Archive for the ‘Once Upon a Ride’ Category

Skidders is back… as a short story

October 10, 2016


What will life be like on a bike 10, 20, 30 years from now?

Miguel wheeled up to Bernard’s doorstep and rang the doorbell, did a track stand. The door opened. “Ready Bernie? Let’s saddle up. I’m in the mood for mayhem.” He sped in a tight circle around the patio, popped a wheelie.

“You’re early. Just a sec. I’ve got to change.” Bernie left the door open, disappeared inside. He bounced back after a minute, got his bike out of the garage, clipped into pedals.

Miguel still maintained his track stand. “What’s your record for a track stand?” Bernie asked. “Five minutes. Could go longer, but I get bored.”

“Where to?”

“Stevens Creek Boulevard. Let’s check out the spaceship and do it there.”

“That’s sick. Right in front of Apple headquarters.”

“Why not?” Miguel replied. “We’ll give those overcompensated carpet crawlers something to talk about during lunch. Maybe even get our mug on Snapchat.”

“I just polished my nose ring,” Bernie replied.

“You wish,” Miguel shot back. “They don’t call you Mr. Clean for nothing.”

Miguel removed his long-sleeve jersey to reveal an arm full of tattoos. “It’s warming up Bernie. Warmer every year.”

“Tell me about it. They’ll be selling beachfront property in Antarctica.”

Bernie and Miguel headed west on Pruneridge Avenue, breezed right through the Saratoga Avenue intersection without stopping. Cars obediently slowed as they rode by.

“We should have slowed down,” Bernie griped. “It’s the law.”

Miguel sneered. “Like it matters.”

“Some little old lady might bang her head.”

“Doubt it. She probably asked Uber to put it in creep mode.”

Bernie laughed. “I’ve seen those drivers. Road boulders of the autonomous-bahn.”


Once Upon a Ride…available now

June 29, 2016

Once Upon a Ride... a compendium of Jobst Rides, available now.

Once Upon a Ride… a compendium of Jobst Rides, available now.

Thirty-six years in the making, Once Upon a Ride… offers the reader the most complete complete account of Jobst Rides ever. Even if you own the other three magazines, Adventure Rides in the Santa Cruz Mountains, High Sierra and Mount Hamilton by Bike, there’s something new here.

Over the years I’ve posted past ride reports, based on my personal journal, on Magcloud, WordPress blog and a personal website. All of those articles, including 60 new ones about rides with Jobst Brandt and/or his friends, are included here.

It’s a lot: 100,000 words, 169 photos, with almost all photos matched to the report. Now you don’t have to search all over the place for Jobst Ride stories, most of which are no longer posted.

All for the price of an inner tube, $5.99, PDF.

You can view it on your computer, laptop or tablet. Smartphones not recommended. The file download is 33 Mb, so give it some time to download. A nice feature is searchability. It’s also 12-point type — easy on the eyes.

If you want a keepsake, buy a print copy for $45.80, not including shipping. It’s printed in the U.S. using HP high-speed printers, a nice touch since Jobst helped develop HP printer technology at HP Labs.

Available on

These are your options: print, notebook/chromebook or tablet.

These are your options: print, notebook/chromebook or tablet.

Mt. Hamilton backside road stories

March 28, 2016

The old road followed Arroyo Bayo.

The old road followed Arroyo Bayo.

One of the most wild and scenic roads in the Bay Area is Hwy 130, San Antonio Valley Road, on the backside of Mt. Hamilton.

I’ve ridden there since 1980 and it never fails to impress. Over the years I’ve wondered about that dirt road alongside Arroyo Bayo after the hill out of Isabel Creek.

Jobst Brandt, who rode on the backside of Mt. Hamilton more than any cyclist, may have mentioned riding there, but I’ve forgotten.

But Peter Locke has not forgotten, and he rode with Jobst. He told me recently by phone how they rode through the creek. He had fond memories of fording the creek numerous times, as well as crossing a reservoir. Here’s Google Maps after the Isabel Creek climb.

