

Forest of Nisene Marks Park reveals a lost memory

May 19, 2013

Back in the 1980s we had to ride through the creek. Now there's a nice bridge.

Back in the 1980s we had to ride through the creek. Now there’s a nice bridge.


After my 2011 mountain bike ride on Aptos Creek Fire Road through the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park, I wondered if I would ever take my road bike here again. I had difficulty negotiating a stretch of road leading up to the green gate marking entrance to the park on the high ridge overlooking Aptos and the Pacific.

I decided to give it a try. As expected there’s a short section that’s not rideable — for me at least — leading to the green gate. It’s not much walking though so it shouldn’t dissuade anyone from trying it.

On my way heading east on Summit Road (note that Summit Road runs east-west, not north-south as many, myself included, have believed) I saw dozens and dozens of riders going west as part of the Strawberry Fields Forever century ride. If only they would ride to work. We could save the planet from global warming.

Perfect weather made the ride go smoothly as I turned right at the summit of Eureka Canyon Road onto the dirt Buzzard Lagoon Road. It climbs steadily through madrone, oak and redwoods. The road was at one time paved based on the bits of pavement I saw along the way.

I took the crucial right turn (Buzzard Lagoon heads downhill steeply from here and it’s no fun to ride) uphill where soon enough the road became a boulder-strewn stretch that will test even the best mountain bike rider. Over the past 30+ year I’ve been riding here, I’ve seen the road deteriorate. It used to be graded, but that’s something I figure we’ll never see happen again.

Once I reached the summit, where a series of trails from Soquel Creek and Demonstration Forest connect, I came across a mountain bike convention. A dozen riders were contemplating their next move. I continued on Aptos Creek Fire Road and soon started the long, long descent to Aptos.

It was here in 1995 on the last small climb before the descent that a mountain bike rider slammed into me head-on. I was knocked out; he separated his shoulder. I rode home while he waited four hours for the ranger and a ride to his car.

But I digress. I continued on to a small bridge over Aptos Creek. Around 1982 Jobst Brandt took a photo of me and Peter Johnson, as well as Jim Westby and Tim Louis. I didn’t understand the location until I walked down to the creek to investigate. Then I realized this was the spot. The bridge over the creek wasn’t installed until the mid 1990s. According to my ride report at the time, the bridge was wiped out by heavy rains in the winter of 1981-82.

A couple miles farther along I rode by a small event commemorating the park’s 50th anniversary.

On San Jose-Soquel Road I made my traditional stop at the Casalegno Store. This ancient house turned store has a nice selection of snacks. I took a photo of four Strawberry century riders and continued on my way.

While riding on San Tomas Aquino Expressway I got into a conversation with a rider wearing a 7-Eleven jersey (you can still buy them) and he told me a sad story about his bikes being stolen off his apartment porch, 30 feet off the ground. The brazen thieves struck in the middle of the night, taking his Ritchey Break Away cross bike and a mountain bike, as well as his cycling clothing hanging out to dry.

How ironic that the first person I met who also owned a Break Away had his stolen (I know 2 others but they’re friends). And so ended a glorious ride through the Santa Cruz Mountains on a fine day in May.

Ray Hosler walks his bike through Aptos Creek on June 21, 1982. (Jobst Brandt photo)

Ray Hosler walks his bike through Aptos Creek on June 21, 1982. (Jobst Brandt photo)

When the Merckx Wind Blows

May 5, 2013

Gazos Creek Road just before the narrows where creek and road are one.

Gazos Creek Road just before the narrows where creek and road are one.


They say Eddy Merckx could ride like the wind. With a 30 mph wind at my back on Cloverdale Road — going NORTH — I felt like Eddy. Imagine 34 mph on the flat.

Last night’s strong winds left tons of debris on Hwy 9 this morning, one more obstacle for the running relay teams doing their annual event from Calistoga to Santa Cruz.

And if things weren’t interesting enough, a fire in Stevens Canyon drew a dozen fire vehicles and a helicopter. I’m guessing it was a house fire.

When I hit Saratoga Gap the temperature registered 51 and it looked like rain on the Coast. I continued on Hwy 236 into Big Basin State Park and then Gazos Creek Road. I hadn’t ridden its full length since 2010.

I didn’t see much in the way of wind-blown branches, although a tree fell across the road. I suppose it was wind-related. Once again I forgot to bring my portable chainsaw.

Gazos Creek Road is in fabulous shape. No mud, no rock ballast. I haven’t seen it this good in a decade. The gate at the bottom where pavement begins is closed.

After blasting north on Cloverdale (remember storms typically blow from the south) I headed up Pescadero Road and then Alpine Road.

One of my fondest memories of riding with Jobst Brandt came in his later years when he and I rode alone up Alpine many a time. As we approached a wooded section he called the Tulgey Wood, about a mile from the summit, he fondly recited a poem called Jabberwocky, written by Lewis Carroll. It goes like this:

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand;
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

A tree falls on Gazos Creek Road. Happily, I missed it falling.

A tree falls on Gazos Creek Road. Happily, I missed it falling.

Haul Road Makes the Day

April 28, 2013

My favorite place to stop for a photo on the Haul Road, shortly before the left fork to Memorial Park.

My favorite place to stop for a photo on the Haul Road, shortly before the left fork to Memorial Park.


