Wheels for Meals Ride 2010

Saturday, October 9, 2010

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Today’s charity ride supports Alameda County Meals on Wheels program which provides home delivered meals to home bound seniors every day. You have 3 routes to choose from: a 15 mile, 35 mile or 70 mile ride. That means there are approximately 600+ riders out for the day. I was told that there are 151 riders registered for the 70 mile route. 

I was already signed up to ride a SFR 200k brevet but decided to forfeit that in order to volunteer and participate in this wonderful cause. I learned about this Wheels for Meals Ride through an email that was forwarded to the GPC list.

I volunteered to ride sweep for the 70 mile course and be the designated “last rider”. Cindy, the Ride Director asked me beforehand to wear something that would distinguish me from the rest of the riders; so I chose to have a fluorescent lime green boa flowing off my helmet. That would make me very visible to the SAG drivers and radio guys. They were all told to keep an eye out for the cyclist with the bright green plume.

The route takes you through Livermore Valley and its vineyards and ranches. You get to climb the west side of Patterson Pass Rd and the east side of Corral Hollow Rd. The course then takes you on a loop towards Collier Canyon Rd. The approximate elevation gain for the ride is around 3000 feet.

The ride starts and finishes at the Shadow Cliffs Regional Park in Pleasanton. There is a $6 parking fee for the day. Water and restrooms are available. I arrive at the park a little before 7 AM and there are already plenty of cyclists getting ready for the ride. I run into Heather, Virginia and Paul in the parking lot. There are also some breakfast items readily available for the riders. I check in and meet up with Cindy and John, the Safety Coordinator. I also meet Chris who is in charge of the ham radio operators. He gives me a “talkie” to have on
hand in case of an emergency and if I need to check in occasionally, I can do

I start the ride around 7:30 ‘ish and my first stop would be at the intersection of Tesla and Greenville; that’s where the 35 mile and 70 mile route splits off. I was to get there and wait for notification of when the last person checks out for the 70 mile route. As I exit the parking lot, I meet Alfred who is the co-sweep for
the ride. He was going to head out at 8 AM.

The exit out of the park brings me on Stanley Blvd and I take the bike path all the way to Murdell. Then it’s onto Concannon to S Livermore Rd which eventually becomes Tesla Rd. It’s a pretty flat 9 mile run all the way to my first stop at Tesla and Greenville. I wait with the radio operator and there are plenty of cyclists passing through. I see Jessica, Paul, Carla, Virginia, Elia, Len and Heather roll on by. I’m there for a good 15+ minutes before I get the green light to go on.

I continue on Tesla and make a left on Cross Rd. I wave at the SAG driver and radio guy as I make the turn. I’m on Cross Rd for the next 2.2 miles before making the turn onto Patterson Pass Rd.

The climb up Patterson is a few miles long. The gradient starts off at around 6-7% then gradually increases to 9% and maxes out at 13% to the summit. I catch up with Paul and Carla along the way. The radio guy tells me to wait at the summit for the last rider count. I cheer on all the riders as they make their way up to the summit. I’m good to go as they tell me that Alfred is on his way with one other rider. Total count of riders on this route: 131 out of 151.

The fast descent down Patterson Pass Rd is a blast! The views of the windmills are spectacular! You would think that once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all, but I found them to be very mesmerizing. They all looked different in their own way and definitely had its own beauty. They certainly add a lot to the surrounding landscape and it’s absolutely gorgeous! At mile 18.9, I reach the first rest stop at the PG&E substation parking lot. There are 4 other riders here along with myself and Alfred. All the volunteers are very friendly. I have to wait till the other riders leave the rest stop before I can go.

One woman was trying to adjust her SPD cleats to no avail. One of the screw heads was compacted with what looks like dried cement. I couldn’t even pick it out with my pocket knife. She decided to leave it alone and continue on with the ride. In the meantime, I refill my malto mix and Cbak with more water. It was warming up quite nicely. Temp 75. Alfred and I take off as soon as the last cyclist hits the road.

We continue on Patterson Pass for another couple of miles and cross over I-580 to Schulte, Lammers and Valpico Rd. It’s totally FLAT all the way to Corral Hollow Rd.

