Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Tire pressure test results

August 16, 2018

Avocet FasGrips were rated for 105 psi. Lowering tire pressure to improve rolling resistance might work on some roads.


I’ve ridden enough miles now to offer some results on what tire pressure works for me, after research indicated it’s better for lowering rolling resistance to run lower tire pressures.

Your results will vary, unless you weigh the same as me and run the same tire and rim. I’m a little over 150 pounds, and my tires are Continental Gatorskin, 28 mm width, mostly, and 36 spoke Mavic Open Pro rims. Even then, there’s personal preference.

I’m told that these rims are old fashioned, but I sure like them. I built my own wheels eight years ago and after 40,000 miles they’re in perfect shape. No wobbles.

I started with 65 pounds rear pressure, 60 psi front. After struggling through 50 miles of riding, I decided this was too soft. The bike felt sluggish and steering was a chore. Believe it or not, that’s the recommended pressure on some charts.

I can’t imagine that this pressure would be adequate under any circumstance, even with wide rims. The Mavic rim is 20 mm, but today’s wide rims run 23 mm outside.

From what I’ve read, a narrow rim and wide tire causes the tire to squirm more than on a wider rim. I can believe it.

I increased the pressure to 75 psi rear, 70 front. That felt good. I have full control over the bike in all situations and it doesn’t feel like the lower pressure is slowing me down.

I’m thinking a pressure of 75-80 rear, 70-75 front is best for me. Of course, you can run higher pressures. I was at 95 rear, 90 front, or higher, for decades and never had problems. Backing off on the pressure might help reduce tire rolling resistance, but at my age it doesn’t matter, much.

Pressured to resolve tire pressure debate

August 11, 2018

What’s the ideal tire pressure? It depends. More may not be better.


Recently I’ve been reading that cyclists are running their tires with too much tire pressure, believing that the higher the tire pressure, the lower the rolling resistance.

The late Jobst Brandt, bike expert, believed this axiom to be true and never questioned its validity. He had another reason to keep his tire pressure high. He weighed a lot and that made him prone to pinch flats. He also rode on bumpy trails.

One lab study in 1999 shows that running higher pressures on tires decreases rolling resistance. The exception is riding on rough surfaces or gravel.

A wider tire running at a lower pressure will do better on rough roads, according to test results reported in Velonews and elsewhere.

Tires themselves have been thoroughly tested for rolling resistance by brand on bicyclerollingresistance.com.

Off The Beaten Path beats the debate into the ground with its analysis. A study done by Frank Berto in the 1990s is cited and is pretty much the first published word on the wisdom of lowering tire pressure for reduced rolling resistance.

Wider tires might improve rolling resistance. That’s another hot topic. At issue with running wider tires is that narrow rims and wide tires are not a good combination, as the tire squirms on the rim much more than on a wider rim. I’m guessing that they mean a rim less than 23 mm outside diameter qualifies as narrow.

GCN, the YouTube bike channel, has run several shows on the topic, so that’s what prompted me to look into it and try out lower tire pressures.

I’ll share my results in a future blog, once I’m done testing.

San Francisquito Creek flood control project nearing completion

July 13, 2018

Work continues on the trail along San Francisquito Creek in Palo Alto.


I checked out a portion of trail on San Francisquito Creek I’ve used over the years to reach the Dumbarton Bridge recreation path.

It starts at the Baylands Athletic Center in Palo Alto on the east side of Hwy 101. There’s still work to be done, but I can see a high wall along the creek that looks like steel panels. Ugly. It looks like it will be finished by the end of this year.

People who haven’t lived in Palo Alto for a long time may not know that the creek is prone to flooding during heavy, prolonged rains. My friend Jobst Brandt, who lived on Middlefield Road near Lytton, saw his basement flood in the 1980s when the creek went over its banks.

There’s a lot of other work associated with this flood control project.

Separated bike lanes the best solution

March 20, 2018

If I could ride on paths like this all day, I would. Coyote Creek Trail.


