Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Jobst Brandt’s bike in the US Bicycling Hall of Fame

April 16, 2021

Jobst Brandt’s bike shortly after restoration in late 2011.

Jobst Brandt’s last bike, built by Peter Johnson, is on display at the United States Bicycling Hall of Fame in Davis, Calif.

It was faithfully restored in 2011: Dave Prion, assembly and parts; Peter Johnson, frame alignment and other visual blemishes, parts; Painting, D&D Cycles.

Everything on it is original to what Jobst used on trips through the Alps, especially the Carradice saddlebag with the custom-built seat mount. It has an Avocet 50 cyclometer.

I’m happy to see that the bike has found a good home where people can check it out along with many other bicycle artifacts on display at the 8,000 square foot building located in Central Park.

Hall of Fame Facebook page

Misery on a mountain

April 15, 2021

Mt. Hamilton Road has long delays for road work. Avoid until work is finished.

Update (4/21): I filed a request for Caltrans to post an electronic sign at Alum Rock Avenue and Mt. Hamilton Road. They said they did so.

I didn’t see the flashing sign as I rode by Grant Ranch Park on Mount Hamilton Road. Am I blind?

It said “Expect one hour delays.”

They weren’t kidding. Caltran is repaving the entire road at one time. Thus the long delays.

The road was badly damaged by heavy equipment used to douse the Mt. Hamilton fire last August. The fire started north of Mt. Hamilton and spread south, enveloping the summit, but fire fighters kept it from damaging Lick Observatory.

I don’t know if work is continuing on the weekend.

From what I understand, they’re quite a ways down the mountain, so they might not have much more work to do.

Use extreme caution on the road. Dozens of dump trucks are driving up and down the mountain. They take up the ENTIRE ROAD on the curved sections.

I turned around, not wanting to wait two hours. Quimby Road let me avoid the trucks on the way down, but it’s no joy ride. Avoid this road going up or down.

My understanding is that Hwy 236 between Hwy 9 and Big Basin Redwoods State Park is also closed for the same reason. Let me know, if you can confirm.

Fatigue Limit – 4

April 12, 2021

Solo ride on the new pneumatics at Niagara Falls, N.Y. in 1890.

“What about Dunlop’s pneumatic tire? Have you seen it? Is it as good as they say?”

Carl reattached his wheel, picked up his knapsack and headed for the door. “Not Dunlop! He re-invented the pneumatic tire conceived by Robert Thomson. Mr. Thomson should sue, but I’m quite sure he thinks like me. He wants to see technology advance. Come on. We’re going to be late. We don’t want to miss a ride with Velo Master Mandrel. I’ll tell you about Dunlop’s tire on the way. All I’ll say right now is they’re better than the Victor’s cushion tires.”

We mounted our safety bikes with hard-rubber wheels and rode north on the El Camino to the bike shop and hardware store on University Avenue. Windy Hill’s patch of pastoral greenery marked the distant hills and reminded us adventure awaited. We overtook a water truck spraying the road. The wagon shot a thin stream my way. It mixed water and dirt that splashed, coating my shirt in a veil of mud. I cursed to the heavens. The driver saw us coming, knew he might spray us, but kept at it. It was the kind of insult we cyclists got used to. We were punching bags for the horse riders and other transportation.

“At least it didn’t include a horse’s Eau de Cologne,” Carl replied after a laugh.

“He saw us coming,” I fumed.

“Get over it kid. Find a way to get back at him.”

Carl turned down Lytton, one of the new streets in Palo Alto where a land rush ensued when Timothy Hopkins put lots up for sale months earlier. I had written several articles about the new town and its role in supporting Stanford University.

“I think I know where we’re headed Carl.”

“My house is almost finished.” Carl dismounted near the intersection of Middlefield Road. “They’ve got the roof done. Nice work. In a few more weeks I’ll have something more to my liking.”

We rolled up to Orr & Peterson’s where cyclists congregated. I recognized a few of the riders, but Carl knew everyone. He mingled and exchanged words with the wheelmen, always appraising riders’ bikes. “Those wheels aren’t going to last,” he griped. “You’ve got to build them with three-cross lacing. Didn’t you read my article? That frame looks like a giant grasshopper! Who built that? Oh! An Ordain-ary. Blessed by the Pope!”

Most riders who knew Carl had grown accustomed to his constant browbeating. They shrugged and paid him no attention, but a few listened intently, mostly the young, impressionable riders like myself. Another rider showed up on his penny-farthing. I stifled a laugh. He would not be joining us on the long climb that was sure to come.

Fatigue Limit home

Alpine “Road” improvement in progress

April 9, 2021

CalFire maintains a fountain at its station on Skyline Boulevard at Hwy 9.

A mountain biker I came across at Page Mill Road and Alpine Road told me that Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSD) is making improvements to Alpine Road.

From his description the gnarly single-track section has not yet been improved, so I will wait before trying. He said the “road” is much wider now from brush being removed.

Beyond that, my ride up Hwy 9 went well enough. The main reason I avoid the road these days, besides old age, is the traffic. It’s none too pleasant even on a weekday. Too many drivers buzz by. Same with Skyline Boulevard.