Red line shows where the road went.

Red line shows where the road went.

I looked at a USGS topographic map from 1955 and sure enough the dirt road that you see today along the creek was the main road.

It’s fast disappearing, but it’s still used by landowners in some sections.

I wouldn’t want to try riding there today, but back in 1956-57 when Jobst, Peter and others rode it, the road was maintained.

The road enters a narrow section.

The road enters a narrow section.

Here's where the first section of road returns to present Hwy 130.

Here’s where the first section of road returns to present Hwy 130.

USGS topo map from 1955.

USGS topo map from 1955.

Remember Alpine Road!

March 4, 2016

Alpine Road from Portola Valley to Skyline used to be a nice ride. I'll never forget.

Alpine Road from Portola Valley to Skyline used to be a nice ride. I’ll never forget.

Just a friendly reminder, this is how Alpine Road looked in 1990. Fabulous!

It was the best way to Skyline Boulevard.

Who can forget the pumpkin tree?

October 29, 2015

Jobst Brandt and Mike Higgins pass by the pumpkin tree on Pescadero Road in 1984.

Jobst Brandt and Mike Higgins pass by the pumpkin tree on Pescadero Road in 1984.

I know I can’t. In the early 1980s the residents of a house on Pescadero Road hung pumpkins from their apple tree starting in late October.

We enjoyed passing by and admiring the tree every Halloween.

The owners of the house are long-since gone, along with the tree, but the memories remain.

Pumpkin tree location today.

Pumpkin tree location today.

Once Upon a Ride: A Back Out of Whack

August 16, 2015

Riders from left: Ted Mock, Olaf Brandt, Peter Johnson, Jobst Brandt, Paul Mittelstadt, stop for a drink of water at the giant redwood tree near McKenzie Reservoir.

Riders from left: Ted Mock, Olaf Brandt, Peter Johnson, Jobst Brandt, Paul Mittelstadt, stop for a drink of water at the giant redwood tree near McKenzie Reservoir.

May 20, 1984
Riders: Jobst Brandt, Paul Mittelstadt, Ray Hosler, Peter Johnson, Jan Causey, Ted Mock, Olaf Brandt
Route: Foothill Expressway to Stevens Canyon Road, Mount Eden Road, Pierce Road, Hwy 9, Sanborn Road, Black Road, Summit Road, Bear Creek Road, Big Basin Road, Hwy 236, Hwy 9, Skyline Boulevard, Hwy 84.
Weather: Warm and clear, then cooler and overcast
Tire/Mechanical Failure: Jan – broken spoke

Jobst is still contending with his bad back, which he now thinks is somehow related to a “leaking” kidney. Once again, Jan and Olaf came along to ride with Jobst.

Jobst established a leisurely pace and it was readily apparent he was not feeling up to par. Only on Mt. Eden Road did Jobst ride with any strength.

From the top of Mt. Eden we saw a valley of fruit orchards and neat rows of vineyards. We passed Mount Eden winery on our way downhill.

Before the steep descent, Jobst said he can ride down it without braking “only if I don’t have a tailwind.” After the descent I said, “I missed hitting that rabbit by a hair.” Groans were heard.

While climbing Pearce Road, we passed a tourist listening to his Sony Walkman. As we passed Paul Masson Winery and the tourist, Jobst said in his loudest voice, “I read in the papers yesterday about a Muni bus driver in San Francisco who was wearing his Sony Walkman. A policeman stopped him when he ran two stop lights.”

On Hwy 9 Jobst mentioned a beechnut tree near the bridge crossing a creek and as we passed a roadside campground next to Sanborn Road, he said, “I can smell the Oscar Mayer wieners already.”

We started up the steep Sanborn Road and enjoyed the canopy of trees between deep, rapid breaths. The real climbing started when we headed up the dirt road at the end of paved Sanborn. It’s about 25 percent in places to start, but improves to around 18 percent afterwards. We saw McKenzie Reservoir at a low level, but at least it had water. Jobst spotted a Green Heron and a regal-looking Caspian Tern skimming the water.

