January 8, 2022

Muddy Waters

The last time I biked past Chesbro Reservoir, there was so little water that I couldn't bring myself to take a picture.
The brown water was a welcome sight! Even though it's been more than a week since we've had any real rainfall, sediment carried by the inflow hasn't yet settled out.

My ride buddy and I were of the same mind today—follow the route that skips the last two hills, which we'd just climbed a few weeks ago.

Coyote Creek was flowing fast and the water level was high; I wondered whether we'd be forced to detour. [Yes.] We were somewhat curious to see whether the trail really was still flooded, but not curious enough to bike past the barrier and have to turn back.

Our ride leader was surprised that we'd gotten ahead of the group after we rolled out together. I've shared my route variation with him before, and now have shared it again. Next time, maybe I need to lead an expedition into the Unknown Territory.

A pleasant 39 miles and 860 feet of climbing, though oddly chillier (at times) as the day wore on.

December 31, 2021

Farewell to 2021

Wrapping up another year with a somewhat random assortment of little things, starting with some bright foliage on a winter's day.
This year I learned about the U.S. Postal Service's Operation Santa program when a colleague suggested we form a team to fulfill some wishes. As one of Santa's elves, I adopted letters from five children and spread some Christmas magic.
Strolling back from one of those trips to the post office, I was surprised to find several goats (and a dog) tethered to some lampposts. Their nomadic herdsman emerged from the library, a stopover on his way from place to place.
I'm still working from home (week 95), with occasional visits to the office (once that became possible). My hair is even longer, I've shed another pound, I've gotten vaccinated, boosted, and have managed to stay healthy. I lost a distant member of my extended family (who had serious pre-existing health issues) to Covid-19.
I developed a fairly regular cycling routine, which led to climbing more than 102,000 feet over more than 3,000 miles. I'd planned to climb up Bernal once a month, but fell short; my last climb was in May. Shorter days turned after-work rides to after-work hikes, until our timekeeping switched from daylight savings to standard.
For some variety, I finally explored a hilly neighborhood park that I'd long meant to visit.
A tomato plant sprouted unexpectedly in early May. It wasn't the variety I normally cultivate; maybe it was my reward for pressing a (spoiled) cherry tomato into that box?
Springtime gusts sent an empty bird's nest to the ground, and I was astonished see some of my own hair woven into it. A bit of lint, and hair, does escape the filter and make its way out of the clothes dryer's vent; I'm guessing that's how my avian friend scavenged it. I surely would have noticed if a bird had plucked (!) any strands from my head. [There's a newly-coined word for that: kleptotrichy.]
The Computer History Museum recognized Lillian Schwartz with a Fellow award (albeit without the fancy celebration that would have happened in the Before Times). Those of us who tuned in live had a creative opportunity to honor Lillian and her art by contributing to a word cloud.
Words of inspiration. Words to live by. In the year ahead, and thereafter.

December 19, 2021

Holiday Lights

Our club rides are normally daylight affairs (with the exception of some ambitious long-distance outings).

And the notable exception of an annual Christmas Lights Ride.

Times change, enthusiastic leaders move on, and this tradition fell by the wayside. In its heyday, I've heard that 60 or more members would turn out and celebrate with a post-ride spread of refreshments; this year's revival drew about two dozen riders.

I donned my finest reflective gear, adorned my down-tube with a colorful glow (in addition to head and tail lights, of course), and drove to the start.

When I arrived, I remembered why I had never joined this ride before: It was always scheduled on a weeknight, and I couldn't get home from work in time. On a Sunday evening, the streets were jammed with vehicles, the sidewalks with people, and I wasn't sure I'd find a place to park my car. Once the group got rolling, it was often easier to dismount and walk.

Solid bike-handling skills (and some luck) got us through the evening with no mishaps, but I think the best way to enjoy the lights would be on foot. It was too challenging to take it all in while being careful not to collide with other cyclists (or vehicles). There were carolers entertaining passers-by, a giant sleigh and several reindeer spanning multiple front lawns, and so much more.

After a slow, chilly four miles through the streets of Willow Glen, a steaming mug of hot chocolate was my recipe for recovery at home.

December 18, 2021

Mission San José

It was a fine day for a bike ride, with a hospitably later start on a chilly morning. Destination: Mission San José (which is in ... Fremont, not San José).
Our route meandered through a few residential neighborhoods after passing through Milpitas. There was enough of a breeze to remind us that the Newby Island landfill was nearby (and, that our sense of smell was intact). This would not be a fun place to ride during the heat of summer.

While the rest of our group satisfied their coffee cravings, my ride buddy and I were more curious about the mission (founded in 1797). Today's buildings are restorations of the originals.

Our expedition turned out to be surprisingly hilly for a “flat” ride: 1,120 feet of climbing over 27 miles.

December 11, 2021


Too chilly to ride, my biking buddy suggested a hike. We headed for the Flume trail alongside Los Gatos Creek, climbing up to St. Joseph's Hill Open Space Preserve. A route with options along the way.

Game to continue, we passed the first turnaround point. The Jones trail gave us the choice to continue to the reservoir (less than a mile!), or head back.

Given our extended drought, the water level in the Lexington Reservoir is low—though not as low as it was in 2008, during a much-needed construction project.

Not low enough to expose what might remain of the old towns that were sacrificed to the water. Normally we pass by bike; today we explored a road that led to the shoreline.

Looks like plenty of water, until you consider where I was standing.
It was a decent walk across the gravel to reach the water's edge. Tangled in the rocks at my feet I found two lengths of fishing line; I tugged them loose and carried them out for disposal.

We opted for an easy (flat) return along the Los Gatos Creek Trail. In all, we covered about 7.5 miles—not bad for an impromptu hike!

December 4, 2021

Wintry Palette

Given how little I've been riding lately, I didn't expect a new personal record on the third climb of the day. [19 seconds faster.]
This traditional ride on the club calendar always draws a decent crowd (25 of us, today).

My ride buddy and I got our usual head start and were surprised when the pack didn't catch us on the first climb. Maybe folks were feeling mellow today; we were uncharacteristically in touch with the group for most of the ride.

In touch, that is, until I broke with tradition for the last couple of miles—taking advantage of a road that didn't exist when the original route was established. A road that is nicer, and quieter, than the old route. (I've shared my route, but ... tradition, I guess.)

I wasn't sure I was up for a long ride today, but it turned out just fine: 44 miles and 1,140 feet of climbing.

November 20, 2021

Not Too Proud to Walk

Summer treks to the coast have subsided with the cooler weather, and seasonal treks to the local Christmas tree farms have not yet ramped up. Seemed like an auspicious day to tackle another climb I haven't done in a while.
The steep pitches on Loma Prieta Way are exposed, which makes them even less appealing on a hot summer day. Another reason to ride here this time of year: With no marine layer, we were rewarded with a shimmering view of Monterey Bay.

As ever, the road is in a sorry state—a veritable patchwork quilt. Want to bet that it has never been repaved? Want to bet that it never will be repaved?

Truth be told, when the going got tough today, I got off the bike. Earlier in the season, when I was stronger, I could have gone the distance. Today my body said “Nope, not gonna happen.” Twenty-five miles, 2,960 feet of climbing, however you slice it.