Caltrans bike & ped plan San Jose workshop: Online only due to flooding

Update: Bike coalition San Jose team meeting also cancelled due to flooding. Details below.

Caption me!

Due to flooding near downtown San Jose, California, Thursday’s scheduled workshop to discuss the California Bicycle / Pedestrian Plan is now an online forum only. The planned in-person meeting at the MLK Library has been cancelled.

To dial into the meeting from 10 A.M. to noon on Thursday, February 23, 2017, call 888-921-7813, and use conference code 2664478. Video will also be available via (which is blocked by my office firewall, grrr…).

You can review the draft plan and provide comments online here. Learn more and keep up to date at


The Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition Team Meeting scheduled for tonight has also been cancelled due to flooding. The meeting organizers and several participants live in he impacted area and are directly affected.

Coyote Creek through the city of San Jose flooded overnight, impacting people in 50,000 homes, and causing a few traffic headaches during the morning commute when Caltrans closed US Highway 101 due to flooding.


What was the top-selling bicycle book last week from Amazon? find out here. I’m not sure I believe that a Japanese bicycle magazine is number nine on the list. [ This is an ad ]

Categories: california | Leave a comment

Road and trail closures: Santa Cruz, Santa Clara and Alameda Counties

Road damage rain caption needed

With record-breaking rainfall throughout Northern California abating for now, a bunch of us will be tempted to hit the roads on our bikes. Several favorite road cycling roads are closed, including Mount Hamilton Road, Niles Canyon, Soquel-San Jose, and more.

These lists show county-maintained roads only; city roads are the responsibility of their respective cities. Numerous state highways have also been impacted by the storms; online traffic maps seem to mostly track those fairly well, or you can go straight to the source at Caltrans Quickmap.

Even if roads are thought to be open, keep your eyes peeled for hazards. While riding in the Santa Cruz Mountains two weekends ago, a tree feel in front of me as I descended Glenwood Road at about 30 MPH. I grabbed brakes and stopped in time, but the next thing I know power lines are hanging on either side of me. That was incredibly sketchy, as was gingerly threading my way out of that web like a jewel thief maneuvering a bicycle-shaped treasure through a laser-protected vault.

Conversely, some closed roads are vaguely bike-passable, though you may need to portage your bike across chasms, creeks, and downed trees on occasion. If you’re tempted to schlep through mud to get past a road, consider this (slightly grody) cautionary tale from Janeen, who bikes most days from Santa Cruz to work in Morgan Hill.

Gross picture alert. This is a public service announcement for people who live in Poison Oak country. If you see a mudslide, walk through it and sink up to mid calf, when you get home scrub yourself with Tecnu or Dawn or exposure technique you favor: Picture 1 (top left): The cause. A fun rad road ride, with the gang! We scrambled across three mudslides on Highland (this was four weekends ago) and laughed at how muddy we got. Not once did it occur to me that the mud was dosed with poison oak oils. Picture not shown between 1 and 2: I have a picture of my oak reaction at its height. That was when I was stuck in snow up at Shaver Lake. It's… bubbly. Let's just leave it at that. Picture 2 (top right): I never go to doctors. Not willingly. On this day I woke up and said "This…. doesn't look right." Turns out the oak was infected and my legs were swollen and on fire. I went to the doctors. Three shots in the butt, steroids and antibiotics. I did not be wear shoes for the next 7 days (flip flops ftw). Could not bear it. I would like to take the time to apologize to my work colleagues for my constant complaining and having to catch glimpses of my struggle. Picture 3 just shows how fat my ankle(s) was the day I went to the doctors. Picture 4: Six days later and I have ankles again! Maybe 6 days after that, I was able to wear shoes again. It's sort of better now. I look like I'm wearing red socks, lol, but doctor said scarring should eventually clear. I'm terrified of poison oak, and I hope y'all know why now. It was still a great ride. I've just learned an important lesson in a very painful way.

A post shared by Janeen McCrae (@thenoodleator) on

Every South Bay bike path I track here is currently unusable due to flooding. Even Stevens Creek, which normally stays fairly dry, is impassable under Highway 101. Portions of the trail along Coyote Creek are completely inundated along with U.S. Highway 101 in Morgan Hill.

I’ll try to update my own local road closure map sometime Tuesday night. Weather should remain clear Wednesday through Friday, with another atmospheric river expected this Saturday afternoon.

I’m biking over the Santa Cruz Mountains Wednesday morning (via Mountain Charlie and Old Santa Cruz Highway, both of which are reported as open) and will give a report.

Categories: san jose, santa cruz | Leave a comment

California legislation: Far-to-the-right law; Idaho stop; and more!

Last Week, Assemblymember Phil Ting (D – San Francisco) introduced AB 694, a bill to recast California’s far-to-the-right law to clarify cyclists’ right to control a lane where necessary.

City cyclist San Jose

CVC 21202

California Vehicle Code 21202 is the state’s “shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway” law. The law contains a list of exceptions which includes a “substandard lane width” clause, but the abridged vehicle code cheat sheet used by California law enforcement agencies does not contain these exceptions, and side-of-the road appeals to the actual law or to common sense (“There’s literally not enough passing room!”) are often met with a response of “Take it the judge.”

To help address some of the confusion involved with 21202, Ting introduced his first attempt to reword the far-right-law during the 2016 legislative session with AB 2509. Unfortunately, he had to table this earlier bill due to lobbying efforts from influential individuals in a certain state agency tasked with highway safety.

Dave Snyder from the California Bicycle Coalition and (I believe) Jim Baross from the California Association of Bicycle Organizations met with these individuals, worked on their concerns, and the result is the re-wording proposed in AB 694, which as of this writing completely removes the text “as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway” and replaces it with more standard language for slow-moving vehicles:

21202. (a) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall ride in the right-hand lane or bicycle lane, if one is present, except under any of the following situations:
(1) When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction.
(2) When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.

If the cyclist is riding in a lane that’s “wide enough for a vehicle and a bicycle to travel safely side by side,” then the cyclist must stay far enough right to allow faster traffic to pass, assuming no hazards. Another cool exception: the cyclist may legally move left into the lane “when approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.”

This bill validates the common “vehicular cycling” practice of “taking the lane,” which many A-to-B cyclists must practice on vast swaths of California roads where decent cycling infrastructure doesn’t exist.

I’ve seen concerns that the bike lane exceptions already provided for in CVC 21208 (California’s mandatory bike lane law) aren’t enumerated in this new proposal; this might be worth bringing up with Ting’s staff and with the Assembly Transportation Committee, which is where this bill is probably headed next after it passes muster with the Rules Committee.

Feels like autumn in San Jose   #monday #cycling #commutebybike #commute


Bipartisan love for Idaho Stop in California

Assemblymembers Jay Obernolte (R – Big Bear Lake) and Ting have introduced AB 1103, which will allow cyclists to treat stop signs as yields if it passes. Co-sponsors of the bill are Richard Bloom (D – Santa Monica), Rocky Chavez (R – Oceanside) and Kevin Kiley (R – Rocklin).

Personal claim to fame: Wikipedia says I invented the phrase “Idaho Stop” in 2008, though I can only claim credit for popularizing the phrase. I think I first heard “Idaho Stop” as such from long time California bike advocate Jim Stallman in 2007.

Bike share expansion for state employees

The California Department of General Services operates a bike share program for state employees working in the Sacramento area. California Senator Henry Stern (D – Malibu) wants to expand this program to state employees throughout California. Good luck.

Sunsets eliminated

Instagram upload add captions

Do you remember AB 417 that exempts bicycle plans from environmental review under California’s Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)? Do you remember that this exemption sunsets the beginning of next year? How time flies. Assemblymember Obernolte AB 1218 removes the sunset and extends that exemption indefinitely.

You might also remember AB 1581 from 2007, which mandates the use of traffic light actuators that can detect bicycles and motorcycles. This law also sunsets on January 1, 2018. State Senator Jean Fuller (R – Bakersfield) introduced SB 672 to extend this law indefinitely. Fuller’s bill also adds a provision for the state to reimburse local governments for the extra cost of actuators that can detect bicycles and motorcycles.

& cetera

AB 1222 would include a mandate to add a section on distracted driving safety to the California Driving Manual.

Scott Weiner’s SB 760 codifies a Complete Streets policy as state law.

Ad: You can really help me out by checking out last week’s top selling items at Amazon in various bicycle related categories. Thanks!

Categories: california | Leave a comment

This Just In: Winter Recess!

(We're gonna need a bigger monument.)

As you know by now, as a curator of human children I am at the mercy of the schedule of the New York City Department of Education, at least until such time as: A) My human children finish or leave school and start earning their goddamn keep; or II) Betsy DeVos abolishes the public school system and instead provides families with vouchers that are redeemable at Chuck E. Cheese's:

The point is it's winter recess for the school kids next week:

(Mmmm...winter Reese's.)

Which means I'll be taking leave of this blog in order to "parent."  Unless something really exciting happens before then I'll be back on Monday, February 27th, at which point I will resume regular updates.  So mark your calendars...

...with blood.

In other news, Freds of New York rejoice!  The George Washington Bridge restoration will now include additional improvements to the bike and pedestrian path:

The authority announced and approved a new proposal on Thursday to extend the narrow sidewalk as it winds around the bridge’s two towers. The “wedges,” as they’re called, will allow for cyclists to navigate the towers comfortably, without dismounting from their bikes, according to the Port Authority.

The agency added the plans to the project after receiving feedback from the cycling community. The George Washington Bridge rehabilitation already includes designs to improve cycling and pedestrian access to the bridge. Narrow staircases leading to the bridge will be replaced with ADA-compliant ramps. And the existing access ramps will be widened and redesigned with gentler curves.

Now all the Port Authority needs to do is implement an aerobar ban and we'll really be getting somewhere.  After all, if you can't use them in a mass-start event why should you be able to use them out on the open road?

I'm sure the triathlete community would fight this bitterly, but hopefully in the end we can settle and allow aerobars for Jersey-bound trips but ban them for New York-bound trips.

And if you don't like my travel ban I'LL SEE YOU IN COURT.

Speaking of justice, what's the greatest offense you can possibly commit here in the United States of Canada's FUPA?  Why, impeding the flow of motor vehicle traffic, of course:

A Michigan State Trooper ticketed a bicyclist for allegedly impeding traffic. The bicyclist fought the ticket with the help of Bike Law attorney Bryan Waldman. The bicyclist prevailed at Circuit Court.

This is not a recent video, but it's the first time I've seen it, and it's worth watching because as an American cyclist it's important to know where you stand.  ("In the way," according to pretty much everybody.)

