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Biking at Alviso County Park (Santa Clara)

by Tom Johnson on Mar 17, 2019
categories: biking

A brief account of biking in Alviso County park's pathways.

I usually just write about topics related to technical writing on this blog, but for fun I’m going to start including some additional topics, mostly related to biking in the Santa Clara county area. If this topic doesn’t interest you, just tune out the category.

For years I have played basketball as my primary form of exercise, but as I’m getting older (now 43) and injuries have started increasing, I’m considering doing more low-impact sports, such as biking. I’ve been biking to work for the past 8 years or more, and my current round-trip commute is about 16 miles. Switching between biking and basketball has usually been the extent of my cross-training, but I think I developed some tendonitis in my foot (due to overuse), and something is messed up with nerves in my shoulder (not sure why), so I am taking a break for a few months to heal. During this time, I’m trying to bike a bit more.

This morning I rode out to Alviso County Park. This is an interesting park. Apparently, Alviso was a popular shipping port for the Bay area decades ago, but two events caused the area to decline: railways replaced shipping ports as a primary distribution path, and the capital moved from San Jose to Sacramento.

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As a result, Alviso feels a bit like an abandoned town, with breathtaking views of a shallow, quiet bay but with housing that looks semi-abandoned. Here’s an old cannery building or something with a mural that still looks cool even though it’s faded:

Alviso building

The county park’s trails consist of dirt pathways that extend out into the bay waters in long, curving gestures, like someone drawing lines on a page. Here’s a map of what this looks like:

Alviso map

These dirt pathways are bikable if you have a hybrid bike or mountain bike, and if the dirt is packed down. Don’t attempt these paths after a recent rain.

The area is a wildlife refuge, so keep that in mind as you pass flocks of seagulls, egrets, ducks, geese, sparrows, and other life. These pathways stretch out in unpredictable ways in these Bay waters, and it’s never really clear if you’re heading down some unrecommended path or making your way into a scenic paradise.

Alviso panorama

Unlike the other trails in the Santa Clara county parks, these trails are much less trafficked by pedestrians, and you might find yourself riding alone for quite a while before passing someone.

Alviso panorama

Some of the trails can be bumpy in places, causing you to go slowly and bounce up and down. Make sure you have water and sunscreen. Sometimes it can feel a bit unsettling being so far disconnected from others, out on an unfamiliar remote path surrounded by still water, but other times it’s perfectly serene and peaceful. If you go riding in the morning, the blue hues of the sky and the water combine to form a heavenly bay view.

Alviso panorama

Overall, Alviso is a fun park to explore. The rough dirt pathways make it difficult to sustain many miles here, but certainly mix this ride in every once in a while when you want a complete change of scenery.

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