RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: April 2016

Los Gatos Creek Trail

I had one more stop on my California road trip before I had to fly home.  Los Gatos, in the Silicon Valley, to visit a college friend.

I had an easy drive in the Jeep Compass with my bicycle and luggage, from Chico to Los Gatos by way of the Rapha Cycle Club San Francisco.


I had a free afternoon before having to pack up my Ritchey BreakAway.  My had friend mentioned the trail that runs through Los Gatos.  A quick look at Google Maps showed me the quickest way from my hotel to the Los Gatos Creek Trail.

Los Gatos Creek Trail Sign wwwlosgatoscom

I rode down the slope from Maple Place and turned right on the gravel trail.  I hadn’t expected gravel, but it would do.

The trail northward runs parallel to Highway 17, with Los Gatos Creek on one side and a large water pipeline on the other.

Los Gatos Creek Trail Hill

Photograph courtesy of

The sign warned of a hill, but it didn’t alert me to just how steep the hill was.  I had to strike a fine balance between keeping enough weight on the rear wheel so that it maintained some grip on the gravelly trail, while at the same time not unweighting the front wheel so much that it lifted off the trail.

At the top of that short steep climb the gravel gave way to pavement.  One more longer and only slightly less steep climb brought me onto Alma Bridge Road, which encirles the Lexington reservoir.

Los Gatos Creek Trail Route

At the time I didn’t know that Alma Bridge Road ran around the reservoir.  So at the 13km / 8mi point of my ride I took a photograph of the reservoir, and turned around.

Los Gatos Creek Trail Lexington Reservoir 1

I kept going south past where I had joined the trail at the start of my ride.  Not far from that point the trail changed from gravel to paved.  That is how it stayed all the way to where I left the trail in San Jose.

Los Gatos Creek Trail pedalspaddlespacksblogspotmy

Photograph courtesy of

The Los Gatos Creek Trail passes through a number of parks, including Oak Meadow, Vasona Lake County, Los Gatos Creek and Campbell.  There is a miniature train operating at Vasona.

Los Gatos Creek Trail Vasona Park Train Amit Basu

Photograph courtesy of Amit Basu

Some of these parks contain lakes.

Los Gatos Creek Trail Lake TripAdvisor

Photograph courtesy of TripAdvisor

There are also a number of bridges crossing Los Gatos Creek.

Los Gatos Creek Trail TripAdvisor

Photograph courtesy of TripAdvisor

I should have crossed one of those bridges to stay on the trail in the Willow Glen neighbourhood in San Jose  Instead I found myself on Willow Street, which I followed for about 4km / 2.5mi before I turned around and retraced my route.

Later on I found out that there are two sections to the Los Gatos Creek Trail.  There is the Campbell section, which I rode end to end, and the shorter San Jose section.  The two sections are separated by about 4km / 2.5mi.

I ended my ride back in Los Gatos with a latte and some banana bread at Great Bear Coffee. My bike was leaning against this tree as I sat inside.

Los Gatos Creek Trail Great Bear Coffee losgatosshopscom

Photograph courtesy of

On balance I preferred the American River Bike Trail because it wasn’t as busy.  Where the Los Gatos Creek Trail passses through parks it gets crowded with pedestrians and other traffic.  But I would ride the Los Gatos trail again.  Including the San Jose section into downtown San Jose.

Los Gatos Creek Trail Sign


American River Bike Trail

After the BP MS150 I took a little road trip from San Francisco International airport to Chico, CA.  I went to university there many many years ago.  I wanted to see how the university has changed since then, and more importantly, to see old friends.

The timing of my flight from Austin to SFO meant that it would be quite late by the time I got to Chico.  So I researched bike rides in the Sacramento area, where I planned to stop for the night.

TrailLink showed me the American River Bike Trail, also known as the Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail.  “Yes” I had to look up who Jedediah Smith was.  He was, among other things, a noted explorer, but his accomplishments were not recognized until 75 years after his death.

I had found a trail to ride.  I had booked a hotel room in Woodland.  Hertz put the final piece of the puzzle in place by upgrading my rental car to a Jeep Compass.  I had wondered if I would be able to fit the bike case, a suitcase and my built-up bicycle into the mid-sized sedan that I had reserved.  Everything fit with room to spare in the Jeep.

The trail runs between Discovery Park in Old Sacramento to the shore of Folsom Lake, 51km / 32mi from end to end.  I started from Discovery Park.

American River Bike Trail Route

As the name implies, the trail follows the banks of the American River.  It is paved for its entire length, and is complete with mile markers, rest areas, water fountains and emergency telephones.

Much of my ride was through shaded tree-lined pathways like this.

American River Bike Trail 3

Photograph courtesy of TrailLink.

The trail isn’t in wilderness per se, but there is a lot of wildlife about.  I saw wild turkeys.  And this guy.

American River Bike Trail Deer

At the Folsom Lake end of the trail, where Folsom Lake Crossing meets the Folsom – Auburn Road, there is a little shopping centre.  I had a latte and a very nice bagel at the Folsom Grind.

You can walk into Folsom Bike from inside the coffee shop.  Very convenient if you need a spare inner tube or an energy bar to go.

American River Bike Trail Folsom Grind & Bike

Photograph courtesy of Folsom Bike

Speaking of spare inner tubes, my ride back to Discovery Park was punctuated by a flat tire.  I couldn’t fault the scenery around me as I made the repair.

American River Bike Trail 1

I now know that I stopped at Hagan Community Park.  It was so pleasant that after I changed the inner tube I sat for a while and enjoyed the view.

American River Bike Trail Park Bench

Only for a while though.  It was getting warm.  I still had 25km / 15.5mi to Discovery Park. And after that, 90 minutes of driving to get to Chico.

I am very glad that I made the stop in Sacramento to ride the American River Bike Trail.  If I get the chance I will ride it again.  And if you get the chance, you should ride it too.

American River Bike Trail Flowers

2016 BP MS150

BP MS150 2106 Logo

Logo courtesy of National MS Society

There was a reunion of good friends at the 2016 BP MS150 charity ride from Houston to Austin.  Friends who had ridden together in the 2011 and 2013 editions of the event.

Tom travelled from New Jersey.  I probably had the longest trip of all the participants.  I met Tom in Austin early in the week.  Tom rented a bicycle in Austin, and I brought my Ritchey BreakAway.  We had decided to rent a Dodge Grand Caravan for the drive to Houston.  It was probably a bit more than we needed, but I have to say I enjoyed being able to wheel both our bicycles upright into the rear of the van.  And still have plenty of room for suitcases.

We spent the rest of the week in Houston catching up with friends, eating too much, and doing the Thursday evening 6:30 ride.  I miss that “Two minutes” call

The weather forecasts in the days leading up to the ride weekend had not been favourable.  A broad and heavy band of rain was expected to sweep through Austin on Sunday.

By Friday the prospects for bad weather on Sunday had worsened, as the doppler radar images showed.  The organisers took the only option open to them given those forecasts.  Day 2 of the ride was cancelled.

BP MS150 2106 Day 1 Weather

Team Hess quickly told its riders that the Day 1 evening arrangements at La Grange would continue as planned.  We could enjoy the barbecue dinner and spend the night at the VFW Hall if we wished.  The live concert at the fairgrounds would go on as well.  So it wasn’t all bad news.

Skip, Barbara, Tom, Dane and I started as we usually do, from the entrance of the Omni Westside Hotel.

BP MS150 2106 Day 1 StartOthers started, under threatening skies, from one of the three official start points at Tully Stadium in Houston, Rhodes Stadium in Katy, or Waller Stadium in Waller.

BP MS150 2106 Day 1 Start Clouds

Photograph courtesy of

The weather may have put paid to Day 2 of this year’s ride, but in exchange we had excellent conditions on Day 1.  The overcast skies meant that it was fairly warm at the start.  Those same clouds shielded us from the worst of the sun as the day progressed.

The wind was kind to us this year also, blowing us toward Austin rather than back to Houston, as has often been the case in the past.

I thought it would rain at one point.  A few light sprinkles prompted me to put on my rain jacket, but it was a false alarm, and my rain jacket came off again ten minutes later.

BP MS150 2106 Day 1 Route

The route was unchanged from previous years.  We skipped the first rest stop in favour of the second stop in the MHWirth parking lot, 36km / 22mi into the ride.