Skyline Boulevard played host to a side show recently, near Horseshoe Lake. Maybe it was the same ones who laid down donuts on Cañada Road.

Today was one of those sunny spring days that looked warm, but wasn’t on Skyline. A cold wind blew off the ocean. I brought along a trash bag and stuffed it in my jersey for the descent to Page Mill Road.

Page Mill Road is without a doubt in the best condition I’ve seen it since 1977.

More Alpine Road trivia: In 1907, Peter Faber discovered a coal vein on his property while fixing a landslide on Alpine Road. The road had been closed for two years.

Fatigue Limit – 2

March 29, 2021

Bike race in London, 1889 (Wikipedia)

I  rode north from my place to Carl Koenig’s house in Mayfield, a short distance from the train depot, and found him waiting outside. A year ago I came to know this disputatious crank of a rider who lived the hermit’s life, except when it came to cycling. He had his pulse on the biking community. Bicycle knowledge, not blood, coursed through his veins. The forty-five-year-old cyclist stood well over one fathom, and that left an immediate impression. He had not an ounce of fat on his large, sturdy frame. His legs looked like the drive rods of a locomotive. Upon further scrutiny, he had a nose shaped like an eagle’s, large hands and long fingers, like talons, and deep-set eyes that could spot wildlife at extreme range. His uncanny ability to see and interpret what lay ahead while riding made him prescient. He identified birds by their song when he could not see them high in the trees. Carl was much more than a cyclist. He was a savant, a coach, Darwin in the wilds, and a walking encyclopedia rolled into one. The mechanical engineer showed a deep tan, having just returned from Hawaii where he worked for Dillingham Construction building a railroad through swampland. His passion for railroads almost equaled his love for cycling. He jumped at the opportunity to visit Hawaii, not for the pristine beaches and palm trees, but to build a railroad.

I joined his devoted band of followers on weekend rides into the Santa Cruz Mountains. They were racers, by and large, and it wasn’t long before I wanted to be just like them.

“Come inside Tab. I need to adjust this wheel. I see you got my telephone message. The ‘snooze-paper’ in San Jose is one of the few businesses that has this modern voice box. It’s a good thing because I just got word Gary Mandrel is passing through. We’re meeting at Orr & Peterson.”

Fatigue Limit home

Fatigue Limit begins to take shape

March 10, 2021

Beautiful painting from the 1890s.

In the throes of writing my next novel (it’s painful), I’ve got the introduction I’m looking for. The story takes place in 1889, culminating in the seven-day bike race held at the Mechanics’ Pavilion in San Francisco.

1  . Origins

Halfway through the twentieth century my time on life’s stage nears the final act. It is for that reason I, Tab Huntsman, have an imperative — tell a story that cannot wait any longer. What follows commemorates in words the cyclist’s life at the turn of the century when everything about transportation revolved around the bicycle. I will describe the technology, the people, our motivations, and the racing. But my recounting of bicycle lore is much more than that. It’s a revelation and a warning: Life is not fair. The more noble aspects of humanity do battle with dark, sinister forces in our thoughts. We lie, cheat, steal, and fight one another to get what we want, to make our dreams whole. In the course of these activities people suffer; their hopes are trampled, and reputations ruined. There is no fairy-tale ending to my story. I lied and cheated and fought for my place in the world. I was no different. Now I harbor regrets that weigh me down. Given the opportunity, I would turn back the clock to change the course of events as they transpired. I often dream about discovering a time machine and making things right: Conjure up a happy ending. Perhaps by reading my story you can avoid repeating my mistakes, free yourself of a guilty conscience. My actions dashed hopes that once filled me with breathless anticipation for a future only I could imagine.

At the very least, as you read you can revel in an age without cars when the bicycle reigned supreme. Oh what a time it was! We rode through the Bay Area hills with nary a care, full of life, the wind at our backs, and the fragrant aroma of fruit orchards blossoming in the spring. We rode over mountains with abandon. No distance was too far. If you find an inner-tube’s-worth of enjoyment from this brief interlude, my work is not in vain.

As it did for so many then, cycling changed my life, steering me to a career in journalism. At least that was my dream. The road to that high plateau of accomplishment had its share of potholes. I started peddling small-town newspapers, including the Mayfield Enterprise, with hopes of one day reporting for the San Francisco newspapers. I faced fierce competition for a seat at the editor’s desk. I had little chance of making it. I was not the best student, nor the best writer. I had no connections, nor the wizard’s wand, that would magically open doors of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Examiner, or The Morning Call. I needed something remarkable on my job application to make an impression. This is a tale of how I embellished my resume to become a writer for the San Francisco Examiner. Everything is true as I remember it, and I can confirm everything that is written.

Little did I realize such a break would come thanks to my passion for cycling. The sport kept me on the narrow path and, even though I knew it might not lead to a better life, it became my Gibraltar, a reliable way to feel good when times got tough. My saga starts on a warm spring day in the bucolic farming community of Mayfield (Palo Alto) in the year 1889…

Visit Mount Hamilton and enjoy the view

February 16, 2021

You could enjoy the view until a year or so ago, but now there’s so much illegal dumping taking place, you have to climb higher and higher to avoid the trash.

