Every year Bike Party does a Bike The Limits Ride. It's always a hundred miles long. The first year it more or less followed the county line around Santa Clara County, which is how the ride got its name. The routes have changed a bit since then, but it's still a 100 mile ride, the longest one SJBP has anything to do with. Last year I'd managed to finish as the sun was going down at the back of the pack. I wanted to do better than that this year. I'd done many long rides during the year, so there was a good chance I could.


It was so early when I got on the train that the camera used it's flash to document the fact I got the first train to leave Mountain View that morning. By the time I got to San Jose City Hall for the start there were plenty of people already milling around.

This was the easy to photograph part of the group. It wasn't long before we assembled for a group shot.

This was taken by Carlos Babcock using Lloyd Cha's camera. I downloaded it off facebook and hope they don't mind my sharing it with you. After he took the picture using several different cameras Carlos announced that among us was Sharlene Washington, who had just ridden her bike across the USA from California to Florida. We all gave her a hand.


Billy Cool told us about how the first time Sharlene had joined him for a ride to Tiburon she had felt like giving up when she got to the first hill beyond the Golden Gate Bridge because "It was too far." Since then she had lost about eighty pounds and had just crossed the country on a bicycle. At this point Sharlene spoke up and said "And it wasn't too far because I made it." Soon after that we filed past Carlos single file following Sharlene. After that we were on the road.

At first it was easy to stay with the front group. But as the miles went by it got a bit harder. Then a red light separated the group that had to stop from the faster ones. After that it got easier to set my own pace.

I rode by myself for a while. Then the people doing The People's Century caught up with me. I rode with them until the first regroup. We got there just as the lead group was leaving so rather than take a break we followed them again.



By this time we were going up into the hills that surround the valley like a bowl. The views were great, the roads were in good condition, and the miles just kept rolling on by. Coming down the other side of the hill I saw 34 miles per hour on my speedometer. No way am I going to take a picture at that kind of speed on a road I've ridden maybe three or four times. It was a beautiful place though.

By this time we were very strung out. I imagine the lead group were an hour ahead of me, and who knows what was going on behind us. Probably at least a few had given up for one reason or another. I was in a state where I was mostly focused on keeping my legs churning and my bike on the road near the shoulder. I'd eaten well the day before so I wasn't hurting for food. The temps were comfortable. The miles past quickly.


The southernmost point in the ride was the turn from Baily onto Santa Teresa. Riding up Santa Teresa I saw that power plant they'd built a decade or so ago. I remember the developers promising it wouldn't be "an eyesore". Looking at the thing, all I can say is "looks like an eyesore to me."

I pulled over at the second regroup and wolfed down the peanut butter sandwich I'd made the previous evening. It was so good. Exactly what I needed. Next time I do a long ride I'm taking a couple of those for sure. After that regroup I rolled with this crew for a while.


After that I followed Townie Bill for many miles. His pace was easy for me to follow. There was also the thing that every time I passed him he turned it up a bit and passed me again. So okay, I didn't want to turn up the pace that much, I let him lead. I followed, but not too close.


The wind was brutal going up Lafayette through the industrial area. It was flat and straight, and the wind came straight at us. After a while the guy in the California Republic shirt offered to cut the wind for me. I took him up on it. I tried to talk to him but he explained "I can't hear too well." He lead me all the way to the marina at the end of Hope St. Surprise, surprise! The lead group hadn't left yet. Thank you California Republic, whatever your name is!

At this point I ate the three boiled eggs I'd had in my kit since I left Mountain View. They were something, but the peanut butter sandwich had been a better boost. It didn't matter much, at this point I was determined to finish. I had lots of sore spots, but nothing was that bad. I was worried that the bulge on my front tire would turn into a flat, but so far it had held up so I was optimistic. I refilled my water bottles at the tap by the bathroom and hoped for the best. I was almost euphoric at catching the riders that knew what they were doing. For sure I was doing much better than last year!




We call this part of the trip "doing the Piedmont rollers." On the left is unsullied ranch land, on the right suburbia. The road goes fairly straight, but under it there is considerable elevation change. Sometimes you're going up, sometimes you're going down.

Most of the time the view on your left is bucolic.


My tire blew out not far beyond the San Jose City Limit, about where Piedmont (or White or whatever the name was there) crosses Westboro. All there was for shade was a dead phone booth. The riders ahead of me were far enough ahead of me that I didn't expect any of them to notice my stumble. I settled down and examined the damage. It wasn't a puncture, but rather the tire had gotten old. I can't be that upset, I got something like 6,000 miles out of it. I used one of my MEND YOUR FUELISH WAYS stickers to reinforce the inside of the tire and then put in my spare tube and pumped it up. So far so good.


I rolled by myself for what felt like an eternity. It couldn't have been far though. My legs felt miserable. My hands were sore from gripping the handle bars for so long. I was almost out of water. I'd refilled my reserve tank at the break, but being thirsty I'd drunk most of it already. There was still seven miles to go.


These guys caught up with me just before we got to Tully. After we turned right they explained that they wanted to wait for a couple of others they were riding with. I didn't want to wait so I pushed on. The conversation was invigorating though. I felt better for a while after that.


I could tell I was getting close to downtown when I started seeing "buffered bike lanes." That's where they took a whole car lane and broke it into a buffer (the part with the diagonal stripes) and a generous bike lane separated from the cars. Such an amazing improvement! Thank you San Jose.


That's me finishing. Lloyd Cha took the picture at 6:04 PM, according to facebook. I'd taken something like an hour and a half off last years time.

Henry was watching the bikes when I got there. We talked while I unraveled from the bike. He had started an hour or so after the official start. I remember him passing me on Bailey, down at the bottom of the county, just before the second regroup. He'd run away after the third regroup and finished first. Probably all things considered he had the fastest time of all of us by a lot. He gave me some of his pizza, which was just what I needed at that point. Thanks Henry!


Inside there was lots of fellowship and trading stories from the road.


Lloyd had a shirt with lots of space imagery from Lockheed on it. John mentioned that he had been very involved with the solid rocket boosters back when he was a big time manager. Now he's way lower on the food chain.

It was getting chilly when Floyd and Adam got in. By then a lot of the other finishers had left, and the rest were leaving. They'd done "the people's century", and had stories of riding on beautiful bike trails that ran parallel to the roads the rest of us had taken.

A day or two later Tall Asian Mike posted this map that shows our route. Not shown is the wind that made the trip much harder than I was expecting it to be. Still it was awesome, and I'm glad to say I've gone a hundred miles, keeping an average pace of 10 MPH, including a flat and everything else that happened. Feeling proud!

Postscript: Four days later the bulge was back in my front tire. I went out and got new tires. I took the above picture after I swapped in the new one. As you can see, the sticker split about where the stress point was. I'd say I got about forty miles out of it. More than enough to finish the ride and do another one, but not the kind of thing anyone can count on for much more than that.

One wonderful thing about the new tire is the reflective strip on the sidewall. I feel much safer just knowing it's there. The packaging promised very good puncture resistance, so my hopes are high on that!