Sunday, September 18, 2016
This counter clock-wise loop goes along Alhambra Valley Rd for a climb up east Pig Farm Hill. It continues on Bear Creek Rd for the climbs up Mama Bear to Happy Valley. Climb Happy Valley Rd into Lafayette and head east on Deer Hill Rd up to Lafayette Ridge. Head north along Reliez Valley Rd for the return to Martinez.
Heads out of Martinez on Arnold to Glacier and Vine Hill to Alhambra Ave.
The flat-rolling terrain on Alhambra Valley Rd leads to the junction at Reliez Valley Rd.
Alhambra Valley Rd continues west on flat terrain through a small residential community with front yard vineyards, orchards, and acreage homes.
After passing Deer Creek Dr, the two-lane road narrows as it continues through the wooded canyon for the next couple of miles; the rolling climbs leads up to the base of east Pig Farm Hill.
The climb up east Pig Farm Hill begins at the orange left turn sign; the half mile stretch up to the summit has gradient ranges of 7-8% followed by a fast descent into the valley.
The first 1.6 miles on Bear Creek Rd goes through the “horse country” around Briones with a concentration of horse ranches, farms, training facilities and stables.
The half mile climb up Mama Bear has gradient ranges of 7-8%; you can catch a glimpse of Briones Reservoir as you roll over the top of Lawson Hill. Check out Rin Lee from The Broken Spoke Cyclery at the top of the hill, he’s out supporting cyclists on most weekends from 10 AM-2PM. He offers water, snacks and mobile bike service.
Mama Bear continues ascending over a few more humps before descending into Briones Valley to Happy Valley Rd.
Happy Valley Rd is a utilitarian back road with access into Lafayette and Orinda. This quiet narrow single lane road begins with a gentle half mile climb under the shaded woodlands.
At the hairpin turn, the road kicks up dramatically for the next 0.6 mile with steep 10-13% grades; it winds up through the canyon to the summit at the steel guardrail near Orinda View Rd.
Happy Valley Rd descends into Lafayette towards Mt Diablo Blvd.
Keep an eye out for the quails, raccoons, and birdhouses on the backs of some road signs along the lower stretch of Happy Valley!
Turn left onto Deer Hill Rd; this is a frontage road that runs parallel to Hwy 24. The road pitches up for a short steep 1/10th of a mile climb to the summit at Lafayette Ridge with 11-13% grades! Enjoy the Mt Diablo and Las Trampas views!
Lafayette Cross Memorial
Deer Hill Rd drops down on a very steep grade onto Pleasant Hill Rd; this is a fairly busy road-use caution and watch traffic on the turn to Reliez Valley Rd. The gentle terrain on Reliez Valley Rd goes through the residential neighborhoods along the valley for the first mile.
At the stop sign on La Caminita, the road kicks up for a steep 2/10th of a mile climb with gradient ranges of 10-13%!
The quick descent on Reliez Valley Rd leads down through the valley neighborhoods pass the Queen of Heaven Cemetery and Oakmont Memorial Park off Grayson Rd. Reliez Valley Rd continues on rolling terrain along the edge of the residential subdivisions bordering Pleasant Hill to Blue Ridge Dr.
Blue Ridge Dr heads east through the residential neighborhoods to Alhambra Ave. The short climb on Elderwood Dr takes you back onto Morello and Vine Hill Way for the return to Holiday Highlands Park.
This is a fabulous hilly ride that goes along the canyon and valleys around Briones Hills at Briones Regional Park. It’s minimal miles with maximum climbing!
29.37 Miles with 2674′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 955′
Max grade: 16%
Terrain: Extremely hilly with steep climbs
Weather: Sunny and HOT! Temps ranged from the mid 70’s to the mid 90’s with SW winds.
Follow this route for today’s ride: