East Bay Hills Century

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

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Today’s century is all about hitting the vast majority of the East Bay Hills; the Bears, Pig Farm, Wildcat Canyon, South Park Dr, Skyline Blvd, Pinehurst Rd, Redwood Rd, Keller Ave, Arlington Ave, San Pablo Dam Rd, Sundown Terrace, Deer Hill Rd, Taylor Blvd, Reliez Valley and other little shorter climb.

We begin the ride with a short climb up Morello Ave to Vine Hill Way down to Alhambra Ave. The rolling terrain on Alhambra Valley Rd brings us to the half mile 6-9% climb up the east side of Pig Farm Hill-you’re near the top when you see the huge right turn arrow on the road.

The super-fast descent drops us down to the intersection at Bear Creek Rd to the next series of climbs along the Bears. This is a very popular road with good pavement, wide shoulder areas and fantastic views of Briones Reservoir. There is minimal to no traffic with sweeping turns. During the summer months, it can get very hot out here with not much shade. Water and restrooms are available at Briones Park.

Mama Bear is 0.7 miles with a steady grade of 7% followed by 2 small humps before the descent to Briones. Papa Bear is also 0.7 miles with a steady grade of 7% followed by a short little bump before the blasting descent along Pumphouse Hill. Baby Bear is the shorter steeper climb of 9-11% up to the traffic light on San Pablo Dam Rd/Camino Pablo.

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We continue on Wildcat Canyon Rd up to S Park Dr; the 3.8 miles goes under the beautiful canopy of trees along San Pablo Ridge and through Tilden Park in Berkeley. The first mile up towards El Toyonal Rd has grades of 7-9%, it eases up to grades of 4-5% up to Inspiration Point. The road levels off quite a bit and descends through the groves of eucalyptus trees to S Park Dr.

 

South Park Dr gains 730′ in 1.4 miles up to Grizzly Peak Blvd; it’s a steep stair step climb! The first section begins with grades of 6-8%, at Big Springs the road tilts up a bit more with grades of 10-14%. It eases up for a short stretch around Laurel and jumps back up again to 11-13% grades around Owl. The road continues with steeper grades of 13-15% all the way up to the gate at Grizzly Peak. The climb up this quiet road with minimal traffic is a slug fest!

We head south on Grizzly Peak Blvd along Frowning Ridge to the bottom at Claremont Ave/Fish Ranch Rd. The road conditions are horrible here-descend with caution! Grizzly Peak Blvd continues up along the ridge with gorgeous views of the Bay Area and the scenic hills surrounding Sibley Park.

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The rolling descent on Skyline Blvd runs through the Oakland Hills along Huckleberry Preserve; the section of Skyline between Snake Rd to Pinehurst has really bad pavement with lots of cracks and huge potholes-be on alert!

The twisty descent on north Pinehurst Rd to the tight hairpin turn goes under the woods and follows an old railroad grade to the town of Canyon. The lower section continues along San Leandro Creek under the towering redwood trees-this is one of the most beautiful roads in the Bay Area!

We continue on Pinehurst Rd for the 1.5 mile 4-7% climb up to the summit at Pinehurst Gate. This section of road begins under the redwoods and goes up through the woods and descends long the edge of Redwood Park down to Redwood Rd. On the downhill, we get hit by swarms of ladybugs!

We head south on Redwood Rd for the easy rolling 3.8 miles out and back to Bort Meadow. At the intersection with Pinehurst, we stay on Redwood Rd for the gentle 2.4 mile climb up the canyon to Skyline Blvd. This is another gorgeous climb done under the redwoods surrounding Redwood Park. The last short section up to the top has grades of 7-9%.

The one mile descent on Redwood Rd down to Mountain Blvd is fast! Watch for traffic as you make the left turn onto Mountain Blvd-this area is pretty busy with lots of traffic going in and out of the shopping center and from the freeway interchange.

Mountain Blvd runs east along the side of I-580; the section on Sunnymere to Edwards Ave is a bit sketchy. Keller Ave is 1.8 miles up from the bottom at Mountain Blvd up to the Oakland Hills at Skyline Blvd. It’s a stair step climb with an overall average grade of 5%; the middle and last sections has the steeper gradient ranges of 10-16%! At the top, you are rewarded with magnificent views of the East Bay and beyond.

