Archive for the ‘Ride reports’ Category

Return to Stevens Canyon

March 29, 2013

A tree down on Canyon Trail. I forgot my saw.

A tree down on Canyon Trail. I forgot my saw.


Looking for a more mellow ride today under sunny skies and summer-like temperatures, I headed up Hwy 9 and then north on Skyline.

I checked out the trail entrance across from Horseshoe Lake (MB06), but I could tell that goes into a ravine and I was in no mood for climbing back out. It’s also closed for seasonal mud.

So I rode on Page Mill Road and decided to try the entrance across from Alpine Road (MB04). I stayed along the upper ridge, which was nice enough single-track and not steep. It took me over to the parking lot for Monte Bello and Stevens Canyon, which MROSD calls Canyon Trail.

The 0.3-mile single-track down to Stevens Canyon Road is gnarly enough for a mountain bike. I stopped to admire the sag pond, a unique geological feature of the San Andreas Fault. It’s hard to believe that one of the most dangerous fault lines resides right here.

As I made my way on the 4.3-mile road, it brought back some memories of past rides back in the day when we rode sew-ups on the rocky stuff. Despite the tires, we had few problems. I also remembered the two nasty steep climbs prior to the big descent that always take you by surprise.

Given all the bike traffic this road sees, it’s in fine shape. I enjoyed the wide, flat sections and gentle descents, of which there are quite a few. About two miles down I came across a dead oak tree on the trail. It looked like it had fallen recently. You just don’t want to be under it when it happens. That’s a more likely occurrence than meeting a mountain lion.

I did see a giant wild turkey though. It looked to be twice the size of all the wild turkeys I had ever seen.

When I got to the last single-track where the road disappears I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to ride. The single-track enters an opening where Stevens Creek runs through a flat, sandy spot. When I reached the creek I was reminded of Keith’s Folly. This time there was plenty of water flowing and I could see how it might present an obstacle on a road bike as the tires sink into the soft bottom.

It’s good to see this ride can still be done, and on a nice spring day it had just the right mellow.

Stevens Creek, the scene of Keith's Folly, with plenty of water.

Stevens Creek, the scene of Keith’s Folly, with plenty of water.

Obstacle removed on Palo Alto bike path

March 16, 2013
It's the small things in life that can make your day. Creekside Drive in Palo Alto has a path crossing Adobe Creek. It must have taken an act of God, but the extremely annoying chicane at both entrances has been removed. Now it's smooth sailing.

It’s the small things in life that can make your day. Creekside Drive in Palo Alto has a path crossing Adobe Creek. It must have taken an act of God, but the extremely annoying chicane at both entrances has been removed. Now it’s smooth sailing.

Mt. Hamilton Elk Make an Appearance

March 10, 2013
On a clear day you can see the Sierra from Mt. Hamilton summit. Click here for larger photo.

On a clear day you can see the Sierra from Mt. Hamilton summit. Click here for larger photo.

With daylight saving time in effect, I couldn’t start the 102-mile Mt. Hamilton ride until 8 a.m. under clear skies and temps in the low 40s. By the time I had climbed a mile on Mt. Hamilton after a six-mile warmup my fingers thawed out. With the coffee buzz in effect, I hammered up the road just like the days of old.

Although it had rained a fair amount a day or two ago, wildflowers were nowhere to be found except for some California poppies on the descent into Livermore. But talk about nice weather. A breeze kicked up near the summit as temps climbed into the mid 50s.

Plunging down the east side I stopped to enjoy the view of the distant Sierra, shrouded in clouds. About two miles down I saw the spring running fairly well, but not needing water, I didn’t stop.

In San Antonio Valley I had the pleasure of seeing the elk herd. They show up from time to time, at least on my annual schedule they do. This was the largest herd I had seen.

At The Junction store I noticed construction across the road. It’s a Santa Clara County maintenance depot under construction. They lost their lease on Del Puerto Canyon Road and decided to buy some land. Inside I bought another cup of coffee ($1.50). It would serve me well through the rest of the ride, including an absence of the usual leg cramps. Droves of cyclists went the other way on Mines Road as part of an organized ride.

Arroyo Mocho Creek barely had water in many sections, but where there was water the bullfrogs made their presence known. Lacking Internet access, about all they can do is croak a melodious song hoping to attract a mate. Life without Match.com: It must be tough.

I took the Arroyo Mocho Trail through Livermore, completely avoiding street traffic until Stanley Boulevard. More good news. Stanley Boulevard bike lane is 90 percent complete. I zoomed into Pleasanton with a tailwind on a spacious bike lane.

Finally, riding up Calaveras Road I found renewed strength and powered my way to the summit. Reminded me of old times.

Elk graze in San Antonio Valley. Did they miss the wildflowers?

Elk graze in San Antonio Valley. Did they miss the wildflowers?

Loma Prieta Beckons

March 3, 2013
Loma Prieta, left, looking north.

Loma Prieta looking north.