Leaving the lake, we continued on the dirt road, passing a mother and her two children riding bikes. With that most unusual sight behind us, we arrived at the giant redwood tree where a creek runs across the road.

Jobst stopped to look inside the hollow trunk, but did not see any bats. Then he walked over to the creek and took a drink from one of his regular watering holes.

We continued another mile to Black Road and began a steep climb to Skyline Boulevard. Jobst rode home via Skyline, still complaining about his back, while I continued on alone to Big Basin State Park.

At the park I met up with Bob Walmsley, another Jobst rider, and we discussed Ted Mock’s latest encounter with a car, but fortunately this time he was wearing a helmet. His helmet split in two from the collision.

Jobst Brandt leaves behind memories to last a lifetime

May 6, 2015

Jobst Brandt rides up Gavia Pass, Italy. Made into a poster.(Rick Lyman photo, 1978)

Jobst Brandt rides up Gavia Pass, Italy. Made into a poster (Rick Lyman photo, 1978).

Behold the wise Jobst Rider,
Whose unfettered mind
Sees God in dirt
And hears him in the spokes.

(Adapted from a quote by Alexander Pope)

Jobst Brandt, a cyclist who in so many ways influenced the bicycle industry during its glory days of the 1980s, died on Tuesday, May 5, 2015, after a long illness. He was 80.

The day after his 76th birthday, Jobst crashed his bike at the Sand Hill Road and Whiskey Hill Road intersection near Woodside during an early morning ride in a dense fog. It was his last bike ride. His serious injuries added to the burden of other health liabilities.

Jobst exerted considerable influence over those he knew in the bike industry, but he was not an industry insider. Because he never worked in the bike business, he could offer his opinions about the industry without reservation.

His passing is a personal loss for me. I met Jobst in 1979 while working at Palo Alto Bicycles. I’ll never forget seeing Jobst wheel into the store on his huge bike, which he always rode into the shop while deftly opening the door.

He immediately bound upstairs to the Avocet headquarters where he would engage owner Bud Hoffacker in lively discussions (browbeat) about everything under the sun involving bike technology.

Jobst was like that. He believed with 100 percent certainty that his way was the right way. If you disagreed and didn’t have the facts to support your argument, you were just another crackpot.

Consummate engineer
Most of the time Jobst was right. He had that rare skill in a mechanical engineer — he not only understood engineering principles, he could translate theory into meaningful product improvements, whether it be a bicycle shoe, a floor pump or a cyclometer.

Jobst received seven patents (3 cycling), testimony to his abilities.

1 – 6,583,524 Micro-mover with balanced dynamics (Hewlett Packard)
2 – 6,134,508 Simplified system for displaying user-selected functions in a bicycle computer or similar device (for Avocet)
3 – 5,834,864 Magnetic micro-mover (Hewlett Packard, and Bob Walmsley, Victor Hesterman)
4 – 5,058,427 Accumulating altimeter with ascent/descent accumulation thresholds (for Avocet)
5 – 4,547,983 Bicycle shoe (for Avocet)
6 – 4,369,453 Plotter having a concave platen (Hewlett Packard)
7 – 3,317,186 Alignment and support hydraulic jack (SLAC)

He received his first U.S. patent while working at the two-mile long Stanford Linear Accelerator in 1966; he was recognized for his work on suspension for the particle accelerator. There’s a plaque with his name on it in one of the lobbies.

At Porsche he designed race-car suspensions, after quickly moving through the ranks. The way he got his job is classic Jobst. The young Stanford University graduate (his father was an economics professor at Stanford), who spent time in the U.S. Army in Germany as a reserve officer — lieutenant, then captain — in the 9th Engineer Battalion, approached Porsche and told them that their English translations lacked polish. Porsche agreed and he was hired.

Cycling legacy
Jobst blazed trails beyond bike product development. His freewheeling way of thinking led him to do things most people would never dream of — like riding a racing bike with tubular tires on rugged trails in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

It’s not that big a deal, but other cyclists thought it was, so Jobst quickly gained a reputation that drew elite cyclists from the Bay Area to join him on his Sunday rides, starting promptly at 8 a.m. from his house on Middlefield Road in Palo Alto.

By the mid-1970s, Jobst had such a large following that some rides counted up to 20 riders. Most would not complete the ride, mainly because it lasted all day and went through creeks, over rocky trails lined with poison oak (Jobst was immune) and through private property.

While Jobst had an entourage of bike racers, he never had anything kind to say about the sport. I think the only good he saw in it was a test of a person’s mettle (a bike’s metal too) and the ability to overcome obstacles. That’s what Jobst was all about.

He never showed fear or got rattled in difficult situations. These Übermensch qualities came to the forefront when he fell and broke his leg at the hip in 1986 on the rain-slick pavement of Col de Tende. He got up, cursed himself for not recognizing the foam on the road, and ordered me to lift his leg over the top tube so he could coast to the next town.

In Tende, Jobst dismounted and crawled on hands and knees up the steps to the doctor’s office.

On another occasion he was trying to help a snake off Calaveras Road; it bit him and only then did he realize the young reptile was a rattlesnake. He didn’t panic, but rode back to his car in Milpitas and drove to Stanford Hospital for the antidote. The venom mangled his thumb.

One beautiful spring day in 1982 we were bound for Gazos Creek Road when we came upon a scene of absolute devastation. The road had been obliterated by torrential rains that downed redwoods and dislodged boulders the size of cars. Instead of turning around, Jobst urged us on.

So we clambered over trees and followed the creek downhill, eventually reaching a recognizable road after a mile of walking.

The Bicycle Wheel
Jobst wrote a lot (check out or Sheldon Brown’s website), but nothing was more important to him than his book on the bicycle wheel. He spent more than a decade writing the book with the intention of producing a tome that would stand the test of time.

I learned to build my first set of wheels using his book when it was still in manuscript form. It was the first time I read a description so well done that I could follow along and build wheels that would last for many years.

Jobst let many people edit the manuscript, but it was Jim Westby, Jobst’s friend and manager of the Palo Alto Bicycles mail order catalog, who did the heavy lifting. Jobst also published a German edition.

The book has sold well since being published by Avocet and is still in print. It could be in print 100 years from now because the principles of wheel building are never going to change. Sure, thanks to new materials we now have 16-spoke wheels, but it’s a number that made Jobst cringe.

Love for the Alps
Although Jobst rode most of his miles in the U.S., he always made time for the Alps. For 50 years he rode there annually, riding many of the same passes year after year, with some variation. He almost always went with another rider.

Riding with Jobst in the Alps tested friendships. He became obsessive about riding all day, every day, and I don’t mean until 5 p.m. He liked to ride until 8 p.m. after starting around 8 a.m., when he could coax the hotel owner to get up that early.

If you rode in the Alps with Jobst, you knew you were going to cover a lot of ground and you could expect some adventure riding, sometimes sliding down snow-covered slopes when crossing high passes on hiking trails. Of course, Jobst rode all but the rockiest trails.

Jobst took many photos of his exploits over the decades, probably more than 10,000 slides. He had a unique ability to capture great photos with his Rollei 35. A few of his photos were made into posters and sold by Palo Alto Bicycles.

He could be obsessive about getting just the right shot, as when we were on the section of road supported by concrete beams looming over Bedretto Valley, Switzerland. Given the right cropping, the road appears to be suspended in mid-air, the village of Fontana 1,000 feet below. Possessed with taking the perfect photo, Jobst hacked away, limb for limb, at a sapling growing next to the road.

Wheel suckers
Although Jobst sometimes had a harsh demeanor, he had his fun side too. He loved to pull pranks and make puns while out on the road. We passed the day telling stories, jokes, and commenting on world affairs.

