Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Newspaper article gives balanced report on mountain biking

July 16, 2016

Henry Coe is one of the best state parks for wild and scenic riding.

Henry Coe is one of the best state parks for wild and scenic riding.


I read the San Jose Mercury News daily and I was pleased to see today’s article about mountain bikes because it gave a balanced view of the pastime some 40 years after it got its start in the Bay Area.

The headline “Bay Area lays out welcome mat to once-shunned mountain bikers,” pretty much sums up the article. We’re told that some parks are making accommodations for mountain bikes, especially new riders who want to learn more in a safe environment.

The sentiment expressed in the article mirrors what I’ve been noticing over the years. I’ve followed the mountain bike boom since the early 1980s when Tom Ritchey started building top-of-the-line frames out of his garage. The sport, if you can call it that, was born out of a desire to ride bikes off-road.

That’s a wonderful attitude to have because riding a bike off-road allows you to see miles and miles of open terrain, far more compared to hiking. It can also be mixed with road riding, giving a healthy individual the ability to ride from home in Santa Clara Valley into the mountains and back in a matter of hours.

The only downside is that off-road cycling has a kinship to off-road motorcycling. All that’s missing from today’s mountain bikes is the motor. They have suspension, beefy brakes, strong frames, wide, sturdy tires. Great for speeding down hills.

That was the rub in the beginning and it’s still the rub today, only most of the young Turks who rode like Yahoos back then have aged and saw the error of their ways, or just chalked it up to youth.

Nothing wrong with that. Young people like to have a little excitement and the mountain bike is a better option than a lot of other risky outdoor activities.

While I believe things will improve for mountain bikes, we still need to remember that the bike is the “car” on the trails. That means yielding to other trail users and slowing down to a crawl to pass.

With the mountain bike comes responsibility, no different from driving a car. I always keep that in mind while I’m riding trails in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

PodRide a look at the future

July 13, 2016

It’s so darn cute. For that reason alone, PodRide should be a popular choice for the day when we rely more on human-powered hybrid transportation.

Once Upon a Ride…available now

June 29, 2016

Once Upon a Ride... a compendium of Jobst Rides, available now.

Once Upon a Ride… a compendium of Jobst Rides, available now.


Thirty-six years in the making, Once Upon a Ride… offers the reader the most complete complete account of Jobst Rides ever. Even if you own the other three magazines, Adventure Rides in the Santa Cruz Mountains, High Sierra and Mount Hamilton by Bike, there’s something new here.

Over the years I’ve posted past ride reports, based on my personal journal, on Magcloud, WordPress blog and a personal website. All of those articles, including 60 new ones about rides with Jobst Brandt and/or his friends, are included here.

It’s a lot: 100,000 words, 169 photos, with almost all photos matched to the report. Now you don’t have to search all over the place for Jobst Ride stories, most of which are no longer posted.

All for the price of an inner tube, $5.99, PDF.

You can view it on your computer, laptop or tablet. Smartphones not recommended. The file download is 33 Mb, so give it some time to download. A nice feature is searchability. It’s also 12-point type — easy on the eyes.

If you want a keepsake, buy a print copy for $45.80, not including shipping. It’s printed in the U.S. using HP high-speed printers, a nice touch since Jobst helped develop HP printer technology at HP Labs.

Available on Magcloud.com

These are your options: print, notebook/chromebook or tablet.

These are your options: print, notebook/chromebook or tablet.

Bay Trail has a new surface

June 2, 2016
Bay Trail between Sunnyvale and Mountain View has a new surface, thanks to Google.

Bay Trail between Sunnyvale and Mountain View has a new surface, thanks to Google.

What will $2.9 million buy you in Palo Alto? Other than a modest three-bedroom house, it gets you four miles of smooth dirt trail between Mountain View and Sunnyvale.

That’s what Google is spending on trail improvements for the Bay Trail, out of their own pocket. I took a spin on part of the trail starting from the Sunnyvale Water Treatment plant, and it’s a big improvement over what was there. The bumps, ruts and gravel have been replaced by smooth dirt and fine quarry sand. Can’t complain.

