Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

As might be apparent from my previous post, I brought my Brompton along to Tokyo. The plan was to attend a specific event: a monthly meetup of local Brompton owners called “Brompton in Palace“, named after the fact that the group originally met up on the peripheral of the Imperial Palace. The organizer also has a website.

Unfortunately, the meeting was called off due to rain, and the announcement was made when I was already enroute with the bike. It turns out that having the bike gave me the opportunity to feel out what it is really like to travel around Tokyo by bike.

On the weekend, I planned out a ride along the Arakawa River, where there is open space on the west side with paved paths. I had visited the area before, but this time I was determined to check out a long artificial island on the east side that divided the Arakawa from the Naka River. It was hard to tell from Google street view exactly which bridges allowed pedestrian and cyclist access to the island, and to be safe I picked out a bridge near Yotsugi.

Here are the bollards blocking things like motorbikes from the river side area.

Riding north.

Approaching the Kinekawa bridge, and going across.

On the other side I see the same sort of trails as on the west side. There are parallel paths on top of the dyke, as well as lower by the river. The lower path is flanked by open space and a whole series of sports fields.

Here is one of the many youth baseball teams that I saw biking to practice early on a Sunday morning.

The other thing that I’ll note is that almost all the sports fields had a public restroom nearby. Although I didn’t go into any of them, and those that had open doors looked like they were pretty dirty, the fact that they were present was a strong contrast to what we have in Toronto. In fact, I noted a very high density of public bathrooms all across the city.

Here I am at the southern tip of the island at this location. Just a few fishermen about. I’m dressed all in wool, with a top from Pedaled and my aforementioned wool knickers from Rin Project.

Going back north, I see that in fact many of the bridges have access to Arakawa island, and I ended up going back across on the Komatsgawa bridge.

Here is a map of my ride that day,

Then it was Monday, and I was off to a downtown hotel with my backpack/carryon. Note the very narrow painted bike lane.

Many smart streets also had these useless sharrow markings, that are ignored by cars and truck parked curbside.

Most of the cycling that you see in Tokyo on major streets is on the sidewalk. In a few areas, there is signage to encourage a separation between pedestrians and cyclists, but these signs were often ignored.

I’ll also note that that bike routes suggested by Google more or less force you to bike on the sidewalk occasionally, as you are often directed the wrong way on a large arterial that is one way.

More of those useless sharrows as I approach the neighbourhood of the University of Tokyo.

This is the one spot where I actually saw some cones laid down for a modicum of protection since there was a bit of an uphill climb from Nezu.

There are often commenting challenges set up in cities to compare commute times by car, bike and transit. In a city like Toronto, biking often wins as downtown traffic can be hopeless, and transit routes can be frustratingly indirect. I figured that in Tokyo, with its extensive network of subways and trains that transit would win.

The conference that I was attending actually at a day at a different campus that was across central Tokyo from our hotel, and I was determined to bike there during the morning rush hour. The rest of the group was to take the subway. Google predicted similar times for transit and cycling: about 55 minutes for the 7.5 km trip.

Here I go. Here are some crossing guards.

During rush hour, the sidewalks are packed and so if you want to bike any distance you need to bike on the street. Here I am at an intersection where I am taking the lane because of a left turn curb lane.

However, I did start noticing that the few cyclists that I saw would bike between stopped cars and actually position themselves right by the curb at the corner. The assumption being that drivers are observant enough not to left hook them. By and large, I found drivers here to be very careful, and I had no issues with traffic. I will note a fair number of close passes when traffic was heavy, but you didn’t get the sense that drivers were out to kill you.

It also helped enormously to have the helmet mirror so that I could keep an eye out behind me, particularly when I was riding around a parked vehicle. Ideally, the mirror would have been mounted on the other side of the helmet.

Some of the shadows were augmented with blue arrows, which you can see did not effect the parking.

Lighter traffic now as I skirt the new Olympic Stadium.

