September 27, 2013
This urban century heads south along Contra Costa’s city streets to Castro Valley in Alameda County. This route highlights the gorgeous out and back run along Stonybrook Canyon on Palomares Rd and another beautiful out and back along Cull Canyon Rd. The ride concludes with a jaunt around Round Hill Country Club in Alamo to the flats on the Iron Horse and Contra Costa Canal Trails.
We begin with our standard climb on Taylor Blvd; this gets us up and over into Lafayette onto Pleasant Hill Rd. During the weekdays, this road is heavily congested with morning commuters and parents dropping their kids off at school.
We take Olympic Blvd and weave our way around Walnut Creek along the classic route through the residential neighborhoods on Newell, Lilac, Lancaster and Castle Hill to Danville Blvd.
The next flat 15 miles takes us through the cities of Alamo, Danville, San Ramon and Dublin on the main thoroughfares; Danville Blvd, San Ramon Valley Rd and San Ramon Rd. These roads cut through the residential, business and commercial areas along miles and miles of shopping centers and strip malls.
Dublin Canyon Rd is a frontage road that runs parallel along I-580 with minimal traffic and a wide shoulder area. The gentle 3-5% grades takes us up and over to Palo Verde Rd.
Palomares Rd 9.6 miles from Palo Verde Rd in Castro Valley to Niles Canyon Rd in Sunol. The rolling terrain for the first few miles on this quiet back road take us in and out of the wooded canyon with many horse ranches and estate homes situated along Palomares Creek.
The narrow bridge crossing on Palomares leads up to the steeper sustained climb to the summit. It begins at mile marker 4.05 with grades of 7-8% and steadily increases to grades of 9-11% as you reach mile marker 4.74. It maxes out at 13% as you approach the turn at the yellow right arrow sign. At the summit, take a moment to enjoy the canyon views!
The descent on Palomares Rd winds down along the rocky bed of Stonybrook Creek through the wooded Stonybrook Canyon with minimal to no traffic. We stop at the wide opening on the left side of the road before the short steep drop to Niles Canyon Rd.
We turn around for the climb up south Palomares Rd; the first few miles has gradient ranges of 7-9% with steeper pitches of 10-11% around the switchbacks.
The road eases up to gentler grades at the guardrail at mile marker 7.57. The gentle rolling terrain goes pass hidden acreage homes, horse ranches and the Holy Cross Monastery, Westover Winery and Chouinard Vineyards & Winery.
On our descent from the north side, we encountered a huge fallen tree blocking the entire road. On this return climb up the south side, a tree removal crew is working at clearing it off the road. The recent high winds have caused a huge part of the tree to come down!
The descent on Palomares Rd to Palo Verde Rd is fast; it slingshots down the hill and sweeps around the curves to the lower canyon.
We head west on Castro Valley Blvd towards the center of town and take Crow Canyon Rd to Cull Canyon Rd for our lunch stop at Cull Canyon Recreation Area. You enter through the parking lot and cross the footbridge to the picnic area.
The out and back on Cull Canyon from Crow Canyon Rd is 6.3 miles. The gentle rolling hills on this beautiful back road roughly follow Cull Creek through horse country. Tucked away along this canyon are acreage homes, horse and cattle ranches, several equestrian training centers and boarding facilities. The vineyards and winery of Twining Vine occupies 10 acres of land, you can’t miss the original “Red Barn” from the main road. Cull Canyon comes to a dead-end at Cull Canyon Ranch and The Sequoians, a clothes optional resort.
We descend Cull Canyon Rd and head NE on Crow Canyon Rd; this is a main thoroughfare for people heading into San Ramon Valley. It’s a very busy back road that runs along Crow Creek; the road has been recently repaved and there is a wider shoulder area for cyclists.
From San Ramon Valley Rd, we take Greenbrook Dr and meander through the residential neighborhoods around San Ramon and Danville. To avoid some street traffic, we weave our way through the larger Alamo estates around Round Hill Country Club to Miranda, Livorna and Lavender.
Rudgear Rd drops us into Walnut Creek onto S Broadway and onto the Iron Horse Trail off Newell Ave. Taking the Canal Trail back to Martinez is a stress free way to end a ride even with the multiple street crossings.
This century completes my personal goal of riding 52 centuries for 2013! Any other century ride I finish from this point forward will just be icing on the cake! I’ll probably continue on until daylight savings time starts in November and or when the weather changes.
Goal wise-All you have to do is plant the seed in your head, take action and let your mind and body make it come to fruition-it’s that simple! Of course, you have to stay focused, be dedicated, budget your time and commit to it.
Remember, it’s never too late to set a goal, who says you have to wait till the New Year comes around? You can do it now.
100.39 Miles with 6030′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 1100′
Max grade: 13%
Terrain: Moderately Hilly
Weather: Fantastic! Sunny & warm with clear blue skies. Temps ranged from the low 50’s to the mid 80’s. NW winds with 62% humidity
Setting the goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan. ~Tom Landry
Follow this route for today’s ride: