East Ridge Trail where have you been?

August 1, 2015

Anybody missing a toy? They're at the Big Basin Park maintenance yard.

Anybody missing a toy? They’re at the Big Basin Park maintenance yard.

As I look around for the remaining trails I haven’t ridden (filling my bucket list), I stumbled across East Ridge Trail in Big Basin Redwoods State Park.

I’m told Jobst had ridden it, but I imagine not often. I headed out today to see what I was missing. As it turns out, not much.

East Ridge Trail is an old logging road, I’m guessing (aren’t they all?), not really a trail, which is why it’s open for bikes. No single-track is open in Big Basin Redwoods State Park.

I picked it up on the right a few hundred yards down China Grade after turning left at Hwy 236. You can’t miss the trail. There’s a big iron gate and a sign that says authorized vehicles only.

After a brief climb, the road starts a short descent into a saddle and at the low point there’s a dirt road off to the right that descends fairly steeply. That goes to Rogers Road and the state parks maintenance area. It’s open for bikes.

I continued on East Ridge Trail uphill. The 1.1-mile road, as you might imagine, follows a ridge and that means plenty of up and down. There’s one climb that’s impossible to ride because it’s about 35 percent and loose. But try anyway.

The road dumps out onto the little-used Lodge Road. I’m betting Lodge sees fewer cars than any road in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It’s a goat trail and doesn’t really go anywhere special.

I headed right because I wanted to check out Rogers Road and the trail I chose not to take.

After two miles I came to a junction and headed straight into more “authorized vehicles only” territory, the park maintenance yard. While there I got into a conversation with one of the park workers. That’s when I noticed a tree stump covered with all kinds of toys, left behind by park users over the years.

Anyway, the road I didn’t take comes into Rogers Road. Check it out. It’s all downhill, as opposed to East Ridge. There’s another trail that comes into the park maintenance area, but that’s one of those Once Upon a Ride reports.

East Ridge Trail where it crosses Lodge Road in Big Basin State Park.

East Ridge Trail where it crosses Lodge Road in Big Basin State Park.

Mammoth display trumpets bone discovery

July 28, 2015
Mammoth artwork at Trimble Road and Guadalupe River trail.

Mammoth artwork at Trimble Road and Guadalupe River trail.

Mammoth bones were removed for study.

Mammoth bones were removed for study.

Remember 2005 when they found the mammoth bones in the Guadalupe River next to Trimble Road? Who can forget?

Now there’s a life-size mammoth artwork on display next to the discovery site. It looks much better than that coiled snake in downtown San Jose.

With my life back in order, I toured the Alviso Slough/Guadalupe Slough levy, which is in great shape now that the gravel put down in the first mile has settled.

It’s pretty amazing that gravel sinks into the ground the way it does. It just seems to disappear.

Lots of lone white pelicans, egrets, cormorants swimming around. Even a couple of night herons made a showing.

Alviso levy on a warm morning.

Alviso levy on a warm morning.

Ritchey Break-Away retrieved!

July 27, 2015

Enjoying my time at Lisa's Hot Dog stand waiting for a ride home from Alviso after retrieving my stolen bike.

Enjoying my time at Lisa’s Hot Dog stand waiting for a ride home from Alviso after retrieving my stolen bike.

I headed back to the scene of the crime a couple hours later on my other bike and what do I see on Gold Street but a guy riding my Ritchey!

I confronted him and it quickly became apparent he was harmless and had mental issues. He tried to claim he bought it off someone. Fat chance.

I had seen him at the bathroom earlier. He turned over the bike and we talked a bit. It’s really sad to know people like that are out there.

He removed the stuff in my seat bag, bike camera and bike computer, but I may still get them back because I met some nice folks who own a hot dog stand on Gold Street and know the thief well.

It’s Lisa’s Hot Dogs. She sells excellent tamales.


I can’t bear to think about it — another bike stolen.

It happened this morning while I was in the Santa Clara Valley Water District bathroom in Alviso next to the Guadalupe River trail.

Somebody just walked up and rode off or put it in their car.


Last photo. I added a new front rim, black Mavic Open Pro.

Last photo. I added a new front rim, black Mavic Open Pro.

Redwood roads always in-Spiring

July 18, 2015

Giant redwood stump fading away in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Giant redwood stump fading away in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

I hadn’t visited the giant redwood stump in eons, so I stopped by for a look. It’s showing its age and starting to fade away.

Back in the late 1800s that stump was a giant redwood, cut down to make shingles for homes in the Bay Area.

Out on Hwy 1, I noticed some feisty winds, thanks to Hurricane Dolores stirring things up out in the Pacific.

On the way back I took Fremont Avenue and noticed that the ancient bridge over Permanente Creek is finally being replaced. Road closed, but bikes can use the recreation bridge. So there’s almost no car traffic on Fremont through Los Altos.