We then rode non-stop to lunch at Belleville.  Belleville is at the halfway point between the Omni Westside Hotel and La Grange.  The Hess volunteers took excellent care of us at the lunch stop.  They made sure we were well watered and fed before we headed back out onto the road.

BP MS150 2106 Day 1 Lunch 2

Tom and I always visit the rest stop at Industry to say hello to the West End Bicycles guys manning their customary service tent.  So far it has been social visits only to the West End tent.  I can recall only one puncture between the five of us over the three MS150 rides I have done.

Others are not so lucky.  The West End tent is always busy attending to the mechanical woes that have befallen unfortunate riders.

BP MS150 2106 Day 1 Industry

After Industry comes one of the highlights of Day 1.  Riding into Fayetteville.

BP MS150 2106 Day 1 Fayetteville Banner

Photograph courtesy of

It seems like the entire population of 262 line the sides of the road to watch the ride go by.  Cowbells, bubbles, music, and lots of clapping and cheering.

BP MS150 2106 Day 1 Fayetteville Crowd

Photograph courtesy of

Again this year there was an amazing spread of home-baked cookies and cakes on offer at Ye Ole Garage on the corner of West Fayette Street and North Rusk Street.  A highly anticipated stop after 127km / 79mi of riding.

Kudos to the lady who does all the baking (I wish I knew her name).  She accepts donations from sugar-sated riders.  This year the collection went to a local school.

Even the Ye Ole Garage rest room maintains the theme.

BP MS150 2016 Day 1 Ye Ole Garage

Photograph courtesy of Dane Schiller

After covering about 160km / 100mi, we all pulled into the fairgrounds at La Grange, accompanied by lots of whoops and cheers.

BP MS150 2106 Day 1 La Grange

Photograph courtesy of

It was a good day for the five of us.  We all rode well, had a lot of fun, and stayed safe.  So it was smiles all around, despite the cancellation of Day 2.

BP MS150 2106 Day 1 Finish

Photograph courtesy of

Tom and I stayed overnight at La Grange with a diminished number of other Team Hess riders.  The transport options were such that Barbara, Dane and Skip, and many others, headed back to Houston that evening.

The Team Hess volunteers did their usual outstanding job of looking after us at La Grange. They gave us plenty to eat and drink, including a delicious barbecue dinner.  There was a very nice shower truck reserved for our use.  A masseuse was on site for us.

Can you blame me for wanting to come back and ride with Team Hess every year?

The BP MS150 organisers did very well with the last-minute need to move people, bicycles and bags from La Grange back to Houston on Saturday evening, and again on Sunday morning.

Tom and I, along with many others, were on the morning bus to Austin.

BP MS150 2016 Austin Bus

Our bikes were delayed, which caused us a bit of concern, but they did eventually arrive in Austin.  Even though we weren’t able to ride on Day 2, we posed for an Austin Glory photograph in front of the State Capitol.  The customary closing to the BP MS150.

BP MS150 2106 Day 1 Austin

We are already planning for 2017.


Graphic courtesy of National MS Society


Grow Your Jersey Collection One Ride at a Time – 2015

In 2015 I participated in five organised rides that had event jerseys.  The jerseys from those events are below.

If you want to see the jerseys from the 2013 events that I rode in, click here.

For jerseys from the 2014 events, click here.

2015 kicked off with the Rembau Century Ride.


Next came the Kedah Century Ride, which unusually, didn’t have an event jersey.

Jersey number two for the year came from the Shah Alam Enduride.


The Janamanjung Fellowship Ride had a t-shirt, as is the norm for this event.


Jersey number three came from the Century Ride de Kelantan.


The Maybank Save a Child’s Heart Ride was in August.


The Melaka Century Ride was the last of my organised rides that came with a jersey for 2015.  I can’t find my jersey, so until I do, this graphic from the organiser’s website will have to do.


Graphic courtesy of Melaka Century Ride 160KM 2015

There is already one jersey earned and in the queue for the 2016 collection post.  I should have a BP MS150 team jersey in two weeks.  I’ve also signed up for the Perlis and Perak Century Rides.

The collection keeps growing!