October 17, 2015 – Clouds, 65 degrees
Miles Today: 73
Miles to Date: 8,593
States to Date: 25
I took off today without knowing where I was going – on purpose. I didn’t try to figure my route in advance, Instead, I decided to follow the San Francisco Bay Trail signs and see how well they directed me. The result included both high points and missteps.
The Berkeley Bike Bridge over I-80 took me to a nice stretch of path along the water, and led directly to the Port of Oakland. It might not be good riding during the week, but on a Saturday morning I was the only vehicle in this immense world of cranes and containers.
I lost my way in Fruitvale and wound up back in Alameda; a lovely place but not on the way to anywhere. Finally, I righted myself and discovered the path through San Leandro. Much of the East Bay was salt flats which are being reclaimed as wetland. The bike path follows the barrier strip that separates the bay from the marsh. I met a group of birders who let me view birds loitering on old pier supports through powerful scopes.
I stayed on the route even when the path turned to gravel because it is so beautiful, but I was surprised how few people use it. I went for miles without seeing a soul. I did see one Mexican family building structures from driftwood and playing some invented game of cricket on the beach. The father said, “They wanted to go to Chucky Cheese, but I had a better idea.” They did appear to be having fun, and he saved fifty bucks.
Google maps routed me over the Route 84 bridge to Palo Alto, but bikes are not allowed on that toll bridge, so I stayed on the east side. After thirty miles of incredible riding I was dumped into suburbia through Hayward, Union City Fremont, and Newark. The area is simultaneously built up and empty. There were so few people about on a nice Saturday afternoon. I observed a few crowds at organized soccer games, and boot camp groups running around the many, many fitness centers; but miles of sidewalks lay vacant. Finally I saw students milling about outside Northwestern Polytechnic Institute. All Asian. In fact, ninety percent of the people I saw south of Oakland were Asian, both Indian and Chinese. Silicon Valley is an Eastern Brain Empire. The car dealers along the Auto Mile even advertise in multiple languages.
A series of bike paths led me around the southern tip of the bay. Again, trails on the crest of river levees. I missed a turn and wound up at the San Jose airport, but was able to find an alternate route that landed me at my host’s place in Santa Clara before dark set in. Nat and I enjoyed chili and salad and talk of semi-conductors and bicycles.