Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Social distancing on the Alviso levees

May 11, 2020

Alviso baylands offer the best chance to practice social distance on a Sunday morning.

There’s no better place to practice social distancing than on the Alviso levees.

Sunday morning the marina had its fair share of walkers, but they thinned out on the nine-mile loop.

The only negative was the last two miles of the loop. I think trucks used the levee to shore up the road, and now it’s as bumpy as hell.

That’s the best way to reduce speeds for bikes and cars.

Bike riding in a ghost town

March 21, 2020

I live in the heart of Silicon Valley, the world’s most innovative, and expensive, slice of real estate, but now it’s a ghost town.

On my Saturday ride around town I enjoyed clear, fresh air. It’s hard to explain, but I noticed. My lungs noticed.

Fortunately, the run on grocery stores has abated. There weren’t any lines outside and even the local store selling water didn’t have a line, but business was hopping.

In this day and age, filtered water is an essential service. And fortunately so is our city’s farmer’s market, which has a nice selection of fruits, vegetables, cooked food and even beef from a local ranch.

As expected, San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail had its share of walkers and cyclists. However, it was nowhere near as bad as lunch hour on a weekday in the summer. The trail becomes unrideable.

The weather continues to be cool and cloudy with scattered showers. I anticipate seeing even more walkers in the coming days when spring brings warm weather.

Last night I watched Breaking Away, and after 40 years it hasn’t lost any of its endearing appeal. It reminded me of those exciting times when bike riding became a passion, when rides with Jobst Brandt and his cadre became a weekly escapade.

Those were the days.

I’m now on

March 21, 2020

If you have a bookmark to, it will not work starting Monday, March 23, but I’ll still be on The URL reverts to

Keeping this blog free of advertising (I had to pay for that and the domain name) no longer makes sense, so you may also see occasional ads.

I’ll post as long as I’m cranking, and host Automattic is in business.

Saso keeps on machining

March 10, 2020

Dale Saso works on a new tool for cutting steer tubes.

Dale Saso lives in San Jose and builds steel frames. Or at least he used to. Those days are pretty much gone, thanks to carbon fiber.

Now he does small jobs for cyclists who have unique needs.

I rode by to show Dale my Frankenbike, which he built in 1986. Most of my rides with Jobst Brandt in the Santa Cruz Mountains were done on this bike.

Dale was building a tool for threading steer tubes. His shop is “old school” with thousands of steel bike parts and tools laying about.

It’s what most people would imagine a machinist’s shop looks like.

I know other machinists in Silicon Valley who own expensive machines that make exotic components for modern devices, but Dale wants no part of it.

He’s content working on small jobs. I could use a new six-speed quick-release axle for my Campagnolo rear hub. I wonder if he can make one? If it could be made from better quality steel than Campagnolo used, it might be worth it.

Dale now has a website where you can contact him.

Cutting a steer tube.



New handlebars give my neck a “break”

March 9, 2020

Old-style handlebars give my neck the relief I have been searching for.

After a couple months seeking a cure for my sore neck, I’m making progress. It will never be that same as it was before my 1981 accident, but I’m finding ways to cope.

The x-rays showed nothing all that bad for a senior citizen. In a word, it’s osteoarthritis. That’s a catch phrase, which includes misaligned vertebrae and bone spurs.

I already had eight weeks of massage therapy, which helped loosen tight muscles, but it could not undo the pain of arthritis, most notably when I turn my neck to the right.

More consultation with a physical therapist has given me some excellent stretching exercises that will loosen tight muscles, and that will improve neck mobility.

But I needed something more before I could ride comfortably.

It came in the form of an upright position in the saddle, and I mean upright.

I purchased Sunlite Northroad alloy handlebars. They have the shape found on 3-speeds of days gone by.

I couldn’t think of a handlebar that would help me sit more straight. These have a sweep back of 7.5 inches from the stem.

Now my neck doesn’t bother me. I switched to a saddle with more padding for my upright position.

The handlebars have a fair amount of give in them, which helps absorb road shock.

Now I’m the only rider on the planet with these handlebars and Campagnolo Super Record cranks.

I added some Shimano EF41 3/7-speed brake/shift levers.

In addition to all these helpful changes, I installed my waxed chain. What a difference.

I pedaled over to Dale Saso’s to show him my Frankenbike. More on that later.

I’ll still ride my Ritchey with the drop bars in the hills.



Ritchey bikes rule the day

February 27, 2020

Two Ritchey bikes on Caltrain. A rare sight for sure.

Now here’s a rare treat — two Ritchey’s next to each other on Caltrain.

The mountain bike with its vintage bullmoose bars looks like it dates back to the mid 1980s, but it’s in remarkably good condition.

Tom popularized that handlebar design back in the day. My recollection is that he invented it, and that’s what Google says as well.

Even the Caltrain employees commented on the Ritchey bikes.

Bay Area Bike Rides Deck now in digital format

February 27, 2020

Kindle map sample shown on my smart phone.

And now a word from our sponsor. Bay Area Bike Rides Deck, for the first time, is available in digital format, on Kindle.

The print deck and Kindle went on sale this week.

I had a look and I’m delighted with how the Kindle version turned out. Each map and text page is faithfully reproduced.

As a bonus, you can magnify the maps to see the terrain in stunning detail. I spent hours noodling over the roads in magnified mode when I made them. I didn’t just guess where the roads went.

By double-tapping on a page, you can quickly scroll through thumbnails. It’s an elegantly simple design. It appeals to the minimalist in me.

As a reminder, all of the routes are available for download into a bike computer on Ride with GPS.

Close-up view of a map on Kindle.




