Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Bay Trail has a new surface

June 2, 2016
Bay Trail between Sunnyvale and Mountain View has a new surface, thanks to Google.

Bay Trail between Sunnyvale and Mountain View has a new surface, thanks to Google.

What will $2.9 million buy you in Palo Alto? Other than a modest three-bedroom house, it gets you four miles of smooth dirt trail between Mountain View and Sunnyvale.

That’s what Google is spending on trail improvements for the Bay Trail, out of their own pocket. I took a spin on part of the trail starting from the Sunnyvale Water Treatment plant, and it’s a big improvement over what was there. The bumps, ruts and gravel have been replaced by smooth dirt and fine quarry sand. Can’t complain.

The trail is still closed behind Moffett Field, opening on June 4, according to the sign.

Google hopes that an improved trail will encourage more employees to ride bikes to work. I’m all for that.

What I don’t know is how the trail will hold up in the rain. I’m guessing it will be much better than what was there, but it may still be muddy in spots.

San Jose Airport has a New Fence

May 24, 2016

A new perimeter fence at the north end of the San Jose Airport is in place.

A new perimeter fence at the north end of the San Jose Airport is in place.

What will $3.4 million buy you in the Bay Area, besides a modest house in Palo Alto? How about a new fence around the San Jose Airport.

Work is finishing up now. I noticed it on my morning ride. Ewert Road, as it’s called (now there’s a trivia question), used to be the main route for the long-term parking lot on the west side of the airport.

But as we all know, that parking lot was shut down several years ago and moved closer to the airport on the east side of the Guadalupe River.

Based on the new layout — the road was split in two — the interior will be used by patrol vehicles, the exterior for bikes and the occasional patrol vehicle.

Follow up: The fence shown here is temporary. A permanent fence is being built behind this one.

Electric Bike Expo in Palo Alto

April 24, 2016

People try out ebikes at the Expo held in Palo Alto.

People try out ebikes at the Expo held in Palo Alto.


There’s still time to stop by the Electric Bike Expo in Palo Alto today and test ride a wide variety of bikes.

I helped out at the raffle for a Tempo bike, a joint effort by the San Jose Earthquakes Community Fund, Branham Hills Little League, Silicon Valley Humane Society, and the California Bicycle Coalition.

Bosch and other sponsors set up the booths and test area in the Stanford Shopping Center next to Macy’s.

I’m encouraged to see the number of different ebikes and their increasing sophistication. As Marc Brandt said while visiting the expo, “Electric bikes are empowering.”

One guy who stopped by the raffle area said the ebike allows him to commute to work on his bad knees. It beats driving.

A Tempo ebike is being raffled off. It's $5 a ticket.

A Tempo ebike is being raffled off. It’s $5 a ticket.

Disc brakes slice and dice the peleton

April 18, 2016

Disc brakes have become an issue in the pro peleton.

Disc brakes have become an issue in the pro peleton.


I’ve heard about some strange accidents in my day, but now there’s one more to add to the list — disc brakes slicing into legs.

Fran Ventoso abandoned Sunday‚Äôs Paris-Roubaix with a serious cut on his lower leg, now confirmed by multiple sources. He wasn’t the only rider injured by a disc brake. His open letter is posted on Velonews.

The photos are the kind best viewed by medical personnel used to seeing ugly injuries.

I’ve never used disc brakes, but people who do swear by them. They stop better in wet weather, no argument there. They’re becoming the norm on mountain bikes and now the pro peleton is using them.

The peleton will quickly decide whether or not they continue using disc brakes. So far the warning signs are dire. Not only are cyclist being cut, they’re being burned. In a crash, and there are more than a handful in races, riders have touched the hot rotors.

Another concern was pointed out by Jobst Brandt years ago — wheel separation. The front caliper is behind the fork, not in front as with all side-pull caliper brakes. It is not unheard of for a disc brake quick release, left loose, to loosen to the point that it doesn’t hold the wheel in place. When that happens, the wheel goes flying as the brake is applied.

Another potential drawback of disc brakes is hydraulic failure.

So why do disc brakes continue to gain in popularity? Some of it is marketing inertia. All industries are looking for the next big thing and disc brakes have sex appeal. They’re high-tech and they work better in the rain.

Another advantage is that now rims can be made lighter and will last longer since pad wear has been transferred from the rim to the rotor. Rim wear is a concern for people who ride lots of miles in the mountains. A rim can be worn to the point of failure. Jobst Brandt could attest to that.

