Now that’s a motor-bike

June 9, 2015

A motor-bike literally.

A motor-bike literally.

It’s blasphemy. How can you do this to a perfectly good bike? If it were electric, I wouldn’t mind. I do admire the owner’s ability.

Too much of a good thing

May 28, 2015
Pearl Izumi Elite gloves have too much gel for my hands. Older model, right, felt better on long rides.

Pearl Izumi Elite gloves have too much gel for my hands. Older model, right, felt better on long rides.

When I recently purchased a pair of Pearl Izumi Elite gloves, I figured the increased amount of gel padding compared to its older model would be a good thing. I was sorely wrong.

When you get to be my age, gloves are required. For many years I didn’t wear gloves, although in hindsight it’s always a good idea to wear them.

On a 30-mile ride they were OK, but I noticed the gel lumps felt like small pebbles after a while. On a 119-mile ride, well, they became more than an annoyance early on during a long climb. They compressed the ulnar nerve, which leads to hand numbness. I had to constantly change hand position.

Pearl Izumi usually makes excellent products, but I think they went overboard on these gloves and didn’t test them enough before release. They did fix one problem compared to the previous model: the Velcro wrist clasp holds well.

Mt. Hamilton Road Race brings out the hammerheads

May 25, 2015

Leaders in the Mt. Hamilton Road Race. Not far ahead of the peloton.

Leaders in the Mt. Hamilton Road Race. Not far ahead of the peloton.

Racers pursue the breakaway at Mt. Hamilton.

Racers pursue the breakaway at Mt. Hamilton.

Talk about cyclists with energy to burn — they all showed up for the Mt. Hamilton Road Race on Sunday.

As I inched my way uphill past Halls Valley, a motorcycle official warned me the peloton was on its way. The freight train arrived a few minutes later, giving me time to dismount and snap a few pics of the Cat 1, 2 riders.

Then they were gone, only to be followed by a hundred or so more riders in lower categories. They weren’t going nearly so fast, but it was still like race cars going by compared to my snail pace.

On the way down the steep backside I didn’t see any accidents, which is a good thing because it’s easy to get carried away going down. I heard of only one accident, at Smith Creek, and I don’t think it was too bad.

The women’s leader going past The Junction store had a lead of at least five minutes. I’m told she was a national champion, so I can only surmise she won handily in the race that ended at the junction of Mines and Del Valle Road.

The race used to finish at Wente Vineyards on Tesla Road, then at Mines and Tesla, now here. In 1987 it ended on the second long climb of Mines Road, call the Double S. Not sure why but it probably had to do with permission from local authorities.

As I plodded home through Pleasanton and Calaveras Road, a bevy of racers blasted by on their way back to Silicon Valley. Youth.

Still a few wildflowers on Mt. Hamilton - Elegant brodiaea

Still a few wildflowers on Mt. Hamilton – Elegant brodiaea

Once Upon a Ride: Wheels over muddied waters

May 18, 2015
Ted Mock recovers after taking a spill on Richards Road.

Ted Mock recovers after taking a spill on Richards Road.

March 30, 1981
Riders: Jobst Brandt, Jim Westby, Ted Mock, John McDonnell, Ray Hosler, Tom Holmes,
Weather: Cloudy and dry, then cloudy and rainy, back to cloudy and dry
Route: Up Kings Mountain Road, down Richards Road through Huddart Park
Tire/Mechanical Failure: Ray – minor tire casing issue; John – chain fell off

Midway in the Jobst Ride on this Sunday in March each of us was seriously questioning our raison d’etre.

The latest Pacific cold front, moving through like a speeding freight train, dumped a load of water on our group and the surrounding hills, already spongy from the early spring rains.

We were getting soaked and I couldn’t help but remember Jobst’s hallowed words, “I never ride in the rain.” [not intentionally, except maybe in Europe]

As we made our way along Manzanita Way in Woodside where it was already wet, Ted quipped: “I know it’s getting wet when my jersey starts shrinking.” [inside joke for wool jerseys]

But this was a Jobst Ride and we were intent on going out here in the rain to escape civilization and discover yet another dirt road. Sometimes we just had to suck it up.

Before beginning the climb up Kings Mountain Road, John asked me if I could see without the glasses I had just removed. “Sure I can see without them…Jim.” We hustled up Kings Mountain Road passing a few tourists on the way.

At Skyline Boulevard we milled about wondering where to go next. Jobst mentioned that it might be drier on the coast, but nobody was buying that. So Jobst recommended a little-known trail through Huddart Park. [Later I found out it was Richards Road, a former skid road for hauling logs.]

We headed north on Skyline for about a half-mile before turning off at a chain barrier. Our modern-day Davy Crockett charged blindly into the forest and it was all we could do to stay with Jobst on the muddy road that led inevitably downward. At one point we took a side path but discovered it went nowhere.

It was Greek philosopher Plato who said, “Man is declared to be that creature who is constantly in search for himself, a creature who at every moment must examine and scrutinize the conditions of his existence. He is a being in search of meaning.”

Plato would have been hard-pressed to find any rational meaning for this ride as we continued down the muddy spoor. We struggled with our bikes through gooey yellow mud that clung to tires and clogged brakes.

It was on one difficult stretch, in mud like quicksand, that Ted met his soiled fate. He did an endo and fell into the ooze. I had to take his photo to capture the memory.

Once into the lower reaches of the park the trail improved and we picked up the pace. Jobst said, “Now if Ritchey could have ridden down that on his mountain bike, he’d be going a lot faster than us.”

We finally reached Greer Road and made our way back to civilization. We headed back over Sand Hill Road where two small foreign cars with smashed windows looked like victims of a UFO attack.

On the way, Jobst pointed out the hill-creep on Sharon Heights where famed chemist Linus Pauling had an office. “They never should have put that building there,” Jobst declared. “When I was a boy that hill was just a marsh. There was a horse stable right where that building sits now.”

Horses and Jobst Riders had something in common this day. Put a Jobst Rider against a good mudder and you’ve got a race on your hands.

Haul Road has Wild Iris in bloom

May 17, 2015

So much beauty on the Haul Road.

So much beauty on the Haul Road.

What more could you ask for on the Haul Road deep in the redwoods than Douglas iris springing up everywhere?

I headed up Page Mill Road into winter-like conditions with thick fog and mist blanketing Skyline.

Fortunately the fog lifted while heading down Alpine Road, but it was still long-sleeve jersey weather riding into the deep canyon cut by Pescadero Creek. How does GPS make it there?

I had Camp Pomponio Road all to myself (Honor Camp Road), it being closed at least a dozen years now. It’s a cathedral kind of place with tall stands of new-growth redwoods.

On the Haul Road I stopped to admire Pescadero Creek, which finally has some water after last winter’s drought.

Farther on I came across lots of wild iris and stopped to admire their delicate beauty. They seemed to like one particular location that’s also one of my favorite places on the road.

Back on pavement I headed to see how the Loma Mar store is progressing. The concrete foundation is in. It’s looking great. Soon the store will be restored. I’ll celebrate some lasting memories of ageless Jobst Rides.

In Pescadero I checked out the town’s 115th anniversary of the Holy Ghost celebration. Flags hung over main street and people gathered at the local church for some fun activities. The bagpipers were a nice touch.

I couldn’t help but notice the sign in an open field — in the Moore family since the 1850s. That would be Alexander Moore.

That brought to mind another Moore who grew up in Pescadero – Gordon. Yes, the Gordon Moore of Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel. Are these Moores related? I have no idea. Do Pescadero residents even know Gordon Moore?

I had that and more to think about as I checked out the Pacific Ocean from Stage Road for the hundredth time, an experience that never grows old.

Honor Camp Road's redwood cathedral.

Honor Camp Road’s redwood cathedral.

A delicate iris shows off on Bridge Trail.

A delicate iris shows off on Bridge Trail.

Loma Mar Store has a new foundation. Making progress.

Loma Mar Store has a new foundation. Making progress.

Lost my appetite for Michelin Optimum Pro tires

May 12, 2015

Michelin Optimum Pro tire lasted 2,700 miles, but had serious sidewall fray.

Michelin Optimum Pro tire lasted 2,700 miles, but had serious sidewall fray.