I’ve gone from being an advocate of Effective Cycling (ride like a car) to advocating separated bike lanes. I’m talking about a berm of some type that divides cars from bikes.

The more miles you ride, the more likely you are to get nailed by a car. It’s the law of averages. Over the past several years, I’ve changed my riding habits to emphasize recreation paths, and I stay off of roads with traffic, like Pruneridge, Homestead, etc.

Despite all this, I still got hit. I will avoid riding in what I consider “riskier areas,” going forward. That was my mistake.

However, in my case a berm divider would have definitely prevented the accident. I’m not saying all bike lanes need them. Put them where there’s a lot of traffic. They create a hazard to bikes in themselves, but the right design can reduce the risk to an acceptable level.

An outfit called CityLab has the same idea. I don’t know anything about the group, but their name came up first in a search. They point to studies that show dividers can be effective.

When you’ve ridden as many miles as I have, those odds I mentioned start going against you. It’s something that should be foremost on all cyclist’s minds. The more we can separate bikes from cars, the better off we’ll be.

My hit and run on Mabury Road

March 18, 2018

Location of my hit and run today around 2 p.m. Heading west on Mabury Road (Google Maps photo).


Hit and run accidents expose the coward in all of us. I was taught that if you make a mistake, own up to it.

I’m just happy to be alive these days, especially after my own hit and run accident around 2 p.m. at the intersection of Mabury Road and King Road in San Jose.

I don’t remember much, just a car speeding away as I lay on the pavement trying to gather my senses. A concerned citizen advised that I stay down.

It was good advice. I didn’t know what could be wrong, and I hit my head. I’ve trashed three helmets now.

After a few minutes, I got up and felt well enough to talk to the 911 operator. “No ambulance!”

The police arrived, as did the fire department. I had road rash on my left elbow and left leg. Long-sleeve jersey and tights trashed. I must have hit well, because nothing is broken, although I’m sore.

My bike looks like it’s OK, scuffed up brake levers and brake pedal. The firefighter advised that I not ride home, and he’s right. I rode a mile to a location where I could easily get a ride.

I had a smartphone that survived, so I could call, and I had an old driver’s license on me. They’re useful for carrying on your bike, especially since all the information is current for me.

Today I was going to complain about people who trash Mount Hamilton. I alerted the county about the illegal dumping. I guess “trash” is the operative word for my day.

What’s wrong with our world when people see fit to trash beautiful Mt. Hamilton?

Berd spoke might be the “wheel” deal

February 18, 2018

Berd spokes are made from a polymer, strong and light. Berd photo.


Ninety-nine percent of new technology isn’t new and it isn’t an improvement, but the Berd spoke might buck the trend. The jury is out.

Berd, based in Minnesota, specializes in polymer technology. I’d bet a few employees used to work for 3M.

The spoke looks like a piece of string, literally. It’s called PolyLight, a marketing term. Whatever it is, it isn’t steel or carbon-fiber.

I’m drawn to it for two reasons: 1) it works with today’s hubs and rims and 2) wheels using Berd spokes absorb road shock better than steel-spoke wheels. They’ve been approved for use in international bicycle racing.

Looking around, I found a wheel with three-cross configuration using Onyx hubs, which look like they have traditional drilled holes, standard construction.

I don’t know if they’re more durable than DT spokes, which I consider the best in the business. If these spokes turn out to be as goods as advertised, I’d consider rebuilding my wheels and giving them a try.

Mt. Hamilton road repair completed

January 19, 2018

A retaining wall near Crothers Road on Mt. Hamilton is officially complete.


Last year Mt. Hamilton Road underwent two big repairs, the slide just before the descent to Grant Ranch Park, and at Crothers Road, just completed.

The Crothers Road retaining wall work didn’t close the road like the big slide farther up, but it was a hassle nonetheless.

That’s not bad for road repairs considering all the rain we had last year. The recently completed repair on Skyline Boulevard just east of Castle Rock State Park cost a whopping $30 million.