Endura gloves fit for a long ride

July 16, 2015

Endura Hyperon glove wears well, but be careful with the size.

Endura Hyperon glove wears well, but be careful with the size.

After my less than satisfactory experience with Pearl Izumi gloves, I went to my local bike shop to try another brand and settled on Endura, a Scottish company in business since 1992.

I had never heard of Endura, but I’m not buying bike gloves every day. I liked the amount of gel padding and it seemed to be strategically placed, so I tried them on. Much to my surprise M felt too small. I tried L and even they felt a bit tight, but I bought L anyway because I’ve always worn M and there’s no way XL would be correct.

I knew they would stretch and sure enough they did. Now they’re a good fit if a tiny bit on the loose side, but the last thing I want is a tight glove.

I’ve worn them on some long rides and I can say they’re not causing any problems. They don’t get in the way of the ride or cause discomfort. I could use a bit more gel, but only if added in a certain way. Back in the day, Gant gloves were the best brand out there. They had good padding that covered the entire palm. If more padding is added, the entire palm must be covered like the Gant, otherwise the padding will have the “pebble” effect.

Removal is problematic with these gloves, as it is for others. They have reinforced fingers for easier removal though.

There’s a “terry sweat wipe,” which I never use, but it’s there if you sweat a lot. I only realized it existed after reading the literature.

Endura has lots of models for cyclists who have specific needs. Cost is on the high end for a bike glove, but that may be because these glove are, much to my surprise, made in Scotland. Build quality looks to be top-notch.

I don’t care where a product is made, as long as it’s good quality. In our global economy, that can be a hard pill to swallow. It certainly ratchets up competition. But I digress. Global economics is best left for other blogs.

I'm told this is how to size for gloves. I'm 8 cm, clearly a M.

I’m told this is how to size for gloves. I’m 8 cm, clearly a M.

Garmin 500 GPS bike computer has a lot to like

July 9, 2015

Garmin 500 uses GPS to record your ride with amazing accuracy.

Garmin 500 uses GPS to record your ride with amazing accuracy.

I’ve been avoiding writing about the Garmin GPS 500 bike computer because there’s so much ground to cover and so many features to learn.

After seven months of regular use, it’s time to weigh in on GPS bike computers. It’s hard not to be impressed with the technology, but don’t feel bad it seems a little overwhelming.

Military madness
GPS stands for Global Positioning System and we have the Cold War to thank for its existence. The U.S. military has invested billions of dollars in GPS all for the sake of accuracy — ballistic missile accuracy.

Our government made it available for the world over in the 1990s, with few restrictions. The military, I imagine, has ways to shut it down should we become involved in a confrontation.

Your Garmin relies on 32 satellites circling the Earth in such a way that anywhere on the planet your GPS receiver can lock in on four satellites to obtain a fix accurate to within about 12 feet. Your results will vary depending on location.

If you’re at the bottom of a deep canyon in the Santa Cruz Mountains obscured by trees on a cloudy day, your signal may be degraded.

I’ve lost a signal that way once and I’ve had a couple of other unexplainable glitches that caused a signal loss. I imagine some are due to software errors and not the GPS itself.

But enough with the technology: is a GPS computer worth the price (at least $120, and about $180 for the Edge 500)?

Yes, if you’re willing to learn how to use it and put up with its quirks. GPS computers need a fair amount of care and feeding. It’s like owning a highly tuned musical instrument. Sounds great with constant tuning.

Pros and cons
For starters, the battery only lasts about 18 hours in use. So you’re good for about 8 or 9 two-hour rides before recharging, which takes at least an hour.

You don’t mind software upgrades and occasional problems uploading your data. Let’s face it, the reason most people own a GPS computer is to upload their rides for analysis. You can spend hours reviewing the ride — speed, altitude, temperature, cadence, etc., from the convenience of your computer.

It took months before my Garmin 500 synced well with Garmin Express, the software you’ll need to upload your data. I went to Garmin forums to learn what was up with issues I had using Windows 7. You get the picture.

Those problems appear to have been sorted out and now I can sync reliably. It still takes way too long, in my opinion, to sync, but at least it works.

Programming the Garmin 500 is straightforward. The challenge is sorting through all the features to figure out what you want. There’s so much to go over that it would take an hour just to cover everything.

Helpful advice
A few pointers will have to do:

1) Take your Garmin outside when locking onto the satellite signal. It may lock on indoors but accuracy is reduced.

2) Many settings can be made visible on a single screen, but I found that five is about the most you can have and still maintain legibility.

3) You can auto-cycle through all your data pages. Turn off the pages you don’t need, especially if you don’t have cadence.

4) Be sure to apply privacy settings to your uploads on sites like Garmin Connect, Strava, and others, if you don’t want people to see where you live. There are settings that cut off your route within a half-mile of your start point.