Lastly, further to yesterday's post there was some spirited (tedious?) discussion about lighting, and as it happens it looks like the NYPD was cracking down on lightless riding last week:
Something tells me they weren't checking for shaped beams.

And with that, I'm outta here.  Thanks for reading, ride safe, and I'll see you back here on Monday, February 27th.

--Wildcat Rock Machine

Categories: this just in | Leave a comment

Come On Baby Light My Blinkie

Blinky lights have come a long way since the "hipster cysts" of yore:

For those of you too young to remember these things were groundbreaking at the time.  (Also, for those of you too young to remember, what the hell are you doing here?  You should not be reading content authored by old fusspots.)  "Hipster cysts" clung to oddly-shaped bicycle tubes, they were virtually impervious to the elements, and they were available in an assortment of colors.  For the first time, city cyclists actually wanted to put lights on their bikes.

At the same time, they had their drawbacks.  Firstly, they provided about as much light as the "ready" light on a Mr. Coffee.  Secondly, they used little watch batteries, and whether it's a bike light, or a thermometer, or even an actual watch, no human in the history of the world has ever replaced one of those little watch batteries.  Instead, the accessory in question winds up in a junk drawer somewhere until you get around to buying new batteries for it, which is precisely never.  This explains why you will never see a "hipster cyst" still in operation today.  It also explains why Swatch is still in business.  Instead of replacing the batteries, you just buy a new Swatch.

(Trust me, I know from Swatches.)

Fortunately, bike lights evolved.  They kept their mount-anywhere versatility (that sounds dirty), but they also got brighter, and best of all they became easily rechargeable thanks to the ubiquity of USB ports:

Now you could just stick them in your computer all day while you pretended to work and they'd be ready to fire for the ride home.

The blinky light had reached its apotheosis.

But like everything else bikey, it wasn't long before things started going too far.  Blinkies evolved into giant light cannons:

And finally came the tragic fate that befalls all bike components sooner or later, which is pointless integration with your smart phone:

Nevertheless, in a world of promotional videos, this one does stand out.  First of all, it features a cheesy soundtrack and comes via a company called "Bang Good:"

Who seem to have borrowed Amazon's phallic underscore:

I was ready to dismiss the suggestive nature of the name "Bang Good" as merely something that comes across differently in translation, but then I saw the picture on the box:

Oh come on.

If Mario Cipollini were to debut a bike light this would be it.

Anyway, a quick examination of the box reveals that the device contained therein is good for a staggering 10 hours of use, which frankly sounds a bit much:

But then again I'm no Cipo:

("Ten hours?  Is a quickie only.")

Next the disembodied hands open the box, at which point you brace yourself for whatever's going to come next:

Dear lord, it's some kind of strap-on!

And it's going on the bike!!!


As he switched on the device and it started whirring I was certain I was about to watch a flagrant and shocking violation of the YouTube terms of service:

But instead it turned out this was just an overwrought bike light that makes pictures:

Because everybody knows there are times when it's crucially important to convey the image of a strawberry to the driver behind you:

Best of all, it's backwards-compatible with your pennyfarthing:

So there you go.

Lastly, the only thing going up faster than the stock market in this country is the automobile death rate:

Over the last decade, new cars have gotten electronic stability control systems to prevent skids, rearview cameras to prevent fender benders and more airbags to protect occupants in collisions. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on campaigns to remind the public of the dangers of drunken driving, failing to buckle up and texting while on the go.

Despite all that, more Americans are dying on roads and highways than in years, and the sudden and sharp increase has alarmed safety advocates.

Reading this you'd almost be forgiven for concluding that a nation of smartphone-addled opioid addicts should probably be working to reduce its dependency on private automobile travel.

Fortunately, when confronted with the specter of over 40,000 people dying every year, the current administration is working to stop the carnage by banning immigration from a small handful of countries.

Of course tech companies could always make their products safer for drivers, but why short-change themselves when they can just dangle the idea of self-driving cars in front of us for the next 50 years instead?  As for using technology to augment law enforcement, that's a clear violation of the privacy we already completely surrender while using the apps that distract us while we drive in the first place.

Alas, if only there were some sort of transit mode that not only required no active involvement on the part of the passenger but also used on electricity and was capable of transporting large numbers of people at once on a dedicated right of way:

Yeah, keep dreaming.

Categories: cycling | Leave a comment


Have you ever thought to yourself, "You know, I love the Bike Snob blog, but I really wish that instead of reading his brilliant insights I could hear them intoned to me in a whiny, nasal voice."

Well, wish no more, because I'm a guest on a podcast!

The only thing better than listening to me prattle on is listening to me prattle on about helmets.

Hey, they asked me.

In other news, the anti-cyclist screed is a time-honored journalistic tradition, and it harkens back to a simpler time when racists were still closeted and "fake news" was simply called "bullshit."  Of course here in Canada's uvula such screeds appear less frequently now that the media is preoccupied with the imminent collapse of our "democracy," but a positively exquisite example of the genre recently appeared across the Atlantic in the Daily Mail.  Now I should point out that it completely failed to incense me, which could be because: a) it's from another country and we Americans find Britishisms endearing, even the ones that are supposed to be insults; or b) because everything seems quaint now given the imminent collapse of our "democracy."  Nevertheless, this does not diminish the piece's deft execution, so let's begin:

First of all, when excoriating cyclists, it's crucial to evoke both Lycra and smugness, and this particular article does not disappoint:

Forget road-clogging Chelsea Mums on the school run in their 4x4s. Never mind fist-shaking, foul-mouthed road ragers. Don’t fret about the old lady in a Skoda you inevitably get stuck behind.

