Thanksgiving this year was the way it’s meant to be: not exciting, quietly happy, bustling but not busy. We didn’t leave town, so we did another part of the Thanksgiving Arterial Bike Ride around the Bay. Yesterday it was El Camino Real from Mountain View to San Mateo, about 20 miles. Fortunately it wasn’t raining. It took about two hours.
The Thanksgiving Arterial Bike Ride around the Bay came about when I decided I wanted to bike along the major arterials of the Bay Area, the historical thoroughfares. Just to say I’d been there and done that. I did E 14th/International/Mission from Oakland to Fremont once, in college. In 1992, I rode Mission/El Camino Real from SF to San Mateo on Thanksgiving (dinner was at my aunt’s house in Foster City, my cousin gave me and my bike a ride home after dinner.)
Thanksgiving day is the best day to ride on a major arterial, bcause there’s very little car traffic, and the few people out and about are fairly mellow. Riding ECR on any of the other 364 days of the year is a very stressful experience. The remaining segments I have to complete are El Camino Real from Mountain View to San Jose, and San Pablo Avenue from Oakland to Pinole.
You see so much more when you pass by at 12 mph than at 37. You can appreciate the architecture along ECR better, more so the variation than the aesthetics. You notice businesses that you didn’t know existed, like a reweaving store in Redwood City. Joe has a cherished pair of pants where a hole had formed from being worn out; maybe they can fix it. Appropriately enough, we also passed by a diner called Pilgrim’s Progress, which was full of people picking up pies.
ECR’s character varies a lot. In Mountain View and Los ALtos, it’s strictly middle class commercial, Palo Alto, mostly institutional, with Stanford University, Palo Alto High School and the parks. When you get to Atherton you’re biking through a forest , there aren’t even any sidewalks. The estates have turned their backs on the traffic. Redwood City is commercial to the point of ghetto-hood. San Carlos and San Mateo are a bit fuddy-duddy. (the average age-stage of the residents is retirement.) ECR climbs a little hill through Belmont.
The curb lane/shoulder in the northern stretches was not very well paved/maintained, a marked contrast from the travel lanes to tthe left. It made for rather uncomfortable biking. But throughout the ECR, there are the mission bells, a reminder of the history that this was once part of Spain’s sphere of influence, through the chain of Franciscan missions.