Archive for the ‘Ride reports’ Category

Braking: front, rear or both?

August 30, 2015

I'm not going to declare this an old-growth redwood, but still impressive.

I’m not going to declare this an old-growth redwood, but still impressive.


Yesterday I did one of the most difficult descents in the Santa Cruz Mountains — Bear Creek Road (Summit Road to Hwy 17) –using only my front brake.

The road is steep — about 16 percent in several sections — and has washboard bumps on tight turns, the worst kind of road for descending fast on a bicycle.

There has been some debate over whether or not to use your rear brake while descending. Jobst Brandt gave his thoughts on this subject in one of his rec.bike posts in 2000. For the record, he never said you should not use your rear brake while descending. In fact, there are situations where it is advisable.

Of course, we all know that about 90 percent of braking power comes from the front brake, so using the rear brake is not going to make a lot of difference in most situations. Jobst and Sheldon Brown, both experts on the subject, wanted to get across the point that going over the handlebars while braking does not result from using just your front brake.

I didn’t go any faster on my descent compared to using my rear brake. As Jobst pointed out, one’s ability to descend depends on innate abilities — he compares the mind to a CPU — so using your rear brake or not while descending isn’t going to make much difference on how fast you make it down a mountain.

That said, I made it down the road, as I have dozens of times, without incident and didn’t notice any improvement or increased difficulties from using only the front brake.

The reason most cyclists crash is because they’re riding too fast for conditions, not from improper braking. Jobst rarely crashed, considering the miles he rode, but on two occasions where he crashed and broke bones, it was from riding too fast for conditions. The same goes for driving a car. It happens every time there’s a snowstorm or icy roads.

Meanwhile, my quest to find the Mountain Charlie tree ran into a snag, so this one I photographed nearby will have to do.

Finally, I’m giving the first person who can identify this black device a free copy of my novel Skidders. And I’ll give you another copy if you can tell me where it’s located.

Can you ID this thing? Let me know.

Can you ID this thing? Let me know.

“Friday light” lives up to its reputation

August 21, 2015

Pescadero cemetery. Amaryllis belladonna is named after the Greek beauty Amaryllis and bella donna which means beautiful lady in Italian.

Pescadero cemetery. Amaryllis belladonna is named after the Greek beauty Amaryllis and bella donna which means beautiful lady in Italian.


This is my second long ride on a Friday and I’m beginning to believe it’s the lightest traffic day in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Of course, the drawback is fighting morning traffic in Silicon Valley with a 7:30 a.m. departure. It gives me a chance to see how most people live.

I’m not liking what I’m seeing at the intersection of Homestead Road and Bernardo Avenue. Parents jam up the intersection turning right from Homestead, which blocks the bike lane for at least eight car lengths. I’d never want my children to ride to Cupertino Middle School on Bernardo.

On top of that, there’s no bike lane on Bernardo. Who wants their children to ride a bike to school? That’s what I figured. Nobody, and I can’t blame them.

But I digress. Once I got onto Moody Road, things got better. It was clear sailing the rest of the way until Old La Honda Road, where quite a few motorists braved the drive up to Skyline. That’s what happens when Hwy 84 closes from a downed tree.

In addition to no traffic, the weather couldn’t have been better. High clouds and temps in the 60s.

There might be one benefit from the drought. I’ve never seen so many belladonna flowers. Bellissimo!

Loma Mar store. It's going to be a while before it's finished. They also need a new sign.

Loma Mar store. It’s going to be a while before it’s finished. They also need a new sign.

McKenzie Reservoir drinks in the sunshine

August 14, 2015

Two deer ambled down to the lake for a drink as I snapped the photo.

Two deer ambled down to the lake for a drink as I snapped the photo.


I’ve been riding past McKenzie Reservoir on Lake Ranch Road since 1980, but the good news now is that it’s sanctioned by the county.

In May 1984 Jobst and friends rode by here and stopped to drink from a stream that runs by a big redwood next to the road. I’m not so inclined to drink from local streams these days with the drought and increased pollution making it less appetizing.