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We continue north on Skyline Blvd for the next 9.2 miles to our lunch stop at Sibley Park. The beautiful rolling climbs under the conifers along the ridge passes through the horse stables and residential neighborhoods of the Oakland Hills. The section of Skyline between Redwood & Joaquin Miller has a couple of short steep climbs with grades of 9-11%. Skyline up to the summit at Redwood Park winds through the gorgeous redwoods with grades of 6-11%, the road continues pass the Chabot Science Center out to the residential neighborhoods along Huckleberry and Sibley Preserve.

The first 2.4 miles of Grizzly Peak Blvd runs along the ridge from Sibley down to Claremont Ave. The city views of the East Bay are magnificent! The one mile climb up the south side of Grizzly Peak up to S Park Dr has 5-7% grades. The bumpy descent on Grizzly Peak to Golf Course Rd is really bad-watch for all the cracks and potholes! We continue the rolling descent through the residential neighborhoods of the Berkeley Hills out to Euclid Ave.

We stop at the Berkeley Rose Garden to check out all the fragrant and colorful blooms of the different types of roses-it’s absolutely gorgeous here! 

We descend Los Angeles Ave down to the Marin Circle for the gentle climb up south Arlington Ave to the golf course. This road travels along the lower ridge of the Berkeley Hills and Kensington out to the Mira Vista Country Club in El Cerrito and winds down the Richmond Hills to McBryde Ave in Richmond.

To avoid the traffic around lower San Pablo Dam Rd, we go for the short steep climb up Alpine Rd to Hillcrest Rd in El Sobrante. The road reconnects with San Pablo Dam Rd near Appian Way.

We head SE on San Pablo Dam Rd for the flat miles out towards Kennedy Grove. The short one climb up to the reservoir has gradient ranges of 4-7%. The rolling descent goes along the edge of the reservoir up the short bump to the intersection with Bear Creek Rd/Wildcat Canyon Rd.

We continue on Camino Pablo into Orinda, the turn on Miner Rd, Lombardy Lane and Dalewood takes us through the well-groomed residential neighborhoods surrounding the Orinda Country Club. The jaunt on Sundown Terrace leads up to a short steep climb to the top at Happy Valley Rd.

We descend Happy Valley Rd into Lafayette and head east on Deer Hill Rd; this road runs parallel to Hwy 24 with a short steep 10-13% climb up to the ridge followed by a steep descent to Pleasant Hill Rd.

We continue north on Pleasant Hill Rd for the short 7-8% climb to Taylor Blvd. Taylor borders along the city edges of Lafayette and Pleasant Hill. The boulevard has wide shoulder areas and great city views.

The last 7 miles of this century goes up Reliez Valley Rd and meanders through the Martinez neighborhoods surrounding Paso Nogals Park, the Contra Costa Country Club and Hidden Lakes Park. We return to Holidays Highlands Park via Milano Way, Midway Dr and Midhill Rd to Fig Tree Ln.

This hilly urban hundred had us up north around the Briones Hills to the west around Tilden park and southeast around the Oakland Hills with a northwest finish around the Berkeley Hills to Contra Costa. This clover leaf route has plenty of hills and fine city views! Come out and explore some or all of these areas!

Garmin Stats:
101.41 Miles with 10,066′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 1612′
Avg grade: 4%
Max grade: 16%

Weather: FANTASTIC! Sunny and warm with clear blue skies. Temps ranged from the mid 50’s to the high 80’s with SW winds

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Do the things that interest you and do them with all your heart.
~Eleanor Roosevelt

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Follow this route for today’s ride:

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2 Comments

  1. Nancy, You climbed just about every tough hill!! Good for you. Carole

    Carole, Thanks-I had to leave some hills out for the next time around. Nancy

    Like

  2. Great narrative. This would be a great loop for the Tour of CA, would bring a lot of money to start and finish cities, most of the bad roads are in Oakland and Berkeley, maybe could engineer the start in Berkeley and ending in Oakland, might convince the city fathers and mothers that it would be worth putting up more money sooner for road repairs.

    How do you get all that data, do you dictate while you ride? When I am climbing steep hills I certainly have too little blood going to the brain to remember all the climbing percentages.

    I really appreciate all your photos and write ups

    steve mendelson

    Steve, Thanks-your positive input is greatly appreciated! I don’t use a recorder while riding but do seem to remember the steeper grades while climbing. The interactive map on ridewithgps is also a great source for help with elevation and grades. Nancy

    Like

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