April 27, 2014
Alpine Road needs some culvert cleaning. Otherwise big washouts will continue to plague the trail.
Saturday I headed up Alpine Road to check out some alleged grading done near the intersection with Page Mill Road.
Although we had a quarter-inch of rain, the trail stayed dry, at least until the graded section a quarter-mile from the top.
My road bike’s meager brake clearance jammed the wheels tight with mud. So much for road repairs. Had it not been graded, things would have been better.
What I find curious is that culverts are not maintained. The one shown is mostly blocked. It’s this lack of maintenance that leads to catastrophic results, as we have witnessed in years gone by.
Enjoy the road/trail while you can.
April 20, 2014
Cupertino Bike Shop has moved to Stevens Canyon Road.
What a day for a bike ride, if you like perfect weather. I made it up to Skyline and enjoyed nice weather.
Riding past Stevens Creek Reservoir, I saw a mud puddle. It’s 13 percent full.
Stevens Canyon Road has a new bike shop, at the intersection of McClellan Road. Cupertino Bike Shop has completed its move from its old location on De Anza Boulevard.
Lots of buildings going up. If you type “Cupertino map” in Google you’ll see the new Apple HQ artistic rendering. The old HP campus at Wolfe and Homestead is almost all rubble now.
Speaking of building. I’m about finished with my first novel, Skidders. It’s about autonomous cars, hacking and how bicycles save the day. If you want an advance copy, just send me an email and I’ll send you a PDF.
April 13, 2014
Bridge Trail goes downhill from the Haul Road to Pescadero Creek and then joins Camp Pomponio Road, formerly called Honor Camp Road.
I don’t remember seeing a skunk in the wild, until today on the Haul Road in Pescadero Creek County Park.
It was a short distance from Camp Pomponio Road. As soon as I saw the skunk headed my way I stopped, and so did the skunk, who instantly held up its tail for a spray. We eyed each other for about five seconds before I shooed him away. He never came closer than 50 feet, which is close enough for me.
I found the paved Camp Pomponio Road infinitely more enjoyable than Portola Park Road for climbing out of the Pescadero Creek drainage.
There’s a gate about a mile and a half up, so there’s zero traffic on the narrow road that goes through a spectacular redwood grove. It was obviously logged many decades ago.
After the gate there’s about another mile of climbing, but still virtually traffic-free. The only cars using the road are going to the Tarwater Trail parking area.
You can be sure it’s steep, about 20 percent near the merge with Alpine Road, but it’s so much more beautiful and remote than Portola Park Road.
March 30, 2014
Portola Valley glamour shot of a 1987 Saso.
Today I rode my Way Back Machine around Portola Valley and all in all it’s not much different riding compared to my Ritchey Break Away. Both are nice.
However, I have to admit downtube shifting leaves something to be desired compared to brake-lever shifting.
While I’m on the topic of “way back,” last Thursday I rode the New Idria loop with some friends, a 115-mile adventure ride in the wilds of San Benito County.
We were the first cyclists to ride on the disputed Clear Creek Road since it was closed in 2008 by the Bureau of Land Management, which claimed we were breathing in asbestos dust on our way to the New Idria mine.
Now it has re-opened, but with a list of prohibitions a mile long that essentially bans off-road motor bike riding and just about every other recreational activity that might stir up dust.
Photos, story and a video are on my personal website.
March 23, 2014
Interstate 280 spans Crystal Springs canyon.
On my ride to San Francisco I stopped to admire two bridges — Eugene Moran Memorial Bridge in San Mateo County and, of course, the Golden Gate Bridge.
Eugene Moran bridge spans the canyon created by San Mateo Creek, and a big canyon it is. It’s all the more impressive because Crystal Spring Reservoir’s dam is right there. It’s still undergoing an earthquake retrofit but one of these days it will be finished and we can resume our rides on Skyline Boulevard.
That’s a good things because riding on the bike bridge over Interstate 280 at Highway 92 is a pain. How many bike bridges do you know of with an 11 percent grade? Who approved such a plan?
Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge on a busy Sunday tested my patience. Hundreds of cyclists formed a rumba line going across the span. Pseudo racers jockeyed for position with road boulder cyclists. It was quite the scene.
Clear skies made the ride up to 820 feet and the Marin Headlands overlook worth the effort.
I finally had a chance to ride through the Fort Baker tunnel, and fortunately I took the downhill route. It’s about a half-mile and speeds of 25 mph on a bike are typical. The wet, muddy stuff in the bike lane made for some interesting riding.
The tunnel is fairly well lit. You don’t need a light. The bike lane is wide. Wait at the tunnel entrance for a green light before proceeding.
One of these day they ought to close several lanes of the Golden Gate Bridge for bikes. That will be the day.
