Archive for December, 2009

Up San Francisco Bay Sunday, December 6th, 2009

Patricia’s prized watch was running fast. Way fast! It had been serviced a year ago and she mused ‘this should not happen’. So, I volunteered….to go to Post St. in San Francisco and bring it to our watch repairs guys. I saw an opportunity to do a small bicycle adventure up along water’s edge of San Francisco Bay and spend the day discovering the beauties of this spectacular natural feature which is much overlooked by the busy-ness of everyday Silicon Valley life.

I brave the traffic along Wolfe Road and Central Expressway thenI find the entrance of the Steven’s Creek Trail at Highway 85 going east to the wetlands of the Bay. The trail follows Steven’s Creek and the forested path is quiet and soothing tunneling its way through dense trees and undergrowth. At junctures the growling traffic can be heard but fortunately not seen.

The San Francisco Bay Trail is a wonderful idea. Just imagine being able to bike all about the bay in a tranquil state without being concerned with traffic and other distractions. But…we’re not quite there yet. A good portion of the trail exists but it suffers from interruptions and areas where it is poorly marked or it just ends. So, it’s a bit of an effort at times. But what does exist is wonderful and well worth the effort. Eventually the plan is for a continuous 500 mile biking/hiking trail connecting 47 cities, and nine counties around San Francisco Bay.  Trail details at

I exit the sylvan tunnel of Steven’s Creek Path onto the Shoreline levees normally providing expansive views of the south bay. This morning a low tulle fog casts a somber pall over the gray waters. The Dumbarton Bridge rises in the distance connecting to Alameda County to the east. I ride on the levees near water’s edge occasionally stirring a flock of ducks or flushing a plump pheasant from thick dry grasses. It’s rather surreal as the picture is a wonderful pastoral contrast from the frey of Silicon Valley just a mile away.

I ride by Mt. View’s Shoreline Golf Course, Palo Alto Airport and the well hidden path by Palo Alto Municipal Golf Course. There are small groups of golfers huddled together in the damp fog slowly trudging their way through a round. Today is reserved for the real enthusiasts as most of the course is empty. At one time I was an enthusiast too! But, continual inconsistent play made my enthusiasm wane. The golf swing is elusive to most amateurs…and some professionals too. One day all is smooth and easy and the next it’s as though you never played before. It’s a tough sport. I feel a sardonic smile coming as I muse the many outings where I thought I owned the perfect swing, only to be reduced to the depths of despair before the round terminated. But…recently I’ve found a new line…the analysis of my weak spot… the take away to the top. I could never master the take away and find the correct position at the top of the swing. Recently I have had an epiphany and before my days are done I wish to play rounds with a consistent swing. A repeatable, consistent swing. How great would that be? The thought ignites a surge of power through my body as I envision hitting the long irons with power. And I smile. And nod to myself  while saying, ‘yes, yes’, I can do it.

The path ends towards East Palo Alto and I must double back along levees and enter Bay Street to University Avenue to pick up the pleasant Bayfront Path at Highway 84. At Marsh Road it once again ends and I navigate through city streets of Redwood City to regain the path at the lagoons of Foster City.

Fog yields to sunshine and I feel the welcome rays on my back. Wide sweeping paths at water’s edge meander in oval patterns skirting backyards and condo complexes and I settle into a lazy pace absorbing the sheltered environment. Residents walk with dogs, older folks sit on benches and chat while young mothers are out with strollers. It’s a pleasant change from the busy streets of Redwood City.

It’s sunny and breezy and there are white caps on the waters. Every couple of minutes ‘too big’ to fly airplanes appear over my right shoulder slowly descending to meet the runway jutting onto the bay. The strength of wind-gusts, the smells and sounds of the bay, the warmth of sunshine and the fine vistas combine to create a sense of contentedness. It’s good to just be alive and appreciate this moment in time. Yacht harbors, lagoons and lush green parks all line the water’s edge as I rhythmically glide on my elevated bike path. I pass familiar hotels and restaurants south of the airport. At one time this area was a second home. We would stop at Saluto’s piano bar after the Leaning Tower closed for drinks and jazz watching the planes land in the night. It was a long time ago and another life and the different spots cause memories to surface.

The trail ends and a city street path skirts by the airport. It’s not uncomfortable and rather exciting to feel the power of the jet engines. I’ve always loved airports and during my days at the Leaning Tower Restaurant I would come to the airport in the afternoons and get a shoe shine. Such a luxury to get  a professional shoe shine with the snapping of the cloths and the smell of wax and all.

I enter Oyster Point Boulevard, skirt around the marina and weave through hotels along US 101 to frontage roads along the freeway and the Brisbane Lagoon. Once again I travel un-trafficked roads by the lagoon to Tunnel Road which terminates at US 101 and I proceed on 3rd St. by Hunter’s Point. Candlestick Park is to my right. It’s windy and the neighborhoods turn seedy but after some maneuvering I am at the train station and AT&T Ballpark. It’s all familiar now.

Downtown traffic is always heavy…and unruly. So, caution is the byword. I ride on the sidewalk. Kind of ride, that is. I sit on the bike and weave through the pedestrians while I give an occasional push with a foot. It works well and I don’t have to suffer by walking with my arthritis. At Market St.  near  Union Square holiday shoppers are out in force but I proceed undaunted to Post St where I lock my bike, as I’ve done before, to a street sign.

I arrive at the Rolex Center and hand over the watch. It was my assigned task. The watchmaker looked at the watch, asked me the symptoms and said he could fix it as I waited. I sat comfortably, made phone calls, and shortly he came back to deliver a brighly polished and repaired watch. Wonderful. His name was Gianni and we began to chat about bike riding. He was  Italian and we began to recount our bicycle adventures in Italian. How wonderful. I told him about riding in Tuscany and he told me of his adventures from Munich over the Brenner Pass to Rome with his pals. How very wonderful…I had done a task, spent a beautiful day and made a new friend. Is life good or what?

Luciano J. Ercolini

The Cycling Tuscan

Dalmatian Realty, Silicon Valley Real Estate,