All posts by Mike

Be careful what you wish for (but still a great ride!)

Since I haven't had much exposure to warm temps so far this year, I started my ride a bit late, so I'd be riding during the hottest part of the day. My plan worked.
Since I haven’t had much exposure to warm temps so far this year, I started my ride a bit late, so I’d be riding during the hottest part of the day. My plan worked.

France is just over two weeks away, and the one thing I haven’t prepared for too well this time around is hotter weather. Last year, Kevin and I had a day where it was 102 with headwinds. So far this year, it’s been rare to see a day break 80. Today I was determined to try and acclimate myself a bit to warmer temps, and my plan, leaving a bit later, worked. Maybe too well.

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Hauling kids in trailers up Old LaHonda

It wasn’t going to be a fast ride; I approached Old LaHonda gradually and was probably going to be doing about 23-24 minutes until I spotted Burt (Chain Reaction alumnus) heading down the hill, so we stopped and caught up on the euro racing scene for a bit before I headed on up the hill. Shortly before the top I passed a pair of Dads pulling kid trailers, 2 kids each! That’s a hefty load to be carrying up the hill! Of course, in a few weeks Kevin and I will likely be passed on our way up Ventoux, one of the most challenging climbs in the world, by an assortment of young kids and even possibly someone pulling a kid in a trailer or trail-a-bike. There was a time that bothered me; I’m sure it still bothers Kevin.

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The LaHonda duck (and turtle) pond

From there it was the usual descent to the LaHonda duck pond, this time actually sitting down to admire the view for a few minutes. It’s on my list of favorite places. Kevin enjoys it in small pieces but doesn’t see the point to spending too much time there, but since Kevin is still off his bike (on the road anyway; he’s getting in some trainer miles while waiting for his head to heal), I had all the time in the world.

And then? Time to meet the sun. Up West Alpine, one of the tougher “reference” climbs. I felt a lot better than I thought I would; maybe the warmer weather loosens me up. Comparing this ride to last year’s climb up West Alpine on the same weekend, the temps were about 15 degrees higher today, and I was about two minutes slower. I was expecting to be even slower than that; my 44:50 time really wasn’t all that bad, considering I haven’t been getting in the really tough rides I’d normally be doing this time of year.

Next, descending Page Mill. Not sure how I ended up with so many PRs for the descent… some probably came when this big guy on a mountain bike came screaming down the hill behind me. I’m thinking, how fast can he go on heavily-treaded mountain bike tires, vs my high-speed smooth road tires? Really fast, it turns out. Faster than I wanted to go anyway.

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Life-saving watering hole in Los Altos hills
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Who cares what it looks like. It’s calories!

To make the ride a respectable length, I took Moody Road into Los Altos hills, which allowed me to get into the real heat. OK, 92 degrees really isn’t all that hot, but compared to anything I’ve ridden lately, it was pretty warm. I was also beginning to run on fumes, not to mention low on water. Fortunately I remembered the water fountain in Los Altos hills, where I refilled my bottles and downed a very melted energy bar of some sort, which proved just barely enough to get me home.

Heading north I did the usual Arastradero, Alpine & Portola Road route, followed by Mountain Home through Woodside and a small detour to see if the Olive Hill Corgis were out (the weren’t).

Just took a closer look at last year’s ride… almost identical! Weird; that wasn’t the plan, just worked out that way. Only real difference is that last year I went up 84 instead of Old LaHonda. The rest of it looks the same. And last year I was on my own as well, since Kevin had been out of commission after getting clipped by a car earlier in the week (while today he’s still waiting to get the stitches from his brain surgery removed before he can ride).

Last year’s ride (June 21, 2015)-

Why I won’t support Santa Clara’s Sales Tax vote for transportation projects

As a retailer, I’ve always had a sensitivity to pricing issues for the products we sell. We have to provide a “compelling selling proposition” to our customers. An exchange of goods and services for payment that makes sense to retailer (that’s us) and customer (that’s you). We try very hard to be as competitive as possible, and thankfully there are some suppliers who give us the same deals they offer the on-line world. Level playing field, as they say.

But then there’s sales tax. We don’t yet live in a world where on-line sales tax is universally charged. It’s happening, but very, very slowly. Amazon, for example, is charging local sales taxes on goods shipped from its own warehouses, but not for goods shipped from 3rd-parties. Some companies openly flaunt the fact that you aren’t paying sales tax when buying from them, and of course forget to mention that you’re legally required to pay them (yes, there’s a section for out-of-state purchases on your California Income Tax Return). Until recently, enforcement was non-existent, but the state is selectively going after some people. Still, the perception is, buy from out of state and save $$$.

Who doesn’t want to save money? But the point of a sales tax is that the people who benefit from the local services provided by that sales tax (schools, roads, police & fire departments, libraries, the list goes on and on…) are the people paying for it. That was then, this is now.

So we have a vote coming up for a sales tax that would pay for all sorts of transportation projects I’m in favor of. The Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition is in favor of it, for good reasons. Yet here I am, a member of Redwood City’s Complete Streets committee, recommending a vote against it. Keep in mind I’m in that category of people who vote for most ballot initiatives that are going to cost me $$$. I’m not a tea party guy.

Yet we NEED the projects. They just shouldn’t be funded by a sales tax, in my opinion. Their time is past. My alternative? A parcel tax. Something that would be pretty much impossible to escape paying for, if you live or work here. If you own a property, you pay directly. If you rent, it’s going to be factored into what you pay. If you work, your business is paying for the property it owns.

It’s time we stop chasing retail businesses out of town. It’s bad enough that rents are increasingly so rapidly that nearly any small business is one rent increase away from extinction. High sales taxes are an unfair burden to add to the mix. The concept of a livable community goes beyond wide sidewalks and open space… it includes the “neighborhood” aspect of smaller shops that are tuned in to the local needs and opportunities of the area. Let’s look at ways we can support tax-paying small businesses before they’re gone (and in some cases, important services they used to provide end up as publicly-subsidized co-ops or a further expansion of local government).