The trail is still closed behind Moffett Field, opening on June 4, according to the sign.

Google hopes that an improved trail will encourage more employees to ride bikes to work. I’m all for that.

What I don’t know is how the trail will hold up in the rain. I’m guessing it will be much better than what was there, but it may still be muddy in spots.

San Jose Airport has a New Fence

May 24, 2016

A new perimeter fence at the north end of the San Jose Airport is in place.

A new perimeter fence at the north end of the San Jose Airport is in place.

What will $3.4 million buy you in the Bay Area, besides a modest house in Palo Alto? How about a new fence around the San Jose Airport.

Work is finishing up now. I noticed it on my morning ride. Ewert Road, as it’s called (now there’s a trivia question), used to be the main route for the long-term parking lot on the west side of the airport.

But as we all know, that parking lot was shut down several years ago and moved closer to the airport on the east side of the Guadalupe River.

Based on the new layout — the road was split in two — the interior will be used by patrol vehicles, the exterior for bikes and the occasional patrol vehicle.

Follow up: The fence shown here is temporary. A permanent fence is being built behind this one.

Electric Bike Expo in Palo Alto

April 24, 2016

People try out ebikes at the Expo held in Palo Alto.

People try out ebikes at the Expo held in Palo Alto.


There’s still time to stop by the Electric Bike Expo in Palo Alto today and test ride a wide variety of bikes.

I helped out at the raffle for a Tempo bike, a joint effort by the San Jose Earthquakes Community Fund, Branham Hills Little League, Silicon Valley Humane Society, and the California Bicycle Coalition.

Bosch and other sponsors set up the booths and test area in the Stanford Shopping Center next to Macy’s.

I’m encouraged to see the number of different ebikes and their increasing sophistication. As Marc Brandt said while visiting the expo, “Electric bikes are empowering.”

One guy who stopped by the raffle area said the ebike allows him to commute to work on his bad knees. It beats driving.

A Tempo ebike is being raffled off. It's $5 a ticket.

A Tempo ebike is being raffled off. It’s $5 a ticket.

Disc brakes slice and dice the peleton

April 18, 2016

Disc brakes have become an issue in the pro peleton.

Disc brakes have become an issue in the pro peleton.


I’ve heard about some strange accidents in my day, but now there’s one more to add to the list — disc brakes slicing into legs.

Fran Ventoso abandoned Sunday‚Äôs Paris-Roubaix with a serious cut on his lower leg, now confirmed by multiple sources. He wasn’t the only rider injured by a disc brake. His open letter is posted on Velonews.

The photos are the kind best viewed by medical personnel used to seeing ugly injuries.

I’ve never used disc brakes, but people who do swear by them. They stop better in wet weather, no argument there. They’re becoming the norm on mountain bikes and now the pro peleton is using them.

The peleton will quickly decide whether or not they continue using disc brakes. So far the warning signs are dire. Not only are cyclist being cut, they’re being burned. In a crash, and there are more than a handful in races, riders have touched the hot rotors.

Another concern was pointed out by Jobst Brandt years ago — wheel separation. The front caliper is behind the fork, not in front as with all side-pull caliper brakes. It is not unheard of for a disc brake quick release, left loose, to loosen to the point that it doesn’t hold the wheel in place. When that happens, the wheel goes flying as the brake is applied.

Another potential drawback of disc brakes is hydraulic failure.

So why do disc brakes continue to gain in popularity? Some of it is marketing inertia. All industries are looking for the next big thing and disc brakes have sex appeal. They’re high-tech and they work better in the rain.

Another advantage is that now rims can be made lighter and will last longer since pad wear has been transferred from the rim to the rotor. Rim wear is a concern for people who ride lots of miles in the mountains. A rim can be worn to the point of failure. Jobst Brandt could attest to that.

I’m not interested in having disc brakes because I like to maintain my bike and dealing with hydraulics is just one more complication.

Disc brakes can be made safer and I’m sure they will now that the word is out. This injury reminds of the squirrel-caught-in-wheel stories that sprang up about a decade ago, around the time 16-spoke wheels became popular (Google it).