The only bright spot on an otherwise dreary day was Caltrans crews improving road culverts above Joseph D. Grant County Park.

Jobst Brandt used to complain non-stop about the lack of culvert maintenance on Alpine Road, and others. We saw the results of such neglect on that road.

Summit before descent to Grant Ranch Park. Used to be a nice view.

Kentucky Fried Chicken for dinner.

Seriously, what were they thinking? Drive five miles up a winding road just to dump home-improvement debris?

They’re fixing the culverts. How about picking up the trash?

Homeless camps and driving ranges expose a widening gap

February 13, 2021

Good news for golfers. There’s a new driving range in the works.


There’s something wrong with our priorities when one minute you’re riding past sprawling homeless camps like something out of the Great Depression and the next minute you’re looking at a shiny new driving range that costs millions of dollar to build. It’s all here for your entertainment — in Alviso.

Yesterday I rode my usual route on San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail going north. Just before Walsh Avenue I found yet another homeless tent and the usual accompanying pile of junk surrounding it. It sprang up overnight. (He has relocated his tent and stuff close to the Caltrain tracks. Feb. 24: He’s gone.)

It took six months for the Santa Clara Valley Water District to remove another camp a mile south of Levi’s stadium. There’s a shantytown at Highway 237 and Guadalupe River, and that’s just to name a few. Downtown San Jose has hundreds of homeless camps.

I pine for the days when all we had was a tent city on Coyote Creek in south San Jose.

The new driving range replaces an old one on the same site. I don’t know if the original owner sold the land or what, but it doesn’t matter. The facility itself isn’t the problem. It’s just emblematic of where our priorities lie.

The wealthy are living it up, while the poor get poorer. The stock market has made a few people wealthy during this pandemic. How is that? I’m not sure, but there’s something wrong here.

There’s no denying we have a problem, but do you see anybody trying to fix it? I’ve complained and so have many others. All we see is court rulings that protect the rights of the homeless.

Homelessness is always going to be here, but it shouldn’t be so bad that it’s no longer safe to go for a walk or a bike ride. Cars are being smashed into so often that the police don’t even respond. Junkies will do anything for their next fix, and most of them are homeless.

As long as we continue building extravagant entertainment centers and burying our heads in the sand over a disaster unfolding without lifting a finger to address it, we’ll get what’s coming to us.

What irks me most is water departments that will arrest well-intentioned citizens trying to clear our waterways, and fine them, but ignore the homeless camps.

To address the problem we need strike teams representing an array of public agencies (police, social services, cleaning crews) dedicated to immediately going after new homeless camps.

Meanwhile, the main camps need to be shut down and the people who live there relocated to FEMA like housing where they can be evaluated and triaged. Some will go to jail, some will receive mental care, and some will receive drug treatment. Some will even turn their lives around. And a few will return to being homeless.

Will it happen? Or better, what will it take to make it happen?

Update: According to the San Jose Mercury News (2-16-2021) the city of San Jose will add housing and employ homeless to clean Guadalupe River. They currently pay them by the bag for trash. Covid 19 has complicated helping the homeless.

Homeless camp at 237 and Guadalupe River after a fire.

Beavers make their move — again

February 6, 2021

An infestation of beavers is cutting down trees on the Guadalupe River at a frightening rate.


In 2007 the beavers tried to dam Los Gatos Creek and rob us of our water. They struck again in downtown San Jose on the Guadalupe River in 2010, and now they’re at it near the San Jose airport.

Only this time they’re up to something devious, sinister, unexpected. They’re mowing down trees next to the recreation path. Their intentions have yet to be revealed, but you can bet it’s nefarious.

The beavers might be planning an attack on the airport. My suspicion is that they’re going to drag all those logs onto the runway and prevent planes from landing. I wouldn’t put it past them.

I’ve been searching online for clues. Somewhere out there in the dark Web there’s a tribe of beavers plotting our overthrow, scheming and searching for ways to take away our freedoms.

Never trust a beaver. They have big front teeth, not unlike those of Bugs Bunny. I wouldn’t be surprised if Bugs is in on it.

Both critters have something in common. They like to gnaw. Right now they’re probably out on Guadalupe River gnawing, chewing into more trees so they can block the water, form a dam and flood out Alviso. They’ve got a lot of options to make our lives miserable.

Beavers tried to dam Los Gatos Creek near Alma Bridge Road and deprive us of water. They failed.

Looking back: Alpine Road in 1984

February 3, 2021

Alpine Road in 1984 before its makeover.


Winter rains did a number on Alpine Road east in the early 1980s. Here’s one where the road is looking rough in November. From left: Dave McLaughlin, Jim Westby, Bill Robertson, Sterling McBride.

Jobst Brandt took us up Alpine down to Portola Redwoods State Park, Haul Road south, up to Gate 10, Butano Ridge Trail, down to Pescadero Road, up Alpine and down Page Mill Road.

Alpine Road West 1990

 

Nice fog bank from Alpine Road looking south in May 1990.

Nice view of the fog in May 1990.