Last year bike the limits was something
that bike party birds were talking about for a long time. I got that "I
need to try this" feeling. The idea is to go around the city limits of
San Jose, loosely speaking. There were three test rides. The first one
I went on was something like thirty miles. I missed the next one. The
other one I went on was about 68 miles, including getting to and from
the start via the Light Rail system. The event was all of those
strung together, with a couple of extra flourishes. This year I showed
up intent on doing the
I got there about twenty minutes before
they headed out. People were just hanging out, talking about this and
that. Some were organizing their stuff. Jill was thinking how crazy it
is to be doing a hundred mile day.
This guy likes to ride to the right of
other riders in the lane. The sound is a bit better on his left because
of the way the speaker is pointed. I rode with him for a ways after we
got moving. The sound was very dancable. Reminded me of the raves I saw
at Burning Man.
I was making my way around taking
pictures when Yoshi announced that at the we would be leaving in five
minutes. "The course is going to be long, and I expect you guys to
spread out a lot during the course of the day." "Please help each other
get through this!" He finished by explaining that he would be at the
end, and that for those that finish he will have a poster they can sign.
The one picture I missed that I want to
get next time is the ride taking to the road. There are at least four
ways to get from the plaza to the street, and every one that I could
see when I got around the building had an orderly row of bicycles
leading from there to the road. Even though there weren't many people
in each group, and they were scattered across the plaza, there were a
lot of us. I found out later that we'd had 150 riders at the beginning.
By the time we got to downtown Los
Gatos we were quite spread out. The plan was take a break in the plaza
and then head for Cupertino. At this point we're tracing the south west
limit of the south bay's urban area. There were some bicycles in the
park, but not that many. I wanted to stand up for a few minutes so I
did. Turns out that by this time the "we're sharing an incredible
experience" vibe was putting smiles on everybody's face.
After I left the regroup I wound up
riding with these guys until we got to the fork in the road where the
end of the "short route" (about 30 miles) went straight and the rest of
us turned right
San Thomas Expressway. I enjoyed that part a lot. Then I rode by myself
for a while.
When riding by myself sometimes I
wasn't sure I was on the route. Then I'd see another of these green
arrows and I'd know I was where I was supposed to be.
In the next park it was kind of the
thing, except that there was more of a recuperative quality to the way
people were munching and relaxing.
I'd met the woman with the toes of her
left foot curled under on the light rail. She told me that all three of
the women in that picture were botanists. Not so long after I took that
picture I decided to head out with Nona, Dora, and Laura. It wasn't
that long before we were all spread out again.
There was a brief period in the late
'80s when I worked at Apple as a temp. This woman down the hall had a
painting of some trees on a hillside that looked a lot like these,
except those were painted in awesomely psychedelic colors.
More recently somebody told me those California Oaks are destined to
die back a lot during the next hundred years. The problem is that the
young trees need to be planted near bunch grasses, which have deep
enough roots to water the trees while they are still too young to have
long tap root. The reason it's a problem is that those native bunch
grasses are being out competed by oat grasses that came over as horse
feed, back in the Conquistador era. The oat grasses don't need deep
roots because they die back to
scattered seeds at the end of rainy season. Because of this, we rarely
see young oak trees any more. Once our current stock live out their
natural life spans the species are expected to go extinct unless
something dramatic is done.
I remember an organic farmer in Davis that told me about his personal
mission to keep oat grasses and other non-native plants off this nature
reserve he is stewarding. The job sounded like a lot of volunteer
weeding to me. And then what when his time to do that has passed? He
talked of a plan to pass Quail Ridge on to The Nature Conservancy, but
it will need volunteer weeding then to. Even
so, that kind of reserve is what it's going to take to keep those trees
going. Without them there will be much less shade in Northern
We pulled over for lunch at this hot
dog place about 55 miles into the ride. Dora was telling me that she
plans to move back to Mexico soon when Marat and (I think his name is
Matt) showed up. Dora didn't want to continue much further from there.
She pulled out a phone and started letting her fingers do the walking.
It wasn't long before she announced that someone was on the way to come
pick her up. The rest of us hit the road a few minutes later.
I must have missed a turn. Rather than
backtrack we (I was riding with three other people I didn't know at the
time) took to the Guadalupe River Trail, which ran parallel to the
official route for a ways. Since the Sharks are still in the hunt for
the Stanley Cup I took this picture of the Shark Tank as I we passed
the stadium. We were back on the route by the time it got much into
I took these pictures in Alviso,
looking out over the part of the bay shore that is marshland. At the
time I was standing on Elizabeth St., the northwestern-most through
perpendicular to Hope St. in San Jose. According to the map there is
one street a block further up Hope St., but it's a one block long dead
ender. No point
in going there when you're traveling through.
I'm sure the one on the left is a
sheep. I think the other one is a goat, but it could just be a
relatively freshly sheared sheep.
We went through an area where there
were lots of high tech office/factory buildings like this one. I was
struck with a feeling that it looked like Montezuma's Temple a bit
somehow. The road may have been wide enough for bikes and cars to
comfortably coexist, but that parking lot is too huge to make
sense unless a lot of people go to work there in cars.
One of the things I found out was that
my map is out of date in this corner of Santa Clara County. It shows
McCarthy Blvd ending south of 237. The actual road continues up to or
past Dixon Landing Road. The red X marks the approximate spot where I
got a flat tire. I figure that I was at least 81 miles into the ride at
that point in time.
I just didn't have a spare tube. One of
guys I was riding with had this patch kit. I patched my tire, but the
patch didn't work out. I bailed on the ride. I'm going to get one of
those patch kits to. It was a good one! That screw is the one I found
in my rear tire. Grrr... Whoever left it on the road was diabolical!
now on I'm carrying a spare inner tube, just so that doesn't happen
From that point on I was walking my
bike. I looked at the map and figured that my best bet was to head
south on McCarthy. After walking a while I happened on a big shopping
center. One of the stores was a big box retailer. It took a while, but
I found their bike department. Unfortunately, they didn't have a tube
for my bike. I wandered on. I found a Borders book store with a going
out of business sign. Went in just to browse a bit. Ended up pushing
stickers there for a while. Then some guy told me there was a light
rail station near where McCarthy meets Tasman. I headed for it. Didn't
take that long to get there.
Turns out the station had these
displays of digital art built in. The image on the display was
constantly shifting, but there was always some pair of forgotten red
icons acting like they were being interviewed, separated by some
circuit elements with spark patterns crawling
over them and a mysterious waveform oscillating in the middle.
Definitely it added a few moments of entertainment value to waiting for
the Light Rail.
The words were constantly changing on
this one, as were the blue and green images. Never saw it repeat.
When I got home I was very tired. I didn't do that much the next day.
When I looked at the tire I found out I'd put the patch in the wrong
spot. Maybe after 81 miles my brain was a little haywire. I'm convinced
that I could have finished without the flat. From facebook I found out
that 42 of the people that started finished and signed Yoshi's poster.
If they run this event
again next year I'm going to finish for sure!