JUST A FEW HUNDRED BIKE RIDERS, IN THE DARK: The Eye was leaving the gym at Sunvalley shopping mall in Concord late in the evening of July 13, trying to pull out of the parking lot onto Contra Costa Boulevard but unable to ... blocked by a seemingly endless stream of bicycles and their riders headed north on Contra Costa Boulevard.
Looking left, a seemingly endless stream of bicyclists stretched out of sight beyond Willow Pass Road -- all ages of riders, all manner of two-wheeled craft, including one rider using a bike with its seat seemingly eight or 10 feet above the ground. Many bikes were appointed with decorative lights, a few riders had their own music with them and a couple of cyclists were hauling something that looked like a small version of the Eiffel Tower. (The Eye would see the tower's relevance later).
Had "Critical Mass" been reached in San Francisco, and its excess riders forced to take to the streets of Concord and Pleasant Hill? No -- what the Eye saw was the East Bay Bike Party's "Tour de France/City of Lights," an 11.4-mile ride starting near the Pleasant Hill BART station and ending at Baldwin Park in Concord. Hundreds of cyclists were on this ride, the first in this area, according to organization's website (June's ride, for instance, was in Berkeley; May's was in Oakland, with riders encouraged to wear pajamas).
And the riders rolling up Contra Costa between 10:30 and 11 p.m. July
The hundreds of bicyclists made their way up Contra Costa Boulevard to Concord Boulevard, where they made the sharp turn to the east toward Baldwin Park. And a few minutes later, Contra Costa Boulevard was again quiet in the night.
CHOOSING WHAT YOU HEAR: When speaking to the Eye about recently released property assessed values in Contra Costa County, Assessor Gus Kramer said he stopped making projections about the future when some jurisdictions didn't like what he told them. Now, he said, he leaves that to the consultants who make $200,000-$300,000 a year.
"In government and the private sector," he said, "people surround themselves with two types of people -- people who tell them what they want to hear, and people who tell them what they need to hear."
The difference in success, he said, is directly related to who surrounds you.
"I've spent 40 years watching people in this county," Kramer mused, "so I speak with some authority."
A PELICAN BRIEF: Reports of starving pelicans have surfaced in the Santa Cruz area, due to ocean currents pushing smelt -- a staple of their diet -- off the coast. But over in Antioch, some pelicans are just downright finicky when it comes to handouts tossed their way.
A fisherman on the city's fishing pier tossed a frozen anchovy to one of the sea birds. But instead of gulping it down, the picky pelican waited for the anchovy to thaw before chowing down. (Not to spoil the fun, but wildlife officials say its best to let nature take its course and not feed pelicans. A pelican, on the other hand, might tell you that advice is for the birds.)
Staff writers Sam Richards, Theresa Harrington and Eve Mitchell contributed to this column