Archive for the ‘Ride reports’ Category

Our tax dollars at work

August 8, 2022

Nice new bridge over Burns Creek. I think it was a culvert before.

I shudder to think how much money our governments spent so I could do today’s ride in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

I am forever grateful, and this column is dedicated to all who made the ride possible.

As you know, in the wet 2016-17 winter Redwood Lodge Road and Schulties Road, located near Summit Road, took a pounding. A bridge was wiped out and two slides blocked the roads.

I managed to get through in 2019 (see column) despite these problems, but then I learned the roads were fixed recently.

I had to see for myself.

Sure enough, the roads are open again. There are repairs being made even now on Schulties Road.

The handful of people who live on Schulties must be so thankful that anyone would even think of them. The road has turned to dirt after being paved in the 1930s or so.

The bridge over Burns Creek looks top-notch. Once upon a time I walked up that creek to find the south portal of Wrights train tunnel. Today the creek is so low there’s no need to be concerned about wet feet.

While I’d never recommend trying these roads, unless you have a true sense of adventure, their existence truly amazes me, only miles from the crowded and high-tech Silicon Valley.

Slide fixed after crossing Burns Creek.
Schulties Road repaired. Had to walk on a narrow plank across a chasm before fix.

Devastation! …and rebirth

July 25, 2022

Redwoods are recovering in Big Basin.

It was everything I feared, and then some. Big Basin Redwoods State Park has reopened for all to see the catastrophic destruction wrought by a freak lightning storm in August 2020.

In the span of 12 hours, 95 percent of the park burned (as well as Butano State Park), killing thousands upon thousands of trees, mostly Douglas fir, tanoak, madrone, and more. Not to mention wildlife.

View entering the park from Boulder Creek.
Headquarters a memory.

Redwoods have found ways to survive fires, and most of them will recover. Signs of new growth are evident everywhere you look.

Approaching from Boulder Creek on Hwy 236, I started noticing scorched trees a couple miles out of town. The Boulder Creek Golf and Country Club was spared, but some surrounding neighborhoods were not. Fire is fickle.

The old park headquarters and general store were completely destroyed. All that’s left, ironically, is concrete and pavement. It looks just as it did when I last visited.

Parking remains the same.

Cars need to make a reservation, but cyclists can visit without a reservation.

Most of Gazos Creek Road is open, but the North Escape Road is closed. Hwy 236 is open, but China Grade, going north, is closed.

Some popular trails near the old headquarters are open.

I visited on a Monday, so traffic was light.

It’s worth a visit to see the forest and how it’s recovering. The views, which were few before the fire, show the landscape in all its tragic glory.

View from 236 toward North Escape Road.

Hwy 236 was spared from about 1.5 miles before the Hwy 9 intersection. It’s a noticeable contrast in shade compared to the burned sections. I always appreciated the road for the abundant shade.

Other items:

Summit Road from Black Road to Bear Creek Road has been repaved and has new fog lines. Fabulous.

Bear Creek Road is good for descending in the AM, when most traffic is headed to the Valley.

A new Big Basin Redwoods HQ is planned at Saddle Mountain near Little Basin Road.

North Escape Road still a mess.

Stevens Canyon beats the heat

June 10, 2022

Stevens Canyon on a hot Friday in the South Bay.

There’s no cooler place to ride a bike in the South Bay than Stevens Canyon. My ride ends at the final metal bridge.

Of course you can keep going all the way to Page Mill Road.

It’s odd that the county would spend so much money on new bridges in a remote area when there are bridges farther down that need replacing.

Tailwind up Mt. Hamilton

May 28, 2022
Giant manzanita in 2010 and after the 2020 fire. It was cut down after being consumed by fire.

I picked today to ride up for the 43rd consecutive year because I need every benefit nature can throw my way, including cool temps and a nice tailwind.

My first ride up Mt. Hamilton sent me to the hospital with a broken left wrist. I raced Brian Cooley, CNET Editor at Large, along with other Palo Alto Bicycles shop employees to the top. No doubt, it was the hardest I ever rode up the mountain.

It didn’t take long to crash as I descended. Being a novice rider, I tried to avoid rocks in a turn, rather than ride through, and found myself face to face with an oncoming car. Slamming brakes is always a bad ending.

Today I maintained my usual turtle pace so as not to go into cardiac arrest and guzzled energy drink. That helped avoid leg cramps.

At mile 14.5 in the climb I stopped to locate the giant manzanita destroyed in the 2020 fire that consumed the mountain.

I think I found the stump, although it sure doesn’t look right. It is the exact location though. [I found it after looking at Google Maps. I had the wrong tree. This the correct one farther back from the turn. The stump matches.]

Years from now riders will accept Mt. Hamilton for what it is, a shadeless climb the last several miles to the summit.

Look closely though and you’ll see all the trees cut down after the fire. I’ll never forget that lovely shade. Sigh.

Another February heat wave

February 10, 2022

Update July 8, 2022: Old Haul Road is partially open from Portola State Park to Lower Town Fire Trail.

This year is looking more and more like 2014 in terms of warm winter weather. That year I rode the Mt. Hamilton loop in January, wearing short sleeves most of the way.

Pescadero Creek County Park website says Haul Road is closed. I think they oversee the road more than Portola Redwoods State Park.

Today was freakish warm, 70s in Pescadero, La Honda, and the coast, but mid 60s on Skyline. What gives?

I headed down Alpine Road after my internal combustion engine whisked me to Skyline. The temperature climbed as I descended.

Even the dark recesses of Alpine Road had pockets of hot air. By the time I started climbing Haskins Hill, I had to remove my long-sleeve jersey.

Second climb of Stage Road. Listen to the crashing of the waves. Why did Stage Road go inland and not follow the coast? Because that’s where people lived.

Covid19 and the CZU fires made 2020 a year to forget as the Loma Mar Store owner gave me the fire details. Strong winds caused the fire to spread at lightning speed.

Forest service fire fighters managed to stop the blaze on the banks of Pescadero Creek, only feet from the store. They also saved the houses on Wurr Road, the final battle line.

Maybe some minor scorching on Wurr Road.

I continued on through Pescadero, basking in temps that soared to the mid 70s. Warm gusts of wind added to my discomfort. How can it be hot in February?

La Honda wasn’t any different, but cooler air finally made the ride more comfortable on Old La Honda Road and on Skyline.

All I had to deal with there was the usual Formula 1 race cars and motorcycles.

I used to do this ride from home on a whim. Now it’s a struggle.

As I ate my chocolate crescent I listened to the patrons of Loma Mar Store discuss the strong winds we’ve been having. “It’s not normal,” one man said.

Tasty fuel.

What is normal? I can relate though. There’s nothing normal about our weather these days.

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 NiƱa 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.”