Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Today’s ride will take me up and over to Berkeley via El Toyonal, Alta Vista and Lomas Cantadas. I ride out from home and head out on Morello to Taylor Blvd. Taylor from Morello to Pleasant Hill Rd is about 3 miles long with a couple of climbs. The first one starts off gently at a 4% grade which is followed by a descent. The second climb is a bit steeper, it starts off at 7% and steadily increases to 9-10% gradients as you approach the top.
The descent on Pleasant Hill Rd drops me right into Lafayette. There is a ot of commuter traffic in this area. The next turn takes me on Deer Hill Rd; it’s a very short steep climb along the ridge with gradients of 13-15%!
Deer Hill Rd parallels Hwy 24; it takes me pass the Lafayette BART station to Happy Valley Rd. The climb up Happy Valley Rd is a steady 2-3% grade all the way to the intersection at Upper Happy Valley Rd. After that point, the gradient creeps up to 5-6% and quickly increases to ranges of 7-11% as you come around towards Sundown Terrace.
BTW, I did notice a Lafayette Police car parked off a side street with a radar pointing at cars flying down Happy Valley Rd.
The fast descent on Sundown Terrace takes me through a very nice neighborhood and park. Water is available at the Dalewood Park. I exit the park area and continue on Dalewood to Lombardy Ln and Miner Rd. Miner pops me out onto Camino Pablo into Orinda to El Toyonal.
The climb up El Toyonal to Alta Vista is 1.5 miles with starting gradients of 6-7% with pitches of 9-10%. Once you pass the Orinda Pool sign, the gradient ranges increases to 10-13%. There is a section where the road does level out a bit at 4% but then the climbing continues again with gradients of 10-12%. The neighborhood is well shaded with minimal traffic.
The turn onto Alta Vista is a slight detour through a very beautiful small canyon with no through traffic. it doesn’t even matter how long or short this climb is because it’s so gorgeous back there! It is quite steep with a steady grade of 14% and doesn’t ease up til you reach the intersection with Lomas Cantadas.
The climbing continues on Lomas Cantadas for the next 3/4 mile. The gradient starts right off at 13-15% and increases to a steady 15-16% all the way to the horse stables. From there, the gradient eases up a bit to 9-13% and then drops down to 7-8% as you near Grizzly Peak Blvd. Water and restrooms are available at the Steam Trains parking lot.
The views from the top of the ridge on Grizzly Peak Blvd are magnificent!
The descent on Grizzly Peak takes me down to Berkeley; I grab a bite to eat at La Farine and take the time to sit and bask in the sun.
I climb up Los Angeles Ave to Spruce Ave and Wildcat Canyon. i take my time going along Wildcat to enjoy the shade and the views of the surrounding hills.
There is another stop at Inspiration Point to check out more views.
The descent on Wildcat brings me to Bear Creek Rd. I continue up Pumphouse Hill for the counterclockwise way around the Bears. The climb is almost 2 miles with a steady grade of about 7%. It gets pretty hot here; this climb is shade less with full exposure to the sun!
I also noticed the heavy overflow of water along the creek as I crossed the bridge for the start of the climb earlier.
The climbing continues on the back side of Mama Bear; the gradient ranges from 3-6%.
The fragrant smell of wild sage along the flat section of Bear Creek Rd makes me think of wanting to eat some roast pork!
I head east on Alhambra Valley Rd to the next climb up Pig Farm Hill. it starts off at 5-7% and increases to 10-13%. it eases up in the middle and shoots back up to 13-14% as you near the top.
The descent down the back side of Pig Farm Hill is just fabulous! It’s a quick run back to Martinez on Alhambra Ave.
52.7 miles with 5237′ of elevation gain
Weather: Fantastic! Sunny and hot with starting a starting temp of 68F and reaching the high 90’s on the return to Martinez