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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Last Sunday, I wanted to do a ride, and I'll usually head south. But it's been so windy around here lately, I didn't feel like fighting a headwind home. Unfortunately, I live fairly close to downtown San Jose, and there aren't a whole lot of good options for heading north. I decided to investigate the Guadalupe River Trail, which goes right through downtown, and see how far I could go. My goal was to make it to San Francisco Bay.

I had never been on this trail before, and thought the closest entrance was closed, but Fr Ted Crilly told me that where it looked closed, there was actually an opening. See if you can find it in this picture.

(Hint: look near the telephone pole. There's an asphalt ramp and a break in the fence)
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
This is a river trail, although it's little more than a creek at the moment. This area can flood, and back in 1995, parts of downtown were under water, so they built a lot of flood control structures, and also built the trail.

The trail goes right under Hwy 280, where it intersects Hwy 87.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
For some reason, they built a lot of dead ends into the trail system. You'll be riding along, and suddenly the branch of the trail you took just ends, usually unceremoniously. The branch in the first picture heading left is the dead end. You have to take the right branch up the hill, cross over the bridge, and down the other side to pick up the continuation, as shown in the second picture. You'll have to do this many times along the way.

The shiny bluish building in the first picture has an interesting story. The developer built it when times where good and office space was hard to find. Then the bottom dropped out of the market. The developer sat on the building for several years, trying to find a single tenant for the whole building. Finally, they found one. I think it was BEA Systems. Right before the deal was official, Oracle acquired BEA and the deal was put on hold or canceled. As far as I know, the building is still empty today.

(Update: This article came out today: http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_9400731. I guess Oracle owns the building, but never occupied it, and now wants to sell it)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Next the trail comes up in Children's Discovery Park, which contains the Children's Discovery Museum. You can't miss it, because it's a bright purple building. They often hold concerts here. There is also a giant Monopoly game.

Currently, there is a monkey structure called a Homourobos, which was displayed at Burning Man in 2007. ThinkCooper has some pictures of it there in his BM post. http://forums.roadbikereview.com/showthread.php?t=107409

Basically this funny structure is a giant zoetrope. Think of each monkey representing an image, like when you did stick drawings in a notebook and flipped the pages. At night, there is a strobe light that flashes, and if you look in one place on the structure, the monkeys appear to move.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Through downtown, the trail is almost at water level. A lot of the office towers that line the river have built access to the trail, and it reminds me somewhat of the Riverwalk in San Antonio. It's nowhere near that scale, however.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
You climb out to street level at Arena Green, which is a park next to what was originally the San Jose Arena, but after several names is now known as the HP Pavilion. I couldn't help but deviate slightly from the trail to show a picture of a San Jose landmark, Henry's Hi-Life. It's a dive, but it's good food, and it's always jammed with people before Shark's games. You can see the Arena...er...Pavilion in the background. The crosswalks show where the trail is.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
There are some strange things about this trail, and one of them is where it dead ends at the railroad tracks. I don't remember the whole story, but basically, they built the trail with the assumption that they could cross the tracks, but when they got there, the railroad said no way. Initially they threw up their hands and did nothing, but someone finally had the bright idea to go under the tracks. It's a silly solution, but what the hell, it works.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
The trail continues through a park with paths going every direction. It's pretty easy to get lost here, and of course there are the inevitable dead ends they love so much. Just stick to the closest trail to the river and you'll be fine. Except when heading back the other way, when you want to bear right at a certain point!

At the end of the park, you cross under Hwy 880 and the paved trail ends, right at the corner of the airport. It's a packed dirt and gravel trail from here on out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The airport has been under construction forever, it seems. They are building a brand new terminal, plus multi-level parking garages, and who knows what else. It's a mess, and I'm thankful that I'm not flying anywhere for a while.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
After getting through the airport, you emerge into a quiet section that seems desolate, except for the occasional trail user. It's like this for several miles, just a dirt road with trees on one side and the river on the other. It's one of those roads where you just shut off your mind, put it in a big gear, and grind it out against the incessant wind. The funny thing is, you aren't in the middle of nowhere. It just seems like it. On the other side of the trees are the business parks that line North First Street and Tasman. All the biggies are here: IBM, Cisco, etc. Not too far away is Santa Clara, with Intel and Yahoo and dozens more. The trail is a quiet oasis in the midst of a pretty busy area.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I didn't think I had any chance to make it to the bay. I figured someone would gate off the trail at some point, but I was wrong. At the end of the trail is a small, somewhat forgotten town called Alviso. This used to be the port of San Jose, in days gone by. Now the port is gone, because it filled with silt and mud and basically disappeared.

I'm not sure how fast this change occurred, but clearly it caught some people by surprise. An old dock contains several boats, mired and abandoned in the mudflats. Some still have rigging and tarps. There is a channel with water, but apparently it's not enough to float the boats, and the owners are long gone. The old South Bay Yacht Club is still there, and still seems kept up and functional, almost as a bad joke.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Finally, the end of the line. I can go no further. The trail ends here, at the bay, at what is now a county park. This town has seen better days, that's for sure, but there are still people living here. One can only imagine the glory days of this town, 100 years ago. For now, the old buildings are run down, and a large part of the shoreline is a salt pond.

From here I turn around and ride the wind back home. The trail back is the same as the one I took to get here. No surprises. It's basically a flat ride, but my legs are surprisingly dead. Fighting wind on a dirt and gravel road for miles will do that, I guess. I wish I had a cross bike, or at least bigger tires. 700x23 is not ideal!

I have to say, I really enjoyed this ride.
 

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Interesting ride. Do you have any more pics of the boats and docks? Can you walk on the docks by the boats? I tried to find the docks with mapquest's aerial pics but couldn't.

edit to add: I went to maps.live.com and used the birdseye view and might have found the yacht club. Looks like there is a nice looking trimaran at the south end of the docks if I have the right location. Looks like if someone were into boating, or wanted to try a twist on a "livaboard" situation, this might be a good way to find something inexpensive. Probably a good thing I don't live out that way anymore otherwise I might find myself looking into it. That trimaran does look like a good prospect though. Hmmmmmm.....
 

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It may not be beautiful...

but that trail's clearly a good thing to have. That RR underpass looks like an obstacle course. Pretty clear the designers want you to walk and not decapitate yourself...

We need a report when you go to the next Sharks game, complete with food stop.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
treebound said:
Interesting ride. Do you have any more pics of the boats and docks? Can you walk on the docks by the boats? I tried to find the docks with mapquest's aerial pics but couldn't.
Google Maps has a pretty good view. You can see the docked boats sitting on the mud, as well as some floating boats that are in a winding channel (Alviso Slough) that eventually reaches the bay.
 

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Great report. If there is one thing that Reno has seriously screwed up is the lack of trails. You're better than me. I'd be bad and would be looking all over those boats just for the heck of it. I love abandoned stuff (to look at but not take).
 

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Back in the olden days, they used to dredge the Alviso slough area so that it could be chartered by boats. Of course, since the slushy stuff required frequent dredging, they eventually gave up on it, and Alviso turned into sort of a forgotten wasteland.
 
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