5) Altitude is determined by a built-in barometer, not map. Set the gauge to your home altitude for better accuracy.

6) As with all bike computer thermometers, the Garmin 500 reads high when in direct sun.

7) If your Garmin loses the signal, you’re out of luck. You’ll have to start a new ride from where the signal was lost. It does not reconnect.

8) The Garmin 500 does not store maps for navigation. It can record a route, but it’s pretty lame if you’re trying to use it for guidance. Not recommended if it’s your only means of following a route.

9) Mounting is a breeze. You can even carry it in your back pocket and capture a signal.

10) Comes with a standard Type-B USB cable, and compatible with Windows or Apple OS (Garmin does not support Linux, officially).

11) Remember to turn it off when done with your ride. If it detects movement, it will keep working when, for example, you’re driving home from a ride.

So which is better, a non GPS or GPS bike computer? That depends on what you want in life. If you’re into recording your route and capturing the data, GPS is the way to go. If you don’t want the accompanying hassles, use a non-GPS bike computer.

Of course, neither is necessary to enjoy a bike ride.

Shimano PD M540 creak an easy fix

July 7, 2015

Shimano PD M540 will creak after about a year of use. Here's how to fix it.

Shimano PD M540 will creak after about a year of use. Here’s how to fix it.

I didn’t realize it the first time I heard creaking sounds coming from my Shimano PD M540 pedals nine months into ownership, but it’s an easy fix.

I’m not accustomed to pedals creaking so quickly, but I guess it’s a feature of this particular pedal.

All you have to do is add grease, and clean out the old grease while you’re at it. That’s what I did and now the pedals are silent.

Clint Gibbs does an excellent job describing how it’s done. I recorded a video about the PD M520 pedal, which requires the special removal tool. The M540 does not need that tool.

You don’t need to unpack the bearings, which I showed in my video. That’s only necessary if the bearings are shot.

I’m disappointed that these pedals creak so quickly, but at least it’s easy to eliminate the annoying noise.

Bohlman Road a good test for Sierra Rides

July 5, 2015

View from Quickert Road overlooking Saratoga.

View from Quickert Road overlooking Saratoga.

If you can ride up Bohlman Road in Saratoga, you can probably make it over Sonora Pass. They’re both painfully steep.

I couldn’t find out how the road got its name, but no doubt it was named for a Bohlman or Bollman. Road was paved in the early 1950s.

Interestingly, John Brown’s (the abolitionist) second wife, Mary, lived on Bohlman Road for a time in the late 1800s.

The grade is steep for all except the last mile. I saw a maximum 23 percent on my cyclometer and that matches closely with what was recorded by Lucas on his website measuring grades of local roads.

I turned left on On Orbit Drive and descended Quickert, Kittridge Roads, fortunately with no traffic as the roads are barely wider than a large SUV.

It was a muggy, warm day with a fair amount of smog. Imagine what it would be like today if we hadn’t enacted smog regulations, Clean Air Act, EPA, etc.

A fair wind blows

June 27, 2015

Windsock says ride north young man. So I did.

Windsock says ride north young man. So I did.

Note the windsock located on Hwy 1 near Waddell Beach. Winds are from the south. Huh?

Yes, winds do come from the south on the coast, especially when a tropical storm moves in from the Gulf of Mexico.

You can be sure I knew in advance which way to ride today. I motored on the flats and downhills as fast at 30 mph. Not bad for a geezer.

Meanwhile, during my brief stop for victuals, a local resident of Davenport bemoaned the potential naming of the Coast Dairies as a national monument. He sees it as a magnet for more crowding in the form of traffic.

On the bright side, more government money may be shaken out for buying land as open space and that’s always a good thing. I’d rather see our money go here than being spent on needless high-tech weaponry like the F35. Cyber security, now that’s another matter. But I digress.

Jobst Brandt Memorial Ride brings back memories

June 20, 2015

Jobst Riders prepare to set off on the celebratory ride from Palo Alto. (Chuck Morehouse photo)

Jobst Riders prepare to set off on the celebratory ride from Palo Alto. (Chuck Morehouse photo)

On Saturday we gathered at the hallowed steps of the house of Jobst on Middlefield Road in Palo Alto for a tribute ride and gathering to celebrate our friend’s adventuresome life.

I can’t begin to identify everyone in the photo, but we had Jobst Riders there going back to the 1960s!

Many riders braved dirt Alpine Road, Jobst’s favorite route to Skyline Boulevard, even though they hadn’t ridden there in decades.

Everyone managed to make it up the narrow, bumpy trail with plenty of time to spare for the celebration.

The big yellow bike in the front is Jobst’s old one with a repaired rear stay, owned now by Richard Mlynarik.

So now it’s time for everyone who isn’t riding to get back on and pick up the pace. Jobst wouldn’t have it any other way.


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