As happened in 1984, I saw a gaggle of kids riding by, part of a commercial business catering to youth summer camps, Bike Dojo.

While that’s all well and good, when I was a kid we explored our local parks and trails unsupervised, something that would be unthinkable in today’s world. How times have changed.

East Ridge Trail where have you been?

August 1, 2015

Anybody missing a toy? They're at the Big Basin Park maintenance yard.

Anybody missing a toy? They’re at the Big Basin Park maintenance yard.


As I look around for the remaining trails I haven’t ridden (filling my bucket list), I stumbled across East Ridge Trail in Big Basin Redwoods State Park.

I’m told Jobst had ridden it, but I imagine not often. I headed out today to see what I was missing. As it turns out, not much.

East Ridge Trail is an old logging road, I’m guessing (aren’t they all?), not really a trail, which is why it’s open for bikes. No single-track is open in Big Basin Redwoods State Park.

I picked it up on the right a few hundred yards down China Grade after turning left at Hwy 236. You can’t miss the trail. There’s a big iron gate and a sign that says authorized vehicles only.

After a brief climb, the road starts a short descent into a saddle and at the low point there’s a dirt road off to the right that descends fairly steeply. That goes to Rogers Road and the state parks maintenance area. It’s open for bikes.

I continued on East Ridge Trail uphill. The 1.1-mile road, as you might imagine, follows a ridge and that means plenty of up and down. There’s one climb that’s impossible to ride because it’s about 35 percent and loose. But try anyway.

The road dumps out onto the little-used Lodge Road. I’m betting Lodge sees fewer cars than any road in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It’s a goat trail and doesn’t really go anywhere special.

I headed right because I wanted to check out Rogers Road and the trail I chose not to take.

After two miles I came to a junction and headed straight into more “authorized vehicles only” territory, the park maintenance yard. While there I got into a conversation with one of the park workers. That’s when I noticed a tree stump covered with all kinds of toys, left behind by park users over the years.

Anyway, the road I didn’t take comes into Rogers Road. Check it out. It’s all downhill, as opposed to East Ridge. There’s another trail that comes into the park maintenance area, but that’s one of those Once Upon a Ride reports.

East Ridge Trail where it crosses Lodge Road in Big Basin State Park.

East Ridge Trail where it crosses Lodge Road in Big Basin State Park.

Mammoth display trumpets bone discovery

July 28, 2015
Mammoth artwork at Trimble Road and Guadalupe River trail.

Mammoth artwork at Trimble Road and Guadalupe River trail.

Mammoth bones were removed for study.

Mammoth bones were removed for study.


Remember 2005 when they found the mammoth bones in the Guadalupe River next to Trimble Road? Who can forget?

Now there’s a life-size mammoth artwork on display next to the discovery site. It looks much better than that coiled snake in downtown San Jose.

With my life back in order, I toured the Alviso Slough/Guadalupe Slough levy, which is in great shape now that the gravel put down in the first mile has settled.

It’s pretty amazing that gravel sinks into the ground the way it does. It just seems to disappear.

Lots of lone white pelicans, egrets, cormorants swimming around. Even a couple of night herons made a showing.

Alviso levy on a warm morning.

Alviso levy on a warm morning.

Redwood roads always in-Spiring

July 18, 2015

Giant redwood stump fading away in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Giant redwood stump fading away in the Santa Cruz Mountains.


I hadn’t visited the giant redwood stump in eons, so I stopped by for a look. It’s showing its age and starting to fade away.

Back in the late 1800s that stump was a giant redwood, cut down to make shingles for homes in the Bay Area.

Out on Hwy 1, I noticed some feisty winds, thanks to Hurricane Dolores stirring things up out in the Pacific.

On the way back I took Fremont Avenue and noticed that the ancient bridge over Permanente Creek is finally being replaced. Road closed, but bikes can use the recreation bridge. So there’s almost no car traffic on Fremont through Los Altos.

