Archive for the ‘Ride reports’ Category

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.

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.

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.