That was when we weren’t struggling to stay on Jobst’s wheel in his younger days. It was especially true with Tom Ritchey along for the ride. The accomplished racer and frame builder had a way about him that caused Jobst to push the pace; maybe Jobst did it to prove a point or just because he knew he could have some serious competition with Tom.

Whatever the reason, we had some hard and fast riding ahead of us on many a Sunday. It got even worse when other racers showed up, like Keith Vierra, Sterling McBride, Dave McLaughlin, Peter Johnson, Bill Robertson, the list is lengthy.

It got so competitive that we sprinted for city limits signs.

I could go on about Jobst, but it would require a book-length blog. I’ve published some accounts of past rides here (Once Upon a Ride) and they’ll have to do for now.

As Jobst was always fond of saying, “Ride bike!”

Excellent read: The Force Who Rides by Laurence Malone.

Once Upon a Ride: Flats, Flats, Flats in Marin County

May 5, 2015

Ridgecrest Boulevard overlooking Stinson Beach. John Pinaglia, Jobst Brandt, Parker McComas, Tom Ritchey.

Ridgecrest Boulevard overlooking Stinson Beach. John Pinaglia, Jobst Brandt, Parker McComas, Tom Ritchey.

At a recent bike event talk, Tom Ritchey, owner of Ritchey Bicycle Components USA, mentioned a ride where the group had a dozen flats between them. Close enough. It was nine flats. Now for the rest of the story:

May 17, 1981
Riders: Jobst Brandt, Tom Ritchey, Parker McComas, Strange John, Ray Hosler
Route: Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito, Mill Valley, Mt. Tam railroad grade, Hwy 1 to Olema, Pt. Reyes National Park, Stinson Beach, home via Mt. Tam.
Weather: Overcast, fog on coast, then cool
Tire/Mechanical Failures: Tom – 4 flats; Jobst – 1 flat; Ray – 1 flat; John – 1 flat; Parker – 2 flats

It is sad to say that our clinchers failed us on this Jobst Ride. [we had just switched over to clinchers] They not only failed, they turned a potentially enjoyable ride into a trying experience. However, a good time was still had by all.

We started from the Golden Gate Bridge south side around 9:30 a.m., fortunately missing runners in the Bay to Breakers, as feared. We piled out of Tom’s VW bus and prepared our bikes for a ride that wouldn’t end until 5 p.m.

As we made our way on the bike path between Sausalito and Mill Valley, Jobst pioneered a route through a bed of gravel that appeared to be a jogging path. Once on the other side onto pavement, Parker and I discovered we had rear flats.

While fixing our flats, several riders went past and yelled, “That’s what you get for using sewups!” Jobst rejoined, “These aren’t sewups, they’re clinchers!” The argument over the advantages of clinchers vs. sewups had raged for years and this day wouldn’t do anything to quell the controversy.

The Jobst Riders entered the peaceful town of Mill Valley and headed up the traditional one-way road, past the sign that says “Do Not Enter.” We passed the quiet splendor of homes overlooked by giant redwoods.

Tom drinks from a spring midway up Mt. Tamalpais on the railroad grade.

Tom drinks from a spring midway up Mt. Tamalpais on the railroad grade.

At the railroad grade entrance we noted the ground was dry and firm. Sharp rocks menacingly pointed toward our tires.

Along the way we spotted several Rufous-sided towhees and the remnants of a railroad station’s concrete platform. We stopped for water at the one-time watering station where there is now a moss-covered waterfall. The cold water tasted delicious.

[While this is a railroad grade, it’s a Shay locomotive railroad grade with an 8 percent inclination.]

At the top of the climb on Mt. Tam we noted a poster warning not to travel alone, although the Mt. Tam trail killer had been captured several days earlier.

We stopped for the traditional photo at the Stinson Beach overlook, clearly visible below. The fog had not yet moved close to shore.

On the descent of Ridgecrest Boulevard, Parker flatted again and it was determined his rubber rim strip was at fault. John and Jobst had ridden ahead to wait at the gate. From here you can ride a trail all the way to Olema, but today Jobst had other plans, so we took the Fairfax-Bolinas Road down to Hwy 1.

