Archive for the ‘Ride reports’ Category

Spring weather favors Pescadero

March 13, 2017

Pescadero from Bean Hollow Road overlooking the flood zone.


I decided to check out Pescadero and the area after the recent flooding downtown. Pescadero Creek wraps around the town, so it’s always at risk during wet winters like this one.

Fortunately the damage was minor even with the downtown flooded. Dozens of families visited the town to enjoy a Spring day with plenty of sunshine and gentle breezes.

Having ridden Bean Hollow Road only once, I tried it again to get a better view of Pescadero below. The road, I believe, is part of the old Coast Highway, and it sure looks like an extension of Stage Road as it climbs quickly to a plateau where I found farmland in abundance.

Wildflowers on Haskins Hill.

The view did not disappoint. It’s a great place to see Pescadero.

I headed south on Hwy 1 to Gazos Creek Road. As you might expect, the road has plenty of sags and creek erosion of embankments. This is one of my favorite roads. Too bad it’s always at risk from the creek.

Finally, no ride report on Pescadero Road would be complete without mention of the Loma Mar store. It creeps toward completion. I’m wondering if it will be a private residence and a store, or just a residence?

Loma Mar store creeps toward completion.

Cycling in this weather is for crazies

February 21, 2017

San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail at Scott Blvd. I went back to cross at street-level.

San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail at Scott Blvd. I went back to cross at street-level.


There’s no question that this winter’s rain tops the list for causing the most destruction to area roads. At least since I’ve lived here, 1977.

Just about all the main roads in the Santa Cruz Mountains have been damaged, some severely. Reservoirs are overflowing. Coyote Creek is a disaster. It’s hard to imagine the toll it’s taking on local residents. The creek is treated like an open sewer, which is why anyone exposed to the floodwater needs to wash down.

I was going stir-crazy, so I headed out despite the threat of rain, which did not disappoint. I checked out Saratoga Creek where it dumps into San Tomas Aquino Creek. It’s obvious Saratoga Creek has a lot more runoff than San Tomas.

I got as far as Scott Boulevard on the trail. It was flooded, but fortunately the road can be crossed at street-level. Old Mountain View-Alviso Road, also flooded.

Hwy 237 underpass, flooded. I watched as a rider decided he had to keep going, so he dismounted and walked his bike along the embankment. I had enough for the day.

Saratoga Creek at San Tomas Aquino. A lot of water.

Saratoga Creek at San Tomas Aquino. A lot of water.

Mt. Hamilton Road weathers the storms

February 12, 2017

Eucalyptus down on Mt. Hamilton Road, first mile of climb.

Eucalyptus down on Mt. Hamilton Road, first mile of climb.


As I expected, Mt. Hamilton Road has made it through the recent wet weather with only minor rock falls and a bit of mud here and there.

It’s not worth mentioning the areas with so little rock sliding. I saw road crews out in force today, so they’ll have the debris scraped up by now.

I’m glad I wasn’t riding up the lower climb when a giant eucalyptus fell across the road. It looks like the tree was already dead or dying. I remember it from my many climbs up Mt. Hamilton.

Tree before it fell. I guess it wasn't dead after all, but not a good lean. (Google Maps photo.)

Tree before it fell. I guess it wasn’t dead after all, but not a good lean. (Google Maps photo.)

I can do without the eucalyptus. It has enough negative characteristics that I wish it had never been imported from Australia. If you’re curious about the fascinating history of how it came to California, I found a story in the Santa Barbara Independent. Yes, the main promoter of the tree lived in Santa Barbara.

Mt. Hamilton sees a lot less rain than the Santa Cruz Mountains, which have been hammered. The roads may be worse off than the dreadful winter of ’82-’83.

This creek about a mile up from Smith Creek is usually dry.

This creek about a mile up from Smith Creek is usually dry.

Rains dredge up mud and a bike

February 10, 2017

Flooding has blocked the Guadalupe River Trail at Hwy 237.

Flooding has blocked the Guadalupe River Trail at Hwy 237.


I managed to make it to Alviso this morning following the San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail. The underpasses were muddy, but passable.

Saratoga Creek is really gushing, more than San Tomas Aquino.

It was a different story on the Guadalupe River Trail, flooded at the Hwy 237 underpass. No doubt other low-lying underpasses are also flooded.

I found a Marin mountain bike, minus its wheels, propped up on the levee near Gold Street. Stolen and abandoned? It was purchased from The Bike Connection, Palo Alto.

It will be a while before I try riding in the Santa Cruz Mountains. They’re a soggy mess.

Anybody need a bike? Cost about $650 when new around 2000.

Anybody need a bike? Cost about $650 when new around 2000.

If there was a cycling hell…

February 3, 2017

Typical street scene in a Manila suburb. Tricycle motorbikes, motorbikes, cars, bicycles, pedestrians, trucks.

Typical street scene in a Manila suburb. Tricycle motorbikes, motorbikes, cars, bicycles, pedestrians, trucks.


It would be the Philippines. You haven’t experienced traffic until you’ve been to Manila. Or Bangkok. Or New Delhi. Or anywhere else in Asia where the climate is tropical.

It’s hot, it’s humid, the air is fetid with the smell of diesel belching from aging jeepneys that the government is desperate to see replaced with newer, cleaner models.

Yet people still ride bikes here, at all hours, with and without lights or even reflectors. Few wear helmets. I saw them all the time, some wearing masks or handkerchiefs to try to protect their lungs from the debilitating air.

While bikes can maneuver around traffic, I can’t imagine an autonomous car lasting five minutes here during rush-hour. It would be laughable. The car would make it ten feet before shutting down, or just sit there waiting for an opening to safely go forward.

I was fortunate to have a relative who knows how to drive here, someone who does it so well he even worked for Uber. It didn’t take long for him to realize it was a money-losing proposition. I had an Uber driver take me home one evening from Makati and it was a paltry 75 pesos. That’s $1.50. It wouldn’t have even covered the cost of gas. Of course I gave him a lot more than that in cash (Uber takes cash in the Philippines).

Manila’s intersections outside of the ultra-wealthy sections of Makati are mostly unsignaled, which means turning left is a daunting task. Near the airport we had to cross three lanes of traffic while turning left, most of the time without any traffic control. There were roundabouts chocked with traffic.

Yet there are very few accidents because people who drive in Manila know how to yield. It’s like a school of fish maneuvering through another school of fish. They’ve got built in radar. It just works.

I’m not saying it’s better than our signaled intersection driving in the U.S., but it does work well enough that people can struggle to and from work daily.

Head for the Hills
There is one place near Manila where cyclists have a respite from the heat and traffic. It’s Tagaytay, where there are a few roads without traffic. Cyclists enjoy riding up a concrete road that spirals upward for 2,500 feet to the summit of Mt. Gonzales.

Cyclists begin the climb up Mt. Gonzales. Those huge fat tires popular here.

Cyclists begin the climb up Mt. Gonzales. Those huge fat tires popular here.

Riders at the summit and entrance to Palace in the Sky prepare for the descent.

Riders at the summit and entrance to Palace in the Sky prepare for the descent.

There they find a Palace in the Sky, literally. Marcos had it built in 1981, but it was never finished because his government was toppled by the People Power revolution from 1983-86. Today it’s a park where Manila residents can escape the ever-present heat in the valley below.

Cyclists face a daunting climb, some sections as steep as 20 percent and longer stretches of 15 percent, hard under any conditions but more so here with the heat and humidity.

At the summit they’re rewarded with cooler temperatures, fair winds and views of Mt. Taal, a volcano inside a lake. In recent years the roads in and around Tagaytay have been widened so cyclists can manage to get around a lot more safely. There’s still the ever-present traffic on crowded weekends.

When I think about any types of problems I have riding in Santa Clara Valley, I remind myself just how good we have it compared to so many places around the world. This is Shangri-La.

Colnago Ferrari. I'm assuming this is a knock-off of the real thing, which does exist.

Colnago Ferrari. I’m assuming this is a knock-off of the real thing, which does exist.

Winter storm floods creek path

January 9, 2017

That's a lot of debris. You'll want to ride on Great America Parkway a short distance and then take a left.

That’s a lot of debris. You’ll want to ride on Great America Parkway a short distance and then take a left.


San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail made it through the weekend rainstorm everywhere but here at the Great America Parkway underpass.

Use extra caution at the underpasses where there’s a slurry of slippery mud.

I also rode on the Sunnyvale Baylands trail over to Mountain View and the Google road improvement made it rideable even with all the rain.

Coyote Creek Trail adds paved segment

December 27, 2016

Newly paved section of Coyote Creek Trail looking north from Tasman Drive in San Jose.

Newly paved section of Coyote Creek Trail looking north from Tasman Drive in San Jose.


Slowly but surely, Coyote Creek Trail is being paved from bay to Morgan Hill, including the latest segment between Hwy 237 and Tasman Drive in San Jose.

That’s about a mile. The heavy lifting will occur between Kelley Park and Montague Expressway where there are many obstacles in the way. Of course, that section isn’t even open. The newly paved section was open and gravel.