Without question I love French cuisine, but I’ve lost my appetite for Michelin bike tires.

The French manufacturer was one of the first to abandon pattern tread, which I’m sure is one reason Jobst Brandt tried their tires back in the late 1980s. The tires didn’t last long and Jobst quickly quit using them.

I got 2,743 miles on my Michelin Optimum Pro ($46.39, 700×25) and probably could get more but the sidewalls look so shabby that I’m not going to take the risk of a sudden failure. I had a couple of other Optimum models and had the same issues.

I’m no tire expert, but from the looks of it the sidewalls are a separate layer of fabric from the inner tire wall. I can peel back the outer layer in areas where it’s separating.

The tires seemed good in every other respect. The rear “model” was supposed to have more tread than the front, which is a dubious selling point. I’m not pleased with 2,700 miles. A tire should last at least 3,000 miles, which is the length of a U.S. transcontinental ride.

I don’t see this tire listed on the Michelin website. It’s just as well.

Jobst Brandt leaves behind memories to last a lifetime

May 6, 2015

Jobst Brandt rides up Gavia Pass, Italy. Made into a poster.(Rick Lyman photo, 1978)

Jobst Brandt rides up Gavia Pass, Italy. Made into a poster (Rick Lyman photo, 1978).

Behold the wise Jobst Rider,
Whose unfettered mind
Sees God in dirt
And hears him in the spokes.

(Adapted from a quote by Alexander Pope)

Jobst Brandt, a cyclist who in so many ways influenced the bicycle industry during its glory days of the 1980s, died on Tuesday, May 5, 2015, after a long illness. He was 80.

On his 76th birthday, Jobst crashed his bike at the Sand Hill Road and Whiskey Hill Road intersection near Woodside during an early morning ride in a dense fog. It was his last bike ride. His serious injuries added to the burden of other health liabilities.

Jobst exerted considerable influence over those he knew in the bike industry, but he was not an industry insider. Because he never worked in the bike business, he could offer his opinions about the industry without reservation.

His passing is a personal loss for me. I met Jobst in 1979 while working at Palo Alto Bicycles. I’ll never forget seeing Jobst wheel into the store on his huge bike, which he always rode into the shop while deftly opening the door.

He immediately bound upstairs to the Avocet headquarters where he would engage owner Bud Hoffacker in lively discussions (browbeat) about everything under the sun involving bike technology.

Jobst was like that. He believed with 100 percent certainty that his way was the right way. If you disagreed and didn’t have the facts to support your argument, you were just another crackpot.

Consummate engineer
Most of the time Jobst was right. He had that rare skill in a mechanical engineer — he not only understood engineering principles, he could translate theory into meaningful product improvements, whether it be a bicycle shoe, a floor pump or a cyclometer.

Jobst received seven patents (3 cycling), testimony to his abilities.

1 – 6,583,524 Micro-mover with balanced dynamics (Hewlett Packard)
2 – 6,134,508 Simplified system for displaying user-selected functions in a bicycle computer or similar device (for Avocet)
3 – 5,834,864 Magnetic micro-mover (Hewlett Packard, and Bob Walmsley, Victor Hesterman)
4 – 5,058,427 Accumulating altimeter with ascent/descent accumulation thresholds (for Avocet)
5 – 4,547,983 Bicycle shoe (for Avocet)
6 – 4,369,453 Plotter having a concave platen (Hewlett Packard)
7 – 3,317,186 Alignment and support hydraulic jack (SLAC)

He received his first U.S. patent while working at the two-mile long Stanford Linear Accelerator in 1966; he was recognized for his work on suspension for the particle accelerator. There’s a plaque with his name on it in one of the lobbies.

At Porsche he designed race-car suspensions, after quickly moving through the ranks. The way he got his job is classic Jobst. The young Stanford University graduate (his father was an economics professor at Stanford), who spent time in the U.S. Army in Germany as a reserve officer — lieutenant, then captain — in the 9th Engineer Battalion, approached Porsche and told them that their English translations lacked polish. Porsche agreed and he was hired.

