The Devil Meets Mr Morgan Century

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

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Today’s century goes up South Gate Rd to the saddle of Mt Diablo and descends North Gate Rd to Oak Grove Rd. The route continues up Ygnacio Valley Rd into Clayton for the beautiful climb up Morgan Territory Rd out to Livermore. The return includes a run along Collier Canyon Rd and a late jaunt through Round Hill Country Club in Alamo.

We start at Holiday Highlands Park and make our way through Martinez as the sun rises; the climb up Taylor Blvd followed by the descent down Pleasant Hill Rd takes us into the city of Lafayette.

We take the flats out to Danville Blvd for the short climb up Stone Valley Rd to the multi-use path along Diablo Rd into the Diablo Country Club. This classic “hole in the fence” detour is a great way to bypass the busy traffic along Diablo Rd and avoids the cars dropping off kids at the Athenian School.

From the “hole in the fence”, the climb up to the Junction Ranger Station is 6 miles long with an average grade of around 5%. The last half mile up to the Junction has steeper grades of 9-11%.

The 7.9 mile descent on North Gate Rd leads us to the turn on Oak Grove Rd. We head east on Ygnacio Valley Rd for the short climb out to Clayton and for a quick stop at the Community Park. There are water fountains and clean restrooms. You can buy food and drinks at the nearby Village Market.

The route continues on Marsh Creek Rd for the next 6.9 miles through the foothills of Clayton along the residential neighborhoods. The 7-10% climbing begins after you pass Rodie’s Feed Store; the road narrows with no shoulder area. Ride with caution; traffic can get very busy here! You’re at the top when you see the sign for Divide Reservoir, the sweeping descent drops you down to Morgan Territory Rd.

Morgan Territory Rd is one of the Bay Area’s most beautiful roads; it has good pavement with minimal to no traffic. It runs 14.7 miles north to south from Marsh Creek Rd in Contra Costa County to Manning Rd in Alameda County. It’s a quiet area with quite a few large residential homes and horse ranches. The majority of the climbing is done under a canopy of trees with the gentle sounds of water trickling along the creek. IMO, it’s best to climb in silence to enjoy the natural beauty of the area and take in all the sounds of nature.

The 9.3 mile climb up to the Preserve begins gradually through the ranches and bridge crossings. The road eventually becomes a single narrow lane road through the wooded foothills of Mt Diablo. The gradients range from 5-8 % and increase to pitches of 9-15% during the last several switchbacks up to the Preserve.

Our lunch stop is at the Morgan Territory Preserve; there are plenty of picnic tables and benches, The park services has installed a new water fountain next to the picnic area-what a great convenience. It’s great to ride up here on a weekday, it’s nice and quiet!

After lunch, there is one short climb up to the summit, which is followed by a nice descent down into Livermore. The views from the top of the ridge are stunning; the soft rolling hills rise effortlessly from the valley.

We continue along the flats on Livermore Ave through the bucolic country side with its open pastoral lands, grazing cattle and ranches. The yellow wildflowers growing along the rolling hills are a beautiful contrast to the vibrancy of the green grasslands.

From Livermore Ave, we take Portola Ave and cross over I-580 to Collier Canyon Rd. The 5.4 rolling miles on Collier Canyon takes us north through cattle, horse and alpaca ranches. The short climb up to the summit at the water tower is followed by a fast descent onto Highland Rd.

Highland Rd quickly leads us out of “the country” to the fast-moving traffic along Camino Tassajara and through the residential areas of Blackhawk and San Ramon into Alamo. We wind our way through Round Hill Country Club on Rounhill Dr. It’s a nice detour from the main roads during commute hours. The turns on Miranda, Livorna and Lavender takes us to Rudgear Rd for the descent into Walnut Creek.

We take S Broadway to hop onto the Iron Horse Trail and take the Contra Costa Canal Trail back to Martinez.

Thanks to Wyatt for another great tandem ride!

VDO Stats:
104.52 Miles with 6918′ of elevation gain
Avg grade: 3%
Max grade: 13%

Weather: FANTASTIC! Sunny clear blue skies with NW winds. Temps ranged from the high 30’s to the low 60’s

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It’s not the load that breaks you down; it’s the way you carry it.
~Lena Horne
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Follow this route for today’s ride:

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