There’s a force on the road far worse than all those —- and more likely to send your blood pressure soaring: the smug cyclist.

These Lycra-clad darters between cars, these self-styled saints in the saddle, are clogging up our roads with self-satisfaction.

Of course, what the authors of these screeds fail to realize is that Lycra and smugness are, for the most park, mutually exclusive.  For example, smug cyclists who are members of food co-ops and who move residences by bike tend not to wear Lycra, whereas the plastic bike-wearing Fred set who do wear Lycra are often the sorts of people who drive their bikes to rides.

Nevertheless, it's crucial to marry these two concepts in the mind of the typical bike-hater, much in the same way our current administration constantly conflates immigrants and crime.

Another crucial tactic in gaining support for your bike-hating article is to concede some small point in advance to make yourself seem gracious and level-headed, and the writer employs this device too:

This is not to say that there are no cavalier or dangerous drivers on the road — of course there are. 

But you can't leave this offering out on the table for too long, lest it begin to occur to people that drivers kill left and right whereas cyclists kill virtually never.  So be sure to snatch it back quickly before your reader has time to think, and then go back to beating up on the cyclists:

It’s just that they don’t make such a song and dance about their chosen mode of transport.

It's true, drivers are very understated about their enthusiasm for cars.  This is especially true of the British, which explains why they created the world's most popular car show:

Cyclists, on the other hand, are entitled egomaniacs:

The holier-than-thou attitude among many riders is exacerbated by officialdom’s flattery of cyclists, its stroking of their already swollen egos.

Ridiculous.  Everybody knows if you attempt to stroke the ego of a British cyclist you'll get rug burn from all the tweed:

By the way, they're not even dressed up, that's just a typical day.

Yep, that's what all that flattery from officialdom will get you.  And worst of all, they don't even appreciate it:

(Johnson took revenge with Brexit, so who's laughing now?)

Anyway, once you've established that cyclists are a bunch of spoiled children, it's crucial that you explain how encouraging people to ride bicycles results in a dystopian society that, to anybody with half a brain, actually sounds like a utopia:

We all know about the endless miles of cycles lanes that have been built across the country. But now, it seems, cyclists can get away with the kind of rule-breaking for which the rest of us would likely be cuffed and carted away.

Wait, endless cycling lanes (miles even, and not those stupid kilometer things), national health care, and you can get arrested for hitting someone with your car?  I'll gladly trade places with any disgruntled British motorist.  You'll love it here!  Not only can you pretty much kill whoever you want (car or gun, choose your weapon), but we've got a fantastic president who's turning things around bigly.

Meanwhile, what kind of sick society treats riding a bike on the sidewalk less severely than robbery or assault?

One North London borough has just said it will no longer issue fixed £50 penalties to people who cycle on the pavement. Officers in Camden say they’ll no longer enforce this law ‘without good reason’. They’ll have a little chat with the cyclist instead.

Would they extend the same courtesy to other people who broke the law? To the bloke who nicked a hundred quid from the tills at Aldi or the woman in the grip of drink who punched a total stranger? ‘My dear, why did you feel the need to do this?’ No, of course not.

Yes, the writer would be a lot more happy here in America, where doing things "without good reason" is now national policy.

And finally, always be sure to point out how discouraging driving somehow results in more pollution:

In London, hundreds of millions of pounds are being pumped into getting more people on bikes. This has included turning ever more road space into cycling lanes.

As a result, the space for cars has shrunk dramatically, so they’re more likely to get stuck in traffic jams and to pump out fumes.

The irony is almost too much to handle: air quality in London has suffered as cyclists have become kings of the road, because demonised motorists now find themselves stationary for longer times in longer jams, their cars coughing out smog as cyclists speed by.

Fast-forward to the year 2030, when the headline on the front page of the Daily Mail reads: LAST REMAINING MOTORIST IN LONDON STARVES TO DEATH AFTER BEING TRAPPED IN HIS CAR FOR WEEKS BY A SEA OF CYCLISTS.

Lastly, while we're on the subject of literary forms, yesterday I mentioned Bicycling editor Bill Strickland's approach to bike reviews, which included such criteria as this:

Who needs this bike? Who imagines they do with enough ardor that it might as well be true need? Why did the bicycle and I do that through that corner, or go fast there, and how much was bike and how much was me and how much was that (silly to say but real so here it is) mystical mixing of the two of us?

And this:

Changing any element changes things but that means all things, the entire bike, the whole ride and, because you are as necessary to the ride as the bike is, changes you while you are with that bike. 

Offhandedly I mentioned that I think I prefer the VeloNews approach, but after checking out their recent review of the $10,660 Cannondale Whatever I take that back:

Here's why:

That’s primarily because the SuperSix can adapt. A day in the mountains? No problem. Weekend crit? It’s got you covered. It’s all about the balance of stiffness and comfort that makes it a jack of all trades, not just in name, but in performance. Our stiffness testing reveals the SuperSix is solid in both the bottom bracket (0.8mm of deflection) and head tube (0.6mm of deflection), but not nearly as unyielding as an aero bike like the Trek Madone (0.41mm of deflection in both the head tube and bottom bracket). That little bit of flex gives the bike a more lively feel, a certain something that connects to the curves and is just malleable enough when you’re throwing your weight around on climbs.

