Las Trampas Century

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

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This urban four canyon century goes out to San Ramon for the climb up Norris Canyon to Crow Canyon into Castro Valley. It includes an out and back along Cull Canyon and returns north on Crow Canyon to Bollinger Canyon for a lunch stop at Las Trampas Regional Wilderness. The route continues on Bollinger Canyon for a jaunt out to the residential subdivisions around Windemere and Gale Ranch before heading back north to Martinez.

I take my usual way up Taylor Blvd into Lafayette and ride the flats along Danville Blvd and San Ramon Valley Rd to San Ramon.

The first canyon climb is up Norris; it begins with gentle grades through a residential neighborhood for the first two miles. The steeper climb begins after you pass Norris Canyon Estates; it’s 0.4 mile with gradient ranges of 7-10% up to the top. As you roll over the crest, the road opens up to the sight of a horse and cattle ranch,  farmhouses and old barns. The rolling green pastoral hills are dotted with grazing cows, horses and yellow wildflowers-it’s quite beautiful here!

The two mile descent on Norris Canyon drops down to a T at Crow Canyon Rd. I continue south on Crow Canyon into the fog in Castro Valley for the 6.2 mile out and back on Cull Canyon Rd.

Cull Canyon Rd is a quiet less traveled road through horse country. You’ll ride pass Cull Canyon Lake and the Cull Canyon Regional Recreational Area. Water and restrooms are available at the park. This area along Cull Creek is occupied by many horse ranches and equestrian training centers. There’s also a small winery and vineyard hidden back here! Grazing cows are out on the open green meadows and surrounding hillsides. The gentle rolling terrain comes to a dead end so all you have to do is turn around and head back out to Crow Canyon Rd.

The 6.2 miles on Crow Canyon heading north is Castro Valley’s high traffic main thoroughfare into the city of San Ramon. I reach the crest of the climb up Crow Canyon and instinctively take a quick glance into my rear view mirror to check for traffic-next thing I know, I’m on the ground and the left side of my body is sliding down the hill on hard pavement! I come to a halt about 20 feet later and just couldn’t believe I took a spill on the bike. What happened? I hit something as I was rolling through the shaded section of the road and it bucked me off the bike! The amazing thing about all this is that there were absolutely no cars traveling on either side of the road during this time!

I got up and lifted the bike off of me and parked it on the side of the road. The left sleeve of my jersey, shorts, knee warmer and glove were trashed; holes everywhere! I looked at my hands and they’re dripping with blood. Nothing felt broken as I moved my arms, legs and fingers around. I do feel the skin abrasions and cuts on my knee, elbow, buttock and shoulder areas. The worst thing to come out of this accident is the fact that my jade bracelet broke in half; it was given to me by my Mom and I’ve been wearing it since I was 9 years old-this hurts the most! My Mom has been gone for the past 2 years and the bracelet was my daily reminder of her.

I walked up the road to find the other half of the bracelet and to check out the cause of the accident. In the shaded area where I initially fell, there is a huge chunk of pavement missing and sitting perfectly in that hole was a piece of thick black plastic. It looked like some kind of broken car part. By taking my eyes off the road for that quick second to glance in my mirror, I hit that hole with the plastic piece spot on! It was very well camouflaged in the shade. Now that I think about it, I should’ve taken a picture of the accident site to send to the city of San Ramon.

Getting back to the bike, I access if there is any damage and to see if it’s still ridable. The chain fell off; easy fix with no shifting problems. The brake hood levers were bent inward; okay bend them back outward. The handlebar got twisted out of place; got my hex tool and straightened it up. It looked good to go and I did just that. After cleaning up with water and applying band-aides, I decided to get back on the bike and finish the rest of the ride. I was at mile 48 of this century.

An Interesting afterthought is that while I used the mirror as a safety tool to check on traffic, it also became a hazard as well because for that split second, my eyes were diverted from the road and I didn’t see what was ahead of me. It also didn’t help that I was rolling through a dark shaded area of the road-what a conundrum! Another lesson learned! It only takes a second for things to happen-good or bad.

I continue down Crow Canyon and head north up Bollinger Canyon Rd for the next 4.4 miles on gentle rolling terrain into Las Trampas Regional Wilderness for lunch. Bollinger Canyon Rd dead ends into the park. There is a nice picnic area with plenty of outdoor seating, water and porta-potties. Did I mention that I was riding my new bike-a Volagi Liscio with disc brakes? I’ll have to take it back to Crank 2 and have Bryon check out the bike more thoroughly.

I exit Las Trampas and stay on Bollinger Canyon for the next 11.5 SE miles into San Ramon. The road crosses Crow Canyon along the edge of a residential neighborhood to the I-680 overpass towards the heavy traffic area around the shopping center and industrial area on Bishop Dr. Bikes are welcome to use the sidewalk up to Alcosta Blvd. From there, you can take the bike route up to Canyon Lakes and continue on the shoulder area of Bollinger Canyon into the residential subdivisions of Gale Ranch and Windemere.

This little south loop around San Ramon continues with a climb up Old Ranch Rd to the flats on Alcosta Blvd. You get some great views of the surrounding hills of San Ramon Valley.

Heading east on Crow Canyon Rd takes me pass the Crow Canyon Country Club and Golf Course through the residential neighborhoods of Canyon Lake and Sycamore Valley.

I take Camino Tassajra into Danville and continue on Diablo Rd north to Green Valley and Stone Valley Rds. I meander through the Round Hill Country Club in Alamo on Roundhill Dr and take Miranda and Livorna to Rudgear Rd and S Broadway. This part of the route is a nice detour from the heavier traffic area along Danville Blvd.

I return on the Iron Horse trail off Newell Ave to the Contra Costa Canal trail into Martinez. Back on Taylor Blvd, I take Grayson Rd for the short climb up Reliez Valley Rd and cut through Blue Ridge Dr to Alhmabra Ave.

I stay north on Alhambra Ave and climb up Muir Station Rd to Center Ave for the return to Holiday Highlands Park.

With the exception of my accident, the rest of the ride was great! The weather warmed up quite nicely and I still got back home within a decent time frame. I’ll have to go to the local Rite-Aid and pick up additional bandages for my injuries.

VDO Stats:
104.2 Miles with 6366′ of elevation gain

Weather: GREAT! Morning fog with temps in the mid 40’s turning to sunny clear skies for the rest of the afternoon with temps in the mid 70’s. Mild SW winds throughout the day.

When the sun is shining I can do anything; no mountain is too high, no trouble too difficult to overcome.   ~Wilma Rudolph

Click here to view the interactive route map & profile


Follow this route for today’s ride:


  1. Sorry to read about your crash. Unfortunately that can happen to any of us. But it seems you still got a good ride in.

    Tony, It’s all superificial injuries-nothing major so that’s good! Nancy


  2. Nancy,

    Sorry to hear about your accident. From the pictures it looks like you were on your new bike. I’m certainly glad that you were not seriously hurt. And that the bike is OK too. Carole

    Carole, I just had the bike checked out thoroughlt and all is well with myself and the bike! Nancy


  3. Nancy, Thanks for the great pics and ‘travelogue’ commentary! Well, you broke in your new bike already. Hope you heal fast! jim

    Thanks for the well wishes Jim! I’m already back on the road. Nancy


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