If you stick to major streets, then you can use the same signs as the cars for wayfinding, which was convenient.

Bottom line: I made it in about 50 minutes which was very close to the Google estimate. I started off at 8 AM which was a little past the peak of rush hour. My colleagues on the subway arrived about 15 minutes later, and they commented on how crowded the trains were.

After the day’s events, I’m headed to the Shibuya scramble crossing for a group photo.

Said group photo by Jason Tam.

Jason was also kind enough to take this shot of my and my bike.

At this point, I took the subway the rest of the way back, and regulations stated that bikes have to be bagged on the trains. Thus my carrying handle with shoulder strap and a Dimpa bag.

Two final notes. On the sidewalk, there doesn’t seem to be fixed protocol for which side you take when another bike is approaching. Also, most bikes do not have bells, and it is regarded as a bit aggressive if you use one.

Finally, on small one way side streets, this sign says that bikes are allowed to go the wrong way.

All in all, cycling in Tokyo was more pleasant than I expected. The comparative lack of bike infrastructure was offset by the courtesy of the drivers,

The other thing is that I can now mentally connect some of the districts that I rode through like Shibuya, Harajuku, and Omotesando in a different way than just popping up from the subway.

Perhaps the next time I’ll make use of their bikeshare system.

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I’ve been spending the past week in Tokyo, squeezing in a bit of bike content where I can. Here are some brief notes on several shops that I visited.

The first was Blue Lug, which is well known for custom builds using frames sourced in the US from vendors such as Rivendell, Crust, Velo Orange and Surly. You can see some of their builds on this page. I visited their Yoyogi Park branch a few years ago, but this time I went to the Hatagaya shop.

There was a goodly assortment of staff bikes parked outside the shop. I really like the kid seat on this surly with the special cargo carrying fork.

Indy Fab


Step inside and it pretty much takes your breath away.

Paint samples on drink cans.


Their build area.

Their web shop is a good source for Japanese components and accessories that can be hard to get in North America.

Next up: Rin Project, near Ueno Station. They are a clothing and accessory shop.

I bought a pair of their wool tweed knickers maybe 15? years ago that I pull out on special occasions. You can see them in this picture. The sales man was a bit surprised to see them, and he said that they still make them in cotton.

I bought a pair of their stretch convertible pants which I will review at some point in the future. Also a Brompton carrying handle with shoulder strap that I anticipated needing during the week.

Next up: Tokyo Bike, which is a relatively new shop catering to the crowd who wants a pretty bike over all else.

Tastefully laid out interior.

You can rent this stride bike, rather than buying it outright.

These single speed kids bikes were built around 451 sized wheels. High ten steel frame so they are not light.

I liked the chain guard.

Their main adult bike has 26″ wheels, Shimano Tourney derailleurs, and a very slack frame geometry. All yours for 86,900 yen and above.

Fairly close by was a micro brewery called Folkways Brewing. The best beer I had all trip.

If it is open, this keg is out by the curb.

Here is the small, spare interior space.

and the proprietor, Daisuke, with his nicely restored Moser.

Finally a few shots from the bike area of a department store buried in the depths of Shinjuku station. Since the last time I visited three or four years ago, it looks like e-bikes are much more common.

Most of the mamachari that I saw this time were e-assist.

It’s common to see unusual branding on very generic bikes in Japan, such as car brands like Hummer or Lamborghini. I was sad to see this folder branded Harry Quinn, who was a custom frame builder out of the UK. If you google, you can see the same branding on some Brompton clones.

I’ll report back later on what it’s like to commute across downtown Tokyo by bike.

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MSU Bike Jamboree

I decided that I would mark Earth Day by going down to East Lansing MI to meet up with some old friends and former colleagues, and to lend a hand at the MSU Bike Jamboree.

Here’s a picture of four of us just before we were to depart for a tour of campus in light drizzle. Second from left in bright yellow is Tim Potter, a good friend, our host for the entire event, and the director of MSU Bikes.