I’m not interested in having disc brakes because I like to maintain my bike and dealing with hydraulics is just one more complication.

Disc brakes can be made safer and I’m sure they will now that the word is out. This injury reminds of the squirrel-caught-in-wheel stories that sprang up about a decade ago, around the time 16-spoke wheels became popular (Google it).

Yes, squirrels can become lodged in the front fork as they try to leap through the wheel. It has happened to more than one cyclist. It’s an ongoing concern for anyone riding 16-spoke wheels.

New electric bicycle law gives local communities jurisdiction

April 7, 2016

Check out electric bikes like this on electricbikereview.com

Check out electric bikes like this on electricbikereview.com


I don’t know about you, but I see more and more electric bicycles buzzing around on city streets, mostly a good thing.

The California state legislature last year changed how it defines the various electric bikes with Assembly Bill 1096. The new law deletes the “motorized bicycle” definition and defines an “electric bicycle,” a bike with fully operable pedals and an electric motor below 750 watts.

Now there are three classes, and manufacturers are required to affix labels designating which category they belong in, starting in 2017.

Class 3 electric bicycles “speed pedal-assisted” provide assistance only when the rider is pedaling and limit speed to 28 mph. They are banned from all bike lanes and paths, unless a local community decides otherwise.

Class 1 “low-speed pedal-assisted” and Class 2 “low-speed throttle-assisted” are OK to ride in bike lanes and paths, and have a maximum speed of 20 mph.

However, local communities can regulate Class 1 and Class 2 electric bicycles on their paths and bike lanes as they see fit. That’s an important point and one I wish the state hadn’t enacted.

Most if not all bike lanes and paths extend through multiple jurisdictions in the Bay Area. So now you are responsible for knowing where electric bikes are allowed and where they are not allowed.

I don’t have a problem with electric bikes on bike lanes and my only reservation on bike paths is that people keep their speed down when passing other cyclists and pedestrians.

Of course, that safety tip applies to bicycles. I can appreciate bike commuters being in a hurry and wanting to ride more than 15 mph on paths, but there’s no reason to speed by slower trail users. I see it all too often.

Right now bicycle and pedestrian committees around the Bay Area are taking up this issue. Mostly the city councils will go along with a bike committee recommendation, but you never know.

As electric bicycle/battery technology improves, I can see the day when the majority of bikes sold are electric assist.

People for bikes.org summary

Cyclist enters the fray with new clothing line

March 9, 2016

Loma Prieta Road at the water fountain, March 1984. Ray Hosler, Dave McLaughlin, Sterling McBride, Tom Ritchey, Jobst Brandt. One of our favorite rides. (Photo by Keith Vierra)

Loma Prieta Road at the water fountain, March 1984. Ray Hosler, Dave McLaughlin, Sterling McBride, Tom Ritchey, Jobst Brandt. One of our favorite rides. (Photo by Keith Vierra)


Dave McLaughlin is a natural when it comes to dressing fashionably. He was usually the best dressed on Jobst Rides. Now you can own a jacket or vest designed by Dave, thanks to his Kickstarter project.

His first in a line of clothing is casual jacket wear, a wool/synthetic blend, probably best suited for the post-ride or ski excursion.

When he isn’t designing clothing, Dave manages the LUNA women’s racing team.

Back in the day when I had a column in the San Francisco Chronicle, I wrote about Bellwether, at the time the largest U.S. bicycle clothing manufacturer, based in San Francisco. I had the rare opportunity to see their manufacturing facility.

I also wrote about Diana Muzzy and Vigorelli, a fledgling bicycle clothing designer back in 1988. The one item I liked by Vigorelli was a synthetic t-shirt that I’ve worn for nearly 30 years! It’s comfortable and, obviously, was made to last.

Eddy Merckx bike on display in Los Altos bike shop

February 29, 2016

A bike owned and ridden by Eddy Merckx is on display at the Bicycle Outfitter.

A bike owned and ridden by Eddy Merckx is on display at the Bicycle Outfitter.


Imagine my surprise when I was shown a genuine Eddy Merckx bike on display in Bicycle Outfitter.

It was given to owner Bud Hoffacker in exchange for some print/catalog work requested by Eddy back in 1970.

I don’t know if it was raced on. About half of the equipment is vintage and the frame is Swiss, by Allegro.

Eddy won the Tour de France in 1970.

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?)