Flowers and trees free from virus worries

April 2, 2020

Lovely flowers on a nice day. I think these are Lucifer Crocosmia, but correct me if I’m wrong.

It’s a good thing plants don’t get human viruses because I can’t imagine life without them right about now.

Unfortunately, plants have their own kind of viruses to live with, so even they are not immune.

I managed to ride to Woodside, which once upon a time would have been a short ride. My neck thanked the Frankenbike.

Even after 40 years, some of the narrow winding roads in and around this community haven’t lost their magic. They renew the spirit and bring back memories of rides into the Santa Cruz Mountains when age didn’t hold us back.

Two of my favorite roads are Albion and Manuella. Although only a short distance, they’re prototypical Northern California country roads where the uber wealthy live.

On a previous ride I checked out Villa Montalvo. It’s still open, which is my good fortune because it’s one of my favorite routes.

We have James D. Phelan, three-term mayor of San Francisco, to thank for building the mansion on 160 acres and then giving it to the public upon his death.

Too many cars jamming into tiny parking lots.

Skies fit for a picture postcard

March 26, 2020

Baylands trail looking east toward Mission Peak.

Today’s ride into the baylands revealed just how clear our skies were before industrialization took hold.

Puffy white clouds and blue skies made my eyes hurt. Green hills shined like emeralds.

Google’s massive new office, which looks more like the Big Top, continues toward completion. So do the equally unique Nvidia offices made mostly of glass, ceiling included.

I’ve seen the Bay Area skies at their worst (the late 1970s) when a brown haze obscured the hills, and now at their best. I much prefer breathing fresh air.

Maybe this will be the last time we see such clear skies. Enjoy the outdoors while you can.

Google complex next to NASA Ames. My Moto G camera leaves much to be desired.

Every day feels like Christmas morning

March 24, 2020

Santana Row on a slow day. Really slow day.

About the only occasion when traffic comes to a standstill in the Bay Area is Christmas morning. I remember the time I rode up Hwy 17 (a four-lane highway over the Santa Cruz Mountains) on Christmas morning thinking I wouldn’t see any cars.

Well, I saw plenty of cars even though traffic wasn’t anything like it is on a normal day.

Today I didn’t stray far from home because the skies looked like they were about to unleash some badly needed precipitation. They’re still thinking about it as we creep into a drought (only 7 inches this rain season).

My ride took me to Santana Row, one of the most upscale shopping/living areas anywhere in the world. It looks like a faux Paris.

Just a few people out for a stroll.

At what was once the parking lot for the Century 20s theaters a huge concrete structure is going up. It sure looks like a parking garage.

I rode under the 280 interstate through a pedestrian walkway, riding by a homeless person sprawled out on the hard, cold concrete. His thin sleeping bag couldn’t have kept him warm.

Only someone loaded up with alcohol or drugs could sleep through such harsh conditions.

One of the dome theaters is still standing. A parking garage and three office buildings to come.

Dream days like this keep the pedals turning

March 22, 2020

View looking toward Mount Diablo from Elena Road in Los Altos Hills.

As I finished my ride through Los Altos Hills under partly cloudy skies and a warm sun, I experienced a strange sensation. This is a dream come true.

No traffic. Clean air. Mild temperatures. Flowers blooming. People out for a neighborhood walk. Behind this dream there lurks the reality — an unseen enemy sucking the life out of civilization.

I’m optimistic that once this is behind us, we will reflect on the good that comes out of this test and alter our lifestyles toward a more sustainable world.

No matter how things turn out, I find solace on the bike. As long as the wheels are turning, I can persevere.

Meanwhile, I took the Frankenbike for a spin, climbing an 11 percent grade for a short stretch. Of course, there’s no climbing out of the saddle, but I managed.

The only negative with the handlebars is twitchy handling. I have to avoid sudden motions.

This bike also has a waxed chain. It’s still quiet after 130 miles.

It’s heartening to see bike repairs still being done. Hey, if the car dealerships can keep their shops open through this shutdown, so can bike shops.

