Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Alpine Road repair might be in the works

October 19, 2018

Back in the mid 1980s, Jobst Brandt and friends worked on the road, even installing this culvert, thanks to Peter Johnson, shown riding over it.


At the October 24 Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District meeting, they’ll vote on approving a contract with Waterways Consulting, Inc., for design and engineering services, preparation of construction documents, permitting and bidding process support, and construction oversight for the Alpine Road Trail Repair at Coal Creek Open Space Preserve.

I’m cautiously optimistic that we’ll finally have our road back. Of course, the study still needs to be completed, so it’s not a done deal. A lot of unknowns. The wording indicates it’s more than just a feasibility study. We’ll see.

Note that this project only addresses the upper half of the road. The Bypass Trail stays. Let’s hope they fix the lower half.

Anything would be an improvement, the way the trail looks now.

Link to proposal in PDF.

San Francisco Bay Trail improvements underway in Sunnyvale

October 15, 2018

S.F. Bay Trail is being upgraded in Sunnyvale near Baylands Park.

That line of dump trucks at Baylands Park in Sunnyvale, next to Hwy 237, is making improvements to the San Francisco Bay Trail, unpaved, and other trails nearby.

Yves Zsutty, city of San Jose parks and recreation, said to expect some trail closures in the days ahead. See the map for alternate routes.

Google is financing some of the trail improvement. The Bay Trail treatment will be the same as done for the Bay Trail to the west going to Stevens Creek Trail. Google paid for that upgrade as well. The city of Sunnyvale has no involvement.

I’m not sure if the entire San Francisco Bay Trail will be improved at once. The water district is supposed to do some of the work, according to the map.

The upgrade turns a rocky dirt road into a smooth all-weather dirt path. Still dirt, but good dirt.

The Phase 2 and 3 work is just a refresh of the existing paved trail. A Class 1 bike path will be designated along Lafayette/Gold Street, east side. (Updated Oct. 16)

San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail Reach 4 extended

September 25, 2018

San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail Reach 4 has been extended. Looking north to El Camino Real.


For users of Santa Clara’s San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail, Reach 4 from El Camino Real south to Homestead Road is officially open.

The trail will extend south to Pruneridge Avenue, eventually.

From what I can see, there’s also a new sidewalk on the east side of San Tomas Expressway, pedestrians only.

Anyone who rides this section of trail needs to use extreme caution crossing El Camino Real, Benton Street, and Homestead Road.

Cars turning right off San Tomas might not stop. The junction at Homestead is especially inconvenient for bikes due to the curb alignment.

Even with all the room taken up by the path, there’s still a shoulder where bikes can ride on San Tomas. I used to ride San Tomas a lot, but not anymore.

While I’m sure some residents miss all the trees that were cut down, I don’t. They dropped needles and leaves that clogged drains on rainy days. Limbs fell down on the road, etc.

Reach 4 where the road curves north of Homestead. Maybe they’ll add some landscaping later on.

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.