In Olema, Parker purchased some elastic strapping tape for his rear rim.

Jobst typically rode up Mt. Wittenberg Trail, but today we headed straight into Pt. Reyes National Park down Bear Valley Trail [off limits to bikes]. We passed many backpackers who were returning from their overnight stays.

Then Jobst flatted and patched his tube while the rest of us checked out the giant ferns and wildflowers growing next to the trail.

From here we had a long uphill to a ridge that overlooked the Pacific. The steep trail had us straining on the cranks. At the summit Jobst pointed to the Coast Trail sign and recalled an earlier ride. “The hikers told us not to go that direction because it was too steep. Pretty soon we were rappelling down this cliff. We were lucky to get down that one.”

We had a fast descent to the ocean on a trail littered with sharp rocks composed of shale, and more backpackers. We passed speechless hikers, kicking up a trail of dust as we went.

At a corner Tom flatted. As we made repairs, some equestrians ambled by heading the opposite direction.

I noticed Tom was riding Avocet Mod III pedals, which he just as quickly noticed did not have their dust caps. With no spare tube, he had to patch the flat. We looked around and listened to the crashing surf below where a couple of tents were still pitched near the shore.

Tom fixes another flat, this one on the Coast Trail in Marin County.

Tom fixes another flat, this one on the Coast Trail in Marin County.

Jobst pointed out all sorts of birds flitting about and then noticed an Allen’s hummingbird. We watched it as it flew up in the air and then dive-bombed us. Jobst figured a female was hiding in the bushes and the male was showing off.

No sooner had Tom fixed his rear flat than he discovered a front flat! Back to work patching tubes.

Back on the road, we faced a particularly steep section that had once been paved. Jobst and Tom rode all the way but the rest of us had to walk.

We continued to pass equestrians on the Coast Trail, which is lined with some beautiful small lakes where ducks can be seen swimming around.

Jobst lost control on a section of off-camber trail and crashed on his right arm, blood flowing freely. However, he was otherwise unhurt and the bike was fine. Jobst found a mud puddle with green slime and washed off his wound.

We continued on the gnarly trail that at times came within inches of a cliff and the Pacific Ocean below. At one point Jobst found a side path and disappeared into pampas grass.

Back on Hwy 1 via Mesa Road, we made good progress into Stinson Beach. We had to make a four-mile detour around Bolinas Lagoon, at which point Tom started talking about his idea for a bike with pontoons. “They could be folded down when in use and small paddles attached to the cranks for locomotion.”

As we battled unusual headwinds Tom flatted once again. By now it was becoming routine. After fixing the flat Tom looked sadly at his other tire and said, “Oh no, this one is flat too!” Then he smiled and laughed. “Just kidding.”

We stopped at a corner grocery store where Jobst always visited on his Marin County rides. While inside he inquired about some keys left behind on a previous ride by Rick Humphreys. Lo and behold, Jobst’s Volvo keys were in a lost-and-found jar kept by the owner.

We headed back up Panoramic Highway for a long climb to the ridge overlooking the Pacific. It was here that Tom flatted for the fourth time. Tom borrowed my leaky tube, which was better off than his. Along the way Tom had to stop several times to pump his tire.

Back at the Golden Gate Bridge we faced a thick blanket of bone-chilling fog as we rode across the drippy wet bridge path, ships’ foghorns bellowing their warning.

That VW van never looked so good after a long ride.

Another Coast Trail ride later in 1981. Nice views. (Jobst Brandt photo)

Another Coast Trail ride later in 1981. Nice views. (Jobst Brandt photo)

Once Upon a Ride: Big Basin Blowout

April 9, 2015

June 7, 1981, Corn Roast ride through Big Basin State Park. Just after Jobst abandoned sew-ups. From left: Roger ?, Jim Westby, Parker McComas, Rick Humphreys, Ray Hosler, Dan Green, Tom Ritchey, Tom Holmes.