Here is his shot of the vendor area.

Photo: Tim Potter, image source

It was great to see the folks from TCBA, the Tri-County Bicycle Association. They were promoting DALMAC, their annual tour over Labour Day weekend that goes from MSU up to the Mackinac Bridge. I was a TCBA member the whole time I lived in the area, up to about 2004.

Here is a shot of three Ride of Silence organizers.

photo: Tim Potter

Pat, in the red cap, is the volunteer coordinator for DALMAC. He also organizes the local edition of the Ride of Silence, and he is also the secret source for the local ghost bike memorials. It was great to talk to him and to catch up a bit on the goings on at TCBA, as well as remembering some of the people that I had known, such as Pat Trudgen, Ed Noonan, and Lenny Provencher.

Later on, KC took over the stand, and Alicia of the TCBA youth cycling club also arrived. Great to see younger folk involved in the club.

Also present were some folks from STS Bicycles, a custom frame builder. Their line of bikes is focused on the gravel and adventure biking market.

They are proud to be from SE Indiana, Rushville to be precise. All frames are made right there. Support domestic manufacture!

This steel fork was part of a frameset headed to Ann Arbor.

Here is a fat bike prototype.

There were some interesting vintage bikes for sale as well. Here is a tandem from Santana for only $500!

Right beside it, an early ROSS police bike with very unusual Suntour brakes.

Speaking of tandems, at one point Thomas and son rolled up on their nicely equipped Co-Motion tandem.

Thomas explained that bike licenses in East Lansing were not compulsory, but were simply to register the bike with the city in case it was stolen.

The slow bike race for kids was made extra challenging by running it on grass.

Earlier in the morning, Erin was busy working on a wall map of campus.

All done later on.

People taking shelter from the cold wind and light rain, which unfortunately kept visitor numbers down.

Despite the drizzle, four of us departed on the tour de MSU.

Here we go.

By Beale Garden.

The local cherry trees look to be a little past their peak, about a week ahead of Toronto.

A little known WWI memoral.

Tim explained that several bike repair stations around campus were funded by an alum. MSE bikes pitched in the pumps, which they also maintain.

This rack design doesn’t keep all bikes from falling down.

At Beaumont Tower.

A much better shot from Tim’s camera.

This is the oldest tree on campus.

Here is one of two bike lock ups in parking garages on campus. They are run by parking services, but there doesn’t seem to be any signage promoting the system and explaining how it works. Inside the cage, you can see the newer design of bike racks.

Riding by Lex Luthor’s house.

Headed east towards Hagedorn on one of the earliest sections of improved bike trails.

We’ve crossed Hagedorn and are looking at the west end of the new MSU-Lake Lansing trail that is under construction.

Riding through the parking lot of the Community Music School.

There’s going to be a bridge installed here this summer. Once done, this will be a hug asset for Meridian Township.

Thanks to Tim for organizing the event. It was great to see some of the features that resulted in having MSU named as a gold level bike friendly campus. It was also good to catch up a bit on the local bike scene.

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BM2022: epilogue

This business of transitioning back to the real world has been rather more taxing than anticipated. Not that I have anything to complain about since most of the rest of the team are on a three day drive back to Toronto. Nevertheless, it’s been interesting. Here I am being dropped off at Reno airport by Danny. All smiles at this point since the worst I thought I had to deal with was a six hour wait for my flight.

photo by Danny

Regrettably, my flight kept being pushed back due to a delay in inbound equipment. It become apparent that I would not catch my connection in SFO, and so I got on the horn with United to try to get onto a later redeye. Eventually it became clear that I wouldn’t be able to catch any redeye and that I would have to spend the night at SFO. I got booked onto the first flight out on Monday morning, and then I thought I was being clever by prebooking a room at an airport hotel. Getting off of the plane, I phoned the hotel, only to learn that the shuttle was not longer running (thanks La Quinta). At that point I went out to the curb to the taxi line, and was confronted by this:

But wait, isn’t this the land of rideshare apps? So I reluctantly opened Lyft and saw that the lowest fare was $170 which was about the hotel room rate, and this for a ride of less than a mile. An interesting case study in market dynamics, since the rise of Uber and Lyft probably killed off a lot of taxis…. So I ended up sleeping in the airport, something I haven’t done in a while. I occasionally woke up due to a slight ground tremor, but they all seemed to be heavy trucks going by, or perhaps the tram. Understand that I lived in the area during the Loma Prieta earthquake back in 1989.

BTW food here is more varied but quite expensive. These sandwiches fare poorly in comparison to the equivalent item from Port O Subs in Battle Mountain.

At any rate, the flight back was painless, and I am now sorting through ten days worth of work emails. The bike team is hiking in the Tetons on the way back to Toronto. I wish I had one tenth of their energy.

See you all next year.

Sept 22 update: the team is safely hope after their long drive.

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Back in 2019, I rode the Ride from Seattle to Vancouver plus Party (RSVP) put on by the Cascade Cycling Club. However, due to a blow out and various difficulties sourcing a replacement tire for my Brompton, I had to stop just north of Seattle, and then I was very kindly driven up to a point where my bike buddy Steve and I could rejoin the ride. As a result, we covered only 61% of the total mileage. This resulted in an unslightly gap in my bike travels.

The gap extended between Woodinville and Mt.Vernon.

To top off a visit to Seattle, Steve and I arranged to be dropped off in Woodinville so that we could fill in that gap. Here we are at the starting point.

Here we go.

Nice vista just a little south of Snohomish.

A little snack break at Proper Joe in charming downtown Snohomish.

Just a bit north of town, the route joins the Centennial Trail.

It is lovely, wide and paved.

Once you reach Arlington, it becomes a generic multi use path that doesn’t pass through the most interesting parts of town.

However, it does hit this historic downtown.

Had lunch at the Bluebird Cafe. Food was filling and the service was great.

The trail continues out of town, including this nice trestle.

Around mile marker 25, the route was directed onto Route 9, and then up a side road. Just as the road steepens, there is this strategically placed stand with ice cream.

Crossing into Skagit County.

Past the county line, there seemed to be a lot more clear cutting.

At this point we had already done our big climb of the day, with many sections without shade, and it was discouraging to go over rollers before the descent that we had earned. Still some sections were pretty.

Today was really hot, with temps above 30 degrees, and Steve picked up a bit of road rash, so he decided that it was wise to call it a day about 15 km short of our goal. Here are our dedicated sag drivers for the day.

Here I am soldiering on in the heat, but at least I got a brief view of Baker.

Passing through the outskirts of Mt. Vernon. 98F = 36.6 C!

Happy to cap off the ride with ice cream at Big Scoop.

Here is what the ride profile looked like. The interesting thing is that the smaller climb and descent around the midpoint was all on the Centennial Trail, and so the grades were very gradual.

And now my red stripe goes all the way from Vancouver to Portland. Now I can say that I’ve cycling across Washington state from north to south, or that I have biked from Vancouver BC to Vancouver WA, all on my trusty Brompton.

Thanks to Steve for good company, and to Peg and Midori for shuttling us around to be able to do the ride.

This year, Cascade has replaced RSVP with a ride from Redmond to Bellingham and back (R2B2). It will be interesting to see if they revive RSVP once we enter a true post COVID era.

Here are a few random shots around Seattle earlier in the visit. Here I am crossing I-5 on the new pedestrian bridge that connects to the Northgate light rail station.

Bioswales separating the bike lane to the right from the roadway, just at the U-District station. Oddly, I don’t see any marking on the bike lane.

A rental e-bike for those who can’t decide between a scooter and an e-bike. Not a big fan of this layout since it is clearly designed to be used with feet up and just the throttle control.