Cycling legacy
Jobst blazed trails beyond bike product development. His freewheeling way of thinking led him to do things most people would never dream of — like riding a racing bike with tubular tires on rugged trails in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

It’s not that big a deal, but other cyclists thought it was, so Jobst quickly gained a reputation that drew elite cyclists from the Bay Area to join him on his Sunday rides, starting promptly at 8 a.m. from his house on Middlefield Road in Palo Alto.

By the mid-1970s, Jobst had such a large following that some rides counted up to 20 riders. Most would not complete the ride, mainly because it lasted all day and went through creeks, over rocky trails lined with poison oak (Jobst was immune) and through private property.

While Jobst had an entourage of bike racers, he never had anything kind to say about the sport. I think the only good he saw in it was a test of a person’s mettle (a bike’s metal too) and the ability to overcome obstacles. That’s what Jobst was all about.

He never showed fear or got rattled in difficult situations. These √úbermensch qualities came to the forefront when he fell and broke his leg at the hip in 1986 on the rain-slick pavement of Col de Tende. He got up, cursed himself for not recognizing the foam on the road, and ordered me to lift his leg over the top tube so he could coast to the next town.

In Tende, Jobst dismounted and crawled on hands and knees up the steps to the doctor’s office.

On another occasion he was trying to help a snake off Calaveras Road; it bit him and only then did he realize the young reptile was a rattlesnake. He didn’t panic, but rode back to his car in Milpitas and drove to Stanford Hospital for the antidote. The venom mangled his thumb.

One beautiful spring day in 1982 we were bound for Gazos Creek Road when we came upon a scene of absolute devastation. The road had been obliterated by torrential rains that downed redwoods and dislodged boulders the size of cars. Instead of turning around, Jobst urged us on.

So we clambered over trees and followed the creek downhill, eventually reaching a recognizable road after a mile of walking.

The Bicycle Wheel
Jobst wrote a lot (check out or Sheldon Brown’s website), but nothing was more important to him than his book on the bicycle wheel. He spent more than a decade writing the book with the intention of producing a tome that would stand the test of time.

I learned to build my first set of wheels using his book when it was still in manuscript form. It was the first time I read a description so well done that I could follow along and build wheels that would last for many years.

Jobst let many people edit the manuscript, but it was Jim Westby, Jobst’s friend and manager of the Palo Alto Bicycles mail order catalog, who did the heavy lifting. Jobst also published a German edition.

The book has sold well since being published by Avocet and is still in print. It could be in print 100 years from now because the principles of wheel building are never going to change. Sure, thanks to new materials we now have 16-spoke wheels, but it’s a number that made Jobst cringe.

Love for the Alps
Although Jobst rode most of his miles in the U.S., he always made time for the Alps. For 50 years he rode there annually, riding many of the same passes year after year, with some variation. He almost always went with another rider.

Riding with Jobst in the Alps tested friendships. He became obsessive about riding all day, every day, and I don’t mean until 5 p.m. He liked to ride until 8 p.m. after starting around 8 a.m., when he could coax the hotel owner to get up that early.

If you rode in the Alps with Jobst, you knew you were going to cover a lot of ground and you could expect some adventure riding, sometimes sliding down snow-covered slopes when crossing high passes on hiking trails. Of course, Jobst rode all but the rockiest trails.

Jobst took many photos of his exploits over the decades, probably more than 10,000 slides. He had a unique ability to capture great photos with his Rollei 35. A few of his photos were made into posters and sold by Palo Alto Bicycles.

He could be obsessive about getting just the right shot, as when we were on the section of road supported by concrete beams looming over Bedretto Valley, Switzerland. Given the right cropping, the road appears to be suspended in mid-air, the village of Fontana 1,000 feet below. Possessed with taking the perfect photo, Jobst hacked away, limb for limb, at a sapling growing next to the road.

Wheel suckers
Although Jobst sometimes had a harsh demeanor, he had his fun side too. He loved to pull pranks and make puns while out on the road. We passed the day telling stories, jokes, and commenting on world affairs.

That was when we weren’t struggling to stay on Jobst’s wheel in his younger days. It was especially true with Tom Ritchey along for the ride. The accomplished racer and frame builder had a way about him that caused Jobst to push the pace; maybe Jobst did it to prove a point or just because he knew he could have some serious competition with Tom.

Whatever the reason, we had some hard and fast riding ahead of us on many a Sunday. It got even worse when other racers showed up, like Keith Vierra, Sterling McBride, Dave McLaughlin, Peter Johnson, Bill Robertson, the list is lengthy.

It got so competitive that we sprinted for city limits signs.

I could go on about Jobst, but it would require a book-length blog. I’ve published some accounts of past rides here (Once Upon a Ride) and they’ll have to do for now.

As Jobst was always fond of saying, “Ride bike!”

Excellent read: The Force Who Rides by Laurence Malone.

Once Upon a Ride: Flats, Flats, Flats in Marin County

May 5, 2015

Ridgecrest Boulevard overlooking Stinson Beach. John Pinaglia, Jobst Brandt, Parker McComas, Tom Ritchey.

Ridgecrest Boulevard overlooking Stinson Beach. John Pinaglia, Jobst Brandt, Parker McComas, Tom Ritchey.

At a recent bike event talk, Tom Ritchey, owner of Ritchey Bicycle Components USA, mentioned a ride where the group had a dozen flats between them. Close enough. It was nine flats. Now for the rest of the story:

May 17, 1981
Riders: Jobst Brandt, Tom Ritchey, Parker McComas, Strange John, Ray Hosler
Route: Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito, Mill Valley, Mt. Tam railroad grade, Hwy 1 to Olema, Pt. Reyes National Park, Stinson Beach, home via Mt. Tam.
Weather: Overcast, fog on coast, then cool
Tire/Mechanical Failures: Tom – 4 flats; Jobst – 1 flat; Ray – 1 flat; John – 1 flat; Parker – 2 flats

It is sad to say that our clinchers failed us on this Jobst Ride. [we had just switched over to clinchers] They not only failed, they turned a potentially enjoyable ride into a trying experience. However, a good time was still had by all.

We started from the Golden Gate Bridge south side around 9:30 a.m., fortunately missing runners in the Bay to Breakers, as feared. We piled out of Tom’s VW bus and prepared our bikes for a ride that wouldn’t end until 5 p.m.

As we made our way on the bike path between Sausalito and Mill Valley, Jobst pioneered a route through a bed of gravel that appeared to be a jogging path. Once on the other side onto pavement, Parker and I discovered we had rear flats.

While fixing our flats, several riders went past and yelled, “That’s what you get for using sewups!” Jobst rejoined, “These aren’t sewups, they’re clinchers!” The argument over the advantages of clinchers vs. sewups had raged for years and this day wouldn’t do anything to quell the controversy.

The Jobst Riders entered the peaceful town of Mill Valley and headed up the traditional one-way road, past the sign that says “Do Not Enter.” We passed the quiet splendor of homes overlooked by giant redwoods.

Tom drinks from a spring midway up Mt. Tamalpais on the railroad grade.

Tom drinks from a spring midway up Mt. Tamalpais on the railroad grade.

At the railroad grade entrance we noted the ground was dry and firm. Sharp rocks menacingly pointed toward our tires.

Along the way we spotted several Rufous-sided towhees and the remnants of a railroad station’s concrete platform. We stopped for water at the one-time watering station where there is now a moss-covered waterfall. The cold water tasted delicious.

[While this is a railroad grade, it’s a Shay locomotive railroad grade with an 8 percent inclination.]

At the top of the climb on Mt. Tam we noted a poster warning not to travel alone, although the Mt. Tam trail killer had been captured several days earlier.

We stopped for the traditional photo at the Stinson Beach overlook, clearly visible below. The fog had not yet moved close to shore.

On the descent of Ridgecrest Boulevard, Parker flatted again and it was determined his rubber rim strip was at fault. John and Jobst had ridden ahead to wait at the gate. From here you can ride a trail all the way to Olema, but today Jobst had other plans, so we took the Fairfax-Bolinas Road down to Hwy 1.

In Olema Parker purchased some elastic strapping tape for his rear rim.

Jobst typically rode up Mt. Wittenberg Trail, but today we headed straight into Pt. Reyes National Park down Bear Valley Trail [off limits to bikes]. We passed many backpackers who were returning from their overnight stays.

Then Jobst flatted and patched his tube while the rest of us checked out the giant ferns and wildflowers growing next to the trail.

From here we had a long uphill to a ridge that overlooked the Pacific. The steep trail had us straining on the cranks. At the summit Jobst pointed to the Coast Trail sign and recalled an earlier ride. “The hikers told us not to go that direction because it was too steep. Pretty soon we were rappelling down this cliff. We were lucky to get down that one.”

We had a fast descent to the ocean on a trail littered with sharp rocks composed of shale, and more backpackers. We passed speechless hikers, kicking up a trail of dust as we went.

At a corner Tom flatted. As we made repairs, some equestrians ambled by heading the opposite direction.

I noticed Tom was riding Avocet Mod III pedals, which he just as quickly noticed did not have their dust caps. With no spare tube, he had to patch the flat. We looked around and listened to the crashing surf below where a couple of tents were still pitched near the shore.

Tom fixes another flat, this one on the Coast Trail in Marin County.

Tom fixes another flat, this one on the Coast Trail in Marin County.

Jobst pointed out all sorts of birds flitting about and then noticed an Allen’s hummingbird. We watched it as it flew up in the air and then dive-bombed us. Jobst figured a female was hiding in the bushes and the male was showing off.

No sooner had Tom fixed his rear flat than he discovered a front flat! Back to work patching tubes.

Back on the road, we faced a particularly steep section that had once been paved. Jobst and Tom rode all the way but the rest of us had to walk.

We continued to pass equestrians on the Coast Trail, which is lined with some beautiful small lakes where ducks can be seen swimming around.

Jobst lost control on a section of off-camber trail and crashed on his right arm, blood flowing freely. However, he was otherwise unhurt and the bike was fine. Jobst found a mud puddle with green slime and washed off his wound.

We continued on the gnarly trail that at times came within inches of a cliff and the Pacific Ocean below. At one point Jobst found a side path and disappeared into pampas grass.

Back on Hwy 1 via Mesa Road, we made good progress into Stinson Beach. We had to make a four-mile detour around Bolinas Lagoon, at which point Tom started talking about his idea for a bike with pontoons. “They could be folded down when in use and small paddles attached to the cranks for locomotion.”

As we battled unusual headwinds Tom flatted once again. By now it was becoming routine. After fixing the flat Tom looked sadly at his other tire and said, “Oh no, this one is flat too!” Then he smiled and laughed. “Just kidding.”

We stopped at a corner grocery store where Jobst always visited on his Marin County rides. While inside he inquired about some keys left behind on a previous ride by Rick Humphreys. Lo and behold, Jobst’s Volvo keys were in a lost-and-found jar kept by the owner.

We headed back up Panoramic Highway for a long climb to the ridge overlooking the Pacific. It was here that Tom flatted for the fourth time. Tom borrowed my leaky tube, which was better off than his. Along the way Tom had to stop several times to pump his tire.

Back at the Golden Gate Bridge we faced a thick blanket of bone-chilling fog as we rode across the drippy wet bridge path, ships’ foghorns bellowing their warning.

That VW van never looked so good after a long ride.

Another Coast Trail ride later in 1981. Nice views. (Jobst Brandt photo)

Another Coast Trail ride later in 1981. Nice views. (Jobst Brandt photo)

Silicon Valley Bike Festival celebrates local cycling

May 4, 2015

Tom Ritchey gives insights on Bay Area cycling and how it influenced his life.

Tom Ritchey gives insights on Bay Area cycling and how it influenced his life.

Sometimes I need to remind myself I’m part of a community, so during my Sunday ride I stopped by for the 1st annual Silicon Valley Bikes! festival in San Jose’s Kelley Park.

History San Jose hosted the bicycle show, where cyclists checked out bikes, listened to some local history and learned about what’s ahead for Santa Clara County transportation.

I was in a funk after watching Manny Pacquiao lose his fight to Floyd Mayweather. It was a subpar effort by both boxers, whose best days are behind them. I don’t expect a rematch because Mayweather knows it won’t bring in the big bucks.

Fans of Pacquiao gathered around the world to watch the boxing spectacle.

Fans of Pacquiao gathered around the world to watch the boxing spectacle.

VTA transportation plans
But I digress. The bike gathering offered something for everyone. I stopped by the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) booth to express my thoughts on what’s needed for Santa Clara Valley to enhance public transportation and cycling.

That’s the kind of outreach that helps our government agencies respond to the public’s view on how to get around.

The good news is that BART is going to be in San Jose by late 2017 (or 2018) with the Berryessa Station off Mabury Road (for unknown reasons Google Maps shows it at Piedmont and Sierra Road). This stretch is VTA funded, not BART.

Even better, the VTA supports building a recreation path along Coyote Creek under Highway 101, greatly improving access to the Berryessa BART station for cyclists and pedestrians.

Viva Calle San Jose
Here’s something that looks fun and good for a community like San Jose where cars rule the day: Viva Calle on Sunday, October 11.

It’s an open-street event where city streets — Story Road/Keyes Street/First Street/Market Street to St. James Park — will be closed to cars.

Organized by the Parks and Recreation Department, the event takes after a global movement to take back streets for public use — cycling, walking, strolling, roller skating, etc.

It’s a great way to give people a chance to explore San Jose without car traffic.

Bay Area Ridge Trail expanding
The Bay Area Ridge Trail is making progress, most recently with a six-mile extension planned south from Hwy 92 along Skyline Boulevard. At the event booth, Joel Gartland said it should be open in a year or two along with the Fifield-Cahill Ridge Trail through the San Francisco Watershed.

Some 350 miles of the 550-mile trail have been built, extending from Napa and Sonoma counties south to Santa Clara County.

Look for one of these on the Bay Area Ridge Trail.

Look for one of these on the Bay Area Ridge Trail.

Tom Ritchey, George Mount and others
Along with agencies and companies showing their products, some local luminaries showed up to talk about their early days of racing and cycling.

George Mount, former Olympic cyclist and professional racer, rode from his home in Livermore over Mt. Hamilton to give his talk.

Tom Ritchey, frame builder and owner of Ritchey Bicycle Components USA, talked about innovation and how Santa Clara Valley has been a hotbed for all kinds of technology developments over the decades, including cycling.

He said his father, who was an engineer, encouraged him to build his own bike as a young teen. Tom, who knew nothing about frame building, learned everything on his own, building his own bike, one for Don McBride, and more for fellow bike racers.

Before long Tom had become a master frame builder, and branched out to building high-end mountain bikes when that era started in the early 1980s.

While the mountain bike is believed to have been invented in Marin County, Tom said it’s always dangerous to say you’re the first at just about anything. He gave an example in the Morrow Dirt Riders, a loosely knit group of riders from Cupertino who rode bikes that looked for all the world like mountain bikes back in 1973-74.

First bike to ride on the concrete (originally asphalt) Hellyer Park track.

First bike to ride on the concrete (originally asphalt) Hellyer Park track.

Tom explained that the group got its name from the Morrow coaster brake, the best product of its kind back in the day.

After riding his bike all over the world, Tom said that nothing beats the Bay Area, which he believes is still not appreciated for all it has to offer. “Nothing beats riding up west Alpine Road on a spring day with the great views and wildflowers in bloom,” Tom said.

I’ll second that.

Drought update for the South Bay Reservoirs

May 2, 2015

Chesbro Reservoir in the South Bay is slightly less than half full.

Chesbro Reservoir in the South Bay is slightly less than half full.

Considering last year’s debacle, it’s fair to say that the “glass is half full” for the South Bay reservoirs in spring 2015.

I rode by Calero, Chesbro, and Uvas reservoirs to see how they’re doing. Calero is at 42 percent, but it looked that way through last year too.

Chesbro was empty last year. Now it’s 46 percent full. Uvas is doing much better, empty last year, and now at 71 percent.

The big winner this year remains Stevens Creek Reservoir at a healthy 94 percent of capacity.

What made this ride so enjoyable today was the wind. It was a mild headwind most of the way out, but a tailwind coming home. It’s usually the opposite.


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