Mr Morgan Meets the Devil Century

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

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Today’s century is a variation of another ride I did back in February; The Devil Meets Mr Morgan. This time the route begins with a short out and back on Franklin Canyon & McEwen Rd before heading SE for the climb on Morgan Territory Rd to the Regional Preserve. The course continues NW for the climb up to the summit of Mt Diablo via South Gate Rd-thus Mr Morgan Meets the Devil.

The first few miles through Martinez on Center, Muir Station and Alhambra Ave takes us to the 3.6 mile flat gentle rolling terrain on Franklin Canyon Rd. The early morning sun creates long shadows through the quiet canyon below Franklin Ridge.

The 1.1 mile on McEwen Rd takes you up the gentler south side to the summit with grades of 5-7%. The hills are aglow from the rays of the sun and the cattle are already out grazing.

We descend McEwen Rd back to Franklin Canyon and continue south on Alhambra Ave to Alhambra Valley Rd. During this time in the morning, cars are lined up to drop off their kids at John Swett Elementary School; traffic is very congested with parents and early morning commuters wanting to take the back roads out of Martinez.

We take Reliez Valley Rd south and continue on Grayson Rd to Pleasant Hill Rd. This segment through Pleasant Hill has quite a bit of morning traffic so we opt to hop onto the Canal Trail off Oak Park Rd to Walnut Creek.

We meet up with Jackie at Heather Farms and continue east on the Canal Trail out to Concord. We exit the trail and take Treat Blvd up to Turtle Creek Rd and meander through the residential neighborhoods to Pine Hollow Rd into Clayton. We make a quick stop at the Clayton Community Park for water and restrooms.

We continue on Marsh Creek Rd and ride pass the residential neighborhoods located at the foothills of Mt Diablo-the views are fabulous! The stair step climbing on Marsh Creek Rd begins after passing Rodie’s Feed Store. The gradients range from 7-10%, you’re near the top when you see the sign for Divide Reservoir. Ride with caution-the road narrows and has no shoulder area; you must ride single file!

The fast sweeping descent drops you down to the turn on Morgan Territory Rd. Horse ranches, a few farms and large residential estates occupy a huge portion of the lower areas along the flatlands.

The climb up to Morgan Territory Regional Preserve from Marsh Creek Rd is 9.3 miles long. The two lane road eventually becomes a narrow single lane road as you ride through the open meadows and grasslands.

The road follows Marsh Creek along the canyon under a canopy of trees with several narrow bridge crossings. It’s a beautiful climb through the peaceful wooded area with gradient ranges of 5-8% and several switchbacks with steeper grades of 9-15% up to the park.

Our lunch stop is at the Morgan Territory Regional Preserve. Water and restrooms are available up here. We don’t stay for very long, the gusty winds blow through this open area with much force!

We exit the park for the last short climb on Morgan Territory Rd. The NW winds are strong; we all take the descent down into Livermore very slowly.

We continue west on Manning Rd to Highland and face fierce winds on the ride through the valley. Looks like the horses, sheep and cattle don’t mind, they’re all out grazing the grasslands!

The run on Camino Tassajara to Blackhawk Rd is no fun either-you’d think we’d get a break somewhere, but no we don’t!

We begin the climb up South Gate Rd from the bottom of Mt Diablo Scenic Dr. We climb through the neighborhood up to the South Gate entrance; from the gate it’s a 5.7 mile climb up to the Junction Ranger Station with an average grade of 5%. The last half mile up to the junction has steeper grades of 9-11%.

We part ways with Jackie at the junction; she’s going to descend North Gate Rd while Michael and I continue to climb up to the summit. The winds gave us a little reprieve as we zig zag our way up the mountain; we even got some tailwinds! Over all, the climb up to the summit was not bad-it could’ve been worse!

We descend North Gate Rd and take the Canal Trail from Heather Farms all the way back to Martinez.

What a day to be out riding-the winds gave us all quite a workout! it’s another great day of being outdoors. Next time, less winds please!

Garmin Stats:
100.08 Miles with 9058′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 3634′
Avg grade: 4%
Max grade: 19%

Weather: Sunny and warm with strong gusty NW winds! Temps ranged from the high 40’s to the mid 80’s

What matters is to always forge ahead!

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Follow this route for today’s ride:

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