Okay, so the differences in deflection between the Cannondale and the Trek are as follows:

A .39mm difference at the bottom bracket (that's the thickness of about four pieces of copy paper);
A .19mm difference at the headtube (that's the thickness of about two pieces of copy paper).

Are you fucking kidding me?  This makes the Cannondale "not nearly as unyielding" as the Trek?  At least the Strickland approach can confuse you into believing it, whereas when they start showing numbers you can actually quantify how meaningless as it.  They're gonna give the whole scam away!  Come on, you've got to figure there's more than a .39mm deflection difference in your foot from day to day due the thickness of your calluses, not to mention all the other crap between your foot and the frame.  In fact, I bet if they threw two different Cannondale (or Trek, or whatever) samples on VeloNews Deflekt-O-Matic™they'd find a similar variation.  But sure, that "little bit of flex gives the bike a more lively feel," and "is just malleable enough" to notice "when you're throwing your weight around on climbs."

In other words, if your bottom bracket isn't stick enough, put four pieces of copy paper in your shoe.  That ought to cover it.

Categories: cycling | Leave a comment

Bike ride Scotts Valley to Los Gatos & San Jose

Update: I’ll do this again 6:30 A.M. Wednesday, Feb 22, 2017 IF the roads I take are passable (Mountain Charlie, then Old Santa Cruz Highway) and rain is at most very light. You should RSVP for this ride so I know how to contact you for a go / no go. See below for contact info. (TO be honest, this ride might be a little moot. I have a feeling Caltrans will open up 17 at the Vine Hill slide area on Tuesday or Wednesday, though I think the area past Glenwood might still be restricted to one lane on the northbound side.)

Tuesday morning I biked from Scotts Valley, California to San Jose in less time than it took people to drive to work. I invite you to join me to do the same Wednesday morning.

Bike Route: Scotts Valley to San Jose & Los Gatos

This isn’t for everybody, but please spread the word to those who commute “over the hill” from Santa Cruz County into Santa Clara County. If we have more than a couple of participants besides just myself, I’d like to contact KSBW and the Sentinel about this ride before this next atmospheric river pounds us silly again.


Those of you in Santa Cruz County know first hand how difficult our transportation has become with all of the storm damage. Trips from Scotts Valley to Los Gatos that should take about 30 minutes at most now take two hours. If five people ride five bikes on Wednesday, that’s 100 feet of lane space available for your fellow human on Highway 17 as they slog up past the slide area at Vine Hill Road. Don’t you feel better about yourself already?

Times and Places and Equipment

We’ll depart the morning of Wednesday, February 15, 2017 from the Scotts Valley Peet’s Coffee at 6:30 a.m. We’re not inflating tires or adjusting brakes or buying coffee at 6:30 A.M. — we’re hitting the road.

We’ll hit Mountain Charlie Road at 7 A.M., and pass the summit between about 7:30 and 7:45. We should be at Los Gatos Main Street by about 8:00 and 8:15 A.M. Route to San Jose depends on who shows up and where you need to go; but we should be to downtown San Jose by about 9 A.M. with time to spare, I think.

I give these times to give an idea of the pace I ride. I intend this to be a moderately paced, no-drop ride, but you must be comfortable riding several miles on mountain roads, through some mud and gravel, and have a bike in good condition. If you ride a mountain bike, please use slicks for this ride. There’s very little traffic on this route across the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Mountain Charlie has a couple of short pitches exceeding 20%; if you’re not accustomed to that, bring shoes you can walk in. You’ll need lights for the 6:30 a.m. departure, and kit appropriate for 40 degrees F at departure, warming quickly into the 60s when the sun comes out.

What About the Return?

I routinely ride the Highway 17 bus from San Jose to Scotts Valley. One way fare is $7. The bus begins in downtown San Jose, and stops in Scotts Valley and downtown Santa Cruz. Bus schedule here.

If you plan to bike back to Santa Cruz County, I think the southbound trip up Old Santa Cruz Highway is significantly more difficult than the northbound up Mountain Charlie, but I start near the Bay in Santa Clara and Your Mileage May Vary.


No RSVP is necessary, but if you comment here or on my personal Facebook page, at Twitter, or via a comment here I’ll know to look for you at Peet’s Coffee in 95066. For the Feb 22 ride, leave a way for me to contact you by 6 A.M. so I can give a go / no go decision, which I plan to do by about 6:15 A.M. I will also tweet go / no go to my Twitter.

If you need to park, I suggest the Scotts Valley Transit Center park-and-ride lot across the street from the library. Be aware that even getting into Scotts Valley can be challenge — Tuesday morning at 6:30, Highway 17 was backed up from the slide area, across all of Scotts Valley and all the way to Pasatiempo.

