Wheels for Meals Ride 2011

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Click here to watch a short video of the ride

View the entire Google Web Album

This 3rd Annual Wheels for Meals Ride is a fundraising event that supports the six Meals on Wheels programs in Alameda County. The three routes being offered takes you through the beautiful Livermore Valley around vineyards, rolling ranch lands, and quiet country back roads. The start/finish is at Shadow Cliffs Park in Pleasanton. There is ample parking with a $6 fee or you can take BART to Pleasanton/Dublin and ride ~ 5 miles to the park.

This course has two significant climbs;  Patterson Pass Rd west and Corral Hollow/Tesla Rd east. The latter part of the course takes you on a loop through Collier Canyon. The total elevation for this ride is ~3000+ feet. This event is fully supported with SAG, ham radio and 4 rest stops.

I’m serving as a volunteer today and will be riding sweep for the 70 mile ride. I am to be the last rider with number 999. I have a bright orange pony tail attached to my helmet to make it easier for SAG and radio to spot me out on the roads. I’m to check in at every rest stop and let them know that I’m the last rider on the course.

The check-in time for the 70 milers is from 7AM-8 AM. Michael and I exit the park at 8:00 AM and stay on Stanley Blvd for the next 2.2 miles. Due to construction along Stanley Blvd, the event organizers have hired a company to block off one lane of traffic till 3:30 PM which is the time the course closes.

We continue on Murdell Ln to Concannon Blvd for the next flat 3.1 miles through the residential neighborhoods of Livermore. The scenery and landscape along Tesla is fabulous; the sun is shining brightly, wineries, vineyards and open fields are abound. The next turn takes us on Cross Rd; it’s 2.2 miles with a climb up to Patterson Pass Rd.

The climb up Patterson Pass Rd is about 1.75 miles with an average grade of about 6.5%. The gradient starts off at around 6-7% and increases to 9% and maxes out at 13% as you near the summit. The views from the top of the ridge are spectacular! All the windmills are lined up neatly against the hillsides. WOW!

Apparently there was about 15+ riders that started out later than the check-out times, so I wait for all of them to get to the summit. Once I get the okay from the radio & SAG guys, I can leave. The sweeping descent down the east side of Patterson Pass is fun and wickedly fast; not much braking is required!

We arrive at the PG&E Lot Rest Stop at mile 18.9. The Royal Restrooms are fantastic! It’s air conditioned with a flushing toilet, sink and fully decorated. What caught my eye instantly was “ahem” for ladies only-a supply of tampons. They thought of everything!

We stay on Patterson Pass Rd to Schulte, Lammers and Valpico Rds into Tracy. The terrain here is completely flat. We continue on Corral Hollow Rd, cross over I-580, the aqueducts and head west for the next 8+ miles on flat to rolling terrain. There are a couple of short little climbs in between. It’s actually quite beautiful back here!

The only traffic through this area are the trucks towing ATV’s and motor cross bikes to Carnegie Park which is a State Vehicular Recreation Area. The place is really hopping with activity. Families with young kids are out there in full gear and revving the bikes up and over all the trails and man-made courses. I had seen an ambulance and fire truck heading up the road earlier and was later told that every weekend; someone is out there; literally breaking a leg.

We arrive at the Carnegie Park Rest Stop at mile 35.2. This rest stop has a theme; it’s “Area 51”, complete with happy Alien volunteers!

We continue west on Corral Hollow for the next few miles; I spot a dead wild pig with tusk and all laying on the side of the road. The road becomes Tesla as you start the 2 mile climb up to the summit. The average grade here is around 6.7%. The gradient starts off at around 4-6% and gradually increases to 7-8% with sections that hit the 10-12% range. This climb is fully exposed to the sun with little to no shade-be prepared!

Another funny sighting is a pizza delivery car going up and down this road. He must be making a delivery to someone at Carnegie Park!

We reach The Tesla Summit Rest Stop at mile 40.2. The theme here is “Tiki Bar”  with Hula girls at your service! How wonderful!

The 5 mile descent on Tesla brings us back to the city edge of Livermore. The short climb on Greenville takes us to the Royal Restrooms Rest Stop at mile 48.6. This stop is staffed by “Visiting Angels”; just heavenly!

We cross under I-580 and make a series of turns through the residential neighborhoods on Herman, Scenic, Vasco and Dalton. Pasatiempo takes us to Haggins Oaks and to Christensen School Rest Stop at mile 53.1.

I hear the sound of cowbells ringing and people cheering us into the rest stop. That’s just so welcoming! This is the “Beach Party” stop. Music is playing and we all get Lei’d by a volunteer. The potatoes with hummus were delicious!

The volunteers cheer us off as we, the last 7 riders head on out. To get to May School Rd, we take Broadmoor to Dalton, Ames, Raymond and Dagnino Rds. The remainder of this route is pretty flat with one little hump on Manning Rd to Carneal and Collier Canyon Rd. This little loop is very quiet and scenic; the rolling hills are dotted with cows, old barns and ranches.

Collier Canyon takes us on North Canyon Pkwy. Traffic is very busy here; you need to be very alert and proceed with caution as you make the left turns on Airway Blvd, Kitty Hawk Rd and East Airway Blvd. After that, it’s another series of turns through an Industrial Park area on Rutan Dr, Wright Brothers Ave, Zeppelin Dr and Jack London Blvd.

We hop onto the bike path off Isabel Ave to get back on Stanley. We all get stopped at the end of the path by several SAG drivers. The course is now closed and it is no longer safe for us to proceed on Stanley Blvd. The cones that were there to block off a lane are now being removed as we speak. We all have to get SAG’d in from this point-2 miles from the finish. I could understand that-SAFETY FIRST; so, in the cars we go!

We all arrive back at the park-the last rider is in! The post ride BBQ is still going on and live music is being played by Baskin in the Blues. There’s BBQ chicken along with hot links, potato salad, baked beans and more. The ice cream from Sunshine Susan’s Solar Powered Ice Cream Parlor was a tasty treat and a great way to end the ride!

Thanks to all the wonderful volunteers for being out on the roads and supporting all the riders! Rest stop folks, SAG drivers, radio guys and gals were all super friendly and helpful! The themed rest stops added a lot of variety, fun and laughter too! You guys are great! The course was also very well marked; you won’t miss a single turn!

Today’s 3rd Annual Wheels for Meals Ride helped raised nearly $100,000 for the Meals on Wheels programs in Alameda County. A big “THANKS” goes to all the participants and their fundraising efforts to make this all possible! WOW!

 ~840+ riders for the total event

70 miles with 3516′ of elevation gain

Weather: WAY EXCELLENT! Sunshine and blue skies with winds throughout the day. Starting temp of 57F and reaching a high of 89F

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>START SEEING THE JOY OF GIVING!>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

This is the Wheels for Meals route:


  1. Hello Nancy,
    Greetings from Shakespeare country in the United Kingdom. Just wanted to say how my family always looks forward to reading you fantastic blog. The Meals on Wheels charity event is a great reminder of what giving is all about and supporting a worthy cause. This especially as Christmas approaches. Thank you for sharing your wonderful text, photos and videos. Keep up the great work!


  2. P.S. All your wonderful photos and videos have inspired us to try and visit the San Francisco Bay Area sooner rather than later.


  3. Dear Nancy, We loved the ride, and especially meeting both of you and getting a chance to ride with you. You did an amazing job of “sweep” for us. Next year, we’ll start on time. The energy of the riders, volunteers and spirit of the cause carried us along — almost to the end. Happy riding, Patti


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