There’s going to be some offices built on the McCarthy frontage road near the gas-fired power plant and Coyote Creek. That brings back memories when Jobst Brandt and I took this route on one of his really long Mt. Hamilton rides.

We started from his house in Palo Alto and went over to Livermore, then back on Calaveras Road. We found our way on Hwy 237 picking up frontage roads where possible. There was a big fruit stand at this location. That ride will never be repeated.

At the Hwy 237 frontage road near Coyote Creek and Hwy 237, new office buildings are going up.

Jobst Brandt calendar raises $110 for open space

December 12, 2017

Your contribution added $110 toward open space in the Bay Area through POST.


Yesterday I donated $110 to Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) to go toward its mission of preserving open space and farmland in the Bay Area.

Thank you to all who donated with the purchase of the 2018 Jobst Brandt tour of the Alps calendar. Jobst was a long-term contributor to the land-preservation fund founded in 1977, based in Palo Alto on High Street in the same building as Wheelsmith bike shop. Back in the day.

I may make this an annual event to go toward the POST cause. Recently POST preserved beach property at Tunitas Creek, a location where many cyclists pass by on their rides up and down Tunitas Creek Road.

One of their campaigns is to create conservation easements on private property, something the freewheeling, adventuresome Brandt advocated.

China pedals toward Copenhagen lifestyle

December 1, 2017

A 7.6 km bicycle skyway opened recently in Xiamen, China. (Dissing+Weitling photo)


It comes as no surprise to me that China now has the world’s longest elevated cycle path at 7.6 kilometers. The world’s most populous country also happens to have the world’s worst traffic, so you can bet the country will be the champion of transportation alternatives for years to come.

Dissing + Weitling Architecture, a company based in Copenhagen (of course), sold China on the concept and design of the futuristic bike path.

Denmark has similar structures, but not nearly as long.

Lest we forget our bicycle history, the California Cycleway opened in Pasadena in 1900. It was supposed to be six miles long, but only 1.3 miles was ever built. The bike craze ended and that was that.

California Cycleway in 1900. (Wikipedia)


Judging by what I’m seeing on YouTube, China’s elevated bike path is being used, maybe more out of curiosity than anything else at this point. There’s also an elevated bus road next to it.

The cycleway is located in Xiamen, population 3 million, a port city about 300 miles north of Hong Kong.

Mt. Umunhum’s popularity puts cyclists in peril on Hicks Road

November 24, 2017

Hicks Road at Guadalupe Reservoir in 2010. Need shoes?


UPDATE, Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017: I rode Hicks today to see if Black Friday was an anomaly. It looks like it was. Not as much traffic today. Still much more than a weekday, with 44 motor vehicles observed in about six miles mid-day. There’s only about 125 parking spaces on all of Mt. Umunhum. If it does get crowded on a summer weekend, that could be an issue. Who wants to drive all that way to find there’s no parking?

Imagine my surprise riding Hicks Road today as car after car whizzed by on the narrow road with no shoulders bound for, no doubt, Mt. Umunhum summit.

Was there a Black Friday sale underway at the summit? I can’t think of any other reason for so much traffic. Now that the summit is open and this Friday being a semi-holiday, it makes sense. I didn’t find any planned events in New Almaden that would cause traffic.

If this is going to be the pattern going forward, then cyclists must avoid riding on Hicks Road weekends starting at Camden to the Mt. Umunhum junction. I’m guessing the New Almaden side of Hicks will have less summit traffic.

It’s really sad to see yet another country road turned into a Laguna Seca training course.

Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSD) needs to take responsibility for managing traffic to the summit. There should be a car limit and registration for access, similar to what is happening at the popular Muir Woods National Monument.

While I’m on the topic, why doesn’t MROSD/county/state arrange for a shuttle bus service on weekends to the more popular parks in the Santa Cruz Mountains? I’d wager that half the traffic on weekends is generated by well intentioned mountain bikers and hikers out to enjoy park land.