This past week I spent one half in Carlsbad and the other in Santa Clara. Carlsbad, to meet in person with the company I have been interviewing with, to catch up with Janet and Tom (and Bill as it worked out) and to do a bit of cycling. Santa Clara, to see ex-colleagues and friends and do some cycling.
Of course one doesn’t know for sure until the paperwork is signed but I believe the Monday and Tuesday talks went quite well. Can’t exactly say where we are in the effort as this company has an approach to hiring that is a bit like extended courtship. At the end of the conversation Tuesday morning the electricity failed suddenly (there is probably no other way) in that part of town. I took this as a good omen.
Monday evening had dinner with Janet and Tom. Bill turned out to be available on very short notice and joined us too from his busy new job. We went to Janet’s favorite restaurant, Jake’s in Del Mar, right on the coast. This was, according to Janet, to make every effort to convince me to come and live here. With the wonderful weather and the drive along the coastal road from Carlsbad to Del Mar I was already convinced. Being a little early for the appointment I used the extra time to stroll a bit on the beach and take pictures of the sun just setting.
Having done with the interviews I took Charles for a ride, first along the coast and then a bit landinward looping back via Vista. It was a nice ride with great views along the coast, many beautiful things to look at, a few steepish climbs – the traffic light halfway up one of them was a pity – and the river bike path back to the coast. Now, when I got to the hotel from the meetings I was flowing with adrenaline anxious to get cycling. I changed into the cycling uniform, filled the drinking bottle, put the route description in the rear pocket, found the sunglasses. One more thing to do: put on sun block. While I always have a bottle in my toilet bag, now there isn’t. All ready to go but no protection… hmmm… well… it’s only a two hour ride, I’m going, it’ll be fine. And yes, as I really knew our star doesn’t need two hours to do its work. For the next two days I’m looking like a bright pink lobster, oh well, still enjoyed the ride, but on Wednesday I did go out first thing in the morning to obtain factor 50.
That evening after the ride I went to a local bar/grill just up the street from the hotel. I quite like these local joints, a little rundown, somewhat fierce looking from the outside but inside they’re all teddy bears. A cheerful bartender, Dewie, kept me supplied with beer and gave advice on the menu (chicken tacos first and later a mexican soup). Got talking to an elderly couple Red and Charlie. Red had been married 5 times, she twice. They have been together for a year now, have decided not to marry because that would just jinx things. Red served during WWII and Korea, Charlie in Vietnam. We exchanged addresses, Charlie promised to throw a party when I move here. On tv Boston was playing the Yankees. Seeing that there were a few Red Sox fans around me at the bar, I cheered them too.
Thursday morning I got up early: drive to LAX for the flight to San Jose. At LAX there was a long slow moving line for check-in followed by a very slow moving line for security with only one person checking boarding passes and IDs – this did not move things along. Luckily the flight was delayed by 20 minutes otherwise I may not have made it. This did use up the slack in my morning program so from SJC it was straight to Starbucks on California Ave in Palo Alto to meet up with Graham. I made it there just before The Good Doctor. In the afternoon I put Charles back together and go for a shortish ride to Milpitas and back via Alviso basically to make sure everything on the BikeFriday is working well before it is beer time with Dalibor and Ray.
For Saturday I planned to ride up Mount Hamilton. I was much looking forward to it, perhaps the only thing missing in the Rochester area from a cycling perspective are good long climbs. I did the ride last year in May, the weekend before JavaOne. It went well then really, except that the last three miles were a struggle because the rear derailleur didn’t stay in the lower two gears. The derailleur seems most affected by the packing, unpacking and the handling by the airlines. Now everything was working properly.
I took off a bit before ten in the morning maintaining an easy pace along Trimble, Montague and Capitol to warm up towards the turn onto McKee and then the climb starts. It’s 19 miles to the top but the climb consists of two parts: first out the valley then downhill for a mile and then the remaining 8 miles uphill to the Observatory. It’s consistently between 5-7%. The road was built like this 120 years ago so the horses could make it up with the building material for the Observatory.It went very well so that this time I didn’t need those two lowest gears. Four miles before the summit a white Honda Prelude trailed behind me. Seeing a clear road after the turn I waived them past but the car stayed behind me. Then it drove up next to me with the passenger opening her window to ask me something. Not convinced that the driver’s skills were on par with Johan Bruyneel’s I answered with a brief: “No.” The car slipped back behind me. This started to interfere with my reaching zen-like state while climbing and reminded me of my friend Wouter a 20 years ago on a climb in the French Alps: “Go away. I can’t hear my sprockets.” So, looking over my shoulder with an energetic wave of my left arm accompanied by an appropriate Dutch “Hup!” I waived the car past. And it did. A mile further it had turned and came back down.
While I have done this route many times I went inside the Observatory for the first time. The timing was great – there was another group of cyclists and one of the astronomers did an ad hoc tour of the old 36 inch telescope.
Time to go down.
The first part of the decent, till you get to Grant national park, is very twisty and bumpy. The second part, descending back down into Silicon Valley has been resurfaced and one can go very fast here. About half way down a squirrel jumps from the side shoulder right in front of my front wheel, he’s within inches of the tire, I am so close to him that I can hear his nails scratching the tarmac while he’s sprinting like mad to get from under my wheel. He succeeds. Which is probably good for both of us: he would not survive a collision and I would be scraping the road in quite a generous way.
In the evening Ray and I had dinner at Marie Elena’s in Alviso. A wonderful family owned Mexican restaurant. Highly recommended.
Sunday it was time to fly home. From San Jose I was connecting via LAX and IAD to Rochester. INstead of the usual 6 or 7 am flight, the flight to LAX didn’t depart until 9:45am. This threw me off in such a way that even while having much more morning time, I managed to miss the flight. The United desk attendant was very helpful though and got me instead on a route via Denver to IAD and then on the planned hop to Rochester. Somehow there was enough time to check in the bicycle Samsonite but not the bag with my clothes. That, she advised, I must take as hand luggage. Okay, no problem, on to security. There they pick that bag for an extra check, take out my toilet bag and explain to me that the factor 50 sun block bottle is too big and must stay behind. Oh well, have plenty of sun block at home.
Pictures in the gallery.