Some bike shops in the area are still open for repairs.

Bike riding in a ghost town

March 21, 2020

I live in the heart of Silicon Valley, the world’s most innovative, and expensive, slice of real estate, but now it’s a ghost town.

On my Saturday ride around town I enjoyed clear, fresh air. It’s hard to explain, but I noticed. My lungs noticed.

Fortunately, the run on grocery stores has abated. There weren’t any lines outside and even the local store selling water didn’t have a line, but business was hopping.

In this day and age, filtered water is an essential service. And fortunately so is our city’s farmer’s market, which has a nice selection of fruits, vegetables, cooked food and even beef from a local ranch.

As expected, San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail had its share of walkers and cyclists. However, it was nowhere near as bad as lunch hour on a weekday in the summer. The trail becomes unrideable.

The weather continues to be cool and cloudy with scattered showers. I anticipate seeing even more walkers in the coming days when spring brings warm weather.

Last night I watched Breaking Away, and after 40 years it hasn’t lost any of its endearing appeal. It reminded me of those exciting times when bike riding became a passion, when rides with Jobst Brandt and his cadre became a weekly escapade.

Those were the days.

I’m now on

March 21, 2020

If you have a bookmark to, it will not work starting Monday, March 23, but I’ll still be on The URL reverts to

Keeping this blog free of advertising (I had to pay for that and the domain name) no longer makes sense, so you may also see occasional ads.

I’ll post as long as I’m cranking, and host Automattic is in business.

Best bicycle movie of all time? Breaking Away

March 20, 2020

Breaking Away is a must- watch movie that will bring some happiness your way.

While we’re enjoying our time in limbo, here’s an opportunity to catch up on some good movies. My favorite bicycle movie is Breaking Away. I’ll never forget going to the downtown Palo Alto movie theater with some local racers one evening and having a blast.

The best scene for me was when Dennis Quaid sat with his friends on a hill overlooking the Indiana University football field watching a squad practice. Mike, a “wannabe” quarterback in high school, lamented his situation as a “townie.”

“…Twenty-year-old Mike, 30-year-old Mike, mean old Mike…”

Breaking Away won Steve Tesich the 1979 Academy Award for best original screenplay. The smart dialogue andĀ  earthy Midwestern values made the movie compelling to watch. We laughed, we cheered. TheĀ  story is based on actual events in Tesich’s life. There was and still is a Little 500 bike race.

The road race scene with Dave Stohler (played by Dennis Christopher), the main character, includes local amateur racers. (Check out this interview with our local bike media friend Bruce Hildenbrand.)

Most cyclists over age 40 have already seen the movie, but younger riders may not know about it. It’s available to rent on YouTube for $3.99.


What, me worry?

March 18, 2020

Hunkered down in the garage while the coronavirus spreads. The PVC tubing keeps me upright.

As we shelter in place here in Santa Clara County, it’s time to reflect. Things could be worse.

I won’t dwell on the worse. My question is this: Should I go for bike rides? I’m a senior citizen, so I’m most at risk.

I’m not riding outdoors today because the weather sucks. I can ride the trainer in the garage.

I spent eight weeks staying off my bike, except for the trainer, to help rehabilitate my sore neck. Now my neck is much better.

I had just started riding normally when the coronavirus hit. Government officials tell us to stay home. I could ride around town and I’d probably be fine, but does it send the wrong message? Cyclists are under close scrutiny at all times, being out on the road.

I’ve seen some people walking in my neighborhood, but not many. I haven’t seen any cyclists.

According to the San Francisco shelter in place edict, you aren’t supposed to ride, but then it references another section where it says you can ride, walk, etc., for health reasons and essential transportation.

Meanwhile, there’s something much worse than riding a bike — going to buy groceries. Stores are packed from panic buying, but some of the increase in business is because people are staying at home with their children. It’s only natural we’ll see more people shopping.

My advice is to stay away from the big-box stores. They’re a zoo. Instead, support your neighborhood stores. They’re out there. You just have to look.

