Wednesday, December 1, 2010
I leave my house and ride up Los Angeles and Spruce to meet up with other club members at the corner of Spruce and Grizzly. Five of us; Phil, Pat, Chris, Wyatt and I ride out from Berkeley to join today’s club ride that starts in Pinole. We take Wildcat, SPDR and Castro Ranch to Pinole Valley Rd.
We arrive at Pinole Valley Park. Water and restrooms are available.
The group heads east on Pinole Valley Rd which eventually becomes Alhambra
Pig Farm Hill starts after you cross Bear Creek Rd. It’s about 1.5 miles long. There are a few short bumps on the road before you reach the base of the actual climb up Pig Farm. You look up the hill and the stair step climb looks very daunting! The climb gradually starts off at 5-7% then increases to 10-13%. The gradient eases up a bit for you to catch your breath, and then it hikes back up and maxes out at 15% as you near the top. There is a brief regroup at the top of the hill.
The descent on the backside of Pig Farm is fabulous! The sweeping turns make for a fun and fast ride all the way to Alhambra Ave. We continue to Martinez and stop for lunch at Haute Stuff on Main St. They serve a variety of sandwiches, soups, salads and other deli items.
After lunch, a group of us meander over to Alhambra Creek to check out the
beavers. There is a lot of construction going on around the area and the
beavers are nowhere to be seen.
We continue on Escobar to Talbert then take a left on Carquinez Scenic Dr. There is a short climb up to the Cemetery before you reach the closed portion of the road. There is no through traffic for several miles due to a landslide during the 1980’s. The road has never been repaired. The climbs along here are very gentle and not too steep. There is a section along the drive where the sliding has removed the entire paved surface, so proceed with caution! The views along this drive are spectacular!
We continue down Reservoir St to the small town of Port Costa. You must step
inside the Warehouse Cafe to see the huge Polar Bear. This is definitely a
blast from the past kind of place. There are many other interesting things
outside that catch my eye. I catch the “wanna be” Foster Farm chickens trying to look natural in their getaway truck. There is a house with a fresco relief of a living tree growing on the side. Another home has ceramic art sculptures of gargoyles/creatures along the fence line, a huge bug on the roof, a robot sitting inside of a rocket ship and huge pottery items adorning the front yard. It all has great eye appeal!
We return along Carquinez Scenic Dr to Winslow St. Winslow hugs the edge of Crockett and you get superb views of Benicia, the bridge, the old wharf and the C&H brick building.
We continue on to Pomona St and San Pablo Ave. A few folks decide to do an out and back on the Zampa Bridge. I head back with the others to Pinole. There is a climb on San Pablo Ave before dropping down through the refineries into Rodeo. It’s a flat ride all the way through town. We continue on San Pablo Ave to Hercules and take Pinole Valley Rd back to the park.
Pat, Wyatt and I still need to ride back to Berkeley. We continue east on Pinole Valley Rd to Castro Ranch Rd. The climb up Castro Ranch is short with the gradient being around 6-7%. Castro Ranch brings us back to SPDR. The climb up SPDR is very gradual. The average grade is around 4% all the way to the entrance of the Dam. From there on, it’s pretty much a slight downhill with a very short climb as you approach Wildcat Canyon. .Pat takes off on Wildcat and I slug it back up the hill with Wyatt. He’s always kind enough to keep me company even though I know he can ride much faster. We make it to the top of Inspiration Point and it feels pretty darn COLD! We continue on Wildcat all the way to Grizzly/Spruce where we part ways. I go down Spruce and Los Angeles to get back home.
Thanks to Kathy & Krehe for leading today’s ride!
~26 people in attendance
Original route: 30 miles with 2130′ of elevation gain
Extended route: 68 miles with 5043′ of elevation gain
Weather: Sunny, cold and breezy. Starting temp of 43 in Berkeley, reaching a high of 63 along Carquinez Scenic Dr. Overcast skies in the afternoon with the temp dropping down to 51.