Repair stand on Stevens Creek Trail

March 30, 2022

Repair stand on Stevens Creek Trail in Mountain View

Thanks to the city of Mountain View for installing the Dero Fixit stand on Stevens Creek Trail at the overpass for Evelyn Avenue, Central Expressway, and the Caltrain tracks.

I understand there’s another stand somewhere on the trail, which follows the creek and goes from south Mountain View to the Baylands.

The stand has a pump (schrader and presta), flat-head screwdriver, phillips head screwdriver, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 mm allen keys, pedal wrench, tire irons, box wrenches.

Dero Fixit stand website

Chanterelle memory

March 24, 2022

Chanterelle harvest in 2006.

I haven’t shown this photo on my blog because it was taken in 2006, but it deserves some exposure.

This is easily the most mushrooms I found during an outing in the Santa Cruz Mountains. I think it weighed 20 pounds. I had to drive the car for this harvest and recruited the entire family.

We had a wet winter, really wet. I don’t know if this was 2005-2006, but probably.

I think mushrooms are bellwethers for the environment, especially the chanterelle. They spook easily and they’re particular about the weather.

They like wet and cold winters.

I get the feeling that we’ll never see those days again in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It’s sad, really sad.

I haven’t found chanterelles for several years.

License plate readers installed

March 22, 2022

License plate reader on Elena Road in Los Altos Hills

Just when thieves in South America are booking flights to come here and steal from Bay Area homes (I’m not kidding), the city of Los Altos Hills has installed license plate readers to deter crime.

Crime tourism sounds like something out of The Onion, but these are the times we’re living in.

I don’t know what good license plate readers will do for preventing crime, but we’ll see.

Automatic License Plate Readers

While you’re out riding through the LA Hills, try Concepcion Road. It’s my favorite descent. Wide. Long. Fast. Great sight lines.

Another February heat wave

February 10, 2022

This year is looking more and more like 2014 in terms of warm winter weather. That year I rode the Mt. Hamilton loop in January, wearing short sleeves most of the way.

Pescadero Creek County Park website says Haul Road is closed. I think they oversee the road more than Portola Redwoods State Park.

Today was freakish warm, 70s in Pescadero, La Honda, and the coast, but mid 60s on Skyline. What gives?

I headed down Alpine Road after my internal combustion engine whisked me to Skyline. The temperature climbed as I descended.

Even the dark recesses of Alpine Road had pockets of hot air. By the time I started climbing Haskins Hill, I had to remove my long-sleeve jersey.

Second climb of Stage Road. Listen to the crashing of the waves. Why did Stage Road go inland and not follow the coast? Because that’s where people lived.

Covid19 and the CZU fires made 2020 a year to forget as the Loma Mar Store owner gave me the fire details. Strong winds caused the fire to spread at lightning speed.

Forest service fire fighters managed to stop the blaze on the banks of Pescadero Creek, only feet from the store. They also saved the houses on Wurr Road, the final battle line.

Maybe some minor scorching on Wurr Road.

I continued on through Pescadero, basking in temps that soared to the mid 70s. Warm gusts of wind added to my discomfort. How can it be hot in February?

La Honda wasn’t any different, but cooler air finally made the ride more comfortable on Old La Honda Road and on Skyline.

All I had to deal with there was the usual Formula 1 race cars and motorcycles.

I used to do this ride from home on a whim. Now it’s a struggle.

As I ate my chocolate crescent I listened to the patrons of Loma Mar Store discuss the strong winds we’ve been having. “It’s not normal,” one man said.

Tasty fuel.

What is normal? I can relate though. There’s nothing normal about our weather these days.

Peter Johnson had a machinist’s soul

January 17, 2022

Jobst Brandt, Olaf Brandt, Peter Johnson, Jan Causey Johnson in Switzerland, 1984. Jobst Brandt photo

When it came to having someone mend my smashed frame in 1981, I immediately thought of Peter Johnson.

I got to know him on Sunday rides with Jobst Brandt, and sharing that kind of toil and strife gave me confidence that he’d do a good job.

Peter warned me that I shouldn’t expect the bike to last forever. When tubes have to be reheated they become more brittle and joints are prone to failure.

I was a starving cyclists at the time and needed a quick fix. So Peter built a new fork, and replaced the toptube, downtube, and headtube.

The bike lasted five more years and got me through a three-week ride in the Alps. I couldn’t complain.

Peter and Jobst complemented each other, like wheels on pavement. Peter the machinist built and maintained Jobst’s bike for more than 25 years.

