Windmill Century

Thursday, January 10, 2013

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Another day, another Century; the destination is out to Patterson Pass & Altamont Pass Rds in Livermore. We leave from Martinez and take Taylor Blvd & Pleasant Hill Rd into Lafayette. The flats through Walnut Creek take us onto Danville Blvd into Danville.

We take Sycamore Valley Rd to Camino Tassajara; the long flat 8.5 miles through the burbs bring us to the unincorporated town of Tassajara. Highland Rd is the beginning of riding through the “country”; rolling hills with grazing cattle, old farms, ranches and barns with minimal traffic. 

The short climb up Collier Canyon heading south continues on rolling terrain all the way into Livermore. We head east on Portola Ave, cross over I-580 and continue along the residential neighborhood out to First St & Mines Rd.

Patterson Pass Rd spans 11.5 miles east from Mines Rd to Midway Rd. The first few miles travels through the flat Industrial Park area of Livermore out pass Greenville Rd. The actual climb on Patterson Pass begins at the intersection with Cross Rd; the ride along the ridge has gradient ranges of 7-11%, the last bit up to the summit maxes out at 12%!  The summit offer fabulous views of the Altamont wind farms lining the hillsides in the distance!

The descent on Patterson Pass heading east to Midway Rd is fast! The flats along the valley have gorgeous views of the vast open grasslands with windmills decorating the surrounding landscape.

The climb up Midway Rd drops us down to Grant Line Rd. We decide to check out the Mountain House Bar to see if it’s open-it’s NOT! Their business hours are not listed but I see that Happy Hour starts at 4:30 PM. So, this is not a reliable stop for food or water. We turn around on Grant Line Rd and head west to Altamont Pass Rd. There is a porta-pottie located next to the California Aqueduct.

Altamont Pass Rd is 8.5 miles with a few false summits. The rolling terrain through the wind farms is beautiful; the windmills are such a delight to see! Under the billowy clouds they’re all lined up perfectly along the hillsides, some spinning and some not. You’re at the summit when you see the Summit Garage.

The road winds down along the railroad grade, pass the landfill and parallels I-580 to Northfront Rd into Livermore.

Our lunch stop is at the Chevron Station off Vasco; there’s a cheap Mexican cafe inside and you can also buy the usual gas station foods and beverages. The restrooms are clean and you can refill water from the soda dispenser.

We make our way out of the city through a series of turns on Scenic, Broadmoor, Dalton and Ames. The run along Raymond, Dagnino and May School Rd has fantastic views of the mountain ranges and the surrounding grasslands. We’re heading through the quiet country back roads on Livermore Ave to Manning Rd.

We stay on Manning and decide to make a stop at EJ’s Cattle & Supplies on Carneal Rd. The soda vending machine eats up dollar bills but coins works just fine. There’s a porta-pottie here and you can also refill your water bottle using their water hose. Remember to leave a donation for the use of the porta-pottie; Ed does a fine job to accommodate cyclists caught in the middle of nowhere, by helping him we in fact are helping ourselves.

I love seeing the green open grasslands with grazing long horn cattle, horses and sheep. The old barns and ranches seem nostalgic; it always amazes me that this can still survive within the confines of a very urban city.

We return on Highland Rd to Camino Tassajara back into San Ramon and Danville. We retrace our route on Danville Blvd back to Walnut Creek.

To avoid the heavier city traffic during the after work commute hours, we decide to hop onto the Iron Horse Trail from S Broadway & Newell Ave. The trail is pretty quiet at this time: 4:30 PM? We continue on the Contra Costa Canal Trail all the way into Martinez. Near the end of the trail, I spot a Blue Heron along the waterway. It’s a nice visual finish to a great 100 mile ride!

Thanks to Wyatt for tandeming with me, it was pretty cold out there! But a fun time was had nonetheless!

VDO Stats:
104.46 miles with 4688′ of elevation gain
Avg grade: 3%
Max grade: 15%

Weather: COOL! Sunny and cool with afternoon NW winds. Temps ranging from the low 40’s to the low 50’s.

 Ride to your heart’s content and  have fun!

Click here to view the route map & profile

Follow this route for today’s ride:


One Comment

  1. Fantastic ride! I will have to do this sometime. It looks wonderful. jim

    Jim, Yes, it’s great back roads riding! The windmills are mesmerizing! Nancy


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