Loma Prieta mountain at one time commanded as much attention as Mt. Hamilton, until Lick Observatory and road were built. It was an object of curiosity for the first motor cars that ventured into the Santa Cruz Mountains.

My route took me up Old Santa Cruz Hwy to Summit Road and south, where I stopped for coffee at the oh-so-nice Summit Store. To fully appreciate the gentrified store you need to have been to the old one, pre-Loma Prieta Earthquake. It was, shall we say, rustic. Today you can choose from six different coffees, not to mention lattes.

According to the tradition of all Jobst Rides heading south to Loma Prieta, I should have stayed on Summit Road to Mt. Bache. However, I decided to go up Loma Prieta Road where it joins Summit Road, a short distance from Summit Store. I had ridden down it once. As it turns out, it’s a nice climb, better than Mt. Bache, in my opinion. There’s about a half-mile of dirt before joining Summit Road.

Under cloudy skies, but fairly warm temps, I continued south on Summit Road past scattered off-grid houses clinging to the ridge line that extends all the way to Mt. Madonna County Park. Four or five motorcycles passed me, as well as about a half-dozen cars. It’s a great road for testing a car’s shocks and suspension.

I stopped mid-way to look back and admire Loma Prieta, festooned with cell and other communication towers. I sped down the paved section of Summit Road to Mt. Madonna Road and turned left for more steep dirt descending. The loop was completed on the gently rolling Uvas Road and McKean Road.

Lower Loma Prieta Road is unusual among area roads in that it's mostly straight.

Lower Loma Prieta Road is unusual among area roads in that it’s mostly straight.

Bad Karma?

March 1, 2013
How would your tire handle a flat caused by a broken spoke?

How would your tire handle a flat caused by a broken spoke?

Some might say this spoke (not mine) that caused a rear flat was bad Karma. The way I see it, I made it to work in once piece and that’s the only Karma that matters.

Here’s justification for buying quality bike tires: My 700×28 Continental Gator Hardshell not only survived the spoke, I had a hard time finding the hole. This tire, handmade in Germany, has proven its worth.

Hetch Hetchy Upgrade On a Roll

February 10, 2013

Dam building continues at Calaveras Reservoir just up the road from the new Irvington Hetch Hetchy tunnel.

Dam building continues at Calaveras Reservoir.


For the past couple of years I’ve been watching progress on the Hetch Hetchy Irvington Tunnel visible from Calaveras Road. Today as I rode by I saw a huge concrete edifice up against the hill, a 17 million gallon water storage tank next to the tunnel entrance.

It’s amazing what $4.2 billion will buy you, the cost of the Hetch Hetchy upgrade. KQED posted a fascinating 11-minute video on the Irvington tunnel and the Hetch Hetchy water system.

Meanwhile, as I continued up Calaveras Road I passed by yet another public works project, the rebuilding of Calaveras Reservoir, which has been deemed unsafe in the event of a mighty temblor.

It felt like one giant public works project on this ride. Dumbarton Bridge is still undergoing earthquake retrofitting, but that work did not disrupt my ride. Construction on the Alameda Creek Trail finished a while ago, so it’s open for business. Tree roots make for a bumpy ride in many sections.

Talk about bumpy, Niles Canyon Hwy 84 now has a rumble strip down the middle its entire length. It didn’t seem to affect drivers. In narrow sections they still moved over to pass.

Finally, most of the trees have been removed alongside San Tomas Expressway as work continues on the next stretch of the San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail from Cabrillo to El Camino. There’s still no indication of how the San Tomas/El Camino intersection will be treated.

Super Bowl Ride Derailed

February 3, 2013
Laurel Tunnel, South Pacific Coast Railroad, is more visible after trees were cut.

Laurel Tunnel, South Pacific Coast Railroad, is more visible after trees were cut.

Today’s ride under gloomy skies and high humidity started cold and warmed up, a bit. It’s amazing how humidity contributes to feeling cold. 48 degrees isn’t usually bad, but today was an exception.

On my tour of broken roads I took Morrell short-cut between Summit Road and San Jose-Soquel Road. It has a couple of sags where the road is sliding away. The road hasn’t been paved in eons and it’s one giant pothole.

Redwood Lodge Road had a washout, which has been repaired. I recall riding down here one day and having to walk over a giant slide with Jobst Brandt and riders, not far beyond where the recent washout occurred.

Laurel train tunnel is now easily visible from Laurel Road/Schulthies Road. Someone cut down some trees blocking the view. You can imagine the train going through, whistle blowing, engine belching smoke.

Zayante Road a Hidden Gem in the Santa Cruz Mountains

January 27, 2013

Zayante store has everything a rider needs to fuel the ride home.

Zayante store has everything a rider needs to fuel the ride home.


My introduction to Zayante Road came on a particularly frenetic ride led by Jobst Brandt back in 1900 and 80. A fit bunch of riders they were, mostly racers and at the top of their game.

