Archive for the ‘Ride reports’ Category

Old Calaveras Road — one and done

January 13, 2021

Beautifully restored adobe house on Piedmont Road. Worth a visit.

Today’s ride to Calaveras Reservoir brought back memories and a discovery of something old turned into something new (restored), to be cherished for years to come.

I’m talking about the Milpitas Adobe House, built in 1835, tucked away in a cul-de-sac near Piedmont Road and Calaveras Road.

I started riding the Mt. Hamilton loop to Livermore in 1980, leaving from Milpitas. Jobst Brandt, our tour guide, knew all the places of interest, so he never failed to lead us past the old, dilapidated adobe on an equally old Piedmont Road.

Sadly, Old Piedmont Road didn’t make it, but the adobe did, thanks to efforts by concerned citizens and the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority.

Old Piedmont Road fell victim to modernization and winter rains from 1982-83. I have no written record, so I’m relying on memory. A large slide forced the road to close, so we started using the new Piedmont Road. Sections of the old, abandoned road are still visible south of the adobe, and other sections still in use farther on.

Riders enjoy car-free riding on Calaveras Road.

I believe the old road took up some of the new Piedmont before it started uphill on the east slope. Jobst liked avoiding cars, so we took the old road until its demise.

But I digress. I wanted to check out Old Calaveras Road. In all my years or riding, I have never been on it.

For good reason, as I learned today. Old Calaveras Road starts at Evans Road and immediately I knew that this would be my last time. There is a section of 20-23 percent. It doesn’t go for long, but the climbing higher up isn’t easy either.

The good news is that there isn’t any traffic, as there is on Calaveras Road on a weekday morning. Plenty of it, moving fast.

Calaveras Reservoir finished. It welcomes Smith Creek and Isabel Creek runoff.

The payoff is a view of Spring Valley Golf Course and short descent. Nice if you like golf.

Traffic dissipated after turning left on Calaveras Road at Felter Road, and I could enjoy the views on a day drenched in sunshine.

I checked out the Calaveras Reservoir retrofit, finished after God only knows how many years and constant road closures.

Imagine what it must have looked like when this valley was farmland and a small community. Not a bad place to settle down.

I recalled all those rides around Mt. Hamilton and the final grind from Sunol to the Calaveras Road summit. In the early days we had some spirited chases. In the later years, not so much. Today it’s an achievement just to go on a ride.

Accuracy test: Specialized Speed Zone Pro vs. Garmin Edge 500

January 5, 2021

They’re 99.2 percent accurate. Is that close enough?


What’s more accurate? A wireless cyclometer from 2000 or a Garmin Edge 500 with GPS, released in October 2009.

I can’t say for sure, but given the recent test, I’d say wireless cyclometers, with the proper calibration, are just as accurate.

On my morning ride — clear skies, smooth, flat roads — the difference after 26 miles came to 25.99 (Garmin) vs. 26.19 (Specialized).

That distance means a lot to runners. It’s the length of a marathon.

So, doing the math, one of the cyclometers is 99.2 percent accurate. Close enough, right?

Not so fast. Let’s say 25.99 is the correct number. If the marathon were to be run based on the Specialized measurement, it would mean a runner has to cover an extra 1056 feet, or 352 yards.

Were this to be a world record attempt, where seconds matter, the runners would be way better off saving 352 yards, or about 60-70 seconds.

Even when doing a century ride, having to pedal another 0.8 miles isn’t a deal breaker.

Meanwhile, note that the Bay Trail at the Sunnyvale water treatment plant has been rerouted again. More pipe work is going on behind the facility.

Bay Trail rerouting will be another couple of weeks at Sunnyvale water treatment plant.

Garmin Edge 500 release date October 2009

Gloom haven on Skyline Boulevard

December 28, 2020

Upper Alpine Road on a winter’s day.


Today’s ride could be described as “gloomy,” in every sense of the word.

Upper Alpine Road sat in a pea-soup fog, but things got better after descending a couple hundred feet.

During these Covid19 days open space trails are crawling with residents who would normally be walking the malls.

I’ve never seen so many people enjoying the outdoors, even on a day better suited for watching TV on a warm couch.

Despite our recent “rain” events, the ground is barely wet. The local reservoirs are empty.

Ending on yet another sour note, the trash on Hwy 84 near La Honda is revolting. Beer cans and bottles litter the roadside.

I always wondered if county road crews picked up trash. Now I figure they did, before Covid came along.

Somebody in La Honda needs to round up some volunteers to clean the road.

One bright note on a dreary day, the hairpin turn on Alpine Road.

Found On Road Dead

December 11, 2020

I couldn’t resist. Seen today just north of Montague Expressway on the Guadalupe River Trail.

If bikes could talk, what would this one have to say? Where has it been? Who used it? Why was it abandoned?

In April 2018, GenZe added 250 Ford GoBikes to their fleet in the Bay Area.

Shoes raining down, but it’s not what we need

December 6, 2020

Guadalupe Reservoir has room for runoff. Meanwhile, it’s raining shoes.


Guadalupe Reservoir, which captures runoff from Mt. Umunhum, could use some more wet stuff. My home rain gauge says 0.07 inches.

We’ll be taking sponge baths this summer at this rate.

Meanwhile, shoes are raining down on Hicks Road. Not what we need right now. A fun diversion, I suppose.

Hicks Road can use a cleanup on the way to the reservoir heading south. I’m on it.

I think it’s becoming apparent that Covid has cut into county cleanup.

