East Bay Hills 118k

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

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I’m heading for the hills today! I’m meeting up with a friend at Tilden Park Steam Trains for a decide and ride at 10 AM. It’s a really COLD start at 7 AM in the morning as the temperature drop down to the low 30’s on Alhambra Valley Rd. The rolling terrain brings me to the first climb up the gentler east side of Pig Farm Hill with gradient ranges of 7-9%.

I actually enjoy the quiet stillness that an early morning ride brings; it’s both peaceful and calming, a great way to start a day! I like the way the sun casts its warm glow over the hills and green open space as I make my way up and over the valley.

I descend Pig Farm Hill and head south on Bear Creek Rd for the climbs around the Bears. Once I turn into the sun, the temperature rose to the low 40’s and what a difference that makes-it feels a lot warmer!

The climb up Mama Bear has gradient ranges of 7-8%; the road levels out for a short bit before the approach to the two additional humps on Mama Bear. The descent drops you pass Briones Regional Park and continue on for the 7-8% climb up Papa Bear. The rolling descent down Pumphouse Grade has fabulous views of Briones Reservoir. The straight shot down leads you up to the short steep 9-11% climb up Baby Bear.

I continue on south on Camino Pablo into Orinda for more climbing up along El Toyonal, Loma Vista and Alta Vista. These steep roads winds through the residential neighborhoods of Orinda under a canopy of trees. The gradient ranges from 10-12% with not much relief in between. The short section up Alta Vista is not open to traffic so you can enjoy the quiet road leading up to Lomas Cantadas.

The half mile plus climb up Lomas Cantadas from Alta Vista is steep with gradient ranges of 13-18% up to the Grizzly Peak Stables. The road levels out as you continue along the ridgeline towards Grizzly Peak Blvd. Take a moment to admire the gorgeous views around Siesta Valley and the Lafayette Reservoir.

I always give myself ample time to get up and over the hills from Martinez, so I’m about half an hour early for my meet time with Jackie. That gives me time to eat a snack and soak in the early morning rays of the sun. My plan was for us to go up Vollmer Peak but I can see from the short distance that the gate is closed. I’ll just have to get up there on another day!

We descend Grizzly Peak Blvd to the Fish Ranch/Claremont intersection and continue up Grizzly Peak for the short climb up to the ridge. It’s a fabulously clear day and the city views are fantastic!

The rolling terrain along Skyline Blvd takes us through the Oakland neighborhoods out to the Chabot Science Center and Robert’s Park. We descend Skyline to the traffic light at Joaquin Miller Rd and hang a left to continue on Skyline to Redwood Rd.

The descent on Redwood Rd winds through the redwoods around Redwood Regional Park out to the intersection at Pinehurst Rd. Redwood Rd continues south for the rolling climbs through Chabot Regional Park.

We reach the Marciel Gate Staging Area at Chabot Park and head out on Marciel Rd to our lunch stop at the Marciel Rd day use area. You get wonderful views of the surrounding hills around Chabot Park-everything is green-Spring is coming!

We turn around on Marciel Rd and take Redwood Rd down to Pinehurst. The climb up Pinehurst is a little over a mile long with gentle grades of 4-5% followed by short steep pitches of 9-10% as you approach the top at Pinehurst Gate.

The descent on Pinehurst Rd winds around the edge of EBMUD Valle Vista Staging Area. The road is narrow and twisty with many blind turns-proceed with caution! We continue on Canyon Rd into the town of Moraga for a coffee/snack stop at SI Si Caffe. We roll into the driveway to enter the rear patio area. It’s a nice place to stop; they serve coffee drinks, tea, pastries and ice cream.

Jackie and I part ways here, I continue on Moraga Way into Orinda as she heads  north on Pinehurst Rd back up to Skyline. The turn on Miner Rd takes me along the Orinda Country Club into the residential neighborhood of Sleepy Hollow. I follow Lombardy Ln to Dalewood and turn into the driveway on Sundown Terrace for the short steep climb up to Happy Valley Rd.

The short quarter plus mile up Happy Valley is steep with gradient ranges of 10-12% followed by a steep descent on a narrow bumpy single lane road that open out to Bear Creek Rd.

I head north on Bear Creek Rd up to the back side of Mama Bear. I think the climb is much easier on this side, it certainly feels shorter! The straight descent rolls through the horse ranches and farms on Bear Creek Rd out to Alhambra Valley Rd.

I continue east on Alhambra Valley Rd for the climb up the west side of Pig Farm Hill; it’s 1.5 miles with an average grade of 7%. The last half mile up to the top is steep with gradient ranges of 13-16%! You do get a blasting rolling descent towards Reliez Valley Rd.

I continue on Alhambra Valley Rd back in to Martinez and climb up Muir Station Rd to Center Ave. The blanket of yellow wildflowers along Center Ave is a warm welcome to the end of this ride!

This route has quality miles with quality climbs! Next time I can add a loop around Carquinez Scenic Dr and turn this ride into a Century. I am certainly blessed to have to ability and time to be out riding during the weekdays! I’m loving life!

VDO Stats:
73.65 Miles with 7174′ of elevation gain
Avg grade: 5%
Max grade: 18%

Weather: Sunny and warm with mild winds. Cool morning temps in the low 30’s and reaching the high 60’s by midafternoon

 Hills. We love them. We hate them. They make us strong. They make us weak. Today I chose to embrace hills.   ~Hal Higdon

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Follow this route for today’s ride:

One Comment

  1. Yikes!!!! I hope that this route will not morph into a Friday ride. Nice work. I would never have thought to string those climbs together.

    Bob, No worries, even I have to think twice about doing this hilly route again. Nancy


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