Here’s a Jobst Ride from 1898

Taking the plunge. Ride down Windy Hill, Sept. 13, 1987, after exploring Doherty Ridge. There’s water gushing from the pipe.


Jobst Brandt led the way over rugged logging roads and trails in the Santa Cruz Mountains from the early 1950s-2010, but he was not the first.

Back in the 1890s with the advent of pneumatic tires and “safety” frames, riders sought out new roads and trails like never before.

Here’s one account from The Palo Alto Times in 1898. [Palo Alto newspapers are viewable online at the Palo Alto library.] An analysis of the ride follows:

Route for an Outing Trip
(contributed)

“The following route is a pleasant ride for experienced bicyclists.

It is very difficult for wheels in some places but there is not more than three miles of walking necessary. The total distance is about 25 miles.

Start out early in the morning, before it grows too warm, on the road past the stock farm to Portola and go to the foot of the “new road.”

Here you climb the “goat trail.” This trail is in reality a woodcutters road and is in many places suitable for bicycle riding.

Near the summit is a spring. This is the only water to be had until you reach a farm house.

On arriving at the summit you have a choice of three roads. One to the right goes to the regular stage road to La Honda.

Start of logging road, Old La Honda and Skyline.


On reaching the junction of these two roads you can return on the regular road, or else go through Mr. Hallidies’ ranch by a steep private road.

If you turn to the left you will have a fairly level road along the crest of the mountains.

On one side is the Santa Clara valley with its green orchards, glittering bay, and bare hills.

On the other side is the ocean and ranges of mountains covered with redwoods. This road passes a farm house and just beyond that it forks.

Take the left road which will pass through a hayfield. In case the hay is not cut turn to the right and follow the fence around to the other side.

About two miles beyond this place is another farm house and here you also reach the Page mill road. Turn to the left and you can return by the new road or by the Page mill road.

The latter seems to be longer but as it is all downhill and takes you to Mayfield it is shorter than the former.

The third road which a person can take from the summit of the goat trail is open only to pedestrians. It is an old haying road and soon ends.

But by continuing to go along the ridge, a person will come to the La Honda road about half a mile from the Weeks Brothers saw mill.

This trail is very much shorter than the road and is far better than walking through deep dust.”

Analysis:

USGS map of the 1890s showing new and old road titles.Link to online maps.

I’m not sure exactly where the ride starts, but it’s somewhere near downtown or from Stanford University. The stock farm mentioned was part of Stanford just north of Lake Lagunita near the intersection of Junipero Serra and Alpine Road.

The “new road” must be Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District’s (MROSD) Spring Ridge Trail on Windy Hill. [Brian Cox made that observation. As he points out, today’s Old La Honda Road was the main road to La Honda then. The current Hwy 84 route came later. And there’s the spring, shown in the photo.]

As the story mentions, there’s three miles of walking. They certainly walked up Spring Ridge Trail in many places.

The summit is Skyline Boulevard. Back then it must have been a ranch road and still private in sections. That didn’t stop cyclists in those days.

Going right leads to today’s Old La Honda Road. It must have been darn dusty in the summer.

I believe the road through Hallidie’s ranch refers to the old road that starts from Old La Honda and Skyline. It’s still visible and parallels Old La Honda to the southeast. I rode down it a couple of times back in the 1980s. That was Hallidie’s property and where he built his aerial tramway in 1894.

This ride continues left on Skyline past Windy Hill where there must have been hayfields and a homestead.

Riders continued on Skyline to Page Mill Road where they could turn down Alpine Road or continue on Page Mill to Mayfield, today’s California Avenue. Page Mill Road didn’t have such a large switchback to Skyline back then.

The third road mentioned from the goat trail was a stub road that didn’t go anywhere except to a ranch house. It mentions the Weeks Brothers mill, which was about a mile up Hwy 84 from La Honda. There may have been a road that could be ridden from the mill for some distance. Many trails lead off of Langley Hill.

What a great adventure ride. Jobst would have approved.

3 Responses to “Here’s a Jobst Ride from 1898”

  1. Stefan Says:

    Very nice historical story and analysis! Thank you!

  2. Richard Says:

    What a find!

  3. Peter LOCKE Says:

    LOL, that blue bike sure isn’t Jobst’s. His handlebar stem had to be about 9 inches! He was pretty tall, at least a foot taller than I, and he would comment (I’m not sure I remember this correctly ) to me that it was clear up there and ask if was raining where I was.
    I look at those dirt single tracks we rode on with silk sew-up tires! As an old guy, I’m amazed that we survived!

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