I don’t know if they actually clean “remote” county roads. But judging by what I’m seeing, they do.

Montebello Road burns in the October sun

October 18, 2020

Looking west from Black Mountain.


Even though I was miles from the CZU fire, I could see the damage it caused from Montebello Road.

Butano Ridge stood out in the distance, an off-brown color that told me this was a burn area.

The hills are tinder dry this time of year, and these days that means I live in fear of what might happen on pastoral Montebello Road.

Fortunately I beat the baking heat by leaving early, so it was just toasty warm by the time I reached the Black Mountain summit.

The final approach of a 15 percent climb was graded and hardpacked several years ago, much to my enjoyment.

But this was the worst time of year for taking a road bike as I fishtailed through deep gravel and dust all the way to Page Mill Road.

I thought back to another ride in late November when it was so cold my water bottle shattered as I went for a drink. Times are changing.

Montebello Road approach to Black Mountain. It doesn’t get any better.

Longest dirt roads in the South and North Bay

October 7, 2020

Duck hunting, and viewing, season is underway in the Baylands.


Nowadays my adventure rides on dirt roads have come down to tooling around on the Bay Trail.

Back in the days of Jobst Rides we almost always found some dirt to keep our attention, but the distances weren’t that far.

Today I can ride a nine-mile loop, all on dirt, starting in Alviso. Finding a route that long in the Santa Cruz Mountains is a challenge. Point to point that is.

The longest Santa Cruz Mountains route — uninterrupted by pavement — we did was Buzzard Lagoon Road / Aptos Creek Fire Road, a total of 12.3 miles.

The only rides longer would be any number of routes in Henry W. Coe State Park.

The Haul Road, if open its entire length, would be 9.5 miles point to point. The possibility of riding from Hwy 9 to Pescadero Creek Road remains a tantalizing dream.

One other ride worthy of mention is our epic journey through Point Reyes National Seashore. It totaled 17 miles all on dirt starting from Bear Valley Visitor Center, up Mt. Wittenberg (didn’t do it on coast ride), down Bear Valley Trail to the coast and then to Bolinas. Of course, we started from the Golden Gate Bridge on that ride, heading up the Mt. Tamalpais railroad grade.

That Point Reyes ride remains a dream for cyclists as well. Those were the days…

Nearby Bolinas Ridge Trail deserves mention, all 11.3 legal miles.

Welcome to “The Burning World”

September 9, 2020

Looking at the Santa Cruz Mountains from the San Jose airport.


When I was young I read a lot of “science fiction,” which was way more fiction than science, but you get the idea.

I read all of the apocalpyse novels by J.G. BallardThe Burning World, The Drowned World, The Wind from Nowhere, The Crystal World.

I don’t rate him as highly as I do Ray Bradbury, but he offered up some insightful thoughts about our planet, our environment, and how it shapes us.

His most famous work, made into a movie, is Empire of the Sun, easily his best writing and most evocative imagery. He survived wretched conditions in a Japanese prison camp in WW II, so there’s a lot of pathos here.

J.G. Ballard left us in 2009. He won’t have to see the worlds he conjured up. Today I can see The Burning World and it’s not a pretty sight. The sky is dark in mid-morning. I’m wearing a mask, although the particulate count isn’t all that high. There’s a lot of moisture and fog in the air.

I’m no believer in end times, but I do think global warming is here, and we need to do something about it.

Ending on a bright note, The Junction bar and grill in San Antonio Valley survived the fires. It’s the only food stop on the backside of Mt. Hamilton.

J.G. Ballard was a post-apocalyptic novelist who saw the future.

Nothing but garbage rides these days

July 31, 2020

Clean-up at Wolfe and El Camino Real. Lots of masks and gloves. Two bike racks at this location!


Swept up by the Bicyclean! movement, I’ve taken to the streets in a hopeless attempt to keep Silicon Valley clear of trash.

My trashcycle is a 20-year-old Trek 6500. It sports a rear rack and basket. My trash picker is folding, bought from Amazon.

You have to pick your battles. I’m not going to pick up trash along Guadalupe River near downtown. There’s no point with so many homeless people living there.

Right now the trashcycle is in the shop (my garage) waiting for parts. It had those garbage Shimano axles, the black ones that I see on the cheapest of bikes.

The bearing races are as soft as butter and after a few thousand miles they start pitting. My Campagnolo NR hubs are 40 years old and have never had pitted races.

While I’m griping, Cristo Rey Drive has got to be the most unfriendly road around as an approach to a popular county park. I’m referring to Rancho San Antonio. It’s narrow and has heavy traffic. Not very inviting for a bike.

Dumbarton Bridge path gets trashed

July 19, 2020

Bulky car body parts from a wreck obstruct the Dumbarton Bridge bike path.


Now this is annoying. Debris from a horrific crash on Dumbarton Bridge gets dumped into the bike path. Convenient for the people cleaning up the accident, but not so good for cyclists.

I would have moved it, but it’s bulky and it’s a half mile to the end of the path. Dumping it into the bay was another option. I’d never do that.

Things are worse at the west approach to Dumbarton. A low cyclone fence catches debris before it can reach the bay. It’s off-fence-ive.

I’d ride out and clean it up, but 20 miles is a hike just to clean garbage. Maybe some local riders and hikers will take it on.

While I’m here, a Jobst Ride memory is called for. Shortly after the bridge opened to car traffic, Jobst led us over the bridge but — of course — not on the path. We took the main road!

Welcome to the scenic South Bay. You’d never see this in Switzerland.