Which I quite enjoyed
I’m always looking for ways to squeeze in workouts around family and work. I also try to squeeze in some adventure.
Sometimes workouts and adventure squeeze their way into me which is how this story starts.
Before my Kona Jake cross bike was stolen (I need to put a picture of the cut in half u-lock on this page) he and I were riding from Fremont BART to my office in San Jose via the Paseo Padre foothills. This ride is only about 14 miles long and goes uphill to the halfway point and then downhill followed by flat.
We’d reached the top and were about to go down the 40+mph hill when I heard a bump bump bump BUMP BUMP BOOM!
And the rear tire had flatted. I took it off and quickly realized that the sidewall of the tire had a hole in it and the tube had popped out and popped. I was really glad this happened before reaching even 30mph.
I knew there was a bus stop at the bottom of the hill about a mile away so I decided to run there and then sees which happened first, a bus arriving, or me fixing the tire with a dollar bill.
Turns out I was able to ‘fix’ the tire with the dollar bill and climb on the bike right as the bus went by.
The bill held for a few miles and then the spare tube was gone as well. Nothing to do but run the final 3-4 miles to the office.
I decided to make it fun by pretending I was in transition and running with the bike in different hands. How often do you get to practice that?
I got to the office, changed clothes, locked the bike in the lab, met a friend at his hotel and went to a Sharks game.
Running with Equipment
Two days later I put a conti four season tire in my back bike pocket and ran to BART (2 miles) and then ran from BART to the office (11 miles) fixed the bike and did the 14 mile return route. A good time was had by all. (in case you’re keeping score, bikers and runners take different routes)
Did you know there was a ghost town about five miles north of San Jose?
Did you know there are flying trains there that make this town scary?
I’d past by these old shack type buildings while on Amtrak commuter trains for years. I always wondered what their story was.
Here’s an old barn taken from inside the train around 01’
Finally someone tipped me off to ask the internet about “Drawbridge California”. Eric provided the best answer. Click here for his history of Drawbridge.
I’d heard warnings that to get there you have to walk on the Union Pacific railroad tracks that are used throughout the day by commuter trains and those trains are fast. In some places on those tracks if a train comes, you have nowhere to go but into marshy bay water.
So I searched through satellite photos and found part of the SF Bay trail and an access ‘road’ that would get me within a few hundred yards of drawbridge before having to walk on the tracks. (See Mom? I am very careful)
After a stop at Maria Elena’s in Alviso (Hey Carlos! I told Carlos he might be the last person to see me alive if things went badly.) for an energy drink (Vahl’s was closed for the 4th of July week) I headed off for drawbridge.
SF Bay trail to Drawbridge, north of Alviso. Train tracks are off to the right.
A commute train had just past by heading south making me think that I might be clear of trains before I got on the tracks. That’s also because I never bothered to check the schedule.
On the train tracks coming into the south end of Drawbridge.
Even though a train had just past I couldn’t help but look up and down the tracks every minute or so. I’m not paranoid, I’m just afraid of being hit and killed by trains. I’d been on one once when a jogger met his fate with one.
And finally I was in Drawbridge. Here’s the same barn from the earlier picture.
The sign says “Area behind this sign is closed”. South Fremont is lurking a few miles off in the background.
It was about here where my paranoia worked to my advantage. About a mile south of me I saw Amtrak train number 538 heading into Drawbridge. I couldn’t see a better place within fifty yards of where I was to hide.
Where I was the tracks are on a raised pile of rocks with a slight slope in the middle. At the bottom of the rocks was that marshy bay water. The pile was about eight to ten feet high so I laid my bike on the ground by the bottom and climbed down as low as I could and got down and leaned against the rocks. As the train got closer I put my fingers in my ears while looking at the engineer.
I looked at him so he’d see I saw the train and not blow his horn. I had my fingers in my ears in case he blew the horn anyway.
The train seemed to fly out of the clouds and was upon me.
The draft and sound from the train passing only a few feet away and at something between 50-70 mph literally repositioned my body and pulled my fingers out of my ears.
Holy *&%@# I couldn’t help but say out loud.
South end of Drawbridge.
Heading through midtown.
After my near death experience I knew that there would not be another commuter train for another hour and a half and I relaxed a little bit. Still, I was glad that the trail leading me off the tracks was only forty yards from the north side bridge as opposed to the hundreds of yards it took to get to the south side bridge.
The ride back was nice, dirt access road to Fremont Blvd to BART via Jack’s Brew Pub.
Biking to NASCAR
Call me a non-eco if you want to, but I like motorsports. I’ve been to formula 1 races in Montreal a few times but never to NASCAR. This year one of the vendors bought a block of tickets for NASCAR in Sonoma and asked if I wanted to go. “Of course” and “What should I bring” was my answer.
Then the logistics set in. They were meeting at IHOP for breakfast at 8am and I was to be taking care of the kids and making them pancakes at 8am while my wife took a turn at sleeping in.
I wasn’t going to be able to get out of the house until 10am and I wouldn’t be able to carpool up through what would surely be a traffic jam on the two lane highway we refer to as hwy37 or Sears Point Road.
I then looked at a map and realized the track was only 40 miles from my house and a new strategy was born. I’d ride to Vallejo and buy the beer I’d agreed to bring and then ride the final 9 miles to the track on the side of the hwy37 traffic jam.
I’d be the first ever bicyclist to ride to NASCAR.
It seemed even more reasonable when I realized I could cheat by riding BART from Oakland to Richmond, shaving 10 miles off each leg of the trip.
In the end the only real problems I had were with traffic. Here’s a shot of the worst of my traffic problems. San Pablo Avenue was closed for this street fair, which the police required me to walk my bike about a quarter mile through:
After that it seemed like every light turned red as I got to it until I arrived at the Carquinez bridge.
Which I then road across.
I then road into Vallejo and went looking for a 7-eleven or grocery or liquor store or something. What I didn’t realize is Vallejo is not in Kansas and I had to reset my expectations for what good beer was and finally found a place that had 22 ounce Sierra Nevada Pales which I bought six of and four Gatorades which I put into my panniers and headed for hwy37.
I was happy to find that I was right about the hwy37 traffic and was at times moving faster than the cars who often provided me a fine draft until I came into range of the track.
BTW, this is what I want for my birthday:
And there I was at NASCAR.
The only bike at NASCAR. Yes, that is beer in those panniers.
The return was similar to the trip out. The wind shifted into my face and I missed every light on my way back to Richmond.
Twice in the last year I’ve gone to family reunions in Shasta city. Last summer with my wife’s extended family and last winter with my extended family.
In the winter I ran up the same hill I rode up in the summer. They were just covered in ice and snow instead of dirt and heat. I never carry a cell phone on a run because of the unlikeness that I will break down and need a lift, which is why there are no snow and ice pictures.
The locals refer to the hill as Mt. Shasta.
I went here:
And then here:
At times on roads like this:
Which lead to a ride to the city of Weed and then a lunch at a great place in Shasta city known as the Billy Goats Tavern which included a soft-shell crab sandwich and a Ruination:
South San Francisco
There isn’t much to say about this ride, besides that it is trippy to be riding down 3rd St. while you are in one lane and a MUNI train is in the other.
Really the only reason I mention this trip to a training session I took was because of pictures like this one that I took looking across McCovey Cove at a day Giants game.