I was told that using these bike racks on light rail can be tricky.

Does this sign make you feel safer? Note: Washington is an open carry state.

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We have spent an extended weekend in Woodstock NY, exploring the town and also enjoying going to concerts, and squeezing in a bike ride or two.

We were actually here to see a concert given by Nexus, a percussion ensemble marking their 50th year of playing together with a show in Woodstock, at a unique venue called Maverick Concerts. The concert hall is hidden away in the woods, and is pretty much what you might expect of Woodstock.

This is the stage where 4′ 33″ was premiered.

In this setting it makes a lot of sense, since the piece is actually not about silence; it is about experiencing the sounds of the ambient surroundings, which in this case includes the rustling of leaves in the wind, and many bird calls.

After the concert, we were lucky to have dinner with the performers.

I got to hear some war stories from Paul Winter, and there was also an incident where Phillippe Petit pulled a coin out of my wife’s ear. Didn’t know that he was a magician in addition to being a high wire artist.

But where is the bike content? Well, the first ride was on the Ashokan Rail Trail which runs along the north shore of the Ashokan Reservoir. Here is the trailhead near the midpoint of the trail.

Off we go.

Most of the trail was in the woods, with only intermittent views of the water.

A bridge near the Boiceville end of the trail, which is the western end.

The Boiceville trailhead.

The next day, I decided to do something a bit different. I rode out to the same trailhead, but I wanted to ride around the end and travel along the south shore as far as the Reservoir Road bridge that roughly bisects the reservoir. Here is the connection of the trail to Route 28A.

I wasn’t thrilled to see that 28A has no shoulder. However, it being relatively early Sunday morning, traffic was light.

A free library that is an entire building!

The turn off for the west end of the causeway on the South shore.

This looks promising.

Stellar views.

On this narrower section, you get a better sense of how much work it was to create the berm defining the south shore along this stretch. I was told that after 911, this road was closed to car traffic for security reasons, since the reservoir is an important source of drinking water for NYC. No swimming or boating allowed, BTW.

Now approaching Reservoir Rd.

So apparently it is also a source of hydroelectric power. This bit reminded me of the Crystal Springs reservoir south of San Francisco.

Looking back west at the stretch I just rode.

Beyond this point, motor traffic descends and connects with 28A, but you can continue along the causeway.

The eastern end, with parking and portapotties.

Now headed back to the bridge across the reservoir.

Some fellow cyclists enjoying the weather and the spectacular views.

Across the bridge to the north shore.

This was my route for the day.

In all seriousness, if you only have a short time to ride in the area of the Ashokan Reservoir, rather than taking the rail trail, I would recommend driving to one end of the causeway on the south shore. It is only about 5 km end to end, but the views are great, and it is car free except for the crossing at Reservoir Rd.

I usually don’t drink beer at lunch, but after a ride I imagine it is OK.

I’ll close with two more shots of things seen in town. One is some memorials for local people who died of COVID.

and finally this: “All dogs that don’t eat wax are welcome”.

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A lightning quick trip out to the west coast to attend a wedding in Vancouver WA. Here I am using my Cycle Toronto bandana for a head covering, since it was a Sikh wedding.

I had a bit of time off between the wedding and the reception, so it was time to partake of bikeshare again to visit two other bike shops that I missed the last time I visited. I was staying near the airport in NE Portland, and on the way south I was biking along this greenway. Biking along it, I was reminded of the many such off main arterial bike routes in Vancouver (BC).

You can see that there are speed bumps and sharrows. Also, most of the smaller cross streets had stop signs which made for speedy biking along the greenway. I can’t imagine how many local ordinances in Toronto would be violated by a semi permanent installation of a basketball net like this one.

At more major streets you had to stop, but there were some green markings across the intersection. Although drivers on the cross streets were not required to stop, about 50% of the time they did. Also fans of kid lit should take note of the name of the street that I was biking along!

