Eureka Canyon Road and Highland Way endure the rainy season

February 28, 2016

Eureka Canyon Road near the summit. Could this be the most patched road in Santa Cruz County?

Eureka Canyon Road near the summit. Could this be the most patched road in Santa Cruz County?

If there’s one route in the Santa Cruz Mountains that consistently has issues in the winter it’s Highland Way/Eureka Canyon Road.

The narrow, bumpy road routinely experiences landslides, but this year, so far, no slides. (Eureka Canyon Road becomes Highland Way at the top of the climb, Ormsby Cutoff intersection.)

Back in 2000 a huge slide closed the road. We walked our bikes across, carefully. The county eventually fixed the road, but there was another big slide a few years later.

Cyclists who explore the Demonstration Forest on Highland Way drive these roads all the time.

Big Basin rainfall at 37 inches so far

February 26, 2016

From this vantage point on Hwy 236, Eagle Rock, 2,488 feet, stands tall.

From this vantage point on Hwy 236, Eagle Rock, 2,488 feet, stands tall.

While you’d think 37 inches is a lot of rain for Big Basin State Park so far, maybe. The rainy season isn’t over. The average is 48 inches. In 1993 they had 59 inches.

I’m seeing a lot more Sunday traffic on Hwy 236 than in the old days. Yes, times have changed.

How long will it be before the paved North Escape Road into Big Basin State Park becomes a trail? Eventually. It gets worse every year.

Tantau Avenue bike trauma continues…

February 21, 2016

Heed this warning. They're not kidding.

Heed this warning. They’re not kidding.

Today I noticed some signs on Tantau Avenue alerting cyclists to the inherent danger of riding here when the road is wet.

Gary Richards, Roadshow columnist, adds two victims to the growing list (6) in his Monday column, Feb. 22.

While a different street sweeper that will fix the problem is supposed to be in use, I saw lots of dust. I’m not convinced.

Avoid Tantau Avenue between Homestead Road and Stevens Creek Boulevard at all times during construction hours, and don’t even think about taking it when the road is wet, at any hour.

It’s going to take a long time before all the dust is washed out of the pavement.

Another cycling accident on Tantau

February 15, 2016

Two more cyclists crashed on Tantau from mud slurry. Avoid this road until Apple HQ is finished.

Two more cyclists crashed on Tantau from mud slurry. Avoid this road until Apple HQ is finished.

As I predicted would happen, more cyclists have crashed on Tantau between Homestead and Pruneridge. You can read about in the Mercury News Roadshow column.

Two cyclists hit the mud slurry I described, both crashing, one woman breaking her collarbone.

That makes four in the past year.

Shotgun Bend claims another victim

February 14, 2016

Be aware of this nasty rut at Shotgun Bend, Page Mill Road.

Be aware of this nasty rut at Shotgun Bend, Page Mill Road.

As we all know, Shotgun Bend on Page Mill Road can be a tricky right-hand corner when descending. It has a shallow bank, so cyclists tend to take it wide.

Shotgun Bend is the last turn before the really steep descending, 14 percent at least.

It doesn’t help matters that there’s a nasty seam in the pavement in the middle of the double-yellow striping. It’s easily missed.

My friend broke his collarbone here recently. A veteran rider who knows his stuff, there’s no doubt in my mind his wheel caught the seam.

Should the seam be repaired by Santa Clara County? I think so, but it’s one of those road repairs that will probably go unnoticed until a lot more cyclists crash here.

(P.S. Does anyone know why there’s a ghost bike on Page Mill Road, 100 yards down from Skyline Boulevard?)

A nightmare come to life — classic Nishiki stolen

February 11, 2016

Be on the lookout for a stolen Nishiki, vintage 1980. (Sourav Das photos)

Be on the lookout for a stolen Nishiki, vintage 1980. (Sourav Das photos)

Sourav Das had his 1980 Nishiki International, Serial #KJ 05449,stolen a few days ago in north San Jose and while it’s unlikely he will recover his bike, he’s doing all the right things to try to get it back.

Most bike thieves are opportunists, but in Sourav’s case, I’m not so sure. Sourav worked late, rolling up to his house, located on a quiet residential street, around midnight.

He walked it through the side gate and leaned it against the entry door to his garage, then walked back around the front of the house to enter. Unfortunately, he got a phone call and an hour passed before he thought to put his bike in the garage. Gone! (Not the first time I’ve heard this story)

There’s nothing more depressing than looking where you put your bike and seeing it gone. Happened to me, twice.

