Jobst Brandt Tour de Alps 2018 Calendar available now

September 4, 2017

A 2018 calendar with images of Jobst Brandt’s rides through the Alps is available now.


For anyone who knew of Jobst Brandt and his epic rides through the Alps, you won’t want to miss this 2018 calendar (including January 2019).

It has 18 photos taken between 1960 and the late 1990s, some never before published. Others were turned into posters for sale in the Palo Alto Bicycles catalog during the 1970s-80s.

All photos come from the Jobst Brandt photo collection, but obviously images of him were snapped by his ride partner at the time.

The 28-page calendar (8.5 x 11) is printed on demand. Important U.S. holidays are dated.

Because the calendar is sent by mail, you’ll need to give a shipping address and provide payment details to Magcloud. Cost is $7.60 (shipping not included, but runs about $5).

Proceeds will help defray the considerable expense of scanning Brandt’s thousands of slides. Thanks to Richard Mlynarik for scanning the transparencies.

A preview is available on the Magcloud website.

Viva CalleSJ on Sept. 17 returns streets to the people

August 29, 2017

Shiloh Ballard, SCVBC executive director, recognizes Ed Solis for Viva CalleSJ success.


I can imagine the reaction from the police when San Jose parks and recreation superintendent Ed Solis submitted a request to shut down six miles of streets in San Jose for a recreational event in 2015.

Most other public agencies also balked, but Solis persevered. He saw first-hand the success of a similar “Open Streets Project” held in Guadalajara, as well as San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Solis built a coalition of the willing, including the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition (SCVBC). Solis was recognized by the SCVBC for the San Jose event at its annual bike summit held in August.

Viva CalleSJ, as it’s called, now in its third year, expects more than 100,000 participants to join in the fun on streets between Japantown and Lake Cunningham Park.

Solis said that in addition to allowing people to get out and exercise safely, this is a social experiment in bringing residents together from all walks of life. Looking at the photos of smiling faces cycling, walking, skateboarding, and more, I’d say the results make it worth the effort and occasional inconvenience.

Viva CalleSJ will be held on Sunday, Sept. 17, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Caltrain proposal for bikes on electric trains

August 16, 2017

Bike stacking proposals for the new Caltrain cars. Which do you prefer? Vote now.


Caltrain is soliciting your comments on how bikes should be stacked on its new cars, which will be part of the electrification plan.

I prefer the traditional stacking method. Over the years I’ve never had an issue.

Most cyclists tag their bikes, which says where they’re off-boarding, so it’s easy enough to find the right place to place your bike.

The disadvantage of the alternate single-bike stack is that it reduces the number of bikes that can be carried.

I anticipate we will have an increasing number of riders on Caltrain in the coming years, and I’d like to see as many people as possible riding bikes.

Here’s a link to where you can vote.

The presentation was made during the Silicon Valley Bike Summit, held Aug. 8 in Mountain View on the Microsoft campus.

Cycling to Foothill College? Here’s the expected route

August 3, 2017

El Monte Road path under I280. Cyclists are expected to use this path, or didn’t you know that?


I’ve been riding on El Monte Road into Los Altos Hills since 1980 and in that time I have not seen one finger lifted to make it safer for cycling. Or so I thought.

You see, I always assumed the improvement would come with bike lane striping as the road heads through the classic cloverleaf intersection at Interstate 280.

There’s a lot of traffic on a weekday at hours when a student cyclist attending class would be expected to ride here. However, I NEVER see cyclists riding on El Monte Road at these times.

For good reason. Drivers blast through this intersection, always in a hurry to get onto the freeway for a meeting, to which they’re already late.

After seeing some cyclists stop at a crosswalk prior to the freeway, walk across, and then ride under the freeway on a paved path, it occurred to me this is what the state of California and Los Altos Hills expect us to do.

So I tried it out, several times. I can’t say it’s terrible, just bad. For starters, I would never use the crosswalk to get to the path. That’s silly. I’m a cyclist, not a pedestrian. Check the video below to see how I handled it.

I’m not going to completely dismiss the intended route, because it does work after a fashion, but anyone new to the area riding west on El Monte would have no clue that the path existed, nor would they have any idea where it went even if they got on it for the first time.

The issue I have with the route is that anyone riding on the path has to be especially alert at the left turn for Stonebrook Drive and access to the path from El Monte calls for a complete stop before crossing, assuming you can’t see what’s coming.

I’m not crazy about this stretch of El Monte, even with the path, which is why I always take Stonebrook Drive through Los Altos Hills over to Magdalena Avenue. I think the I280 – Magdalena intersection is far safer.

Of course, that route does nothing for a student trying to get to class, but then nobody rides a bike to Foothill College, and I can hardly blame them, considering how the death-defying El Monte Road freeway interchange stands in the way.

Shoulder widening a welcome addition on Watsonville Road

July 30, 2017

Widening on Watsonville Road is a welcome improvement.


I’ve never been a fan of riding on busy county roads like Watsonville Road between Morgan Hill and Hwy 152, and it looks like Santa Clara County road planners know why.

It’s narrow with no shoulders and traffic moves at the speed limit — 45 mph — which translates to 55 mph in the real world.

Imagine my surprise this morning when I saw a two-foot wide shoulder addition to each side of Watsonville Road. It’s mostly between Uvas Road and Sycamore Drive, popular routes for weekend cycling.

I’m not sure if Uvas Road got the same treatment, but from what I can find online, it’s a countywide effort. I also noticed some widening on one side of McKean Road near Oak Glen Ave.

Autonomous vehicles will one day make all this street widening unnecessary — we’ll need much better road striping — but for now it’s a welcome change. At this rate though it will be decades before all the roads are widened so, as I said, it won’t be needed as we slowly adopt autonomous vehicles that will forever make cycling safe on our busy roads.

I don’t think this is pie-in-the-sky thinking. For sure, it’s going to be much more difficult than making all commercial airlines autonomous, but it’s doable as long as people go along with the plan.

My fear is that, just like gun owners, there will be a large segment of the population that believes their personal freedoms are being robbed and they’ll swear, “over my dead body I’ll give up driving.”

I’m optimistic that this sentiment will not play out to any meaningful degree. Once people see the advantages of driving without fear on roads with smoothly flowing traffic and the ability to sit back and snooze, they’ll be on board in a heartbeat. I hope I live to see the day.

Everything is “under construction” these days

July 22, 2017

Panoramic view of Dumbarton Bridge. Will the railroad bridge ever be used?


I figured I’d ride over to Dumbarton Bridge this morning, taking my familiar route along the Sunnyvale-Mountain View-Palo Alto baylands — but things didn’t turn out that way.

Everything in the Bay Area, as we all know, is “under construction.” I’m seeing buildings being torn down and new ones go up at a dizzying pace, reshaping what used to be known as Silicon Valley. The Valley is no longer about silicon, but social media, search engines, virtual reality and iPhones.

The San Francisquito Creek Trail, starting at the Baylands Athletic Center in Palo Alto, is closed until January for flood control improvements.

I had to take one of the least desirable streets in Palo Alto, E. Bayshore Road, then north on Pulgas Avenue back to familiar territory.

After taking some pics of the Dumbarton Bridge, I decided to make my way back on the north side of Hwy 84, not quite sure what it offered in the way of a side road. There’s a dirt road for a ways, but you’ll need to get back on Hwy 84, which has a wide shoulder.

In a short distance you can turn right at the light onto a path that dumps into the Facebook parking lot. I wound my way through here and decided to check out the famous sign at the main entrance.

Sure enough, a steady stream of Facebook users had the same idea, so I waited for my time to snap a photo. That sign is nothing more than the old Sun Microsystems sign with some panels slapped over it.

Facebook. It’s a love-hate relationship for many people.

As I headed back to Menlo Park and Palo Alto, it was hard to believe that start-up Facebook occupied the old Avocet headquarters on University Avenue once upon a time. Not the building owned by Palo Alto Bicycles, but the one right across the street. It’s a small world.

At least one thing hasn’t changed — the charm of riding through tree-lined streets in Menlo Park and Palo Alto. It brought back memories. Sigh.

I took the always popular Bryant Street — Ellen Fletcher’s legacy — we call Bike Boulevard and headed home through the remnants of Silicon Valley on Central Expressway.

Cyclists outnumber cars on Saturday’s ride

July 16, 2017

First of three bridges over Purisima Creek on the descent.


Is it possible? Cyclists outnumber cars in the Santa Cruz Mountains on any given Saturday?

It’s true and the disparity grows by leaps and bounds, at least based upon 40 years of personal experience.

I saw bikes everywhere on my ride up Kings Mountain Road, down Purisima Creek Road, up Tunitas Creek Road. I saw five road bikes riding UP Purisima Creek Road. Good luck with that.

Decades ago I could ride up that logging road, but I was young and the road was in perfect shape. Now my legs can’t generate the watts needed to make it up the steep climb (18 percent in places) on loose dirt.

It wasn’t just cyclist on the trail, but hikers by the dozens, their cars spilling out from the puny parking lot and lining the paved road on the coast side of Purisima Creek.

As I climbed Tunitas Creek Road into the sweltering heat I saw more dozens of riders, most going up. Gone are the days when I was the only one out there along with Jobst Brandt and friends.

