Sunday, October 05, 2008

Bicycling becomes a family activity

My blog and website attest to the fact that I have become a serious cyclist in the past nine years. I even ride my bike to work a couple days a week. But this year I brought my son, Peter, into the world of cycling. We gave him a basic bicycle for his birthday; he commutes to work on it a few times weekly.

But this Sunday was special. We did our first century together this Sunday, even if it was only 100 kilometers. It was the Surf City Century in Santa Cruz (Aptos) that wove through redwood canyons, eucalyptus groves, strawberries fields (they did seem to go on forever), raspberries fields, and apple orchards to the south. The temperature was in the mid 70s and it was a beautiful day. We had a great time, and it was wonderful to hear Peter say "I'm doing this ride with my dad" to various people at rest stops.

I offered that he could do 100 miles with me next weekend, but he declined, somewhat to sleep well tonight and to recover tomorrow. But I think we're both proud of each other.

Mount Umunhum Revisited

I wrote a long blog about the abandoned Air Force base on Mount Umunhum a few months ago. It came back into the news again this week, with another visit of veterans and family to the dilapidated base, as reported in the Mercury news, complete with photos.

Also, the article pointed to an website run by Basim Jaber which contains pictures from both reunion tours.

The point of this article is that it is that we still need to pressure the Defense department to clean up this site and open it to the public. Below is a quote from the Mercury News Article on October 5, 1998.

"In 1986, the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, a public agency based in Los Altos, purchased the summit for $260,000. But it has remained off limits because its 84 abandoned buildings are a crumbling ghost town contaminated with asbestos and lead paint. They must be demolished and hauled away. The district patrols the site, and trespassers can face fines of $300 or more.

For 22 years the district has insisted that the Defense Department pay for a cleanup. But the Pentagon has done little, largely because the base is in a remote location, with little political pressure.

"We want the Defense Department to clean it up as soon as possible so people can enjoy this inspiring place. This is one of the most scenic views in the Bay Area," said Rudy Jurgensen, a spokesman for the open space district.

Rather than clean the site up and repave the road itself — a job now it now estimates will cost $11 million — the district has spent its money, raised from property taxes on San Mateo and Santa Clara county residents, buying land. It has spent $52 million buying up 17,400 acres around Mount Umunhum — an area 17 times the size of Golden Gate Park in San Francisco — and named the area Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve.

In 2002, U.S. Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, announced he would push for federal funding to clean up the site and open it to the public, creating a South Bay park on par with Mount Tamalpais in Marin County or Mount Diablo in Contra Costa County. But he's had no luck. Honda's request for $4 million this year died in committee. He is now working to organize a meeting with Reps. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, and Anna Eshoo, D-San Mateo, and John Paul Woodley, assistant secretary of the Army for civil works."

Let's see what we can do to pressure our government to take action on this cold war remnant.