I can’t think of a more enjoyable ride than the Haul Road in the spring. It reminds me of the Star Wars scenes from Return of the Jedi on the moon of Endor. That was filmed in Crescent City at Redwood National Park.

While it was not as hot as yesterday, it was still warm in places. The Haul Road is usually perfect on hot days, as it was today.

I saw a couple of hikers on the road, but that was it. It’s usually empty of people.

Pescadero Creek at the Bailey Bridge can't be beat for losing yourself in the moment. Click here to view full image.

Pescadero Creek at the Bailey Bridge can’t be beat for losing yourself in the moment. Click here to view full image.

Hwy 84 reboot 30 years later

April 21, 2013

Plenty of water on the Mt. Hamilton ride. At the summit there's a spigot at the dining hall.

Plenty of water on the Mt. Hamilton ride. At the summit there’s a spigot at the dining hall.


Looking for some variety on the Mt. Hamilton loop, I set out this morning from home (115 miles, 8,500 feet climbing) and decided to check out Hwy 84 from Livermore heading back to Calaveras Road.

Jobst Brandt used to lead us that way until I and others decided it was a bit dicey riding up Pigeon Pass (875 feet) on a narrow two-lane road with no shoulder. Around 1983 we started taking Vineyard Avenue for a time until housing development made it less desirable. Then Jobst switched to Stanley Boulevard.

A two-mile stretch of Hwy 84, or Vallecitos Road, was widened at a cost of $32 million, completed in October 2008. This stretch of Hwy 84 was built in 1931.

On the hottest day of the year so far (90 degrees in Livermore), I started the climb at around 500 feet. I remembered it as being a grind and it still is, about 6-7 percent. It’s just long enough to be annoying.

The good news is that there’s a massive shoulder, with a rumble strip on the side, but even with that there’s plenty of room. The other good news is that the descent is wide open at 34 mph. Lots of traffic though.

There’s only one narrow section of 0.14 miles just before the 680 junction. You need to take the Sunol underpass exit to put yourself on Calaveras Road. I saw a couple on tandem heading the other way.

Even with coffee and chocolate coffee beans to stave off cramps, I started feeling twitches around 58 miles, so I downed a couple of Advil and that took care of the muscles. No doubt heat was a factor.

Mt. Hamilton overlook four miles up. Click here for full size.

Mt. Hamilton overlook four miles up. Click here for full size.

San Tomas Aquino Creek Bike Trail Closure

April 14, 2013

San Tomas Aquino Creek recreation path will be closed at the new stadium starting April 15. A detour will be in effect for a year.

San Tomas Aquino Creek recreation path will be closed at the new stadium starting April 15. A detour will be in effect for a year.


Today was the last day for a year that you could ride past the new San Francisco 49ers stadium (will it have a corporate name?) as the parking lot at Great America gets a makeover.

I rode past today for a final look at the stadium, is moving along. City of Santa Clara posted a map of the detour. It’s too complicated to explain here.

I continued north, taking the usual route around Moffett Field to reach Shoreline Park. It’s such a nice way to go, even with the wind. The blue-billed ruddy ducks bobbing in the ponds made my day.

If you’re looking for a quick way to ride through Palo Alto after taking the bike/ped bridge over 101 at Oregon Expressway, nothing beats Greer Road, Channing Avenue, Guinda.

Henry Coe Park Puts Spring in Your Ride

April 7, 2013

Jackson Ranch belongs to Santa Clara County Parks, since 2006.

Jackson Ranch belongs to Santa Clara County Parks, since 2006.


With unsettled weather in the forecast I decided to head south and hope for the best. Turns out the weather cooperated, especially the wind. There wasn’t any wind to speak of in the morning on the Coyote Creek Trail. On the return the wind came from the south a bit as a weak cold front moved through, which I counted on.

There’s nothing new to report about Coyote Creek Trail, except that the efforts to remove the homeless from along the creek seem futile. I saw plenty of encampments. It’s a difficult situation and one that will not go away anytime soon.

Early morning is the best time to ride the trail because by mid-morning you’ll see dog walkers, hikers, and all sorts of folks out for some casual exercise.

The model airplane club must get a late start. I didn’t see any planes taking off as I rode by.

The climb to Henry Coe Park begs comparison to Mt. Hamilton. They have some basic similarities. Both climb a mountain, they’re narrow, winding, and have ups and downs. E. Dunne Avenue is much steeper in places, but it only rises to about 2,800 feet. It’s not as long and it wasn’t built at a steady grade like Mt. Hamilton. Both roads aren’t what I’d call smooth. Upper E. Dunne is downright bumpy.

Henry Coe Park entrance. Click on image for full size.

Henry Coe Park entrance. Click on image for full size.

I stopped at the Jackson Ranch to snap a photo. Its 36 acres was purchased by the county for $1 million.

On the way back I took the secret dirt road off the paved trail where a bridge crosses Coyote Creek near Anderson Reservoir. This trail takes you to Burnett Avenue where you can blithely ride over Hwy 101 sans on and off ramps. It’s the only crossing of its kind for miles. I made my way back to McKean Road via Hale Avenue and home, slicing three miles off the 45-mile ride to Henry Coe.

About two miles down from Henry Coe Park.

About two miles down from Henry Coe Park.


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