Pleasanton to San Jose (and forgetting my helmet, again!)

9/30/21

Well… on the road there are (many) ups, and then there are some downs.

I awoke this morning and enjoyed my Chinese food leftovers from last night, took a leisurely shower, and got everything prepped to leave. I did several “sweeps” of the house, as usual, to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything.

Nope, all looked good.

I put my rig together outside (it’s so much easier to load the trailer outside the door, rather than trying to waddle it out while fully loaded) and took off down the shady street into the beautiful clear late morning.

I had made it several miles down the road when it suddenly dawned on me: I’m not wearing my helmet.

What?? Where was it? How could I have forgotten it? (Again!) Did I leave it somewhere? When had I last seen it?

Should I try to go back, and search again? No, I’m sure I didn’t leave it at the house. Did I leave it at Chipotle? Argh, that’s even farther back away.

Then I remembered that my rear light was on it, too. Argh! I had been so happy and proud of myself when I discovered a nifty way of “doing” the rear light, back in the hotel on my first pass through Klamath Falls.

Now I was out on the road with an unprotected head, and missing that cool rear light, too. (I did eventually find the other light I thought I had lost, but it’s not a style that can attach to a helmet like that.)

What should I do?

I decided to let it go, and to press forward and buy another one (argh—memories of Tacoma) in Fremont, which was only about 13 miles away.

I did my best to enjoy the ride and the beautiful scenery, but I was kicking myself for leaving it behind (and still not even remembering where it could be) and for losing that cool rear-light setup.

I got to Fremont (which had some great bike infrastructure–see pics) and found a bike shop in the same shopping plaza as a little locally owned natural-foods store where I hoped to stock up on Clif bars. (As it turned out, they didn’t have any. Argh again.)

I went into the bike shop and quickly identified another simple, low-cost helmet. (Don’t worry, I wasn’t skimping on safety—all helmets have to meet safety standards before being approved for sale.) I wanted a white one, since it provides better visibility, but there were no more in stock in my size (same as in the Tacoma shop, as I recall) so I got a black one.

The employee who rang me up kindly let me use the employee restroom, which was a lifesaver since the natural-foods store had a prominent sign declaring no public restroom, and I was way overdue for a bathroom break.

As I rode away, I realized that this new helmet was not going to work with that same kind of rear light, either. I’m going to have to come up with a new configuration.

I was disappointed on a few levels, but really, in the grand scheme, this was a pretty minor problem. I made it to Fremont with my skull intact. I quickly found a bike shop, bought a new helmet that fits just fine, and got on my way.

(I eventually did remember where I had left the helmet: in a box in my host’s living room. The box had hidden it from my scanning eyes. Lesson learned: don’t store any belongings out of plain sight! I’ve even put the word out in the Buy Nothing Travelers’ Network, to see if by chance someone will be commuting from Pleasanton to San Jose in the morning, and might be willing to pick up and drop off the helmet for me. We’ll see… if not, I can let it go, or heck, even possibly get it in November, when I come back through the Bay Area.)

I found an all-vegan burger place in neighboring Newark for lunch, and enjoyed my meal outdoors.

After all that, I pressed on for the last three hours or so of the day to San Jose.

I admit that it was not the most scenic or relaxing of rides. I felt the dry desert landscape around me, and felt a bit like I was in a post-apocalyptic movie or dystopian novel. I could see why Californians yearn for rain (even as I, as a longtime Oregonian, have planned this trip largely to escape the rain for the season.)

I pedaled past the airport. I pedaled along major thoroughfares. I pedaled along a few car-free bike/ped paths, but some of them paralleled freeways, separated only by wire fences.

It’s not always bliss out there on the bike.

But, as the sun dropped a bit in the sky, I approached San Jose and found some shade in the bike lanes. I rode through several parks on a scenic bike path. When I got to San Jose, I even took a brief detour to see the downtown area (see pic) before continuing on to the suburb of Campbell, where my Warmshowers hosts for the next two nights live.

And once again, I received a warm reception. My host served me some homemade vegan pumpkin curry for dinner (yum!) and showed me the adorable tiny house in the backyard (see pic) where I’ll be sleeping.

I met their two fluffy cats, and put a load of laundry in the washer before heading out, along with the wife of the couple and their neighbor, to a local park where the husband was doing sound for a local concert-in-the-park event. We enjoyed the folk musicians (who sang, among other original and cover tunes, Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi, which took me back to the “soundtrack” of the bus between Ashland and Klamath Falls the other day.)

When we returned, I retrieved my clean clothes from the dryer.

Tomorrow, we’re planning to visit at least one of two nearby Japanese gardens, and possibly also a “first Friday” street fair in downtown San Jose. We might even see a play!

What a range of experience in 24 hours.

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8 thoughts on “Pleasanton to San Jose (and forgetting my helmet, again!)”

  1. You remind me of the time on my cross country bike trip that I left a water bottle in the middle I fridge of a hotel room (I also wore a camelback )and 20+ miles away I was startled to find it not on my frame. Brief panic, some mourning for the old beloved object, then as I rode I realized in all likelihood this was the biggest problem I’d face that day, and I was thankful. Yay Maren!

  2. More pics please! You’ve got me curious about the inside of the tiny house, the bike shop, and your hosts! I’m behind in my reading, but gonna catch up this weekend! Pedal on, Maren!

    1. Thanks, Sabby! Yes, sometimes I don’t take photos of hosts or interiors just to kind of preserve some privacy/anonymity. (Plus I take soooo many pics already–you should see how many I don’t post!) But I’m so glad you’re enjoying the blog; thanks for following!

  3. Jeez. Stay safe out there, Maren! What will you forget next, your shoes?

    On a very prosaic level I’m also wondering … it sounds like you bought 2 helmets in one day, if I read you correctly. And if you really do retrieve, in November, the helmet you left in your host’s box, then you’ll have THREE helmets. What will you do with your extra helmets? I presume you have limited storage space as you go!

    Oh wait a minute! No, you only bought one helmet. I see now. You were just REFLECTING that you had made it to Fremont with your skull intact and had bought a helmet and your problems were minor. The English teacher in me is compelled to point out that by using the word “had” in these sentences, you could have been a tad clearer:

    “I HAD made it to Fremont with my skull intact. I HAD quickly found a bike shop, HAD bought a new helmet that FIT just fine, and HAD GOTTEN on my way.”

    You’re welcome.

    I should go easy on you. You HAD HAD a long day, I know. 🙂

    Anyway, kudos to you for perserverance.
    Yum on the pumpkin curry.
    YAY on the Joni songs!

    1. Haha, wow, Marc. There’s a lot here! I’ll just say that the first “extra” helmet I bought (in July, in Tacoma) I chose to leave with my “everyday” bike in Portland, for my tenant to use, so that worked out. It’s not looking like I’ll get back this new extra helmet–at least not soon–but maybe the Pleasanton Warmshowers host could pass it along to someone else he hosts. I guess I’m spreading around the helmet love. 😉

      But yes, sometimes I’m pretty tired at the end of the day when I write these posts. It’s cool, because I’ve been packing in so much activity every day! Today another Japanese garden, and tonight a night market. This journey is unfolding beautifully. 🙂

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