September 10, 2006


after the downhill dirt road adventure last weekend, i decided to explore some of the trails around here. los altos hills has a network of trails which are meant for residents to ride their horses on, or walk, or bicycle. they seem to try pretty hard not to advertise many of them, but i got a map and rode on a few. some were OK for bicycles. one was basically a plowed field on a steep slope littered with debris (not too much, but the occasional piece of rebar isn't that nice. nor are cacti. so i walked that bit.)

then i went to the arastradero open space preserve. pretty pleasant, the little bowls at the top are clearly set up for mountain bikes. having slick tires doesn't work very well--one section all i could do was wash out, since i didn't feel like going max speed and this is the opposite of the pacific northwest: all dust because it hasn't rained for months. maybe i'll get just front knobbies, or a front wheel w/knobbies--supposedly that's a reasonable combo. but then again, a suspension would be nice for this sort of thing too... nah, just a tire will do.

oh yeah... the title of this post? because i scared a rattler climbing out of the woods into a sunny area. not the first time i've seen a rattlesnake, but it's the first time i've really scared one--i just sprinted fast, and the snake did too, darting across the trail right behind me. don't know if that's the right reaction, but the runner behind me thanked me for scaring it out of the way when i mentioned it to her.

Posted by MBlain at 10:18 PM | Comments (2)

September 04, 2006

Track me amadeus

The Bay Area has excellent roads for not only motorcyling but bicycling, so I've been doing more rides in the mountains under my own power than gasoline power recently.

GPS systems can keep track of your movement in 4-d (time & space), though not always with great accuracy... but good enough to learn a lot about what where hills really are steep and how long that lunch break really was. This techno-measurement stuff is getting to me and I might get a heart rate monitor, but probably not...

You can see some tracks (maybe up to 10 at once?) at, which is a neat website Garmin put together to show all of this data in various forms. A few snapshots of what it can show in the extended entry.

The best combo of interesting ride + clean data was a local loop: Alpine Road goes gently up Corte Madera creek into the Santa Cruz mountains, then turns to dirt. About 1/4 mile of dirt was enough, so I came down a bit, up the absurdly steep Joaquin, up as high as possible on public roads (shy of 1800 feet), then back down the steeper Los Trancos side of the ridge.

Apparently a bit of dirt wasn't enough, so two days ago I went with a group of people all the way to the coast side of the mountains, via dirt roads to the top of Santa Rosalita peak and all the way down to Aptos. Data quality here is poor, especially deep in the forest

Compare this with a similar ride with a similar group the month before, this time on a road map:

For reference, the return route (rightmost part) is the same on both rides. And no, I don't live in either Los Altos or Los Gatos, no need to lead you straight to my house!

Posted by MBlain at 02:33 PM | Comments (1)