Corral Hollow Rd is almost 20 miles long. Along the way, we encounter Elia and Len on the side of the road fixing a flat. This was Elia’s 2nd flat for the day. I decided to wait for them as Alfred continued on. The SAG driver provided Elia with a floor pump and he was able to get back on the road in no time.

We’re on rolling terrain all the way to the next rest stop at Carnegie Park, mile 35.2. Carnegie Park is a State Vehicular Recreation Area. It provides motorcycles, ATV’s and 4WD with challenging trails and hill climbs. It’s bustling with lots of action!

Corral Hollow Rd is fully exposed to the sun with absolutely no shade. I exit the rest stop after Elia and Len take off. Alfred is still behind with another rider. It’s still a flattish ride for the next few miles and then the climbing starts. The gradient starts off at around 4-6% and gradually increases to 7-8% then 10-12% near the top. There’s a few radio guys parked on the side of the road counting riders. I spot a cyclist ahead of me and he’s off his bike. I point to him that we’re pretty close to the summit. As I pass the radio guys, I let them know that there are 3 riders behind me.

There’s a mini water stop at the top. Alfred and the guy that was off the bike earlier reach the summit. I’m still there waiting for the last rider in the yellow jersey to come up before I can go. I can see that he’s stopped below and sitting in what little shade there was next to the radio guy’s cars. He wasn’t doing too well on the climb at all. The volunteer on top radios in with the guys below and try to see if the yellow jersey cyclist can make it up or need help. Yellow Jersey guy does make it to the top and stops to munch on some chips and take in more water. I offered him some Enduralytes but he declined them. I wanted to help this guy out knowing that I would be riding in back with him for the second half of the ride. Temp 87.

The descent on Tesla brings us to Greenville. From there we’re on the flats to Northfront Rd which parallels I-580 and then to Herman, Scenic, Vasco, Dalton and Pasatiempo to Higgins Oaks. We reach the rest stop at the Christensen School at mile 53.1. I’m entering the rest stop as Jessica is exiting. There are about a handful of cyclist still here. I refill my Cbak with lots of ice and water. I guess one good thing about coming in last is that there are no lines for the restroom! There’s music playing, the volunteers are all friendly and helpful. I take the time to eat half a PBJ and a slice of orange. Yellow Jersey guy is taking his time hanging out and eating. The other cyclists have all left. We are the last 2 people on the course. The radio guy tells me that he’ll be following behind us all the way back to the finish.

After a good long while, we depart the rest stop and make our way out towards N Livermore Blvd via Broadmoor, Dalton, Ames, Raymond, Dagnino and May School Rd. It’s totally flat all the way out to N Livermore. Yellow Jersey guy stops a few times along the way to take a break and drink water.

The remainder of the course takes us out on Manning to Carneal and then to Collier Canyon. Yellow Jersey guy stops on Manning for a while as the radio guy tells him that there’s really not too much climbing left. Once we reach Collier Canyon, it’s pretty much all downhill and completely flat all the way back to Shadow Cliffs. I patiently follow him from behind and he thanks me for staying with him. I’m doing exactly what I volunteered for!

From the bottom of Collier Canyon, we make a turn on North Canyon Pkwy to Airway Blvd. We cross over I-580 and ride through Livermore’s Industrial Park area on Rutan, Wright Brothers, Zeppelin and Jack London Blvd. We continue on Isabel and take the bike path all the way to Stanley and back to Shadow Cliffs. We make our way down to the park with the radio guy behind us. All the volunteers are cheering us on as we enter the picnic area to the finish. The last riders are finally in! Yeah!! 

Jessica, Heather, Paul and Carla was still there. I go to get my free T-shirt and see Mike and Melarie there too! I guess one disadvantage to being the last rider in is that your lunch options are very limited. There was no more BBQ chicken so I had 3 veggie patties with a lemon bar and a cup of lemonade.

What a great way to spend the day. I was able to volunteer and ride at the same time, how fabulous is that?

72.75 miles with 3538′ of elevation gain

Weather: Sunny and warm all day. Starting temp of 51 reaching a high of 87

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>YOU MUST HAVE PATIENCE!>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

This is the Wheels for Meals route:

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