The other day I commented that I didn't see all that many road cyclists out and about in the south Bay Area. Well, after discovering Foothills Expressway, I found them.
The Long Story: My plan has been to ride to the Mountain View Caltrain station, take the train to Menlo Park and then bike the rest of the way to work. A suicide at the Mountain View station yesterday morning stoppped northbound service for a couple of hours, so I meandered by bike to Palo Alto until I found a road I recognized -- Middlefield Road -- and took that into work.
Short: I intended to take the train for the commute home, but I ended up exploring and found Foothills Expressway near Page Mill Road. It's here I found the group rides out in force.
So on and so forth: The cyclists I talked with on the road were all friendly enough, giving good tips about where to go for rides. They were all in full kit while I was in my commuter getup: pants with reflective ankle straps, cheap cotton shirt, mirror on my cheap shades, and of course I'm on my 20-year-old steel fixie conversion bike with duct tape covering the handlebars. I was able to keep up just fine on the flats, but they lost me on the hills -- both uphill and downhill.
Colorado & California compare and contrast
It seems easier to strike up a conversation with cyclists here in California. California cyclists -- even casual "folk" cyclists and temp workers on Walgoose bikes -- are fastidious about obeying stop signs and red lights, though I still see a fair number of wrong-way and sidewalk cyclists.
It's not unusual here to see commuters on heavy clunker bikes wearing normal street clothes and wearing earphones to be on the expressways; in Colorado, only recreational fitness cyclists venture onto the busy, fast highways.
The miles-long "bike boulevards" are simply wonderful These are low-traffic residential collectors with traffic calming measures to discourage through-traffic, but the engineering is done in such a way to not impede cycling, and the stop signs are few and far between.
I haven't found a street yet that I'm uncomfortable riding on. El Camino Real has very heavy traffic but the outside lane is typically wide. Middlefield Road is very busy and narrow, but the traffic is low speed.
I planned to spend Saturday riding from Cupertino into San Francisco, across the Golden Gate Bridge and on to Sausalito, about a 100 mile round trip. The forecast now, however, calls for rain into the afternoon in the city and Marin County. I may head south instead, where the forecast says the rain will stop in the morning. I'll follow the Coyote Creek Trail to where it ends in Morgan Hill and then perhaps make my way to Gilroy. We'll see what happens.