Sunday, April 21, 2013
We’re heading out the door today to meet up with the GPC century prep ride starting at Orinda BART. The plan is to ride with the group for the south loop that goes on Redwood to Skyline into Castro Valley and add a north loop from Orinda to Pinole and out to Crockett for the climb up McEwen Rd.
We ride out on Talyor Blvd/Pleasant Hill Rd and take Mt Diablo Blvd into Lafayette, past the reservoir to Acalanes Rd. The climb up Hidden Valley Rd takes us to the St Stephens Trail that parallels Hwy 24, this trail will get us over to Orinda and to the BART station.
There’s already a pretty large group gathering in the parking lot, after much talk and introductions, we exit the parking lot onto Moraga Way.
Moraga Way is the main thoroughfare between the towns of Orinda and Moraga with lots of traffic at all times of the day.
We continue south on Canyon Rd for the beautiful short mile climb up through the redwoods on north Pinehurst Rd to the top at Pinehurst Gate.
The group heads north for the 2.4 mile climb up Redwood Rd along Redwood Canyon; this gorgeous road runs through the redwoods on the south edge of Redwood Regional Park up to Skyline Blvd.
We continue south on Skyline Blvd; the next 4.6 miles has a series of climbs with gradient ranges of 6-11% and short descents up along Grass Valley and Chabot Regional Park. This less traveled beautiful road up around the Oakland hills has large coniferous trees lining both sides of the road and along the median strip. It’s wonderful to ride under the canopy of trees with dappled sunlight.
Skyline Blvd becomes Grass Valley Rd at the forced right hand turn down the gorgeous eucalyptus tree-lined road. Slow down for the descent, there’s always gravel and fallen leaves on the downhill turn!
We follow Golf Links Rd down to the entrance into the Knowland Zoo; watch out traffic-this is a very busy intersection! The half mile climb up into the zoo is followed by a steep descent down the backside to 106th Ave.
We continue through east Oakland on Foothill and MacArthur Blvd to the edge of San Leandro and take Estudillo Ave up to Lake Chabot Rd. The short climb up towards Lake Chabot Park has gradient ranges of 6-8% followed by another climb with steeper grades of 8-10% up along Lake Chabot. The road levels out as you exit the lake area heading into Castro Valley.
We split from the group in Castro Valley as they head up and down Seven Hills; we opt to take Quail to Walnut and Proctor Rd to Redwood Rd. Our lunch stop is at the Willow Park Golf Course.
The route continues up south Redwood Rd through the San Leandro Hills for the next 7.6 miles up to Pinehurst Rd. The two-mile climb up Redwood Rd has gradient ranges of 6-8% up to Marciel Rd at Chabot Park. The road levels out for a while followed by a couple of rolling climbs and a nice long descent.
The short climb on south Pinehurst Rd has gentle grades with one short steep 9-10% pitch up towards Pinehurst Gate. The tight twisty descent down to Canyon Rd has several blind curves-be cautious!
We take Canyon Rd back out to Moraga Way into Orinda and continue on San Pablo Dam Rd for the climb up Castro Ranch Rd. Castro Ranch goes through the residential neighborhoods of El Sobrante along Sobrante Ridge before dropping down to Alhambra Valley.
We head north on Pinole Valley Rd into the city of Pinole; this section of the route is very urban with lots of traffic going in and out of the shopping center and on and off the freeway.
The climbs on San Pablo Ave have us riding through Hercules and Rodeo up to the local refineries with views of San Pablo Bay. The climbing continues up pass Cummings Skyway into Crockett; there are fabulous views of the Carquinez Bridge and Vallejo’s waterfront along San Pablo Bay.
San Pablo Ave becomes Pomona St as you enter the small town of Crockett. The climb up Pomona St takes you out-of-town past the Veterans Memorial Bldg and onto Scenic Carquinez Dr.
This quiet back road follows the northern edge of the Carquinez shoreline with great views of Carquinez Strait and Benicia’s waterfront area. This road leads us to the infamous climb up McEwen Rd.
McEwen Rd is a grueling 1.3 mile climb on a narrow two lane road; the first half mile section is the steepest with gradient ranges of 11-15%, the road eases up to grades of 8-9% as you approach the grove of eucalyptus trees and drops down to grades of 5-7% as you near the top of the ridge. The last left turn takes you up and over the cattle ranch at the top.
The sweeping descent on McEwen drops us down to Franklin Canyon Rd into Martinez. We continue on Alhambra Ave and take Alhambra Valley Rd out to Reliez Valley Rd for the jaunt through Briones Hills along the edge of Briones Park. The turn on Blue Ridge Rd brings us back to Alhambra Ave.
We head north on Paso Nogal Rd; this short steep climb takes us up to Paso Nogal Park to Morello Ave. From this point, I have to admit to adding filler junk miles near the end to finish out this century. We fell short on the miles from opting out to do the Bears at the beginning of the north loop.
We loop around Martinez on Muir Rd, Glacier, Arnold and Morello up to Sunhill and Holiday Hills back to Holiday Highlands Park.
It was a fantastic day to be out on the bike with great summer like weather in the spring-this is Bay Area living!
100.19 Miles with 7612′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 1052′
Avg grade: 3%
Max grade: 15%
Weather: FABULOUS! Sunny and warm with clear blue skies and mild N winds. Temps ranged from the morning low of 51F to an afternoon high of 89F
A day without sunshine is like, you know, night. ~Steve Martin
Follow this route for today’s ride: