Jersey Barriers

June Jerseylicious!

The June Jersey Ride was not without its problems but no less than three groups managed to meet up at Woodlands Market in Tiburon. Ginny led the regular Jersey Ride from the Castro while Laura led the Short & Sassy version from Mike’s Bikes in Sausalito. Roger H and I decided to escape the withering heat in Contra Costa by riding over from Point Richmond in order to check out yet another variant of what we hope will become the club’s East Bay Tiburon loop .

Laura’s group was completely depleted by the start! Co-leader Greg got injured in a softball game the day before and had to back out. Then Elbert dropped off the ride and instead decided to join the regular Jersey group in SF rather than Sausalito. Tim had pre-ride mechanical issues with his bike so he and Carl had to bail right at the start leaving just Laura to carry the Short & Sassy flag.

Ginny’s group stayed relatively intact except at Peet’s Elbert found out that his brake wasn’t working and had to run off to a shop to get it fixed. Roger and I didn’t lose any of us. At least I think we didn’t.

For our route we were trying out two ‘new’ sections, the northbound ped/bike overpass by 101 in San Rafael, which is currently undergoing a rebuild, and the Bay Trail north of San Quentin. We had actually been on both before but not together on the same ride. The overpass-in-progress is still not completed but it’s most of the way there. Previously this walkway was ridiculously narrow, like just three or four feet wide, and it was impossible for two users to pass. When done it will be about ten feet or more wide. The other section is a hidden piece of the SF Bay Trail along Richardson Bay north of 580 and San Quentin. Jeff Mishler suggested this route last year; when we checked it out then, it was muddy, uneven, and puddled albeit rideable on a road bike. A king tide and wet weather would make it unpleasant if not impassable. So we were curious to see what it might be like when dry.

Although we’ve cycled over the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge (RSR) several times this is the first time we’ve seen so many cyclists. Previously we probably saw no more than ten or so other cyclists and that’s been on weekends when you’d expect there to be higher usage. This time there were dozens of cyclists heading both to and from the East Bay. The sunny and hot weather might have had something to do with it because the toll plaza was jammed with cars heading to Marin, probably to go to the beach to escape the heat. The roll to Tiburon was uneventful and as we sailed into Tiburon the cool ocean breeze was a welcome relief. We arrived at Woodlands just before noon and the other Spokers were already there. The goal of the EB Tib loop is to try to arrive at Paradise Drive at the same time as the JR in order to ride together into Tiburon. We almost had it right but missed linking up probably because we had forgotten to lock the car and had to return to our start and head out a second time, a delay that cost us about fifteen minutes.

Having lunch outside Woodlands is usually a winner. Typically it’s comfortable yet occasionally the wind can make it cool enough you want a wind jacket. Today wasn’t that kind of day—it was near perfect. Lunch was the usual haberdashery of topics but mostly about Laura’s recent bike tour in Italy. Inspired by her rental e-bike there she rented one for today. It was like that with Roger years ago; after he test-rode an e-bike, he slapped his credit card on the counter and has never looked back. All his regular bikes—and unfortunately also our tandem—are languishing, heartlessly abandoned due to that hussy Giant he brought back home. Laura’s trip was also a trip down memory lane for us. Having never been in the cycling motherland she was awed by how respectful car drivers were of cyclists. She actually felt relaxed riding in traffic. And of course she was riding in beautiful countryside. Your first cycling trip to Europe is like the first time you have gay sex: you just realize this is where you belong! Or perhaps it’s like crack: you’re ready to sell all your belongings and even your mother in order to move to Italy to get more road! I felt the same way on my first trip. The scales fell off my eyes and I saw that a better life for cyclists is not just possible but a reality. It doesn’t sink in until you actually experience it yourself. Isn’t that like joining a cult?

People were curious about how Roger and I got over to Tiburon so perhaps those San Franciscans who are ‘bridge curious’ will try out the RSR after we get this route perfected. Strangely a long digressive dialog ensued about the bike lane on the RSR—how unpleasant and noisy it can be and the fact that you’re separated from the death machines by just a movable barrier. Although not exactly the same they’re similar to “K” barriers you’ve seen a million times around construction by roadways, those concrete movable low walls. Jeff said they were called “Jersey” barriers, not K barriers. Being from NYC he thought they were so named in order to keep New Jerseyans out of the city. Ginny, who is from New Jersey, thought it was to keep the New Yorkers out! Of course Wikipedia has the history of the name.

Sock Puppets

Today’s rides were the first club ride since the new club socks have been available. FIve of us were sporting them. Don’t forget to order a pair, just a measly $15!

After lunch we ambled back to the Sausalito bike path and parted ways, we going up Camino Alto and they heading back to Sausalito/SF. Our route took us back to Larkspur and through the Cal Park tunnel to San Rafael where we headed to the hidden Bay Trail. There are several ways to get from Larkspur to the west landing and each has its drawbacks. The diversion along the Bay Trail is safer, more pleasant, and scenic but it’s got about a thousand feet of dirt path. Being in the midst of a drought and late spring the trail was dry if a bit uneven but in much better riding condition than before. If the trail is wet, then it’s probably better to take the 580 frontage road despite the at times scary traffic.

We eventually got to the west landing where we had the long climb up the bridge with the usual infernal crosswind from the Golden Gate. The RSR, as someone mentioned at lunch, is not short like the Golden Gate—it’s 5.5 miles long. So whatever you’re dealing with on the RSR you’re going to be dealing with for a long time whether it’s wind, noise, crazy bike traffic, or debris. In contrast the Golden Gate is only 1.7 miles long. The climb to the first tower is about a mile-and-a-half. Its grade is only 2.6% but the crosswind makes if feel much worse, more as if you’re on a 5% grade since you’re using the bigger cogs. And today was one of those days where every effort felt like, well, an effort. The RSR might not be the easiest bridge to take to get to Tiburon but it’s definitely the safer of the two. So that’s no barrier for me!