Sunday, July 6, 2014
This semi urban hilly ride around Contra Costa has several steep climbs; it goes up Donald Dr to Mulholland Ridge and drops down into Orinda for the run up Upper Happy Valley Rd to Happy Valley Rd. The ride drops down to Bear Creek Rd for the rolling climbs on the backside of Mama Bear and continues on Alhambra Valley Rd for the climb up Pig Farm Hill.
We exit Holiday Highlands Park and make our way up Arnold Dr to Glacier and Center Ave to Vine Hill Way. Morello Ave leads us out of Martinez into Pleasant Hill.
We head south on Taylor Blvd; this busy main thoroughfare is a very utilitarian way to get from Pleasant Hill down into Lafayette with great pavement and wide shoulder areas. At Grayson Rd, Taylor Blvd gradually ascends with gentle grades of 3-5% up towards Dinosaur Hill Park before dropping down to the stop light at Withers Ave.
Taylor levels out for the next half mile plus towards the Pleasant Hill Rd interchange and kicks up to 7-10% grades for the 0.7 mile climb up to the traffic light at Rancho View Dr.
The road name changes to Pleasant Hill Rd on the descent into Lafayette to Olympic Blvd. Watch for traffic after Deer Hill Rd towards the Hwy 24 interchange to Mt Diablo Blvd-use caution!
Moraga Rd leads us to the turn onto Donald Dr; the road sits along the boundary of Orinda and Moraga. Donald Dr goes through a residential neighborhood before turning up towards Mulholland Ridge Open Space Preserve. The initial climb up to the closed gate goes up under a canopy of trees for 0.4 mile with an average grade of 6.4%.
Before reaching the closed gate, get into your lowest gear for the steep climb up to the ridge; it’s 0.4 mile with gradient ranges of 12-17%!
The road levels out for a short section along the ridge; take a moment to look around and enjoy the views-you can see Mt Diablo!
The Mulholland Ridge Trail gradually kicks back up to steep grades of 9-11% for the 0.4 mile up to the summit of Mulholland Hill at the water tower. Watch for dogs; they’re allowed to run off-leash along the ridge!
Stop at the picnic area and enjoy the breathtaking views of the Moraga Valley and the mountains around Diablo Range-WOW!
We continue along Donald Dr and descend Alice Dr to Zander Dr. The rolling terrain on Zander drops us down onto Rheem Blvd to Glorietta Blvd.
We go around the traffic circle and follow Bryant Way to the St Stephens Trail; this trail runs parallel to Hwy 24 for one mile and exits onto the freeway overpass on St Stephens Dr. El Nido Ranch Rd drops us down to Upper Happy Valley Rd into Lafayette.
Upper Happy Valley Rd climbs gently north through a residential neighborhood for 1.1 miles up to Happy Valley Rd.
Happy Valley Rd continues to climb for another mile up to the summit near Orinda View Rd with gradient ranges of 9-11%! The twisty bumpy descent on Happy Valley Rd drops us onto Bear Creek Rd.
We head north on Bear Creek Rd through Briones Hills for the series of small climbs and descents over the backside of Mama Bear. It’s 1.5 miles with gradient ranges of 5-9% up to the Lawson Hill summit.
The sling shot descent on Bear Creek Rd takes us around through a horse ranching community and the Gan Shalom Jewish Cemetery to Alhambra Valley Rd.
Alhambra Valley Rd east begins with a gradual climb up along the valley vineyard with the olive grove and animal farm.
The road continues through the valley and ranchlands of JMB ranch to the base of Pig Farm Hill.
The climb up west Pig Farm Hill begins around the bend at JBL Ranch; it’s a steep half mile climb with gradient ranges of 13-15%!
East Pig Farm Hill quickly winds down around the canyon to the valley out to the junction at Reliez Valley Rd.
We stay on Alhambra Valley to Alhambra Ave and take Vine Hill Way back to Center and Arnold Dr.
This is a great short hilly local ride with challenging climbs! If you’re in the area, Mulholland Ridge is a must do-you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views and vistas!
43 Miles with 3642′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 1148′
Max grade: 17%
Terrain: Hilly with several steep climbs
Weather: Sunny and hot with temps ranging from 64F in the morning to an afternoon high of 98F. Breezy NW winds with 64% humidity
Follow this route for today’s ride: