Mt. Hamilton backside road stories

March 28, 2016

The old road followed Arroyo Bayo.

The old road followed Arroyo Bayo.


One of the most wild and scenic roads in the Bay Area is Hwy 130, San Antonio Valley Road, on the backside of Mt. Hamilton.

I’ve ridden there since 1980 and it never fails to impress. Over the years I’ve wondered about that dirt road alongside Arroyo Bayo after the hill out of Isabel Creek.

Jobst Brandt, who rode on the backside of Mt. Hamilton more than any cyclist, may have mentioned riding there, but I’ve forgotten.

But Peter Locke has not forgotten, and he rode with Jobst. He told me recently by phone how they rode through the creek. He had fond memories of fording the creek numerous times, as well as crossing a reservoir. Here’s Google Maps after the Isabel Creek climb.

Red line shows where the road went.

Red line shows where the road went.

I looked at a USGS topographic map from 1955 and sure enough the dirt road that you see today along the creek was the main road.

It’s fast disappearing, but it’s still used by landowners in some sections.

I wouldn’t want to try riding there today, but back in 1956-57 when Jobst, Peter and others rode it, the road was maintained.

The road enters a narrow section.

The road enters a narrow section.


Here's where the first section of road returns to present Hwy 130.

Here’s where the first section of road returns to present Hwy 130.

USGS topo map from 1955.

USGS topo map from 1955.

Good Friday for a ride over Mt. Hamilton

March 26, 2016

More wildflowers in San Antonio Valley this year.

More wildflowers in San Antonio Valley this year.


I’ve never ridden over Mt. Hamilton on Good Friday, so I thought I’d give it a try. I was not disappointed, until Calaveras Road, but more on that later.

I left at 7:20 a.m. under sunny skies, negotiating moderate traffic on Pruneridge, Hedding, Berryessa to get to the base of Mt. Hamilton Road, Hwy 130. I can’t say enough about the value of turning Hedding into a bike boulevard. It makes the ride across the Valley so much more enjoyable, or at least tolerable.

During the climb, ground and valley fog boiled up, reducing visibility to 100 yards in the first few miles, but once above the fog it was clear skies and mild temperatures the rest of the way.

I saw no cyclists and only a few cars heading to the summit. Same for the backside of Mt. Hamilton.

I noticed the pipe two miles down is not flowing. It must be plugged, but the creek was running, so I got some water. I would have hiked up the trail to fix it, but I had a long ride ahead.

When I stopped to take pictures in San Antonio Valley, I removed my long-sleeve jersey and gloves. One of the gloves fell out, so now I have to go back next week and find it. I can’t imagine anyone would stop to pick up a lone glove.

At The Junction store I stopped for a bite to eat and watched as workers continue the renovation under guidance of the new owners. I have no idea when it will open. April 1 was mentioned, but these things usually take longer than anticipated.

On the ride along Mines Road I was happy to see that the two traditional creek flows across the road are finally waiting for cyclists who don’t want to get their bikes wet. I rode through at a slow pace. It has been at least three years since I saw them flowing.

Wildflowers bloom in profusion along Mines Road, mostly yellow, and blue lupine in the rocks. It’s a good thing to see after heavier winter rains than we’ve seen in years.

I noticed the usual swirling winds as I headed to Livermore. I’ve only had a few rides here with no wind or a tailwind.

I took the College Avenue, Murrietta Blvd. route through Livermore, the best route by far to reach Stanley Boulevard, unless you’re into riding bike paths along Arroyo Mocho Creek.

Now that Stanley has a bike lane all the way to Pleasanton, it’s a breeze and by that I mean winds from the north.

Business was booming at Meadlowlark Dairy, the traditional stopping place to grab an ice cream cone or the like. Is it the only drive-through store in the area? Maybe.

I was warned about Calaveras Road during the rush hour, but I had to see for myself. Besides, this was Friday Light, Good Friday Light no less.

It didn’t help, or is it worse on other weekdays? Narrow Calaveras Road was not built for a congo line of commuters driving like it was Laguna Seca, not when every corner is blind. Anyone who rides here on a weekday has a death wish, and the same goes for drivers going against rush-hour traffic.

I made my way back home across the Valley and thanked my lucky stars I had survived.

Work continues on The Junction store.

Work continues on The Junction store.

17-Mile Drive a cyclist’s dream

March 24, 2016

After a few rounds of golf at Spyglass, nothing beats a bike ride on 17-Mile Drive.

After a few rounds of golf at Spyglass, nothing beats a bike ride on 17-Mile Drive.


You haven’t lived in California until you’ve ridden on 17-Mile Drive along the Pacific Coast between Carmel and Pacific Grove.

That applies to car and bicycle, as well as golf cart. I rode part of it along the coast as well as the less traveled upper 17-Mile Drive.

The upper drive winds through tall stands of pine trees mixed with houses perched on hillsides with ocean views. It’s a stiff climb for a couple of miles, although a cyclist riding a fixed gear and lugging a surfboard seemed to be doing just fine as I struggled to hold his wheel.

The ride down to the ocean goes swiftly on Ronda Drive. About the only cyclists who take this route are those who get lost, myself included.

Once back on the ocean drive it’s a flat ride passing famous golf holes to one side and the roiling ocean on the other, assuming it’s after a storm moves through.

It’s best to ride here on a spring weekday, as opposed to a weekend in the summer when the coast is socked in with dense fog and there’s lots of traffic.

Another little known fact about this area, the hills in Pacific Grove/Monterey rival anything you’ll find in San Francisco. Stay away from Prescott Avenue and nearby streets going north-south, unless you enjoy really steep grades.

Santa Cruz ride awash in sunshine

March 18, 2016

Molino Creek just past the Smith Creek drainage.

Molino Creek just past the Smith Creek drainage.


I had never ridden to Santa Cruz on a Thursday, so I gave it a try, this being the nicest day of the week.

I was not disappointed with the weather. It was short-sleeve jersey all the way from Page Mill Road home. It even got warm riding through Scotts Valley.

It’s hard not to notice all the rain that has fallen in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Tributaries are gushing, swelling the big creeks, like Pescadero.

Across from Sam McDonald County Park on Pescadero Road, the remains of a tree that fell last week were being cleared from the house it fell into.

As I headed south on Cloverdale Road I was struck by the lack of any noise, including the wind. It stayed that way heading down the coast until Davenport. The new pavement helped reduce car-tire noise.

After Davenport the tailwind picked up to 10-15 mph, enough to make the ride go easier. I checked out West Cliff Drive, where all was quiet for a Thursday. Same for the Boardwalk.

On Mountain Charlie Road I saw only three vehicles, about average even for a Sunday. Things changed once I got to Los Gatos as the rush hour was well underway at 4:30 p.m. That’s the only drawback to riding long on a weekday.

Pescadero Creek a mile past Loma Mar. Lots of water.

Pescadero Creek a mile past Loma Mar. Lots of water.

Continental Grand Sport Race rolls for 7,500 miles!

March 10, 2016

A Continental Grand Sport Race lasted 7,500 miles on my rear wheel.

A Continental Grand Sport Race lasted 7,500 miles on my rear wheel.


What’s my favorite tire? After just replacing my Continental Grand Sport Race (700×28 folding) with 7,500 miles, the answer is obvious!

I put this tire on my rear wheel in November 2014. It stayed there all that time. I’ve gotten 5,400 miles from a Continental GatorSkin.

During that time I had about two flats. This tire is built to last, made in China.

The tire sells for about $35. That works out to about $1 every 214 miles. That means a century ride costs me $1 in total tire wear.

Cyclist enters the fray with new clothing line

March 9, 2016

Loma Prieta Road at the water fountain, March 1984. Ray Hosler, Dave McLaughlin, Sterling McBride, Tom Ritchey, Jobst Brandt. One of our favorite rides. (Photo by Keith Vierra)

Loma Prieta Road at the water fountain, March 1984. Ray Hosler, Dave McLaughlin, Sterling McBride, Tom Ritchey, Jobst Brandt. One of our favorite rides. (Photo by Keith Vierra)


Dave McLaughlin is a natural when it comes to dressing fashionably. He was usually the best dressed on Jobst Rides. Now you can own a jacket or vest designed by Dave, thanks to his Kickstarter project.

His first in a line of clothing is casual jacket wear, a wool/synthetic blend, probably best suited for the post-ride or ski excursion.

When he isn’t designing clothing, Dave manages the LUNA women’s racing team.

Back in the day when I had a column in the San Francisco Chronicle, I wrote about Bellwether, at the time the largest U.S. bicycle clothing manufacturer, based in San Francisco. I had the rare opportunity to see their manufacturing facility.

I also wrote about Diana Muzzy and Vigorelli, a fledgling bicycle clothing designer back in 1988. The one item I liked by Vigorelli was a synthetic t-shirt that I’ve worn for nearly 30 years! It’s comfortable and, obviously, was made to last.

More rain brings out the fenders

March 6, 2016

Muddy Llagas Creek flows into Chesbro Reservoir.

Muddy Llagas Creek flows into Chesbro Reservoir.


I figured I’d get wet today, so I dragged out the fender bike. It came in handy on Watsonville Road.

The rain is nice, and the local reservoirs have plenty of capacity for more.

Remember Alpine Road!

March 4, 2016

Alpine Road from Portola Valley to Skyline used to be a nice ride. I'll never forget.

Alpine Road from Portola Valley to Skyline used to be a nice ride. I’ll never forget.


Just a friendly reminder, this is how Alpine Road looked in 1990. Fabulous!

It was the best way to Skyline Boulevard.

Marine vinyl saddle cover going strong

March 1, 2016

A year later my marine vinyl saddle cover is holding up great.

A year later my marine vinyl saddle cover is holding up great.


That marine vinyl seat cover I installed one year ago on my old Avocet Gelflex saddle is holding up great.

I added a touch of Super glue to the cover edges where it was a bit loose and that seemed to help.

The vinyl conformed to the Gelflex by developing tiny indentations. It looks neat.

The vinyl looks like new.

About this time I also developed a creak where the seat rails go into the saddle. I drilled a small hole into the plastic anchor where the rails insert and added some Super glue to quiet the creak. It stayed silent for almost a year. Now the creak is back. I added some more Super glue, but this time it’s still creaking a bit.

I’ll have to think of other ways to quell the creak so I can continue riding my 30-year-old saddle, the most comfortable saddle I’ve ridden.

Follow up (March 2): As it turns out, the seatpost needed more grease. The issue was with the seatpost, not the saddle. So the saddle remains quiet, thanks to Super glue.

Eddy Merckx bike on display in Los Altos bike shop

February 29, 2016

A bike owned and ridden by Eddy Merckx is on display at the Bicycle Outfitter.

A bike owned and ridden by Eddy Merckx is on display at the Bicycle Outfitter.


Imagine my surprise when I was shown a genuine Eddy Merckx bike on display in Bicycle Outfitter.

It was given to owner Bud Hoffacker in exchange for some print/catalog work requested by Eddy back in 1970.

I don’t know if it was raced on. About half of the equipment is vintage and the frame is Swiss, by Allegro.

Eddy won the Tour de France in 1970.