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 whole thing.


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 or five 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 onto 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 same 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 a 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 California.



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 Santa Clara.


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 street 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 the 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! From now on I'm carrying a spare inner tube, just so that doesn't happen again.

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!