Route Beta

For those who want to ride but want to go solo:

  • Glenwood Road and Mountain Charlie Road both have very light traffic during the morning commute. Glenwood is damp in places but is otherwise clear of obstructions and danger.
  • Mountain Charlie suffered serious damage from heavy automotive and truck traffic that tried to detour around Highway 17 last week. The pavement is still there, but it “feels” like you’re riding on loose bricks or paving stones, even more so than usual. Charlie is now closed to through traffic, but bikes and locals and get through with no problems. County crews spent last weekend clearing mud and trees from the road.
  • Old Santa Cruz Highway is in good shape, though you’ll want to slow down in the turns because they’re still wet and a little bit slick.
  • James J. Lenihan Dam Trail: You know that steep bit of paved trail behind the dam at Lexington Reservoir where everybody goes about 40 MPH? Right at the bottom, there’s small bit of invisible erosion that will nail you and break your bike and your shoulder. So check your speed at the bottom, m’kay?
Categories: santa cruz | Leave a comment

Hold your head high!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Just remember not to be taken in by cute depictions of tandem bicycles:

Seems lovely, right?


While ostensibly a symbol of love and togetherness, the tandem is nothing but a sordid ruse, and an invitation to pilot one is merely a pretense for turning you into the object of salacious leering:

Never trust a stoker.

Speaking of ruses, the pro Freds want the UCI to ban disc brakes again:

Here's why they say they don't want them:

Cyclingnews has seen a copy of a letter sent by the riders' association to the governing body on Sunday in which it formally sets out its opposition to the reintroduction of disc brakes this season. Chief among its concerns is the danger posed by having different braking systems – and therefore different braking times – in the same peloton.

The letter, signed by CPA president Gianni Bugno and addressed to Mark Barfield, head of the UC's technical commission, with UCI president Brian Cookson copied in, criticises the UCI for failing to take into account the safety concerns expressed by a majority of professional riders.

Hmmm, I don't remember ever hearing this argument in the context of single-vs.-dual pivot calipers, or carbon vs. aluminum braking surfaces, or anything else that makes a difference in braking time.  Yeah, I think we all know the real reason they don't want them, which is that no team wants to spend a bunch of money outfitting a whole new fleet of bicycles with hidden motors.

Come on, these people will ride anything you put under them.  There's a team riding around with chain oilers attached to their bikes for chrissakes!

Yet here's a braking system that might actually help them descend Grand Tour mountain passes on crabon rims in the rain and they're not only resistant to it but insisting it be banned outright?

As Shakespeare famously wrote, "The Freddies doth protest too much, methinks."

Meanwhile, the amateur Freds, the vast majority of whom have absolutely nothing to gain from these things, can't upgrade soon enough.

Go figure.

Of course, the Golden Age of EPO set loves the whole mötödöping thing because it gives them something to feel smug about:

See, it's funny because they only regular-doped.

Frankly I don't buy the argument that an artificial tailwind provided by a motor that's either on or off is any worse than transfusing your blood or permanently altering your physiology through use of banned substances.  In fact I think it's even more ethically defensible, not to mention quite a bit safer.  Imagine your kid became a pro cyclist.  (Lob forbid!)  Would you rather them ride a bike with a motor or let some Belgian soigneur who never finished high school fill them with blood in the bathroom of a team bus?  I know which one I'd choose: vroom, vroom!  Pro cycling needle doping is barely a notch above letting someone shoot heroin between your toes under a highway overpass.

But hey, whatever makes these feel better about their careers.

In other news, meet the Lancelock, which is a new titanium bike lock on Kickstarter and not what Floyd Landis has Lance Armstrong in now:

It's a classic American tale: guy has 12 - yes, 12 - bikes stolen, gets mad as heck, and becomes obsessed with solving the problem and ending the decades-long, worldwide bicycle theft epidemic once and for all.

Yeah, I'm not sure I'd buy a bicycle security product from someone who's lost twelve (12) bicycles.

I mean sure, maybe this thing really does work, but you'd never know it from the video.  I was waiting for them to break out the heavy equipment, but all they proved was that it can resist gentle tapping with a hammer:

And that, like a calloused nipple, it's also resolute in the face of gentle twisting:

As for power tools, they don't even entertain that as a possibility:

Oh, sure.  Sometimes, but not always:

Meanwhile, remember the fixie periscope?

Well it's been reinvented for the older set by a couple of guys in Florida:

Okay, so apparently the cycling equivalent of the elderly driver who can't see over the dashboard of a Buick is an aging Fred who can't look up from his aerobars.  And of course the solution to this problem is this:

Instead of, you know, sitting up:

So what's the opposite of "Eureka" anyway?  Well as far as I know there's not a single word, but this phrase comes pretty darn close:

"So then we came up with this device to allow us to see what's in front of us while we don't necessarily have our head up."

Holy crap that looks dangerous.

Also, the inventors' total obliviousness to the world around them is clearly not limited to when they're riding with aerobars:

"It's very hard to find any accessory for a bicycle that makes you safer, faster, and more comfortable."

No it isn't.

In fact there's a bike designed to do just that, and it's called a Rivendell:

At a certain point you're a lot faster on a comfortable bike than you are bent over a plastic Fred bike like you're getting a prostate exam:

Who wants to ride around viewing the world through a series of strategically-placed mirrors anyway?  You might as well just ride with an endoscope up your ass.