We made our way from Palo Alto over the Santa Cruz Mountains, taking a dirt road (not government approved) that tested our steel and sew-ups like no other. I for one was hammered by the time we reached Santa Cruz, but there was more to come.

Jobst took us up a steep, winding, narrow road that would become one of my favorite routes in the years ahead. But this was no fun ride as attack after attack ensued on the gnarliest climbs of 14 percent. There is one particularly nasty stretch, the last of the steep stuff, topping out at 17 percent. But don’t let that dissuade you.

By the time we reached Skyline about half of us were fried and strung out to find our way home at a manageable pace. I’ll never forget Marc Brandt begging me for a Fig Newton, totally bonked. Jobst had gone on ahead, unfazed by the long ride that clicked in at around 120 miles. Those were the days.

Zayante Road is so remote it sees little traffic, and the view — inspiring as you embrace the redwoods and the deep narrow canyons with creeks below.

On this day I rode down Zayante after climbing Hwy 9, temps in the upper 30s, low 40s. Plentiful sunshine didn’t help much until the return up 9.

Zayante Road will test your riding skills on the twisty, bumpy descent. There’s only one brief gentle climb on the way into the town of Zayante, which has but one store. I stopped for a cup of coffee, a first for me, but it hit the spot and made the ride up 9 go a little faster.

On the easy climb of Quail Hollow Road I spotted a dead pine tree riddled with woodpecker holes. Acorn woodpeckers and others spend hours drilling holes and pushing acorns into dead trees, which is no doubt why this tree was cut. They’re in there tight and, yes, sometimes even woodpeckers can’t get them out.

On the ride up 9 the sun budged the thermometer to the low 50s, but nearing Skyline it dropped back to 44. Not bad for the last weekend ride in January.

Woody had a field day with this tree on Quail Hollow Road.

Woody had a field day with this tree on Quail Hollow Road.

Catch of the Day

December 16, 2012

Steelhead found in San Tomas Aquino Creek. Dinner is served.

Steelhead found in San Tomas Aquino Creek. Dinner is served.


Found today in San Tomas Aquino Creek: one dead Steelhead trout, or salmon. The California gull doesn’t quite know what to do.

At least that’s what it looks like. I’m no ichthyologist. Here’s what Wikipedia said about the creek and Steelhead:

“A 1985 California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) survey of Saratoga Creek noted ‘a major steelhead and king salmon spawning area’ on San Tomas Aquino Creek located approximately 200 yards downstream of the Saratoga and San Tomas Aquino creeks confluence.” That’s exactly where I found this fish.

Just north of here there’s an artificial waterfall about three feet high. I can’t imagine this fish jumping up, but maybe it did so when we had the heavy rains.

On the way back I enjoyed Coyote Creek Trail and then took the newly paved stretch of path along the mighty Guadalupe River. Why oh why didn’t they leave the ramp from Trimble Road onto the trail? Maintenance trucks also use these ramps. There’s a driveway a short distance away but you have to ride the sidewalk.

Note that at low points under bridges there is minor path flooding in this area.

Trails Along Muddy Waters

December 4, 2012

San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail after heavy rains. Local agencies do the cleanup.

San Tomas Aqunio Creek Trail after heavy rains. Local agencies do the clean-up.


My headline is not as catchy as Bridge Over Troubled Waters, but that about described the situation at San Tomas Aquino Creek trail last week when we had heavy rains.

Thanks to the city of Santa Clara and the Santa Clara Valley Water District, we have a creek-side trail that stays open year-round with the exception of the gully washers we see occasionally in the Bay Area.

If you think they’re being unreasonable closing the trail, you would be wrong. Yesterday I captured a photo of some debris jammed between guard rails and left-over mud at the low spot just north of Monroe Avenue. Had that trail been open, you would not be safe there. Even if the water had receded, the trail would be coated with a thin lay of mud slicker than snot.

Now there’s an invitation for a fall by anyone using the trail. This is not the only low spot that floods. The other location is next to a fire station at Agnew Road.

I don’t know who does the clean-up, the city of Santa Clara or Santa Clara Valley Water District, but they deserve some high praise. I use the trail on my commute and it makes my day.

That leads me to a similar situation on Coyote Creek at Highway 237. This underpass could be a through trail, but it is not and according to my reliable source, there is no plan to make it accessible by bike or on foot. I have long wondered why. The reason given is that the underpass, which is lined with concrete and passable by a vehicle, is a box culvert subject to flooding. No disagreement there.

There is a way to fix that and we see it on San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail. Gates placed at strategic locations keep people out during heavy rains. (At minimum open it during the dry season.) It’s an excellent system and one that could be applied at Coyote Creek.

Coyote Creek underpass at Hwy 237. It's a muddy mess, but with a little attention it could be usable for bikes. Homeless people use it all the time.

Coyote Creek underpass at Hwy 237. It’s a muddy mess, but with a little attention it could be usable for bikes. Homeless people use it all the time.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 61 other followers