Here’s what Sourav is doing to try to retrieve his bike. That Nishiki is a unique, quality bike, so there’s a better chance it might be recovered. Nishiki made some nice bikes in Japan, importing through West Coast Cycles (WCC) distributor. The Cohen family, which owned WCC, had its pulse on the bike industry for decades.

Dia-Compe brakes. They rivaled Campy, almost.

Dia-Compe brakes. They rivaled Campy, almost.

1. File a police report. The San Jose police are completely overwhelmed, so go online and fill out the form. At least there’s a record. If your bike is stolen, don’t bother calling the SJPD police. They won’t respond, unless you have the thief in a half-nelson.

Sourav’s bike probably qualifies for grand theft ($950 value), but while that sounds impressive, it doesn’t mean much these days.

2. Alert bike shops. Sourav did that, even providing photos.

3. Check Craigslist. I’ve read of many accounts where thieves list stolen merchandise on Craigslist and get nabbed.

4. Tell your friends. Especially if they have a blog.🙂 Now there’s four of us who know about it.

5. Return to the scene of the crime. In Sourav’s case, that wouldn’t work, but that’s how I got my Ritchey back. I went back a few hours later. The thief lived in Alviso and was tooling around town. He’s behind bars now (for another offense).

All that’s left now are the nightmares. I can’t say I’ve gotten used to those.

If you see this stolen bike, contact Sourav Das

If you see this stolen bike, contact Sourav Das

Far from the Madden crowd

February 7, 2016

Tailgate party on Mt. Hamilton summit, Super Bowl Sunday.

Tailgate party on Mt. Hamilton summit, Super Bowl Sunday.

I had the bright idea to ride up Mt. Hamilton on Super Bowl Sunday because, you know, everyone and their brother would be glued to their TV set eating ten pounds of Doritos, each.

Turns out there was an unannounced tailgate party at the Lick Observatory parking lot that nobody told me about, but it was all over the Innernet on one of those ride group postings we call Social Media.

As I churned my way up the 19-mile climb under clear skies and gentle breezes, I noticed a heck of a lot of riders flying by. So while I did avoid the Madden crowd, I ran smack dab into the madding crowd. They no doubt, in addition to blood doping, are mechanical doping. I felt like a dope as I had to rely on my own two aging legs, capable of generating about 60 watts, enough to power our feeble kitchen light bulb.

I had a long conversation with the owner of a new carbon-fiber Colnago. Of course, I had to tell him how I bought a new Colnago frame off Greg LeMond back in 1980. He won it in a race and already had a half-dozen new bikes, so he gave it to Palo Alto Bicycles for safe keeping. Paid $400.

Mostly when you’re riding up Mt. Hamilton people are in a big hurry, like they’re late for the train or something, and don’t want to slow down and have a conversation. It’s not that way with the slower riders, who seem more willing to exchange pleasantries beyond “on your left.”

With 3 million, 218 thousand millimeters to go before the summit, give or take a millimeter, I passed a young woman who was being so nice to everyone as they passed that they had to slow down and be nice back. She just bubbled with enthusiasm, the kind of chipper attitude that makes life a little more tolerable.

That kept me in a good mood until I reached the summit and saw a mob of cyclists. There must have been a thousand, maybe more. They stood around jawing about everything under the sun, some recounting their near-death encounters with cars.

I edged closer as one guy described being run over by a Chevy Suburban, which is only slightly smaller than a bus. The driver admitted he had been drinking and, amazingly, stopped to check to see what that object was caught under his wheels. Turns out he ran over the cyclist, who broke a bunch of bones and now has so much metal in him he sets off the airport metal detectors every time he flies.

After downing a Clif Bar product, I headed back down Mt. Hamilton and noticed that all the riders who blasted by me on the way up, also blasted by me on the way down. I even got passed by guys riding mountain bikes with those enormous tires that look like they belong on a monster truck.

I’m now in the market for one of those motors you stick in your seat tube and churns out 150 watts without anyone being the wiser.

Just don’t tell anyone.

Smoky clouds grace Skyline overlook

February 2, 2016

Wisps of clouds look just like smoke from Alpine Road at Skyline Boulevard.

Wisps of clouds look just like smoke from Alpine Road at Skyline Boulevard.