The first shop was Clever Cycles, which is known for stocking Bromptons, city bikes and cargo bikes.

I was told that they sell through these Gazelle e-bikes very quickly.

The widest selection of Cleverhood products I’ve seen in one place. I guess it rains here 😉

Saw this heavily laden cyclist on SE 7th Ave.

Next up was Splendid Cycles, a shop that specializes in cargo bikes and e-bikes.

Cargo bike heaven.

I had a nice chat with Joel, co-owner.

They had these locally made custom boxes of varying widths for Bullitts.

These come with dog doors.

I can’t resist including one picture from the wedding reception. Spectacular dancing, with various aunties coming forward and throwing bunches of bills at the dancers. They obviously came prepared with a lot of singles. This is something that wouldn’t work in Canada since it would be dangerous to throw handfuls of loonies.

A few momentos from the trip: Brompton reflective shoelaces from Clever Cycles, a shop T shirt from Splendid Cycles, and a 12 year old block of Tillanook cheddar from the airport.

A lightning quick visit, a great wedding for the happy couple, and a bit of bike content for good measure.

Update: a NYTimes article about transportation funding in Portland. In my wanderings, I passed within a block of Harriet Tubman Middle School, as well as within a mile of the intersection on NE 82 Ave where two pedestrians were killed. Interestingly, transportation access is perhaps a reason why NE Portland has a super hub where bikeshare bikes can be parked anywhere without extra charges. A lot of discussion about how less wealthy neighbourhoods are less pedestrian and bike friendly. Sounds familiar.

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This past weekend I found myself in Portland. Technically this was the third time I was in town, but the first two times were at the end of the Seattle to Portland ride, and both times I was there for less than an hour before being driven back to Seattle. This was the first time that I had time to explore a bit.

One of the first sights was this sign at the airport.

Bike share

The bike share system is 100% e-bike. It requires that you download both the Biketown app, and the Lyft app. The bikes themselves are scattered about the downtown area either at an official station like this:

or you can drop off or pick up at any bike rack. However there are additional charges associated with picking up or dropping off away from one of the orange stations.

Open either app, scan a QR code, and then you can unlock the bike.

A locked bike.

After you unlock the bike, you stow the short cable like this and off you go.

The bikes themselves are tanks with wide 26″ wheels, but the weight really isn’t much of a factor since they are electric.

A bad picture of the rear nuvinci hub.

Bafang motor in the front.

I thought that this control on the right was for throttle, but it was just for the Nuvinci hub. The assist is pedal actuated.

Overall, they worked really well. One quirk is that you have to use the app to see the battery level, and you only get to see the battery level (in terms of an estimated range remaining) once you unlock a bike, but if it is low, you can immediately relock a bike without charge.

River City Bicycles

Although Portland has many bike shops, I wanted to visit River City Bicycles because I had one of their wool jerseys that I bought off of eBay about 20 years ago when I still lived in Michigan.

Lots of good stuff to look at.

Many interesting bikes hung from the ceiling. Here is a Teledyne Titan, one of the first production Ti bikes.

An Exxon Graftek, one of the first carbon fibre frames.

A Rigi, which has two thin tubs for the lower part of the seat tube so that the rear tire can overlap where a normal seat tube would be. Hence the super short wheelbase.

The highlight was a Naked Bicycles Baba Ghanoush by Sam Whittingham, a variation of the bike that won best of show at the National Handmade Bike Show. The original was a one speed.

I couldn’t leave empty handed. They were clearing out the last of their wool jerseys with the stripes (I already had the short sleeve version). I also got their current jersey with 40% wool content made locally by Anthm Collective.

If you’re in the area, you might as well have a meal at Afuri Izakaya.

