Sunday, March 8, 2009

Heaven on Hillview

Today's ride began at 7:15AM because there just was not enough light to begin any earlier. It amazes me to think  that even with the hour we  just lost,  in four months time the sky is going to seem so big and bright at 5 AM that I  will feel like I am being begged to get up and get  out  into it. Such a wild thought.

Especially with the cold so poignant at present that unless I keep the hammer down with hard work, I'd be frozen to the core. I mean the AMs are usually so frigid out here when the sun first starts coming up, that my exposed finger, I wear bike gloves with cutouts for the digits, sometimes gets stuck to the screen on my iPhone. This sometimes happens when I swipe it to get it turned on to record a note, take a picture or look at the time.

Since it was an early Sunday morning, in the interest of variety I decided to ride normally busy El Camino Real. And as it was just starting to wake up, I got to see what many motorists see every day. As a transportation cyclist, the only way I access this heavily traveled arterial is via the side streets that feed it. Most of the place of business I rode by today, for example, I hadn't even known to exist.

An historic road that once connected the missions of California together, this was how people moved up and down the California coast and the San Francisco peninsula from San Jose to The City itself. For this reason, there are still a fair number of old motels and motor courts interspersed among the newer office buildings and storefronts that have taken up residence along this six lane road.

On it were bikes shops that I never see even though they are less than five miles from where I live. In Mountain View, the city south of Palo Alto and home to Google, I was reminded there are two large bike shops out here. Maybe two blocks apart, I saw Off Ramp Bike and Performance Bicycles. And they must do a good business because they are located on some pricey real estate.

Hmmm, I wondered, who is it that is keeping them in the black? As a transportation cyclist, I know that I and the others with whom I share the quieter neighborhood streets and bike boulevard, never see these businesses. When I thought about the fact that Palo Alto has Mikes Bikes, the Bike Connection and Cardinal Bike shop also located on El Camino Real, and that we came in from their back door, from the side streets, I realized that the lions share of their business came from those who were wed to their cars.

The photo you see here is of Springer Road. It leaves El Camino Real as El Monte and goes all the way to Foothill Expressway, the area bicycle speedway. While Springer, as you can see is wide, with generous bike lanes and medium speed traffic, when it is a weekday, Foothill Expressway rolls gently with also a wide bike lane but the cars are aggressive and fast as are a fair number of the cyclists who use it. It is not uncommon to see pace lines on the weekends and lycra clad racers burning up the miles during the week. This is so because the lights are usually a mile or more apart and the road offers the variety of rolling topography as well as pleasant surroundings.

The highlight of my 20 miler (I rode to to the Farmers Mkt and the grocery store later in the day) was Hiliview Road. I easily climbed the side of it that is behind Hewlett Packard. This was only notable because it was easy. Out of the saddle, I powered up what might be a short 10% grade. At its top is where the real excitement began.

Ahead of me was maybe a quarter of a mile of downhill with one pitch as steep as 12%. Down I went. With my legs crossed over the front steer tube. WoW WoW WoW. Seated six feet above the ground I must have hit 30 miles an hour. The Eagle felt solid. It almost seemed to be humming with delight as it wanted just to go!!

I marveled at what the old timers must have felt like when they went down hill in such a way. In the late 1800's there was no way a person could travel as fast. The trains, cars and horses of the day were no match for such speed. Here 120 years later and I was exhilarated. I can't even begin to imagine what 19th Century man must have felt like moving along in such a way.

It is 11 PM as I post this. Yoga is next as I read the "Course in Miracles" during most of my floor work. Then bed. Guess I get to sleep in a taste as it won't be light till 7. Hmmmmm.......

THX for your interest - THX 4 all of U!!  

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