On the descent of Kings Mountain Road I saw a lone cyclist riding uphill, followed by six cars! The driver behind the cyclist no doubt lacks experience driving in the mountains. On that straightaway it would be easy to get by. When I encounter bike followers I slow to a crawl on straightaways. It doesn’t take long for the driver to get the message it’s OK to pass.

The good news is that Purisima Creek Road has been cleared of several mud slides and a road bike can get down it without dismount.

Of course, the coast weather left no doubt as to why it’s the place to be on a hot day. Glorious.

Red hot pokers, or torch lily, grow near the coast. They’re native to Africa.

Mt. Umunhum Road paving the way to summit

July 9, 2017

Mt. Umunhum Road at Hicks Road shows signs of paving for the grand opening in September.


After a 37-year wait, it looks like I’ll live to experience the ride to the Mt. Umunhum summit, legally.

NOTE: The grand opening event is not open for bicycles. Access to the mountain is restricted to buses, orchestrated by MROSD. Bicycle access begins on Sept. 18.

Mark your calendars for Sept. 16-17. Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District plans a grand opening event, reservations required.

Today I rode by and it’s a good sign to see the road closed for repaving. It was badly broken up in some sections and not at all fun where the potholes were hidden in the tree shade higher up.

From what I’ve seen in recent photos, the view will be nothing like what I encountered back in the 1980s when the air base occupied the summit, looking like a ghost town. Buildings have been razed, the land returned to nature, with the exception of the concrete obelisk.

There’s a lot more that could be done up there to improve access and connect roads, but this is a start. I don’t expect to be around to see those connections blessed by the MROSD, but at least future generations can enjoy the rides to more distant roads.

Jobst Brandt, who grew up in Palo Alto, began riding up here in 1957 and never stopped until poor health got in the way. He welcomed dozens of riders to start the journey from his house to see the mountain, myself included, and now having seen it up close we are all appreciative that the mountain is finally open for public use.

Gazos Creek Road turns to dust

July 2, 2017

The always wet section of Hwy 236.


As I was riding on Hwy 236 across wet pavement and through soupy fog, I wondered if Gazos Creek Road would be muddy? I needn’t have worried.

There’s something about this stretch of Hwy 236 about two miles off Hwy 9. It’s the wettest place in Big Basin State Park. It must be a combination of the altitude and location.

As I rode on the little-used North Escape Road, I saw an unbelievable sight — another cyclist, coming up. I think that has happened maybe two times in all the years I’ve been riding here.

It should come as no surprise though, because the park was already packed with cars at 9:30 upon my arrival. It must be the 4th of July holiday crowd. In my four decades riding here, I have noticed a dramatic increase in traffic in recent years.

That’s a mighty big tree section a couple miles from park headquarters.


Fortunately the crowds had no intention of cycling on Gazos Creek Road, although I did see a total of six riders on the eight miles of dirt from park headquarters to the paved Gazos Creek Road — a record.

This being July, I was not surprised that the road had become a sand pit in many sections. Par for the course. With adroit bike handling I managed to avoid most of the dusty sections. It stayed that way for the first six miles before the big descent at Sandy Point.

Gazos Creek Road in the narrows after the steep descent.


I didn’t see any serious road damage from the past winter’s heavy rains. A few places had been cleaned up, but even they didn’t look bad. I think the park rangers do most of the maintenance, although San Mateo County claims the road at the Santa Cruz County line, about two miles out from park headquarters. It’s closed, with gates at both ends, but since most of the road is in the state park, the county hasn’t made any effort to chase away cyclists.

While the sand pits made riding less than ideal, the descent went without a hitch, the loads of rock ballast dumped here in years past now a memory. I still see short stretches of pavement in steep spots, laid down by a landowner who needed to transport some particularly heavy items to his property.

Back on pavement, I glided down the road following the delightful Gazos Creek. A half mile before the right turn to Cloverdale Road I passed a mudslide that required heavy equipment to fix the road.

Gazos Creek Road did not escape the winter’s wrath.


As I continued up Pescadero Road in pleasantly cool weather and high overcast some youths invited me to try blackberries they were picking on the side of the road. I took them up on their offer and we got to talking about blackberries. I learned that there is a variety, Himalaya (5 leaves in a cluster), that is crowding out the native California blackberries (3 leaves in a cluster). They showed me the Himalaya, a much heartier looking plant that yields a lot of berries.

I checked my blackberries growing in the garden and determined they’re the California variety.

Some days the weather and physical abilities click and all is right with the world. Today was one of those days.

Canada Geese, Gooses, Goose, whatever, pay a visit

June 26, 2017

Canada Goose flock makes way for me and the bike on the Alviso levy.


Did you know the Canada Goose lives between 10 and 24 years in the wild? These guys are spending their summer vacation out on the Alviso levies. They’re usually none too happy to see me.