I’m seeing a lot more homeless people in places I never saw them before, like along the paved trail on the north side of Hwy 237. Yes they cleaned out the Coyote Creek camps, but those same people had to go somewhere, so now they’re along Guadalupe River and other parts of Coyote Creek.

One of those “eventful” days I’d just as soon forget

December 17, 2016

It wasn't all bad news. Mushrooms a plenty.

It wasn’t all bad news. Mushrooms a plenty.


My favorite bike rides these days are “uneventful.” Nothing at all happens beyond a quiet bike ride in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Not so today.

It was in the high 30s when I left and it didn’t warm up until late afternoon. That made things unpleasant most of the ride, so it was already edging toward “eventful” territory.

As I rode north on Skyline on the long straight after Grizzly Flat Trail two cars approached one another going opposite directions at their usual high speed, but the car behind me had to slow abruptly (slight tire screech) when he realized there would be a three-way passing situation, all of us lined up side by side.

The driver didn’t take kindly to having to slow down and he made sure to let me know it was my fault. He drove up to my side and matched my speed. I stopped. He said, “Why do you ride your bike on this road?” I responded in kind. “Why do you drive your car on this road?”

What followed is familiar dialogue. “It’s dangerous riding a bike up here,” he said. “I just want you to know.” I realized this was not a situation where anyone was going to win an argument, so I did my best to diffuse any tension, speaking with genuine sincerity. “You’re right. Riding a bike is extremely dangerous. I tell that to everyone I know.” It worked. He didn’t get upset and drove off in his punked out BMW.

But my close encounters were not yet over. As I was riding up Hwy 84 two or three miles outside La Honda I stopped at a driveway to check my bike when out of nowhere this young man shows up on Hwy 84 wearing a t-shirt and sweatpants. He told me he was walking to Skyline Boulevard and needed to know how far it was. After I told him, he asked me to call his mother and have her pick him up. He gave me a number and I punched it in to my smartphone, but first I moved close to the highway because this guy looked like he was sketchy, although he didn’t sound threatening. No service. I told him I’d ride up to Skyline, but I was none too happy about it. The guy did not give off a good vibe — more like a scared deer.

I got to Skyline soon enough and tried my phone. Still no service at Sky Londa. Oddly, there was a Sheriff standing a few feet away in the parking lot. I told him my story and he immediately used his walkie talkie to talk to dispatch. Turns out the guy “escaped” from Camp Glenwood, a probation facility in La Honda off Pescadero Road and they were searching for him. He had been wandering around since 3 a.m.

I have no idea what became of their escapee, but if he’s smart he accepted a ride from the Sheriff when he drove by.

This camp is not to be confused with the Honor Camp located in Pescadero Creek County Park, which closed in 2003. It was supposed to be turned into a campground, but I haven’t heard any news on that front. Ken Kesey stayed at that one back in the 1960s and got some material for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest while there.

Too much of a good thing

December 11, 2016

Seven pounds of chanterelles. My neck ached after the ride.

Seven pounds of chanterelles. My neck ached after the ride.


It’s not anywhere near as impressive as 2006, but 2016 is shaping up to be a good one for chanterelles after the long drought.

I can only carry about seven pounds in my bike bag, so I had to leave behind about five pounds, and that was what I saw where I looked. I quit looking once I filled my bag.

I found a new location, although in reality it’s an extension of another spot I know about.

I’d give some away, but with the exception of my neighbor, who has “European sensibilities,” people freak out when offered.

Chanterelles sell for about $25 a pound (and up) in the few markets that sell them. You need a permit to sell to stores.

It was a cool, cloudy day, perfect for riding in the Santa Cruz Mountains and finding edible fungi.

San Felipe Road wanderings

December 4, 2016

A horse-drawn grader on San Felipe Road.

A horse-drawn grader on San Felipe Road.


South San Jose, with all its traffic, has some nice roads for cycling, including San Felipe, which heads south to Metcalf Road (steep descent) and downhill to the Coyote Creek Trail.

Another neat road for descending is Clayton off Mt. Hamilton Road. It’s one of my favorites. For some reason it seems to descend forever.

But I digress. San Felipe Road is home to a couple of old road graders. From what I can find out online, they were horse-drawn, built in the late 1800s, maybe in the Midwest (it looks like a J.D. Adams, made in Indianapolis, IN). The driver sat up front while the person raising and lowering the blade sat in the back.

It’s sad to see all the ancient equipment rusting away. People collect them but they have no use and just turn to rust when left outdoors. These graders go for about $500 on Ebay.

I’d like to know the grader’s history. The stories it could tell.

Coyote Creek Trail near the Coyote Creek Golf Club.

Coyote Creek Trail near the Coyote Creek Golf Club.