June 7, 1981, Corn Roast ride through Big Basin State Park. Just after Jobst abandoned sew-ups. From left: Roger ?, Jim Westby, Parker McComas, Rick Humphreys, Ray Hosler, Dan Green, Tom Ritchey, Tom Holmes.

May 24, 1981
Riders: Jobst Brandt, Tom Ritchey, Ted Mock, Ray Hosler, Strange John, Rick Humphreys
Route: Up Alpine Road, Skyline to 9, 9 to 236, service road to Big Basin State Park, Gazos Creek Road, Cloverdale Road, Stage Roads, Hwy 1, Purisima Creek Road, Kings Mountain Road
Weather: Warm, partly cloudy, humid
Tire/Mechanical: None

As the Indianapolis car racers revved their engines this Memorial Day weekend, the Jobst Riders rode their machines through the Santa Cruz Mountains, talking about the upcoming Corn Roast in Swanton and the Sierra ride the second weekend in June.

On this Sunday morning Ted Mock showed up. The professional photographer is a veteran bike racer who now just rides with Jobst. In his mid-30s, Ted rents a house with bicycle frame builder Peter Johnson on College Avenue in midtown Palo Alto.

As we rode on Alpine Road we came across a motley crew of Palo Alto Bike Shop riders — Ron Hoffacker, Don McBride, Kathy Williams, Dave Prion and Brian Cooley. Then we passed triathlete Mark Sisson as he changed a flat tire.

At the green gate where the two-mile dirt section of Alpine Road begins, Jobst observed a Hutton’s Vireo feeding its young in a nest. We carried on with the shop riders and talked about all topics under the sun, the chance of rain, etc.

The riders rolled south on Skyline with an incomparable view of fog hugging the nearby mountains, all the while being followed by a telephone company van. Jobst figured the driver was looking for a particular power pole on the roadside.

At the Cal fire station water fountain we tanked up our water bottles, except Jobst, who never carries one. As we swatted horse flies, Jobst recalled an incident in France: “I was riding along when I felt this sting under my neck, so I took a swat and thought I had rid myself of the pest. Well, a few minutes later I noticed a stinging sensation again and took another swat at the same spot. This time I felt a big splat and saw blood all over my hand when I drew it away.”

The ride down 9 went at its usual high speed. Rick turned off at Waterman Gap to head back for a wedding. This left Jobst, Ted, Ray and Tom. On the North Escape Road into Big Basin park, Tom noticed a sign, and when they stopped for water at a stream Tom said, “They put that sign there because of what happened to me in Yosemite Park.”

Know park regulations
Tom said that he was cited by a ranger for riding his bicycle on the trails in Yosemite. The park had a rule against riding any mechanized vehicle on trails in the park. The sign Tom referred to said: “You are responsible for knowing park regulations.”

We stopped at the park store and purchased some expensive food while Jobst told the clerk where they were headed. “That sounds like a spine-jarring experience,” she replied. As we sat eating we talked about Peter’s sleeping habits, the amazing ability of John Howard to recall names, distinguishing marks over the eyes of Steller’s Jays and the disappearance of Strange John.

We decided to head up Gazos Creek Road, one of Jobst’s favorite rides through the redwoods. We rode by several deer next to the road, which didn’t move a muscle as we passed within inches. “They know where they are!” Jobst said.

After about five miles of moderate ups and downs on the dirt road we reached a junction and the Sandy Point Guard Station, or what was left of it. It had burned down in the 1960s.

We headed steeply down Gazos Creek Road and passed a large wooden sign declaring this land to be a tree farm.

Jobst pointed out that someone had tried to chop down the sign with an ax. That brought back memories of the Dog Town sign in Marin County off Hwy 1, which got chopped down time and again by sign collectors.

We dropped down Gazos Creek Road, which was in great shape with the exception of small muddy spots from recent rains. Two cycle tourists loaded down with bags slowly descended as we blew by.

As we rode on the flat section of Gazos Creek Road following the creek, Jobst and Tom got into a heated argument about religion, which was par for the course.

