San Jose Trails report, and a South Bay creek trail cleanup this weekend

Many of our creekside trails have been underwater for several weeks after this season’s epic winter storms. The rivers are finally subsiding, exposing a mess of mud and debris. Maybe you can’t donate $5 million in flood relief like self-made billionaire Kieu Hoang did last week, but you can spare ten bucks for a shovel, or $80 for a chainsaw, or even an hour or two of your time this weekend.

Guadalupe River Trail Trimble Road mud

TL;DR summary: Guadalupe River Trail cleanup under Montague Expressway, 11 A.M. to 1 P.M. Saturday, March 11, 2017. Bring water, good shoes or boots, shovel, handsaw, or chainsaw. Park at Qorvo, 3099 Orchard Drive, San Jose, CA and walk up to the trail. Other instructions in the final section below.

Continue reading San Jose Trails report, and a South Bay creek trail cleanup this weekend

Guadalupe River Trail mud clearing day

Update: The Guadalupe River Trial under Highway 101 is (more or less) passable. The real problem spot now is the trail under Montague Expressway. We’ll work there this Saturday, March 11, 2017 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

This chart from the United States Geological Survey shows the level of the Guadalupe River underneath Highway 101 just north of San Jose International Airport. The trail floods here at any level over seven feet deep.

Guadalupe River Stream Guage

Over the past few days the river level has dropped by about an inch per day. At this pace, the trail should be above the water in about ten days, but the trail will still remain covered in mud and debris.

City of San Jose and Valley Water District crews are still incredibly busy cleaning up and repairing significant flood damage elsewhere in the area, so we’re on our own for the time being cleaning up the trail. Because Hwy 101 is the most significant barrier to bike travel, I’d like to start with that underpass. If the water level drops enough, I tentatively plan to bring a shovel here the morning of Saturday, March 11. Many hands make light work, so I invite you to come along to help.

Bobcat loader rental runs about $200 / day. If somebody wants to rent one and trailer it to this location I’ll pitch in for the cost. Let me know immediately if you can do that so I can contact the city, the airport, and the water district about whatever permits we might need to get this done.

I’ll bike here, but if you drive remember that airport parking costs money ($15/day at the Economy Lot, located right next to the trail). Nearest free parking is street parking on Airport Parkway about a one mile walk away, but those spots are usually filled up with sleeping uber and Lyft drivers.

Let me know if you think you can participate. I’ll bring water and snacks, maybe figure out a way to get pizza delivery here. Bring your own shovel and rubber boots. And if it turns out city and water district crews get a chance to clean this up for us, I’ll cancel this volunteer effort.

Road and trail closures: Santa Cruz, Santa Clara and Alameda Counties

Road damage rain caption needed

With record-breaking rainfall throughout Northern California abating for now, a bunch of us will be tempted to hit the roads on our bikes. Several favorite road cycling roads are closed, including Mount Hamilton Road, Niles Canyon, Soquel-San Jose, and more.

These lists show county-maintained roads only; city roads are the responsibility of their respective cities. Numerous state highways have also been impacted by the storms; online traffic maps seem to mostly track those fairly well, or you can go straight to the source at Caltrans Quickmap.

Even if roads are thought to be open, keep your eyes peeled for hazards. While riding in the Santa Cruz Mountains two weekends ago, a tree feel in front of me as I descended Glenwood Road at about 30 MPH. I grabbed brakes and stopped in time, but the next thing I know power lines are hanging on either side of me. That was incredibly sketchy, as was gingerly threading my way out of that web like a jewel thief maneuvering a bicycle-shaped treasure through a laser-protected vault.

Conversely, some closed roads are vaguely bike-passable, though you may need to portage your bike across chasms, creeks, and downed trees on occasion. If you’re tempted to schlep through mud to get past a road, consider this (slightly grody) cautionary tale from Janeen, who bikes most days from Santa Cruz to work in Morgan Hill.

Gross picture alert. This is a public service announcement for people who live in Poison Oak country. If you see a mudslide, walk through it and sink up to mid calf, when you get home scrub yourself with Tecnu or Dawn or whatever.de-radiation exposure technique you favor: Picture 1 (top left): The cause. A fun rad road ride, with the gang! We scrambled across three mudslides on Highland (this was four weekends ago) and laughed at how muddy we got. Not once did it occur to me that the mud was dosed with poison oak oils. Picture not shown between 1 and 2: I have a picture of my oak reaction at its height. That was when I was stuck in snow up at Shaver Lake. It's… bubbly. Let's just leave it at that. Picture 2 (top right): I never go to doctors. Not willingly. On this day I woke up and said "This…. doesn't look right." Turns out the oak was infected and my legs were swollen and on fire. I went to the doctors. Three shots in the butt, steroids and antibiotics. I did not be wear shoes for the next 7 days (flip flops ftw). Could not bear it. I would like to take the time to apologize to my work colleagues for my constant complaining and having to catch glimpses of my struggle. Picture 3 just shows how fat my ankle(s) was the day I went to the doctors. Picture 4: Six days later and I have ankles again! Maybe 6 days after that, I was able to wear shoes again. It's sort of better now. I look like I'm wearing red socks, lol, but doctor said scarring should eventually clear. I'm terrified of poison oak, and I hope y'all know why now. It was still a great ride. I've just learned an important lesson in a very painful way.

A post shared by Janeen McCrae (@thenoodleator) on

Every South Bay bike path I track here is currently unusable due to flooding. Even Stevens Creek, which normally stays fairly dry, is impassable under Highway 101. Portions of the trail along Coyote Creek are completely inundated along with U.S. Highway 101 in Morgan Hill.

I’ll try to update my own local road closure map sometime Tuesday night. Weather should remain clear Wednesday through Friday, with another atmospheric river expected this Saturday afternoon.

I’m biking over the Santa Cruz Mountains Wednesday morning (via Mountain Charlie and Old Santa Cruz Highway, both of which are reported as open) and will give a report.

Begin 2017 with San Jose Bike Train

Happy New Year, all. San Jose Bike Train rolls this coming Wednesday, January 4, 2017 at 8:15 A.M.

If you can make your way to the vicinity of downtown San Jose, join us the first week of 2017 at Caffe Bel Bacio located directly on the Guadalupe River Trail between Julian and St James Streets in San Jose’s Little Italy.

San Jose Bike Train Route

Over the past couple of years we’ve kind of evolved into a coffee klatch. I and others are generally at the coffee shop by 8 A.M., then we depart at 8:15 for a casual, slow-paced group ride along the trail to destinations north.

Shopping mall bike lockers

Christmas shopping apparently began early for many people, with crowds reportedly trapped in the parking garage for up to three hours at one popular shopping mall in Silicon Valley, California before the Thanksgiving Holiday. Some shoppers at Westfield Valley Fair abandoned their cars, walked out to the street and Ubered their way home.

Valley Fair Mall doesn’t advertise this among their travel options, but they provide the best bike parking I’ve seen at an American shopping mall — free, secure bike lockers.

Valley Fair Mall bike facilities

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