I’ve had good results going to a small produce market. They’re not as crowded.

While I worry about catching the virus, I’ve had something similar before — the swine flu N1H1 in 2010. I didn’t realize it at the time. I just thought of it as the flu, but I’m sure it was N1H1. For the first time in memory, I had lung problems. Fortunately I didn’t have pneumonia, but I needed antibiotics.

I’ve had bronchitis one other time, in 1995. I had to cut short my Sierra ride, but still managed to ride over Monitor Pass and back again over two days. Antibiotics finally cured me.

If you’re young and healthy, you have nothing to worry about from the coronavirus. Just stay away from elderly relatives until this blows over. That’s why Italy is so hard hit.

One final note. Please don’t drive into the Santa Cruz Mountains to go for a mountain bike ride or to hike, once the weather improves. The roads can’t handle an increase in car traffic. It’s already bad now. It takes only a modest increase in traffic to create traffic jams.

Go for a walk in your neighborhood and avoid the crowds.

What are your thoughts on the coronavirus and bike rides?

UPDATE: I rode on Thursday morning and enjoyed nice weather, clear air. There’s still traffic, light to moderate, and the big trucks are still headed to Permanente. I saw a fair number of cyclists, but lots of people walking in their neighborhood. A big plus is the reduction in NO2 pollution.

Bike rides in the Santa Cruz Mountains have a new look

March 13, 2020

Here’s the view from Old La Honda Road that makes my day.

Gone are the days when I rode from home on 50-100 mile rides through the Santa Cruz Mountains.

It’s more like 45 miles after driving to Skyline and parking. You’ve got to adapt, and adapt I will.

Today I drove up Hwy 9 and noticed some cyclists dutifully picking up roadside garbage. I commend them. I’ve done that too.

Skyline Boulevard between Page Mill Road and Hwy 9 no longer has a stoplight. The slide has been repaired and the road widened.

I headed down Alpine Road and took solace in wearing a long-sleeve jersey. It wasn’t as nice today as yesterday.

A bike rack and deck at Loma Mar Store look inviting.

First stop, Loma Mar Store to visit the owner. They have great pastry and coffee, among other delectable deli dishes. The entire building is out-of-this-world beautiful. Visit and you’ll see why it took five years to build.

When I arrived in Pescadero I noticed a dense fog blanketing the ocean, so I headed up Stage Road under sunny skies and a refreshing breeze.

The ride up Hwy 84 has the usual moderate traffic, but less than on the weekend. I turned onto Old La Honda Road to enjoy the solitude — one of my favorite roads in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The views…

That’s what I call a nice culvert. This one is near the larger repair/slide that doesn’t look as nice.

The culverts have been repaired, so no more closures.

Skyline Boulevard brought me back to the real world. It was getting late in the day, so commuters blasted by at 60-70 mph while thumbing their noses at the 914 millimeter (three-foot) rule.

To top off the enjoyable ride, my neck didn’t hurt much. Advil helps.

I’m not a fan of riding in dense fog. Right turn on Stage Road.

Saso keeps on machining

March 10, 2020

Dale Saso works on a new tool for cutting steer tubes.

Dale Saso lives in San Jose and builds steel frames. Or at least he used to. Those days are pretty much gone, thanks to carbon fiber.

Now he does small jobs for cyclists who have unique needs.

I rode by to show Dale my Frankenbike, which he built in 1986. Most of my rides with Jobst Brandt in the Santa Cruz Mountains were done on this bike.

Dale was building a tool for threading steer tubes. His shop is “old school” with thousands of steel bike parts and tools laying about.

It’s what most people would imagine a machinist’s shop looks like.

I know other machinists in Silicon Valley who own expensive machines that make exotic components for modern devices, but Dale wants no part of it.

He’s content working on small jobs. I could use a new six-speed quick-release axle for my Campagnolo rear hub. I wonder if he can make one? If it could be made from better quality steel than Campagnolo used, it might be worth it.

Dale now has a website where you can contact him.

Cutting a steer tube.