11.3 Miles to Alviso and Back
Back when I was first starting on my weight loss regimen, Lucie and I bought bicycles with our tax return, so I could get some low-impact exercise. This was back when I was having trouble walking for any long amount of time, so going to the Campbell Community Center track was (back then, at least) out of the question, so we figured getting out and riding bikes would be a good start.
As it turns out, the only bike that would take my weight was a cruiser-style bike, with the old-style coaster (I.e., back-pedal activated) brakes. I hadn't used that style of bicycle brakes since I was in grade school, and while the saying that you can't forget how to ride a bike might be true, the same doesn't go for stopping e bike once you're moving. After a couple of embarrassing events where I cruised well past my intended stopping point -- including at Vasona Park where I tried to prop myself on a concrete curb, and ended up missing the curb, falling over, and spraining my wrist trying to break my fall -- I sort of put the bike away on our balcony and concentrated on walking.
Since the completion of the Guadalupe River Trail through downtown San Jose, winding along the Guadalupe River all the way up into Alviso, earlier this year -- the trail itself has been around for a long time, but was just recently paved its entire length -- we've been thinking about riding it. But, not on that bike; because it doesn't like me. Much like Hawai'i, I believe the bike kind of wants to kill me.
We end up using the last of our tax return money to buy a replacement bike, a 21-speed hybrid bike with a more upright sitting position so it's easier on my back. It's more comfortable, faster, and a LOT lighter than my cruiser, though it doesn't have the spiffy flame paint job. Ah well; can't have everything. It has the hand brakes I'm used to, so I'm able to stop where I want to, which is probably better than aesthetics anyway.
We put the bikes on the back of Meg and drive up to my work. It's located right next to an entrance onto the Guadalupe Trail, it has secure parking, and we can take city streets there, so no worries about bikes flying off the back of our car at freeway speeds.
The trail itself is beautiful... Raised above the Guadalupe River, fully paved and 6 feet wide, underpasses at all of the major streets; it really is a joy to ride. The pollen can get a little brutal since you're out in the middle of nature, and if its a windy day you can struggle to move more than a few feet per minute; but you can see ducks and Canada geese in the river, and lush foliage, and the new Niners stadium being built near the Great America theme park... and if you follow the trail all the way up into Alviso, you end up not two blocks away from Maria Elena's Restaurant, home of some of the tastiest guacamole we've had in a long time. Stopping there and enjoying a light lunch on the patio (where you can keep an eye on your bicycles) is a very pleasant way to rest up before the ride back.
We had ridden this trail a few times before, but had never gotten all the way to the end -- we were just starting out and hadnt built up the stamina yet; this was the first time we'd managed to make it all the way, and so we treated ourselves to a light lunch (plus the guacamole) before heading back home. All in all, the round trip was a little over 11 and a quarter miles, which surprised us a bit... it didn't seem like that far, but just a nice leisurely ride alongside a calm riverbed where geese were swimming, trees (and clouds of pollen) swayed in the breeze, birds flew overhead and squirrels scampered below, and we had a nice big trophy waiting for us halfway through, in the form of some tasty, tasty guacamole.