How can I thank the doctors and nurses who saved my life?

February 12, 2020

Ouch! My Colnago took it on the chin in 1981 from a head-on collision.

Maybe it’s too late now, but like the TV show “My Name is Earl,” I will try to make amends. As you can see by the photo, my head-on encounter with a car did not go well.

My trip to Stanford Hospital took place on a warm summer day, July 12, 1981, with an ambulance ride from Portola Valley.

It was my good fortune to be hit a hundred yards from the Portola Valley fire station, where I received medical attention within minutes of the accident.

The EMTs stabilized my broken humerus, a compound fracture that tore a hole in my brachial artery. My left kneecap broke like an eggshell when it took out the car’s left-turn signal. Whiplash from crashing into the windshield left me with a sore neck and maybe a fracture in the C7 vertebra. X rays were inconclusive.

I had some minor facial cuts, but no internal injuries.

I wouldn’t be in surgery until around 10 that evening. I was in good hands — in fact, extremely good hands. William Baumgartner and Michael J. Cummins masterfully sewed up the artery. As it turns out, Dr. Baumgartner left Stanford Hospital for Johns Hopkins a year later, going on to become the head of the cardiology department where he specialized in heart and lung transplant surgeries.

It doesn’t end there. The orthopaedic surgeons who repaired my humerus were Donald Bunce and Chris Mochizuki. Dr. Mochizuki may still be practicing in Redwood City.

Dr. Bunce died of a heart attack in 2003. I only learned recently that he was the Stanford University quarterback in 1972, and led his team to victory over Michigan in the Rose Bowl.

My surgeries went well and I left the hospital 11 days later on my own two feet.

How do you thank all the people who saved your life? It’s tough. You realize how vital medical care is and you understand why it’s such a flash point in politics. Good health care is a matter of life and death.

As for today’s health insurance, it’s a reflection of changing times. In 1981 I paid a modest monthly fee for 100 percent coverage with Blue Shield. The hospital bill came to $40,000. I didn’t pay a dime; just $200 for the ambulance ride.

That brings me to the here and now and why I’m stuck in my garage on a trainer going on two months. It all leads back to that fateful day so long ago.

It wasn’t my arm or my knee that came back to haunt me, but my neck. It was so stiff that I couldn’t turn it after the accident. Riding a bike was awkward, but I rode anyway, covering 50 miles to the ocean by October.

The neck got better after some physical therapy by Doris Sukiennicki, but bike rides have always been accompanied by a sore neck. It got to the point that I couldn’t take it anymore.

Physical therapy is helping, but it remains to be seen how much it can undo 35 years of ignoring stiff, scarred muscles. I’m making progress, but that impact point with the car windshield will never let me forget my transgressions.

UPDATE 3/4/2020: X-rays revealed the source of my pain: There is grade 1 approximately 2 mm anterior subluxation of C4 upon C5.  Moderate narrowing C5-6 disc.  Mild to moderate endplate spurring seen at C3-4 through C5-6.  Multilevel mild to moderate facet spurring.

In other words, I have arthritis and it’s only going to get worse with age. Riding a bike is probably the worst form of exercise for my situation. Bone spurs make things worse. I guess this is my body’s way of saying it’s time to let go of the kind of riding I have done the past 40 years.

A Decade of Bay Area Bike Rides ebook

January 5, 2020

My Bay Area Bike Rides blog is available as a Kindle book on Amazon.

I decided to turn my blog into an Amazon ebook. It’s an homage to the end of what has been a fun ride from 2009-2019.

The ebook is 180,000 words with hundreds of photos, 90 percent of my blog. It’s best viewed on a 2-in-1 Chromebook using the Kindle reader.

I had to keep the photos small to fit the size requirements, the only downside.

Now you can read at your leisure in a place of your choosing, rather than sneaking looks at my blog while at work in the office.

There’s no doubt that this new decade isn’t going to be much like my last, so this is a good time to reset priorities and interests.

I’ll keep my WordPress blog in place for now, but entries will be sparse, if at all.

Ride bike…

Bay Area Bike Rides Deck unveils new routes in the 5th edition

January 1, 2020

New Bay Area Bike Rides Deck will ship in February.

Chronicle Books is taking orders for my new edition of Bay Area Bike Rides Deck. It will ship in late February. Also from Amazon.

What started as a book in 1990, morphed into a card deck in 2008, modeled after a Chronicle Books series dedicated to big-city walking tours.

This 5th edition maps resemble the previous, but now have “3D” terrain. It’s mostly for aesthetics, but required some sophisticated software.

I had always wanted to produce maps showing terrain. I looked long and hard at QGIS open-source map software, but every time I tried using it, I couldn’t figure it out.

I continued looking and finally found something promising. It’s called 3D Map Generator — Terrain, a plug-in for Photoshop developed by a programmer based in Germany. His company is called Orange Box.

Terrain can be created using his software and height maps. I hadn’t heard of height maps, but after looking into it, I found out that the United States Geological Survey (USGS) maintained a website with height map files for California and the Bay Area, and beyond. (The website shut down, but that’s another story.)

I had help with the maps. A Chronicle Books graphic artist worked her magic and showed me how to make them better. She has Illustrator skills way beyond mine. Thanks to her, the maps look the way they do — awesome.

This edition is my coda, the culmination of 40 years of cycling in the Bay Area and just as long working on maps, learning all about Adobe Illustrator and mastering 3D Map making.

I hope you enjoy the maps and the places they take you.

Contents of all five editions are listed. If you click on the route name in the 5th edition, it takes you to Ride With GPS, where you can download the course for use in a bike computer with navigation.