Speaking of looking at everything from an oblique angle, this hurt my brain:

It's mostly sensory to me, trying to be with a bike enough to review it, which to me means to understand it: What it is built to achieve, what it shares with others with the same ambition and all other bicycles in general, how it might in some way differ from all the others (alike and not), how well and how much and in what ways it fulfills or sometimes exceeds its ambitions, who it is made for me and who not, and who might like it whether made for them or not. Who needs this bike? Who imagines they do with enough ardor that it might as well be true need? Why did the bicycle and I do that through that corner, or go fast there, and how much was bike and how much was me and how much was that (silly to say but real so here it is) mystical mixing of the two of us? . Secondly, it is holistic. Nothing happens because the chainstays are longer or the bottom bracket is stouter or this is that-er, but those are an ineluctable part of why the whole bike does this or that or feels yes or no. Changing any element changes things but that means all things, the entire bike, the whole ride and, because you are as necessary to the ride as the bike is, changes you while you are with that bike. Express the ride (the bike) without trying to diagnose it. . And godammit, have some fun while you're doing it or what's the point? . . . #edchoice17 #bicyclingmag #biketesting #bikereviewing #healdsburg #bicycles #bicyclette #bicycling #bike #bikelife #bikes #cycling #cyclinglife #cyclist #mybikelife #ridelife #thebikelife
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I never thought I'd say this, but I think I prefer that ridiculous VeloNews numbering system.

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I’m beginning to suspect a lot of people have no idea what they’re talking about.

Remember my new tires that aren't for fat bikes and yet are apparently for fat biking, provided you do it in summer?

Well Friday I risked life, limb, and warranty by using them in the winter:

It was slow going at first and I was about to turn back, but eventually I got a little rhythm going and made it to the city line:

Emboldened, I pressed on, where footprints indicated only a few intrepid souls had ventured here before me:

And ultimately made it to this mighty waterfall, located far, far upstate in a quaint little rural enclave called "Yonkers:"

Then I cut a hole in the ice, fished for my dinner, spent the night under a bivouac, and undertook the roughly three-mile return trip the next morning.

In all, the entire ride was a little over six miles, and I was gone for a mere fourteen (14) days.

Meanwhile, remember awhile back I mentioned this building?

Well, when I did a reader who is involved with it was kind enough to send me some passes to the Sugar Hill Children's Museum of Art and Storytelling, which is located therein:

I'm pleased to report we marched all seventeen (17) children onto the subway this past weekend for a visit, and it was great.  If you too are the parent of small human children in this city I should not have to tell you the importance of indoor activities located close to subway stations (especially in winter), and as such I would strongly recommend that you add this wonderful institution to your inventory of weekend activities.  (You can read more on my other blog, Parenting Snob NYC.)

Who says bike blogging doesn't pay?

Indeed, later in the day I was still brimming with good cheer, and so I headed back out for an afternoon ride.  I didn't feel like trudging through the snow again, and you never know what road conditions are going to be like outside of the city after a snowstorm, so instead of riding north I headed down to Central Park for a leisurely spin.  The streets were perfectly passable, but of course the shoulders and bike lanes were clear in some places and a mess in others:

I was in no particular hurry, nor was I particularly eager to slip and fall in a puddle of slush, so I rode slowly and savored the brief respite from the twin tumults of weather and parenthood.  Heading south on St. Nicholas, I turned left onto W. 120th Street, from whence I intended to make a right onto Adam Clayton Powell, which would then deposit me right into the park:

Anyway, there I was heading east on 120th.  Traffic ahead of me was moving slowly due to a double-parked vehicle (shocker!) and the cars were shifted over to the left.  As I mentioned, I was in no particular hurry, and the road shoulders were variably messy.  It's also a short block owing to the fact that St. Nicholas cuts across it diagonally, so I made no attempt to pass anybody and instead took my place in the traffic queue in anticipation of making the right.

Meanwhile, the driver behind me starts honking.  I can't see any reason he'd be honking at me, since there are cars up ahead of me and I'm certainly not holding him up in any way.  So I figure he's just one of these assholes who honks whenever traffic's not moving as quickly as he'd like, which a lot of idiots do when driving in the city.

I'm still blissed out from the familial activities earlier in the day, and I'm also still really happy to be out on my bike on a Saturday afternoon, and so I choose to ignore this minor blemish on an otherwise lovely day.

Unfortunately, as I make the right onto Adam Clayton Powell, the honking driver pulls up to me and starts berating me for not riding in the bike lane.  He's very insistent.  I have to ride in the bike lane.

So let's look at W. 120th Street between St. Nicholas and Adam Clayton Powell:

There is indeed a bike lane on the left side of it.  However:

1) I'm preparing to make a right;
2) The road shoulders are slushy;
3) Traffic is shifted over to the left due to a double-parked car, just like in the streetview, so you wouldn't know there's a bike lane anyway:

In fact the streetview scenario is pretty much the same scenario as when I was there, with the addition of the slush, and so I was positioned accordingly, directly following the vehicles ahead of me:

And once again, I'm moving at the same speed of the rest of the traffic, so you can't even say I'm holding anybody up.

Given all of this I have no obligation to be in the bike lane.  First of all, there's snow in it.  Sure, it's not an Obama 2009 amount of snow:

More like a Trump 2017 smattering:

So it's patchy and intermittent, but it's there.

And even if there had been no snow and instead puffs of pink clouds in the bike lane spelling out "Ride me!," I'm preparing for a turn at an intersection, so given all of these factors there's no reason for me to be in the bike lane according to state law:

Whenever a usable path or lane for bicycles has been provided, bicycle riders shall use such path or lane only except under any of the following situations: (i) When preparing for a turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway. (ii) When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions (including but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, motor vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, pushcarts, animals, surface hazards) that make it unsafe to continue within such bicycle path or lane.

