Archive for the ‘Ride reports’ Category

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 CaƱada 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.

Trail memories keep coming

March 3, 2021

Here’s a trail off Alpine Road that brings back memories.

As I climbed Alpine Road one sunny day I recalled a ride or two in which Jobst Brandt and I took a trail to our left about a half mile from the end of the pavement, just after the Rapley Road junction.

Back in the mid 1980s it was marked by a gate, but today there’s a trail sign.

I don’t recall any of the details, but I’m sure we followed Toyon Trail all the way to Willowbrook Drive and a little extra to Corte Madera School.

Back then we were alone on the trail, but times have changed.

We took many trails and roads off Alpine Road, but even in those days landowners were none too happy to see us.

There is some good news here. “Alpine Road” East beyond the green gate is finally going to be improved to a six-foot-wide trail with appropriate culverts and that nasty steep single-track obliterated, I’m looking forward again to riding to Page Mill Road, maybe by 2023.

Alpine Road hasn’t changed much since being paved way back when, probably in stages starting in the 1940s.

It’s still a narrow, winding road that caresses the mind as it climbs gently along Corte Madera Creek under the shade of trees. It’s my favorite gateway into the Santa Cruz Mountains.

New Almaden a step back in time

February 10, 2021

Almaden Reservoir with plenty of the wet stuff.

New Almaden feels like a town living in the 1800s. Everything is old, there aren’t any stores to speak of, and historical landmarks are everywhere. It’s also a bike ride away from home.

I made my way over to Leigh Avenue, easily the best north-south road to take when going to New Almaden. The road is wide, with a bike lane and not so much traffic compared to other roads nearby.

Be sure to take Belwood Gateway/Almond Blossom Lane in preference to Blossom Hill Road. It’s much more pleasant.

After the Camden Avenue climb, take Trinidad Drive to Almaden Expressway. If you’re dedicated to avoiding the expressway, take Glenview Drive/Rajkovich Way/Calcatera Drive/Queensbridge Way/Foxhurst Way to Almaden Road.

New Almaden had its boom times in the late 1800s with the Guadalupe Quicksilver Mine, one of the world’s largest smelters that processed cinnabar ore to yield mercury, which was necessary for gold processing. You can learn more about the mines at the Casa Grande museum/building in New Almaden. You can’t miss it. And don’t miss a visit. Well worth your time.

Historic Hacienda Hotel is also home of La Foret, fine dining in New Almaden.

Mountain bikers like to ride the dirt roads of Almaden Quicksilver County Park (check out the new bathrooms and fountain).

On my road bike I headed to Almaden Reservoir. It looks like it has a fair amount of water after recent rains in the nearby mountains. This stretch of road is one of my favorites, but it doesn’t go on for long. At Hicks Road you can go right to make a loop, but it’s a steep climb with sections of 16 percent that will get the blood flowing.

Vichy Spring yielded naturally carbonated water in 1882. Bottling failed to retain the bubbles. Sales went flat.

Going straight on Los Alamitos leads to a dead end, but not really. Back in the mid ’80s Jobst Brandt and a friend rode down from Loma Prieta Road. It was a classic Jobst Ride, with some walking and, perhaps, a little rappelling. I believe it. People are living off the road today, so it’s not advisable.

But I digress. There’s a road you should ride at least once when visiting New Almaden. Bertram Road parallels Almaden Road through town, but it’s on the other side of Alamitos Creek. This road reminds me of another road just like it — Redwood Drive in La Honda.

At the intersection of Bertram and Almaden Road you’ll find two historical markers.

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.