Peter Johnson negotiates Engsteln Trail near Melchtal, Switzerland, in 1985. Jobst Brandt photo
Peter on Gavia Pass in 1984. Jobst Brandt photo

They toured the Alps six times, 1982-85, 1989, and 1990. That’s a lot of miles and climbing.

Now Peter is gone. I last saw him a few years ago, in the hospital after heart surgery. He died in Bern, Switzerland, a place he loved to visit.

Peter was a regular on Sunday rides well into the 1990s, and his wife Jan joined him on many occasions. Our Wool Jersey Gang had some fun adventures exploring the Santa Cruz Mountains.

I’ll never forget my last visit to Peter’s machine shop in 2006. He owned enough tools and machines to build a car from scratch. Not to mention spare bike equipment.

Peter built obscure parts in his job, things you’ll never see but find their way into vital machinery.

Jobst asked Peter to machine special washers that lodged between a Shimano SPD clipless pedal and a Campagnolo or Shimano crank arm. I had already broken two cranks at the pedal eye, so I jumped at the opportunity to have Peter build me some washers and mill in the crank’s pedal hole opening.

While the washers were tiny and didn’t look like they could do much to prevent a failure, they have worked perfectly for years. The snug fit keeps the pedal from moving.

Machine shop in 2006

Finally, Peter could invent. He built a threadless headset in the early 1970s, well before they were “invented.” It was used by Marc Brandt and Grant Handley in 1976.

Parts wear out with use, and we’re no exception. Now there’s one less machinist to keep the wheels turning. We had some good Sunday rides together, memories that last a lifetime.

Mobile book marketing

January 13, 2022

Custom jersey made by Owayo.

Look for me in the months ahead wearing my book jersey.

Maybe I’ll bring a copy or two so I can sell them out on the road.

Jersey is sold by Owayo, manufactured in Germany.

Superb quality and perfect fit. I recommend this company for custom jerseys.

I paid full price for it.

Rain takes a break

December 31, 2021

I found lots of riders enjoying the sunshine on Thursday, myself included as I made one last attempt to find chanterelles.

Russian Ridge parking area. No water here.

Sadly, I found none, and it’s not for lack of rain. It may be that all the places I came to know lost their mojo. Chanterelles are mysterious fungi. They spook easily.

I soldiered on and made my Alpine Road/Old La Honda Road/Skyline loop. At the bottom of Alpine Road just before Pescadero Road, I came across trucks and patrol cars.

Alpine Road West still magical.
That mushroom was about all I saw.

They were cleaning up a downed redwood, which took out communication lines for nearby houses. AT&T was on it.

When you see lines down, be fearful. Live power lines can kill, as they did on Portola Road in Portola Valley some years ago.

Skyline Boulevard turned into a cloudy, foggy churn up to Alpine Road, cold and damp. Winter has only just begun.

I can’t think of a better way to avoid Omicron than a bike ride in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Old La Honda Road view to the Pacific. Stuff of dreams.

Wet weather finally

December 14, 2021

This round of stormy weather gave our Santa Clara home 2.87 inches of badly needed rain, and a total of 7.08 inches since September. And snow on Mt. Hamilton.

Guadalupe River running strong at San Jose airport

Guadalupe River is raging and the often flooded underpass at Hwy 101 is flooded once again.

Flooding at Hwy 101 and Guadalupe River underpass
San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail waterfall

San Tomas Aquino Creek’s “Niagara Falls” is flowing nicely.

Even more good news, construction is underway at the De La Cruz Blvd./Trimble Rd. and Hwy 101 overpass. The road will be widened with a bike lane.

Trimble Road and Hwy 101 overpass construction

It comes too late for me, as I stopped daily commuting here in 2010.

Today I’d probably take the paved Guadalupe River path, although not on days like today when it’s flooded.

I had a few close calls here as huge trucks squeezed by me on the overpass, and I dodged cars taking the Hwy 101 south on-ramp.

I enjoyed the ride, except for this short stretch.

Airport parking structure never fails to impress.

Sky Lane Cycling Track in Bangkok

December 5, 2021

Wow, how times have changed since my visit in 1989. This recreation gem is located near the Bangkok airport.

I suspect the airport has moved to a new location farther from the city. (Yes, 2006.)


Palo Alto opens Hwy 101 pedestrian/bike bridge

November 22, 2021

Palo Alto’s new recreation overcrossing improves baylands access.

After years of work and millions of dollars, cyclists finally have a better way to reach the Palo Alto Baylands.

The wide overcrossing includes interpretive signage and a place to sit.

The trail continues to E. Meadow Drive, which has a bike lane and continues into Palo Alto. Or you can take the lightly traveled Bayshore Road paralleling highway 101.

Judging by the traffic this morning, the bridge will see plenty of wheels for recreation and commuting.