A Halloween Jaunt

Diablo Valley Farmers' Market

Diablo Valley Farmers’ Market

Yesterday, a warm October day, we chose to ride to the Walnut Creek Farmers’ Market at North Wiget Lane and Mitchell Drive, where the action included a Halloween parade plus other activities for the children. The parking lot was as full as we have ever seen it, and the stalls were doing a thriving business. We were thankful to be on our bikes because of the parking situation, but of course we are always thankful to be on our bikes. We found some good produce, and I even got some cooking advice from a young woman waiting in line in front of us about roasting turnips and watermelon radishes. Tonight we will find out if her advice was good.

View of Walnut Creek

View of Walnut Creek

We had ridden from downtown Walnut Creek along Ironhorse Trail to the east Contra Costa Canal Trail. After we left the market, we continued along the canal trail to the base of Lime Ridge where the trail climbs up to give one a beautiful view over Walnut Creek. The trail then meanders past the Boundary Oak Golf Course and along the Ygnacio Canal Trail. We have ridden this trail many times, and while it is picturesque, it does cross a lot of streets and some of the crossings are not well designed. They have always required some sharp turns, but yesterday we discovered a new obstacle. Green gates have been installed to take the place of the posts that were formerly on the trail. These gates in some cases take up more than half of the entries to the path and make riding more dangerous, especially if one were to meet someone going the opposite direction. These gates are definitely  a liability for cyclists on this trail, and I regret that I did not take a picture of one of them.

Coming off the Ygnacio Trail, we cut through Heather Farms Park and cycled back to downtown Walnut Creek, where we enjoyed some of the marvelous small plates at Va de Vi Restaurant. Eating there, I usually come home with ideas to incorporate into my own cooking.

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Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway

I was really looking forward to this ride, but when we found our way to  Rood Bridge Park, west of Portland, Oregon, where the bikeway was supposed to start, we looked for a path in vain. Finally, I convinced my husband that it was on the road, but when we started on the road, the shoulder soon disappeared. Returning to the parking lot, we spoke with an older lady who told us that the only separate pathway was between Banks and Vernonia. We followed some of the scenic bikeway in the car, and it was indeed beautiful, but it did not have any shoulder in most places, and the shoulder was exceedingly narrow in the rest. Also we did not see many cyclists, maybe two, a sign that it is not used the way the roads and paths are in our own San Ramon Valley. In addition, although the roads are quiet in some places, they are heavily traveled in others, a perilous situation.

Banks Vernonia Trail

Banks Vernonia Trail

We decided to drive to Banks to do that part of the bikeway, a decision that turned out to be a good one and helped redeem the day for us. We ate a satisfying lunch at the quaint but busy little Banks Cafe and then set out on the trail. The trail head was easy to find and had good parking. The path is good with forested views and views that open up to fields and farms at times. We rode up the trail about six miles until it really began to climb and then retraced our way to the beginning.This was a pleasant ride but one that I would not go out of my way to do.

Countryside Viewed from Trail

Countryside Viewed from Trail

A Sunday in Golden Gate Park

View to the south from the De Young Tower

View to the south from the De Young Tower

Although I knew that part of the park is closed to cars on Sundays so that cyclists, skaters, skate boarders, etc. can freely enjoy the park without vehicle traffic, I did not realize that on Sunday the 12th of January there was a half marathon. We had purchased tickets to the David Hockney exhibit at the De Young Museum, and we set out in two cars, planning to ride our bikes from the Dutch Windmill up to the museum. When we exited the freeway at Octavia Street, we noticed a lot of traffic, but as we entered the park the number of people was astounding. We threaded our way around the closed off part of the park only to be made to exit as we approached the beach.

We could find no way to the Dutch windmill where we were to meet our son and grandson. However, we found several parking places on 37th Ave. just off of Lincoln. Then followed an agonizing 45 minutes of cell phone communication with our son and grandson, trying to guide them to where we had found parking. They finally made it and we pulled out the bikes well aware that we were going to be late for our 11 o’clock entry to the exhibit. But we wended our way up on our bikes, tied our bikes to poles because the bike racks were full, and lined up to pick up our tickets. There was no problem raised about our being late although we were still a bit frazzled when we entered the exhibit. Our group was not unanimous in our opinion of the paintings, but I personally liked the many tree-lined paths through the woods depicted in Hockney’s works. These reminded me of a hiking trip that we did several years ago in the Cotswolds. Our grandson particularly liked the large iPad created scenes that filled one room.

Our lunch in the museum café was satisfying, and we were impressed by the efficiency of the staff in handling the large crowd of people. After lunch we headed for the Hamon Observation Tower where we were greeted by spectacular views without so many people pulsing around us that it was difficult to breathe. San Francisco was especially  clear so we could see long distances.