Robata-yaki i,e, grilled stuff.

yuzu-shio ramen. Really really good.
the custard pudding on the left was to die for

Bike infrastructure

A quick glance of downtown with the bike routes toggled on Google Maps shows a pretty dense network of bike routes. That combined with very courteous drivers made biking around town a pleasure. Also, many of the bridges across the Willamette had bike bikes. Take a look at this spiral off ramp for cyclists and pedestrians on the east side of the Morrison Bridge.

Riding north on the east bank, part of the route is a pontoon bridge.

Heading west on the Burnside Bridge.

I’ve never seen a passing bike lane before (headed west on the Hawthorne Bridge).

Liking this bridge over the 405.

Beyond the intersection, you can see that this one way street has parking on both sides, one car lane, and one bike lane of equal width. Amazing.

Sadly, there are a large number of homeless encampments, especially in the Old Town area.

The perpetual line at Voodoo donuts.

and just across the street is this famous sign.

which I first saw in this video.

A fun couple of days in Portland. I’ll have to go back when I have the chance.

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I’m spending a few days in the Bay Area, visiting some old haunts, and also covering some new ground by bike.

Today I wanted to check out the shoreline area of Mountain View, and I saw from a map of bike friendly routes that it was possible to follow some trails on levees on the edges of the the bay itself.

Leaving Mountain View along Evelyn, and crossing towards Sunnyvale, you have to cross the Mountain View – Winchester light rail line. Here is a bike and pedestrian only crossing.

Maude Ave is a bike friendly road, but the crossing underneath HWY 237 could use some work.

I headed towards the bay on Borregas, and as you can see from the map below, there are two bike bridges that cross 101 and 237.

Here is the ramp up the bridge across 101.

The north end of Borregas terminates at this point, and there are signs directing you to the Bay Trail.

Turning left, here is the entrance to the Bay Trail.

Rather than heading straight onto the Bay Trail, I decided to follow a loop on one of the levees. The surface was packed gravel of varying quality, but still perfectly passable on the Brompton.

Wearing an appropriate wool jersey for the occasion.

After the loop, I started on the Bay Trail proper. It had finer gravel of a different colour, and it was a better surface than the levee trails, some of which had been torn up by motor vehicle traffic.

Brompton portrait, with NASA Ames and the Google domes in the background (picture location shown on the earlier Strava map above.)

A closer picture of the new Google complex under construction.

This section of the Bay trail intersects the north end of the Stevens Creek trail. This is the point at which I headed back towards Mountain View.

Another shot of the Google site. Interesting that the Googleplex is on land that will almost surely be under water by the end of this century.

The Steven’s Creek trail has a whole series of bridges that cross the various highways and rail lines, making it a very easy way to get back to the downtown Mountain View area. Here is the underpass under HWY 101.

Here are some pictures of the bridges across Central Expressway.

Crossing this bridge, you see also see the Caltrans rail line, and HWY 85 running parallel off to the left.

The fact that the Stevens Creek Trail runs along a (domesticated) river bed makes it somewhat analogous to one of the ravine trails in Toronto (such as the Don River trail network), but the urban density of the Bay Area is high enough that there are many connections to this trail to various city streets, making it a valuable commuter corridor.

The ride was a nice way to spend the afternoon before Christmas, on what will probably be the last longer bike ride that I’ll have this year.

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Flooding in Japan

Japan got hit by one of the largest typhoons in recent memory, and this picture really brought it home for me.

It is an image of a playground on the banks of the Arakawa River in Tokyo, in Adachi-Ku. A little sleuthing on Google brought up this image from 2013 of the same area. Note the public washroom building in both pictures.

The banks of the Arakawa serve much the same function as the ravine parks that run through Toronto, providing public open space and a chance to get a little distance away from the surrounding city. Last summer I biked in this area, and when I surmounted the levee that flanked the river, I didn’t think much of it.

Now I realize that major sections of Tokyo east of the centre are in fact below sea level, and it was only due to this levee that they were saved. Other parts of the greater Tokyo area were not as fortunate.

At any rate, hoping that all my friends and extended family in Japan are doing OK.

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