Wednesday brisk ride: Foothill commute

Back when I was planning my mileage for training, I decided that for some of the weekday rides with higher mileage, I would try doing my commute on Foothill rather than Bryant. It increases the hilliness and the mileage substantially. I went for that option this morning and was pleasantly surprised by it. After you pass Stanford, it’s really no more crowded than Bryant, and except for a few tricky intersections, not much more challenging either, except for spending more time on Mary (where the right lane is exactly that annoying width that means you need to take the lane if there are parked cars, and cars are exactly infrequent enough that people are annoyed by you taking the lane).

AVS: 15.3 mph (!)
DST: 16.3 mi (a bit more than I thought)
MXS: 27.3 (downslope after Page Mill)
Ride time: 1:03
Total time: 1:20 (real AVS 12.2)

I did get a few typical annoyances: getting buzzed a few times — by both cyclists and motorists, people trying to turn right at stupid times, etc. There was a particular pair of cyclists on JS/Foothill that annoyed me greatly. One of them buzzed me, and then they failed to actually go much faster than I did until nearly Arastradero, because they were stopped by lights. And after the intersection of Page Mill where the bike lane narrows, they were still riding two abreast where there was really no room, resulting in a truck honking loudly and sustainedly right next to me. I don’t think the honking was appropriate, but neither is riding two abreast for no reason except your own pleasure on a road with a 45-mph speed limit in the travel lanes.

I do wish that more drivers knew that passing cyclists isn’t their God-given right though. I feel like the lives of most cyclists in the state or nation would improve greatly if every driver’s ed course and driving test asked two basic questions and required them to be answered correctly: do cyclists have a right to ride on the road (yes), and what should you do when you find a cyclist in your lane (slow down, be patient, and pass when safe, leaving a margin for error).

There’s a stretch of Foothill where I think the road must be uphill, but it looks really flat. But every time I’m on that stretch I’m going 13-14mph thinking “Why does this feel so hard?” And then once I pass it I start going 20mph, so I think it’s an invisible uphill/downhill thing.

The weirdest intersection is the one for Foothill/Fremont/Miramonte/Loyola. I had forgotten how awful it is to navigate (you can see from the map why, because there are all those roads coming together and you have to exit, turn left, turn right, and turn left in order to turn left), and waited there a long time, but people were courteous and I got through without incident.

I always find the South Bay a bit mind-bending because I imagine Mary and Mathilda as E-W but they actually are very much N-S, so I kept thinking, “Wait, I got off on Fremont and I’m going east because Foothill is N-S, so how am I going to turn onto Mary and still end up going east?” forgetting that Mary is only logically E-W (in that it’s perpendicular to the train tracks/Central, which go “south” to San Jose) and is actually N-S.

I’m feeling pretty good this morning, and thinking I might do this commute again in the future, and not just for training — it’s more fun than Bryant and Middlefield.

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