Lafayette-Orinda Loop

Sunday, November 3, 2013

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Today’s urban ride is local and somewhat hilly; it’s a clockwise loop from Martinez to Lafayette and Orinda followed by a gentle run along Alhambra Valley Rd to the climb up Pig Farm. I take my standard way out of Martinez up Arnold to Center and cross over Vine Hill to Morello Ave.

I like climbing up Taylor; it’s a very direct route to Lafayette with a wide shoulder area. The last 7/10th of a mile up to the summit at Rancho View Dr has gradient ranges of 7-10%.

Taylor becomes Pleasant Hill Rd on the drop into Lafayette. I decide to head west and go up to the top of the ridge on Deer Hill Rd; this is a very steep but short climb with 13-16% grades! At the top, take a moment to enjoy the magnificent views of the Diablo Range!

Deer Hill Rd runs parallel to Hwy 24, the descending rolling terrain takes me pass the Cross Memorial located across from the Lafayette BART station.

From Lafayette, I head NW on Happy Valley Rd to Upper Happy Valley; the gentle climb goes through the upscale neighborhoods along Happy Valley to the stop sign at Upper Happy Valley.

Upper Happy Valley descends south to El Nido Ranch Rd; this road parallels Hwy 24 W to Saint Stephens Dr. I haven’t been up El Nido in years; it begins with a steep 12-15% grind up to Sunnyhill Rd and levels out for about half a mile before pitching back up to steeper grades on the approach towards the freeway.

I cross St Stephens Dr and continue on Altarinda Dr; this short steep climb takes me up into Orindawoods-an upscale development with its own private tennis club and clubhouse. This neighborhood is located on top of a ridge with great views of the East Bay hills, Diablo Range and the surrounding wooded open space.

I descend Altarinda Dr onto Orinda Way; this is a little side road that runs behind Camino Pablo in Orinda.

As I was heading NW on Orinda Way, something shiny caught my eye so I turned into the driveway that leads up to the Orinda Library to check it out. The “something shiny” was a colorful outdoor blue-gold peacock sculpture!

I made this my lunch stop and parked my bike to walk around the plaza. To my surprise, there are multiple art sculptures located throughout the open space! Caffe Teatro is located underneath the library with lots of outdoor seating in the patio area-it’s a great place to stop and grab a coffee or a snack!

The Orinda Community Center and Community Park is located right next to the library with more outdoor art sculptures.

I stay on Orinda Way out to Camino Pablo and head north along San Pablo Dam Rd; the flat rolling terrain on SPDR roughly follows the shores of San Pablo Reservoir. From the entrance of San Pablo Reservoir, the road descends quickly along the grove of eucalyptus down into El Sobrante.

The climb up Castro Ranch Rd goes through the residential neighborhoods of Carriage Hills followed by a blasting straight descent into Alhambra Valley.

Alhambra Valley Rd is a quiet back road with minimal traffic; the gentle terrain through this valley has gorgeous views of the soft rolling hills and open grasslands with grazing cattle and scattered ranches.

At the corner of Bear Creek Rd, I decide to go out and back along Piera Rd; this is a dead end road through a small residential area with acreage homes and ranches.

I continue east on Alhambra Valley Rd pass the hillside vineyard, olive grove, animal farm and ranches to the climb up Pig Farm Hill.

The climb up Pig Farm is about half a mile with steep grades of 13-16%!  

The descent down east Pig Farm Hill winds through the valley along Vaca Canyon back to Martinez.

I stay on Alhambra Valley Rd to Alhambra Way for the climb up Muir Station Rd. Muir Rd takes me back to the Hwy 4 overpass to Arnold Dr and Fig Tree Ln.

I had a wonderful day just taking my time to meander around the local roads of Lafayette and Orinda. Check out the open plaza and café at the Orinda Library, it’s a great place to stop and relax! I even got back home with plenty of time to do some laundry!

Garmin Stats:
40.4 Miles with 3159′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 835′
Max grade: 16%
Terrain: Hilly

Weather: GOOD! Partly sunny skies with cool temps. Temps ranging from the low 50’s to the low 60’s. NW winds

Life is better when you’re on the bike.


Click here to view the interactive route map & elevation profile

Follow this route for today’s ride:


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