South Bay Ride Report

Several colleagues — including a few who I never imagined would hop on a bike — have inquired about good cycling routes from their South Bay homes to the office in the North Valley.

A couple of my co-workers live out towards Campbell and Los Gatos, so the first obvious choice might to San Tomas Expressway. I wanted to scout out this route before recommending it, but my bus from Santa Cruz dumps me off in downtown San Jose so this morning I rode from home near Santa Cruz, over the mountains, past Lexington Reservoir, along the Los Gatos Creek Trail, and down San Tomas to the office.

Santa Cruz Mountains

This part is known science for me and completely irrelevant to my Campbell colleagues. I start from my home in heavy fog, then pop up above the fog layer into brilliant sunshine once I hit about 800 feet elevation. Looking down toward cloud enshrouded redwood forests and beyond to Monterey Bay is unimaginably gorgeous. A little less fun was when my rear derailleur cable snapped off during a downshift, but at least this happened after I crossed the summit.

Old Santa Cruz Highway has a 25 MPH speed limit. I was moving along at 40 to 50 MPH. Even at that speed a couple of cars passed me on the straightaways.

Los Gatos Creek Trail

This was my first time riding on the Los Gatos Creek Trail during the morning commute. I jammed a stick into my derailleur to facilitate the stop and go riding on this trail. For the casual commuter this trail is nice. For my 34 mile commute, I’m in a little bit of a hurry, so next time I’m shooting out to Los Gatos Santa Cruz Ave / Winchester Blvd.

San Tomas Expressway

Once I hit the open road it’s back to the small cog. I’ve often ridden San Tomas between Campbell Ave and Saratoga Ave. I’ve discovered San Tomas traffic can get a little hairy north of El Camino Real, especially around the junctions for Central Expressway and Highway 101. It’s manageable, but perhaps not the best route for the new bike commuter. Stevens Creek Trail is probably a better option for the inexperienced bike commuter.

What routes do you suggest from Campbell to Santa Clara north of the airport?


  1. A different option would be to take San Tomas Expressway until just past El Camino and then turn left on Monroe.  You can then take the San Tomas Aquino bikepath along the creek all the way to Agnew.  If they were nervous about the Expressway, Winchester -> Newhall/Scott -> Monroe would also work.

  2. You can bail off San Tomas at Saratoga and take that North to Monroe.  North on Monroe to Scott.  North on Scott to Walsh.  East on Walsh to Lafayette.  North on Lafayette.  Or skip the Monroe bit, and go direct on Scott, but Scott between El Camino and Monroe is a little tight, especially if school is in session.

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