There’s always something new to see on Skyline Boulevard, even when it’s a cold gloomy day. Sometimes when the weather conditions are right, wisps of clouds hang over the mountains, looking for all the world like smoke.

Aside: Found out guy who stole my Ritchey last year got nabbed in December stealing packages from people’s doorsteps. In jail. Justice served.

Airport frontage road closed for Super Bowl

February 2, 2016

Airport frontage road is closed until Feb. 10.

Airport frontage road is closed until Feb. 10. (Google Maps)

Holy roadblock Batman! Ewert Road is closed starting Wednesday, Feb. 3, through the 10th, no doubt for the Super Bowl. In case you had never heard of that road, it’s what we all know as the frontage road around Mineta San Jose International Airport.

I noticed the sign on my Monday ride, after I checked out the Super Bowl 50 venue via San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail. Needless to say, I was being watched the entire time as two helicopters chopped the air overhead.

Don’t even think about going near the stadium the rest of this week. Only way to get a bike through is if you’re an undercover FBI agent. All routes are blocked. I used Lafayette to reach Alviso.

I remember riding through Palo Alto during Super Bowl XIX back in 1985. It was a nice day, high of 59. The game didn’t start until late in the day, so I had no issues with traffic to speak of. How times have changed.

Accidents accumulate with time

February 1, 2016

Painful to look at even after 35 years. I healed and so did the bike after Dr. Peter Johnson operated.

Painful to look at even after 35 years. I healed and so did the bike after Dr. Peter Johnson operated.

I’ve ridden at least 200,000 miles since starting in 1969 on a ten-speed. In that time I’ve had quite a few accidents. For the record, in reverse chronological order. I know a few people who have never crashed. They might not have ridden this many miles, but they’re still lucky.

December 2015: A thin layer of mud in the bike lane caused me to fall and hit my head, Tantau Avenue in Cupertino. Bad concussion, ambulance to hospital, then a month to feel back to normal. Giro helmet destroyed. Bike undamaged.

June 2004: Campagnolo Super Record left crank (4 years in use) broke at the pedal eye as I hammered up Scott Boulevard in Santa Clara on the railroad overpass. I flipped onto my back, where I hit the thickest part of my helmet. Helmet destroyed. Uninjured. Bike undamaged.

December 1999: Campagnolo Record left crank (18 years in use) broke at the pedal eye as I took a left turn from Pomeroy onto Pruneridge Avenue while commuting home from work at night. Hit my head. 3 stitches. Bike undamaged. No helmet. No concussion.

October 1995: Collided head-on with a descending mountain biker on Aptos Creek Fire Road. Concussion for 10 minutes. Rode home 35 miles. Front wheel bent and some brake components damaged. No helmet. No residual effects from concussion.

September 1993: Car making an illegal right turn from Homestead onto Hollenbeck in Cupertino cuts me off while driving at slow speed, causing me to grab onto its right rear fender and fall to the ground. Unhurt. Bike undamaged. No helmet. Car did not stop. Probably a teen driving.

May 1993: Campagnolo front brake cable snapped while crossing a pedestrian bridge over a creek, causing me to hit a Cyclone fence head-on and flip over. Uninjured. Front fork replaced and top tube slightly crumpled. No helmet.

December 1982: Hit oil on a curve while descending Hwy 84. Slid out. Banged elbow. No helmet. Checked at emergency room for possible injury, but OK. Bike undamaged.

June 1981: Head-on collision with a car on Portola Valley Road. Right arm compound fracture, artery damage, left kneecap cracked, neck wrenched. 3 months recovering. Fork and front triangle replaced. No helmet.

April 1980: Crashed on dirt road in Pinkies Road Race. Road rash otherwise OK. Finished race. Bike OK. Leather helmet.

April 1980: Front wheel hit by cyclist during a criterium, causing me to crash. Raspberry on right hip became infected. Leather helmet. Bike undamaged.

October 1979: Rocks across road caused me to lock up my brakes and fall while descending Mt. Hamilton. My head came to rest next to a car’s left tire as it stopped when it saw me coming. Left wrist fractured in three places. 8 weeks in cast. Bike OK. No helmet.

I’ve had a few other minor falls, like the one on Page Mill when I hit black ice while climbing a steep section at 3 mph, but not worthy of reporting.

So you might be wondering, how about while driving? I’ve had one, a fender-bender in 1976 when an old lady’s Buick slid into my VW during a blizzard as I approached a stop sign.