Part 4: North San Jose commute a tough nut to crack

My shortest route commute to North San Jose required taking Trimble Road. (Google Maps)

My shortest route commute to North San Jose required taking Trimble Road (Google Maps).

When I signed up to work in North San Jose, I knew my cream puff commute was about to turn into something much less appetizing.

For starters it was a mile farther. That doesn’t sound like much, but on a bike that’s 10 minutes a day, almost an hour a week.

It’s the little things that can make the bike commute easy or hard, such as the ride direction in the morning. I went from having the sun at my back to it being in my face.

Then there’s the 800-pound gorilla — traffic — to deal with. I would be seeing a lot more of it.

Checking the map, Hwy 101 is the deal breaker. I had to cross it and the most direct route was De La Cruz Blvd./Trimble Rd. That’s one of the old, traditional cloverleaf overpasses, two narrow lanes each direction.

I quickly developed survival skills crossing 101. The double-right-turn on-ramp required particular care. I always extended my left arm to indicate I was headed straight, and stayed left.

Despite my finely honed commuting skills, it was never easy.

Even the ride onto De La Cruz Blvd. proved a challenge. I rode through downtown Santa Clara and took the Caltrain/El Camino Real flyover onto De La Cruz. If you’ve ever tried that, you’ll discover that you need to cross three lanes of De La Cruz, cars moving at 40 mph.

If traffic was coming my way (it was usually a platoon) I stopped and waited on the ramp, which has a wide shoulder.

Once over Hwy 101, at least Trimble Road has bike lanes, so I had a decent shoulder that took me to Montague Expressway.

I had to cross Montague and that proved difficult when the light wasn’t bike-sensitive. In the early morning I was often the only one crossing. I complained to the county. They fixed it.

One of the most important rules of bike commuting is to leave early. I did that and it made a huge difference. If you don’t leave by 7:15, you’ll see a lot more traffic.

I looked around for other routes. More on what I found up next.

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