Morgan Territory Century

Sunday, May 12, 2013

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I’m leading a club ride out to Morgan Territory today and figured that I could add miles before and after the ride to turn it into one of my weekly centuries. The pre-ride miles go on Franklin Canyon and up the south side of McEwen Rd before meeting up with the group at Heather Farm Park. The post ride miles include a climb up Reliez Valley Rd and continue on Alhambra Valley Rd for a quick out and back to Ferndale Rd.

The gentle 3.6 miles on Franklin Canyon Rd is a good way to begin a ride; the dappled early morning sun under the trees radiates great warmth and gives a hint of what’s to come for the rest of the day.

The short one mile climb up the gentle side of McEwen Rd is quiet and calm with no cars in sight. The soft rolling hills are dotted with grazing cattle and horses. The turnaround point for us is at the top of the ridge near the old metal barn.

We descend Franklin Canyon and continue on Alhambra Valley Rd and Reliez Valley Rd. From Grayson Rd, we take the Contra Costa Canal Trail out to Heather Farm Park in Walnut Creek.

As a group of 12 cyclists, we continue on the Canal Trail to Treat Blvd in Concord and meander through the residential neighborhoods out to Clayton. We regroup at The Grove in Clayton; water and restrooms are available at the park. You can purchase pre-packed sandwiches and other snack items at the Village Market.

Marsh Creek Rd runs along the foothills of Mt Diablo; the road heads south out of town to Morgan Territory Rd. Once you pass Rodie’s feed Store, the road narrows with no shoulder area-ride single file and watch for traffic! The stair step climb up to the summit at Divide Reservoir has gradient ranges of 7-10%.

The fast sweeping descent brings you to the turn on Morgan Territory Rd. You’ll roll pass the many horse ranches and estate homes with views of the Diablo Mountains. It’s 9.2 miles up to the Regional Preserve; the climb begins very gently on flat to rolling terrain through the open grasslands and meadows. The two lane road narrows and becomes a single lane as you continue climbing through the woods under the gorgeous canopy of trees. There are a few narrow bridge crossings and switchbacks with steeper sections with gradient ranges of 9-15%.

After lunch, there is one more short steep pitch up to the summit at the top of the ridge. The descent down to Livermore is fast-proceed with caution! The road is narrow with several blind curves. The views from the top of the ridge are spectacular with the soft golden hills rising from the valley floor!


We continue on Manning and Highland Rds.; the rolling terrain on these country back roads goes through the very scenic landscape surrounding Black Hills. This area is dotted with old barns, horse ranches, grazing cattle & horses and expansive pastoral lands and meadows. Some of these fields are still blooming with wildflowers!


We head NW on Camino Tassajara through the residential neighborhoods of Blackhawk and make a stop at the Texaco Station for cold drinks-it’s in the high 80’s! The remainder of the club ride does a tour out around the Round Hill Golf Course in Alamo before dropping down Rudgear Rd to Walnut Creek. The last few miles on the Iron Horse Trail leads us back to the start at Heather Farm. A majority of the group including ourselves head to Peet’s for a coffee/snack stop at the Ygnacio Plaza.

We depart from the group and return on the Canal Trail to Pleasant Hill. We’re adding an additional 20 miles to complete a century. We head south for the short climb up Taylor Blvd before the descent into Lafayette.

Reliez Valley Rd runs along the east side of Briones Hills from Lafayette to Martinez; it’s 5.3 miles long with one short steep 11-13% climb up to the top at Johnson Rd. We descend through the residential neighborhoods of Lafayette out to Oakmont Memorial Park. The next few miles of rolling climbs take us into Martinez at Alhambra Valley Rd.

We do a quick out and back on Alhambra Valley Rd to Ferndale Rd; it’s right at the base of the climb up Pig Farm Hill-I’ll save Pig Farm for another day!

We return to Holiday Highlands Park via the climb up Muir Station Rd to Center Ave along with a short jaunt around Martinez on Vine Hill Way to Muir Rd. The century is complete with an additional mile up Milano Way and Midhill Rd.

It was a gorgeous day to be out around Morgan Territory-the weather was great! Thanks to everyone for joining me on this ride and “HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!” This ride was the best gift to me and it was absolutely free!

12 people in attendance

Garmin Stats:
100.80 Miles with 6024′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 1785′
Avg  grade: 3%
Max grade: 14%

Weather: HOT! Sunny and hot with temps ranging from the mid 50’s in the morning to the mid 90’s in the afternoon. NW morning winds turning SW in the afternoon

Enjoy life, there’s plenty of time to be dead. ~Hans Christian Andersen


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Follow this route for today’s ride:

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