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After browsing some of the permanent exhibits, we headed back to the bicycles. We started out on John F Kennedy Drive but had to head over to Martin Luther King in order to get back to our cars. Here the car traffic was heavy, so after some discussion we rode on the asphalt path alongside the street. I have no idea whether this is legal, but we saw no signs forbidding it. However, at one point my three companions were ahead of me and I politely asked a man walking two dogs if I could get by him. He moved over, but he swore at me, calling me filthy names and threatened to push me off my bike. Perhaps he had been hit by a cyclist at one time or perhaps he was just crazy, but it was a scary experience, one that cast a shadow over the day. All in all this was a day that we will long remember. It was a difficult day, and we will never go to Golden Gate Park on Sunday again, but there were some high points in the day that we relished.

Book Review–The Bike Snob Abroad

SnOB01The Bike Snob Abroad by Eben Weiss, who writes as Bike Snob NYC, is a quick amusing read. Anyone who cycles regularly will be interested in and agree with most of what Weiss has to say. He has an informal humorous way of writing: “But once you start setting off into the world with a child on your bike in order to do stuff you’ll quickly learn that the typical American views this behavior only slightly more favorably than letting junior play inside the clothes dryer” (25).

Weiss discusses riding around his native New York, and in this book he also talks about two brief forays abroad, one to Gothenburg, Sweden and another to Puglia in southern Italy with slightly longer trips to London and Amsterdam. Because of the history of the settlement of New York, he explores the conceit of London and Amsterdam being New York’s parents, looking for bike riding traits that could have descended from these two European cities.

In Amsterdam, Weiss’ wife uses a regular bike, but he has the use of a “bakfiet,” a cargo or freight bike. He talks about learning to merge into the cycling traffic in Amsterdam and learning to ride the bakfiet loaded with groceries and his small son. This section on Amsterdam is for me the most interesting part of the book.

One thing that I especially like about this book is his focus on practical cycling, something my husband and I do regularly. However, I feel that the title is misleading, since the book is devoted to riding in New York as much if not more than it talks about riding abroad.

Have Some People Forgotten the Golden Rule?

Yesterday we did one of our usual rides on Iron Horse Trail from Danville to San Ramon with a visit to the farmers’ market in San Ramon. Most of the people that we ran across on the path were being considerate of others, but as is often the case, there were some people who seemed unaware of the rights of others. As I have reiterated many times the path is a thoroughfare, and any group should not take up more than one half of the trail.

Just before we reached Sycamore Valley Road on our return trip, we came up to a family with two parents and four kids. The father was on skates, the mother on a bike, two kids on bikes, one on a skateboard and one on a scooter. This group was all over the path with the father showing off and behaving the worst. Two of the children had no idea about staying to the right. In defense of the mother, she finally held on to the kid on the scooter to let others pass. This circus was going on where the path was busy in both directions, and it presented a dangerous situation.

In our busy overcrowded world, people need to be more considerate of and aware of others than ever before. Please folks, try to remember the “golden rule”: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Safety may depend on it.

Children on Iron Horse Trail Need More Supervision

We just returned from one of our favorite rides on Iron Horse Trail from Danville to the San Ramon Farmers’  Market. The path was fairly quiet on the way to San Ramon, but coming back it was crowded. This topic is one that I have visited several times. The trail is a thoroughfare, and people have no business blocking the path by walking more than two abreast or letting their children stray all over the path. Before you take your children on the path, folks, make sure that they know how to ride their bikes, preferably without training wheels. Also make sure that they know left from right and know that they need to stay on the right side of the path. Some older folks need to refresh their knowledge of left and right as well.

People who do not heed the rules of the path are a danger to themselves and to others. This path is a gem for our valley. Please cooperate in maintaining the safety of all who use it.

Cars Offered for Sale in front of San Ramon High

Saturday we did one of our usual rides from Alamo to Danville along the old highway, this one brightened by a stop at the Harvest Crafts Festival at our church, San Ramon Valley United Methodist Church. We visited the farmers’ market, Lunardi’s, and Pegasus Bicycle Works. We then headed home for our pleasant downhill ride on this tree-lined part of the highway, which still retains some of the ambiance of the San Ramon Valley of my youth. However, we ran into one blot on the landscape, really dangerous for cyclists. On weekends, people park cars that they want to sell in front of San Ramon High, so the cars are close to the bike lane. Saturday this hazard was aggravated by one car that was double-parked next to another, taking up the bike lane and a bit of the regular lane, thus causing cyclists to have to pass between these cars and the northbound traffic. A bit further on, another person had his SUV door open over the bike lane. It is bad enough that the cars are parked there at all, but the further endangerment of cyclists by this kind of disregard for their safety by the selfish few should not be tolerated by the Town of Danville.