Along Cloverdale Road (dirt at the time) a car came speeding by at 60 mph, kicking up a cloud of dust. Jobst turned around to watch and see if it could make a difficult corner. He didn’t see it and declared, “It could be in a ditch now for all we know.”

As we rode past the Butano State Park entrance, Jobst remembered a bike race held here, which went through the hills to our right over fire roads.

Tom headed home on Pescadero Road while the rest of us turned left to Pescadero. Jobst pointed out the town’s new flag pole, about 40 feet tall with a huge American flag waving in the ocean breeze. The old wooden pole blew down in a storm.

Pescadero festival
In Pescadero we were greeted by Holy Ghost Festival signs. We stopped at a new store and Jobst greeted the owner. who he knew by name. Outside we listened to Jobst doing his usual harangue on all sorts of topics: lousy car suspensions, bad tires on a VW Bug, an overweight cyclist, and so on.

We continued north on Stage Road to Hwy 1, where we turned right and continued to Purisima Creek Road. During the gentle climb to the dirt section Jobst identified many different birds and pointed out San Mateo County’s first oil well hugging the hillside above the creek.

The sun peeked through the fog along the coast while we enjoyed the lush green canyon cut by Purisima Creek over the eons. An old logging road would take us to Skyline Boulevard, with some sections as steep at 18 percent. [The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District purchased the surrounding land around this time.]

Guns in Purisima Creek
Heading up the lower reaches of the dirt road before the wooden bridge, we came upon a group of four hikers, one of them carrying a dog with a broken leg.

Later on we passed two hikers dressed in military fatigues, one of them toting an AR15 (civilian version of the M16). Jobst asked, “What are you going to do with that?” The gun-toting hiker replied, “We’re going to shoot targets.”

At the bridge we stopped to enjoy the creek and Jobst commented what a pity it is that trout no longer live in Purisima Creek.

After the difficult climb, we headed down Kings Mountain Road, Jobst and Ted passing a speeding Mercedes convertible on the way.

Jobst drinks from Purisima Creek at the upper bridge. Photo taken day of this ride. It's overgrown here today.

Jobst drinks from Purisima Creek at the upper bridge. Photo taken day of this ride. It’s overgrown here today.

Filoli Estate visit brings back cycling memories

April 7, 2015

Filoli gardens, one of the few local places where you'll see imported tulips in blossom.

Filoli gardens, one of the few local places where you’ll see imported tulips in blossom.

Today I visited the Filoli Estate off Cañada Road on a day heaven-sent for touring the surrounding gardens — partly cloudy with intermittent showers.

It brought back distant memories of bike rides on Old Cañada Road, which goes for about four to five miles when adding Runnymede Road, Crystal Springs Trail, then Old Cañada Road to Hwy 92. I think parts of the road are still paved, but otherwise it’s a fine dirt road, well maintained by the San Francisco Water Department.

Of course it’s illegal to ride on and has been probably since the 1930s when the area was closed to the public. That’s a crying shame because it’s some of the most beautiful countryside in the Coast Range.

Not even William Bowers Bourn, who built Filoli in 1915, could catch a break when it came to the public watershed. The Bourns wanted to have an estate built along Crystal Springs Lake, on land owned by the Spring Valley Water Company. Even though Bourn was the president of the company, a law forbade private ownership of the public domain property that supplied water to the city of San Francisco.

We can credit Bourn for the modern Cañada Road alignment. He asked that the road be moved to its current location when he built his estate.

I mention this now because this would be a natural extension of the Fifield-Cahill Trail north of Hwy 92. In fact, the roads were one in the same back in the 1930s. You can see them on either side of Hwy 92 at the old rock quarry.

It’s an obvious multi-use trail since it’s wide and there are many local equestrians, cyclists and joggers who would love to use it with minimal restrictions. Maybe one of these days…

Old Canada Road (shown in red) would make a great multi-use trail. (Google map image)

Old Canada Road (shown in red) would make a great multi-use trail. (Google map image)