Archive for the ‘Ride reports’ Category

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.

Stevens Creek Reservoir at 10%

November 17, 2021

Stevens Creek Reservoir very low.

I haven’t seen Stevens Creek Reservoir so low.

I’ve only seen the spillway overflowing once or twice since 1980.

Built in 1935, this dam will eventually silt up. It happened at Searsville Lake.

Sunday weather awesome for cycling. This is November?

Atmospheric river more like a creek

November 10, 2021

Lest you think the “atmospheric river” we experienced a couple weeks ago fixed the drought, check out Guadalupe Reservoir.

It’s at 11 percent. Pathetic.

Mt. Tamalpais got plenty of rain, but the South Bay might as well be in the Mojave Desert.

With La Niña in the forecast, we might be looking at a third year of drought, and water rationing.

Allendale Avenue berm a memory

July 29, 2021
A berm on Allendale Avenue in Saratoga was removed several years ago to improve road safety.

Today while riding east on Allendale Avenue, close to West Valley College, approaching Quito Road I was reminded of how much safer it is to use this stretch of road.

I don’t know who took the initiative, but they deserve recognition for going to the trouble of removing a troublesome berm, sometime in late 2017 or 2018.

I used Google Maps to display the road in December 2017 (right) and today.

Not only is the berm hard to see, it’s not something you would expect to find in a bike lane.

The most convincing evidence for eliminating the berm is shown in the image from 2017. Notice the garbage cans blocking the “bike lane”!

I always chose to ride in the street to avoid obstacles like trash cans.

Every time I ride by here I think to myself, “Sometimes our city engineers right a wrong, and everyone is better off.”

Bridge work at Almaden Reservoir

July 2, 2021

Bridge work underway at Almaden Reservoir.

Just below Almaden Reservoir on Alamitos Road, expect delays for road repairs.

An old bridge is being worked on. It’s hard to believe any reservoir has water after two dry winters (8.5 inches and 5.5 inches at my house), but Almaden looks good.

Gone are the days when I rode over Hicks Road and made a loop.

Saving the planet, one turtle at a time

June 10, 2021

This turtle got a helping hand crossing the path.

Today went about as well as could be expected in these uncertain times, and I helped a turtle off the road.

It’s amazing to think about all the events that transpire in just a short ride around Santa Clara.

I started the ride by picking up trash along the San Tomas Expressway recreation path between Homestead and Monroe. I’ve been cleaning it monthly for a while and I usually collect a bag and a half.

My best find was a cell phone, which I returned to the owner via the police.

It’s obvious that some of the trash is generated by the homeless, but not all. Some people weren’t brought up right and have no regard for their environment.

Continuing north, Nvidia’s second headquarters expansion looks like it’s moving into its final stage. Will employees return?

Intel’s working on its second new building just down the road from Nvidia. The first one is ready for occupancy.

More fancy apartments are opening near Scott Boulevard and the San Tomas Aquino/Saratoga Creek path.

Screaming voices have returned to Great America! School’s out and the rides are running again after more than a year in lockdown.

Levi’s Stadium continues to vaccinate residents, but it’s down to a trickle. No waiting.

In Alviso I rode around a police barricade, including SWAT wearing body armor.

On the approach to Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge on Grand Boulevard I once again picked up trash and cleared the road.

Topgolf, located next to the Guadalupe River recreation path is open for business and balls are flying.

On the way home I had a stiff tailwind. Who could ask for anything more?

Trash Mountain a sad sight indeed

May 6, 2021

Several miles up from Smith Creek. The burn extends to within a half mile of Smith Creek.

My 42nd annual ride up Trash Mountain left me in a sad mood on what should have been an uplifting occasion: perfect weather with a cooling onshore breeze (tailwind no less), and a newly paved road to the summit.

Instead, I saw a continuing eyesore, trash everywhere, spilling down slopes. This was my first close-up of the devastating fire that engulfed the mountain last August. It’s worse than I thought.

Hundreds, maybe even thousands, of trees were cut down after the fire. I’ll especially miss the giant manzanita that lived several miles from the summit next to the road.

Manzanita tree in 2010

Now the mountainside looks like a disaster area. It’s barren where there used to be welcome tree shade. Reminds me of Mt. Diablo.

The irony is that the road is in the best shape ever. Only three small patches were left unpaved from Quimby Road to the summit.

There’s another stretch of road, about a mile and a half, that’s not new, but that’s it. Smooth, fresh pavement for nineteen miles. And beautiful new culverts.

What should be done to clean Trash Mountain? My suggestion is to recruit residents who live on the road. I think some do clean near their property, but I doubt that it’s a coordinated effort.

Another thought is to dedicate a day for cleanup, the same as we do for coastal cleanups, Coyote Creek cleanups, and so on. Put up signs at the base of Hwy 130 and invite the public.

With some coordination, it could be cleaned within an hour. The heavy items would take longer and require some extra effort.

As for the road itself, I think all that’s left is striping. Thanks to O’Grady Paving in Mountain View.

Note that the observatory parking lot and approach is still closed. There’s a water spigot at the summit, first building on the right.

Halls Valley descent no longer bumpy.

Alpine Road looks the same

April 28, 2021

Upper Alpine Road hasn’t seen any maintenance,
although this section has always been good.

Recently I mentioned in my blog that a rider told me the Alpine Road improvement, announced by Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District last year, was underway.

I decided to check for myself. I rode down from Page Mill Road for a quarter-mile and that was far enough to tell me nothing has been done in this section.

I didn’t see any evidence of road maintenance or brush removal. Maybe improvements are being made elsewhere, but I had no desire, physically, the check out the entire trail.

Today’s weather couldn’t be nicer, unless you prefer things a little cooler. I rode up Old La Honda Road and wondered what it must have been like back then to try to ride up it on a highwheeler, or down. Impossible? For me, yes.

I’m impressed that a four-horse stagecoach could manage the distance to La Honda and back. It must have been quite the experience.

This was the main stage road to the Pacific Ocean in the 1800s. The Highway 84 route up the eastern slope didn’t come along until much later.

I located Hallidie’s road that intersects with Old La Honda, 0.2 miles from Skyline, and took a photo. The gate is still there with strands of barbed wire for good measure.

Sadly, the road is no longer rideable, and would even be difficult to explore on foot. It’s visible from Old La Honda for a short distance. Trees have fallen over the road and it’s heavily overgrown.

I’m lucky to have ridden down it a couple of times. Life moves on…

Hallidie’s road at Old La Honda Road. Now just a memory.

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.