Del Puerto Canyon Century

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

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Today’s century heads south east from Livermore to Patterson along two very remote roads with little or no facilities; Mines Rd and Del Puerto Canyon Rd. The route begins near the Livermore Valley in Alameda County and crosses over the Santa Clara County line on Mines Rd to the Stanislaus County line on Del Puerto Canyon Rd.

We begin the 24.5 miles ride up Mines Rd from the large gravel turn out area about a tenth of a mile from the Y turn off at Del Valle Rd. The first mile or so along the flats   through the horse ranch and farm leads up to the bridge crossing over Arroyo Mocho creek.

The road slowly stair steps its way up the mountain for the next 5+ miles with gradient ranges of 5-8% along with steeper pitches of 9-11%. Every curvature of the road provides a different view of the chaparral covered mountains, open grasslands and deep canyons of the Diablo Range-it’s quite beautiful!

The road eventually narrows for the 8+ mile segment along the ridge down to the valley floor. Hidden residences up the dirt driveways and side roads along with cattle and horse ranches occupy a large portion of this open valley. The grassy meadows are dotted with grazing cattle and horses with soaring raptors flying overhead.

We cross into Santa Clara County at the 20 mile road marker where the single lane becomes a two lane road again. The gentle rolling terrain for the next 3 miles has one short steep pitch up to the gap at the Ruthy sign.

The sweeping descent is followed by a half mile 7-9% climb up to a ranch. The road descends towards the valley with one small bump up to the CAL Fire Station and to the Junction. The Junction Café doesn’t open till 12 PM so you’ll need to bring enough food, water and snacks!

We continue east on CA-130 on Del Puerto Canyon Rd for the next 25 miles to Patterson. You’d think it would be ALL downhill but it’s not-there is one short climb up to the summit at the Stanislaus County line.

From the county line, the roads descends through the gorgeous canyon with a diversity of habitats from the chaparral covered hills and oak woodlands to the vegetation growing along the dry streambed and expansive grasslands.

The wide open area through the valley floor is scattered with a few old ranches and farms with grazing cattle and horses. It also looks like a great geological place with plenty of different rock formations and different types of stones and minerals-WOW!

The road continues east out of the canyon into Patterson. Our lunch stop is the Chevron Station at the Villa Del Lago Plaza off I-5. Fill up with plenty of water as there is none available on the return up Del Puerto Canyon.

Now it’s 25 miles back up Del Puerto Canyon-it’s interesting because you get to see the road from another perspective. I ride pretty slow and like to look around a lot. The apricot orchard along the lower valley is abundant with fruit and ready for picking and packing. There’s a dead wild pig lying next to the fence line and lots of little ground squirrels running about.

The gentle flat rolling terrain takes us back up through the canyon for a quick stop at the Frank Raines Park. This park has a nice picnic area with a new play structure and green grass. The restrooms are really lousy and there is NO drinking water! A half mile up the road is the Deer Creek Campground. This facility is great for RV camping with full hookups and non-potable water at each site. The restrooms are much better here.

The road continues up the canyon on gentle grades for the next 3.7 miles.

At the 20 mile road mark, the gradient increases to steeper ranges of 11-15% for the next 1.7 miles up to the Santa Clara county line. So far, the weather has been perfect for this ride-partly cloudy sky with temps in the mid 70’s. But as we started the steep climb, the clouds gave way to sunny skies with an instant increase in temps to the mid 90’s!

The descent is followed by a short bump up to the junction at Mines Rd. We make a quick snack stop at the Junction Café to refill our Camelbaks with ice and water.

The return on Mines Rd has 2 climbs; the first one is about 2 miles long with 3-6% grades up to the ranch. The second climb up to the Ruthy sign is a little over a mile long with grades of 5-7%.

Thanks to Michael for blocking and pulling me through the headwinds for the remaining 19 flat rolling miles back to the car!

There are little to no services on these roads and no drinking water on Del Puerto Canyon-come prepared to ride the 50 miles out to Patterson and be self-sufficient-bring a friend!

Come and lose yourself in the natural beauty of Del Puerto Canyon and Mines Rd! It’s a wonder that this is so close to the urban Bay Area and yet still seems so remotely distant. You’ll be blown away by the starkness of the undulating views and the quiet calm it brings!

Garmin Stats:
101 Miles with 6792′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 2876′
Max grade: 15%

Weather: GREAT! Overcast partly cloudy morning skies giving way to brilliant sunshine. Temps ranged from the mid 50’s to the mid 90’s with NW winds

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Dream what you want to dream, go where you want to go, be what you want to be. Because you have only one life and one chance to do all the things you want to do.

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