The New York City Department of Transportation puts it even more succinctly:
On top of all that, you can use either side of a 40-foot wide one-way roadway, and I think Manhattan cross streets are 60 feet wide.  (Though I might be wrong there.)

In short, there's absolutely no fucking reason, legal or practical, for me to be in that goddamn bike lane.

Yet here's some asshole in a 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe with New Jersey plates (the special ones with the lighthouse on them he probably paid extra for) not only honking at me but also telling me off for not riding in it.  Furthermore, this dimwitted shitbag has the audacity to tell me that I need to learn how to ride a bike, and that he rides everywhere, all the time.  From the driver's seat of a fucking Hyundai he says this.

Holy motherfucking shit.

I actually took video of the ensuing interaction and was looking forward to posting it today, but having cooled down over the past couple of days I've decided it would do a disservice to my valuable brand to appear on the Internet looking any way other than utterly composed.  So I've shelved it.

Righteous indignity, however warranted, is never a good look.

Nevertheless, I remain stunned by this fuckwit's audacity.  I'm Wildcat Rock Machine, dammit!  I make it my business to know where I can and can't be when I'm on my bike.  And this guy's gonna drive his Hyundai shitbox into my town and start fucking with me on a Saturday afternoon?  What goes through his head as he drives?  "Here's a guy on a bike.  He isn't holding me up or anything, but he's not in a bike lane!  I, on the other hand, ride my beach cruiser on the boardwalk in Jersey sometimes.  So I think I'll rub my dick and balls all over his face."

I am of course an inveterate "woosie" who would never embroil himself in a physical altercation, but if this guy usually behaves this way I can't believe he doesn't get u-locks put through his windshield on a regular basis.

Here's a related question: this is not the first time I've told a person with New Jersey plates to "Go back to Jersey," nor is it the first time they've replied with "I don't live in Jersey."  Why is this?  Surely there must be people who actually live in Jersey.  Are they all committing insurance fraud, or are they just embarrassed?  Or is it some combination of the two?

In any case, when you use a Citi Bike you have to agree to terms of use, and I think the same thing should apply when you drive a car into Manhattan.  Oh, sure, in theory there are laws you're supposed to follow, but we all know how that goes.  So I think in order to operate a motor vehicle in Manhattan every driver should agree to the following:


I hereby acknowledge the following;

1) I am choosing to drive a large heavy motorized box into the most densely populated county in the United States;

2) This choice endangers people's lives;

3) This county has an extensive public transit network and is well-served by taxis, livery, ride-hailing apps, as well as a comprehensive bike share program;

4) While I may get lucky, neither deity nor US Constitution entitles me to immunity from traffic delays, nor does it guarantee me the right to store my large heavy motorized box anywhere for free;

5) Bike lanes do not cause traffic congestion.  My large heavy motorized box, however, does;

6) I understand that people actually live in Manhattan as well as the rest of New York City.  It is not a theme park or a sitcom.  Therefore, any expectation that my car is the "It's a Small World" ride or that my windshield is a TV screen across which life will unfold according to my own whims or expectations is pathologically unreasonable;

a. Should I forget the above and elect to communicate my displeasure to any other road user by means of car horn or verbal haranguing, I acknowledge that I or my personal property may be subject to physical damage;

b. In the event of such damage, I shall not hold the other party responsible, nor shall I be entitled to any claims of loss, damage, or legal liability for anything that happens to me as a result of my being a complete douchebag;

7) If I don't like any of the above, I can feel free to shove a Bruce Springsteen box set up my ass.

I think this would go a long way towards obviating a lot of potential misunderstandings.

Anyway, apart from my exchange with Captain Fucknuts in the Hyundai, the rest of the ride was lovely.

Lastly, here you go:

You're welcome.

Categories: cycling in new york city | Leave a comment

Road closures this weekend: Santa Cruz, Santa Clara Counties

With dry and sunny weather this weekend in the San Francisco Bay Area and Monterey Bay region of California, I’m sure many of you will hit the road. The latest atmospheric river did a number on several coastal and mountain roads throughout the region. I’ve collected information from various resources to plot closed roads in the counties of Santa Clara and Santa Cruz.

Other nominally open roads may have heavy debris and severe damage – watch out for mud, large rocks, trees, pot holes and sinkholes, because they’re out there. Water over the road may hide hazards. Control your speed on downhill runs.

Because most major highways out of Santa Cruz County are currently closed, expect to see heavy traffic on the few, normally empty back roads (e.g. Old Santa Cruz, Glenwood & Mountain Charlie, Branciforte,) that might be open. Conversely, Highway 9 and 152 might be a delight to ride on to the closure area.

Some of the roads may be passable by bike (or on foot), but please avoid active slide areas and live wires. I’ve also heard crews working the mess on Highway 9 may allow cyclists to pass through; the videos I’ve seen show mountain bikers carrying their bikes as they wade through several feet of mud. Your mileage may vary.

The above map is good as of 2 P.M. Friday afternoon using information from Santa Cruz County, Santa Clara County, and Caltrans. Refer to those resources for the latest info.

I don’t have info on San Mateo County roads, unfortunately. Monterey County maintains a list of closed roads at their public works website. Santa Clara County Public Works updates their old-school telephone message road closure list once each afternoon about 4 P.M.; call 408-494-1382.

Categories: santa cruz | Leave a comment