Category Archives: christmas

Ride on Christmas Eve???? Why not

For those of us who don’t have family obligations, we all got together for a ride on Christmas Eve.  I mean, why not.  It’s an extra day we have available to do a ride (thinking that Christmas Day will be completely out of the question).

The ride started at Orinda Bart Station, and Richard was leading this ride.  I was really excited about this, as I haven’t done a ride in the Grizzly Peak, Berkeley area in quite a long time.  I decided I needed to change this up a little bit, and ride somewhere different.  Parts of this ride are featured on the Grizzly Peak Century, which is an excellent ride, that takes place in early May.

The first climb was Wildcat Canyon.  We were still shivering cold, so the climb helped warm us up a little bit.  Richard was leading a blazing uphill pace, and up at the top, by Tilden parking lot, we were treated to an awesome view of the valley.  I was going to start take pictures, but realized that my battery was low, and I forgot to charge it up before leaving.  Damn … no pictures, sorry.

After a short descent, we hang a left on South Park, to climb a road that is closed from Fall to Spring (opening in March).  This gives us the perfect opportunity to ride on a closed road, car-free.  This also means it attracts walkers, hikers, and joggers, but there weren’t too many out there today.  There was this one cyclist who was bombing down the hill in the reverse direction.  These were 15% grades, so coming down is a little crazy.  In the meantime, having these climbs was my opportunity to warm up, and that meant pushing my heart rate up as high as I could.  I reached about 180 bpm near the top.  After letting my heartrate go back down to a respectable level, I felt really good.

Here’s a shot that Richard took of George and me as we get to the end of the climb.  At least his camera has some batteries :p

After reaching the top, we hang a left, and ride along Skyline, with a really nice view of the bay.  In fact, I was able to see the Golden Gate Bridge very clearly from the Berkeley side of Skyline.  I have no idea how many times I said “wow, what a view”.  By this time, we were pretty much warmed up, and not shivering as much.

We then take a really fast descent down Shepherd’s Canyon.  This was nice, because once we got past the hairpin, it was a pretty straight shot into town, and it was a fast shot down.  I didn’t break 40 mph, but that’s because I didn’t know the area that well.  We eventually wound up in Montclair, and had coffee there.  It’s amazing … there was a Peet’s, and a Starbuck’s there … both were jam packed, with a long line.  Down the street, we saw a local cafe, and ducked into there, with no waiting at all.  And it was gooood.  It’s great to have coffee for a local merchant … help out the little guys.  I came out of there with a great sense of satisfaction.

Ok, next agenda is to head back up to Skyline, by heading over towards the Caldecott tunnel area, but climbing the ridge above it.  Again, once climbing up to the ridge, there were great views awaiting us.  I kinda bummed that I forgot to charge the battery for my camera, but on the other hand, the view that we saw would not translate too well onto a jpg or digital image.

As I was chasing after Richard (I was about 100 yards behind him), suddenly I saw his bike slant at 45 degrees.  Rich took a fall … it looks like he hit a rock the wrong way, and he lost balance.  He was okay, but just a little frazzled … nothing to worry about.  Easy for me to say … I’m not the one who fell.  I think it was more embarrassment than anything else.

We circled back to Skyline, to the point where we were earlier this morning.  We headed down to Redwood and then Pinehurst.  Aw, Pinehurst … I haven’t ridden this since I first moved to the Bay Area, and when I was living in Fremont.  This was a nice gradual climb, and one of the local favorite hills.  It’s not the crazy steep climbs, but has a grade gentle enough, but still tough enough, to keep you honest, and get your heart rate up, without blowing out your knees.

We were almost home, but one more climb we had to do … Rheem.  Now this one was a bit steeper, but at least it was short.  Knowing this is the last major climb, near the top, I decided to push my heart rate, and I manage to get it up to 182 bpm.

By the time we got back to the cars, I had logged in 43.1 miles, and 4295 feet climbing, according to Ascent.  Great Christmas Eve ride.

Enjoying the Lights

Can you believe it … it’s almost Christmas time.  Boy, has time flied by so fast.  It just dawned on me today that christmas lights would be out in force.  So as tradition would have it, a rich neighborhood in Sunnyvale is doing its best to show off their rich and wealthy ability to show the most impressive light display so it can be seen from NASA’s Space Shuttle … okay, maybe not.

Probably the most famous display is the Severns-Pease Christmas Display.

This is an impressive display, that synchronizes animatronics to soundtrack play on radio station 104.1 FM.  It’s a pretty awesome display, and it’s something you would expect out of Disney.  The locals were definitely out in force, bringing the kids so they can enjoy the spectacle, without having to travel all the way down to Anaheim at Disneyland for this.

The challenge here was that the lights were not a static display.  By static display, I mean that the lights kept blinking on and off, and not in a predictable fashion.  It all was based on what soundtrack they were playing at the time.

Oh, and not to be outdone, their neighbors still had the energy to put on an impressive light display, even without the choreographed light display synchronized to music. It was just your typical “here are my lights” display.

Oh, and if you didn’t have enough pictures, I have more. You can see it at http://spingineer.smugmug.com/Holidays/Christmas-Lights/10653807_aB5mi#741279876_YEPZy

I’d hate to see what their electric bills look like.