Bohlman Road a good test for Sierra Rides

July 5, 2015

View from Quickert Road overlooking Saratoga.

View from Quickert Road overlooking Saratoga.


If you can ride up Bohlman Road in Saratoga, you can probably make it over Sonora Pass. They’re both painfully steep.

I couldn’t find out how the road got its name, but no doubt it was named for a Bohlman or Bollman. Road was paved in the early 1950s.

Interestingly, John Brown’s (the abolitionist) second wife, Mary, lived on Bohlman Road for a time in the late 1800s.

The grade is steep for all except the last mile. I saw a maximum 23 percent on my cyclometer and that matches closely with what was recorded by Lucas on his website measuring grades of local roads.

I turned left on On Orbit Drive and descended Quickert, Kittridge Roads, fortunately with no traffic as the roads are barely wider than a large SUV.

It was a muggy, warm day with a fair amount of smog. Imagine what it would be like today if we hadn’t enacted smog regulations, Clean Air Act, EPA, etc.

A fair wind blows

June 27, 2015

Windsock says ride north young man. So I did.

Windsock says ride north young man. So I did.


Note the windsock located on Hwy 1 near Waddell Beach. Winds are from the south. Huh?

Yes, winds do come from the south on the coast, especially when a tropical storm moves in from the Gulf of Mexico.

You can be sure I knew in advance which way to ride today. I motored on the flats and downhills as fast at 30 mph. Not bad for a geezer.

Meanwhile, during my brief stop for victuals, a local resident of Davenport bemoaned the potential naming of the Coast Dairies as a national monument. He sees it as a magnet for more crowding in the form of traffic.

On the bright side, more government money may be shaken out for buying land as open space and that’s always a good thing. I’d rather see our money go here than being spent on needless high-tech weaponry like the F35. Cyber security, now that’s another matter. But I digress.

Jobst Brandt Memorial Ride brings back memories

June 20, 2015

Jobst Riders prepare to set off on the celebratory ride from Palo Alto. (Chuck Morehouse photo)

Jobst Riders prepare to set off on the celebratory ride from Palo Alto. (Chuck Morehouse photo)


On Saturday we gathered at the hallowed steps of the house of Jobst on Middlefield Road in Palo Alto for a tribute ride and gathering to celebrate our friend’s adventuresome life.

I can’t begin to identify everyone in the photo, but we had Jobst Riders there going back to the 1960s!

Many riders braved dirt Alpine Road, Jobst’s favorite route to Skyline Boulevard, even though they hadn’t ridden there in decades.

Everyone managed to make it up the narrow, bumpy trail with plenty of time to spare for the celebration.

The big yellow bike in the front is Jobst’s old one with a repaired rear stay, owned now by Richard Mlynarik.

So now it’s time for everyone who isn’t riding to get back on and pick up the pace. Jobst wouldn’t have it any other way.

Once Upon a Ride: Crested Butte 1985

June 13, 2015

Only known photo of my Ritchey mountain bike in 1985.

Only known photo of my Ritchey mountain bike in 1985.


When the mountain bike craze took root, Crested Butte, Colorado, became a focal point. It wasn’t long before riders from all over the country gathered in September for a bike-fest.

The big ride called for a day-trip over Pearl Pass to Aspen on a gnarly road. It was more than I could handle, but many do it annually.

I ventured out there in spanking-new Amtrak cars in September 1985 and had a great time with photographer David Epperson (Mountain Bike Hall of Fame) and friends of triathlete Sally Edwards.

It was a chance to ride my new Ritchey mountain bike, one of the most advanced at the time. While I enjoyed the experience, it didn’t take me long to realize mountain biking wasn’t my strong suit and I sold the bike shortly thereafter.

While the event has been moved to June, the Rockies in September can’t be beat for scenic beauty with the turning aspen.

David Epperson, an outstanding action photographer, rides in Crested Butte, 1985.

David Epperson, an outstanding action photographer, rides in Crested Butte, 1985.


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