Yes, squirrels can become lodged in the front fork as they try to leap through the wheel. It has happened to more than one cyclist. It’s an ongoing concern for anyone riding 16-spoke wheels.

New electric bicycle law gives local communities jurisdiction

April 7, 2016

Check out electric bikes like this on electricbikereview.com

Check out electric bikes like this on electricbikereview.com


I don’t know about you, but I see more and more electric bicycles buzzing around on city streets, mostly a good thing.

The California state legislature last year changed how it defines the various electric bikes with Assembly Bill 1096. The new law deletes the “motorized bicycle” definition and defines an “electric bicycle,” a bike with fully operable pedals and an electric motor below 750 watts.

Now there are three classes, and manufacturers are required to affix labels designating which category they belong in, starting in 2017.

Class 3 electric bicycles “speed pedal-assisted” provide assistance only when the rider is pedaling and limit speed to 28 mph. They are banned from all bike lanes and paths, unless a local community decides otherwise.

Class 1 “low-speed pedal-assisted” and Class 2 “low-speed throttle-assisted” are OK to ride in bike lanes and paths, and have a maximum speed of 20 mph.

However, local communities can regulate Class 1 and Class 2 electric bicycles on their paths and bike lanes as they see fit. That’s an important point and one I wish the state hadn’t enacted.

Most if not all bike lanes and paths extend through multiple jurisdictions in the Bay Area. So now you are responsible for knowing where electric bikes are allowed and where they are not allowed.

I don’t have a problem with electric bikes on bike lanes and my only reservation on bike paths is that people keep their speed down when passing other cyclists and pedestrians.

Of course, that safety tip applies to bicycles. I can appreciate bike commuters being in a hurry and wanting to ride more than 15 mph on paths, but there’s no reason to speed by slower trail users. I see it all too often.

Right now bicycle and pedestrian committees around the Bay Area are taking up this issue. Mostly the city councils will go along with a bike committee recommendation, but you never know.

As electric bicycle/battery technology improves, I can see the day when the majority of bikes sold are electric assist.

People for bikes.org summary

Cyclist enters the fray with new clothing line

March 9, 2016

Loma Prieta Road at the water fountain, March 1984. Ray Hosler, Dave McLaughlin, Sterling McBride, Tom Ritchey, Jobst Brandt. One of our favorite rides. (Photo by Keith Vierra)

Loma Prieta Road at the water fountain, March 1984. Ray Hosler, Dave McLaughlin, Sterling McBride, Tom Ritchey, Jobst Brandt. One of our favorite rides. (Photo by Keith Vierra)


Dave McLaughlin is a natural when it comes to dressing fashionably. He was usually the best dressed on Jobst Rides. Now you can own a jacket or vest designed by Dave, thanks to his Kickstarter project.

His first in a line of clothing is casual jacket wear, a wool/synthetic blend, probably best suited for the post-ride or ski excursion.

When he isn’t designing clothing, Dave manages the LUNA women’s racing team.

Back in the day when I had a column in the San Francisco Chronicle, I wrote about Bellwether, at the time the largest U.S. bicycle clothing manufacturer, based in San Francisco. I had the rare opportunity to see their manufacturing facility.

I also wrote about Diana Muzzy and Vigorelli, a fledgling bicycle clothing designer back in 1988. The one item I liked by Vigorelli was a synthetic t-shirt that I’ve worn for nearly 30 years! It’s comfortable and, obviously, was made to last.

Eddy Merckx bike on display in Los Altos bike shop

February 29, 2016

A bike owned and ridden by Eddy Merckx is on display at the Bicycle Outfitter.

A bike owned and ridden by Eddy Merckx is on display at the Bicycle Outfitter.


Imagine my surprise when I was shown a genuine Eddy Merckx bike on display in Bicycle Outfitter.

It was given to owner Bud Hoffacker in exchange for some print/catalog work requested by Eddy back in 1970.

I don’t know if it was raced on. About half of the equipment is vintage and the frame is Swiss, by Allegro.

Eddy won the Tour de France in 1970.


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