On a side note. My novel, Skidders, a story about autonomous cars making cycling safer, is moving along. It will be posted on my website a week before Christmas. Free. I’ll also post it on Kindle.
Golden Gate Bridge from the Marin Headlands. Nice day for riding.
March 2, 2014
San Tomas Falls on the creek trail finally had more than a trickle on Feb. 28.
We finally had some rain. It was enough to put some life into San Tomas Falls on my ride home from work.
It might even turn the grass green on Mt. Hamilton. Last week’s Mt. Hamilton loop revealed one wildflower until Livermore. I’m not exaggerating.
February 20, 2014
The pre-1957 Uvas Road is visible from the current road.
Imagine that, the old Uvas Road, buried in 1957 with the creation of Uvas Reservoir, has revealed itself.
It was much closer to the creek than it is today. Some of the old, narrow bridges are also visible.
The reservoir is essentially empty. Water from the reservoir recharges the area’s aquifers.
February 15, 2014
My handlebar can’t handle another doodad.
With the latest addition of an action cam and bike bell on my handlebar, I’m tapped out.
Here’s the list:
VDO bike computer
Mobius action cam
Spurcycle bicycle bell
The VDO bike computer has been working perfectly for five years. It records elevation and has an inclinometer.
I’ve written about the EagleTac D25LC2 CREE XM-L2 LED flashlight. It’s a joy to use. The rubber band mount works well.
The Mobius action cam takes 1080p video and, as you can see, is tiny. It records up to 90 minutes of video on battery power and uses microSD cards. The price is about $80 and it’s easy to use.
A drawback is that it’s not even water-resistant and it’s somewhat fragile. There’s a smaller V mount that uses pull ties, but it’s only sold with the Pro kit. I rate the video quality close to the GoPro.
Last, there’s the new Spurcycle bicycle bell. I wrote about the bell in a past entry. It’s everything the company owners promised from their Kickstarter promotion. It’s impressively well made in San Francisco. The bell ships with two wire handlebar clasps adjustable with a 1(?)-mm hex key screw head. Nice design.
January 21, 2014
Livermore Fire Station 6 houses a century-old light bulb that still works.
There’s a warm winter’s day and there’s a freakish warm winter like the one we’re having. For weeks the daily low on Mt. Hamilton summit has been in the high 50s to low 60s. What better time to do the Mt. Hamilton loop to Livermore and back?
I figured I could do the entire ride in shorts and maybe even a short-sleeve jersey. Starting Sunday at the base of Mt. Hamilton, the temperature was in the mid-40s at 7:30. Within 15 minutes I had climbed above 1,000 feet where it was already in the low 50s. By the time I reached Halls Valley (Grant Ranch Park) it was in the mid-60s and it stayed that way to the summit.
The land is parched on the backside of Mt. Hamilton. No flowers. Not a blade of grass. There’s only one pond with water near the road, where there are usually a dozen.
As I passed Arnold Ranch, the flower bed so painstakingly maintained along the road dried up. I’d be surprised if we saw a single daffodil this year.
I pulled into the Junction Store and fortunately it has re-opened, under new ownership. I jokingly told the owners I would try JotEmDown store if they were still closed. Another benefit about this day’s weather was the lack of wind. It’s usually a slog riding on Mines Road with a steady headwind. It got so warm I had to shed my long-sleeve jersey.
In Livermore I checked out the centennial incandescent light bulb inside Fire Station 6 on East Avenue that has burned for more than a century. However, as expected, the station wasn’t open. You’ll need to plan your visit on a special day to get a look.
With a nice tailwind, I took Stanley Boulevard to Pleasanton, a pleasant-on experience now that the bike lane is complete.
Riding by Calaveras Reservoir, which is receiving a stronger dam, I noted a fair amount of water.
January 21, 2014
This Continental GatorHardshell stayed on my rear wheel a little too long.
Now this is what I call a worn tire. The Continental GatorHardshell can take a beating. It lasted 6,000 miles, which includes a fair amount of dirt. Costs about $50 online.
I’ve gone from buying affordable tires to buying pricier tires in recent years. I think it’s a wash when it comes to getting the best value.
I don’t care much about rolling resistance. I just want a light tire that lasts forever. Is that too much to ask? Of course. The GatorHardshell was heavier than I’d prefer. My bias is toward folding tires and a bit lighter, but still strong. Continental works for me.
Jobst Brandt, who helped usher in the smooth Avocet tire, once went with the Continental Ultra, an economy tire. He paid for it with a horrific crash on the backside of Mt. Hamilton when the tire casing blew. It turns out that tire’s bead-casing joint isn’t reinforced to the degree found with the more expensive Continental tires.
Jobst is not light. That and his propensity to ride tires until the casing shown through, turned against him.
On the other hand, you could be riding a brand new $70 tire and slash it with a shard of glass. Ka-ching.