Grizzly Peak and more

Today’s Flash Ride netted three participants-the usual Conzelman suspects of Erik, Mark H and yours truly. We started in Orinda shortly after 9am, where the skies were clearing to blue with nice mild temps. Perfect riding weather! We followed the route of the Grizzly Peak Century from May. You gotta love routes with painted arrows on the road too-a very good thing for the directionally-challenged such as me! šŸ™‚

Los tres Conzelman hombres took a nice swift tour through Orinda, Rheem Valley, Moraga, and the little hamlet of Canyon before heading up Skyline and Grizzly Peak in thick, dense (but warm) fog – very moorish. After the always fun screaming descent down Wildcat Canyon we went up San Pablo Dam Road and then on roads I’ve never ridden. Gotta love finding new bike territory after all these year too!! We rode through the forgotten towns of Pinole and Hercules and opted for a lunch of Extreme Pizza and Starbucks Coffee instead of the farmer’s market produce in Pinole (no Tour d’Organics this).

Along San Pablo Bay the ride got decidedly industrial…refineries, speeding traffic and tankers on the Carquinez Strait. A quick descent through Crocket and Port Costa and then up a little bitch of a hill called McEwen Road en route to Martinez. By this time the weather was warm but pleasantly so and Mark quickly found his was back to the route (thank allah for those arrows!). And still more new territory through the beautiful Alhambra Valley and then the perennial favorite of the Tres Osos. By this time, at 75 miles and nearly 6,000 feet of climbing, Mark and Erik had enough and departed back at the Orinda BART.

Eager to complete my 9th century of the year and make up for the three that got washed out in the spring, I soldiered on back through Orinda and Moraga. When stopping at the Moraga Safeway, I discovered making a contribution to the people outside the entrance is a great way to have someone watch your bike while you buy water and snacks. I’ve just gotta say it was kinda funny hearing all the Moraga housewive’s excuses for NOT donating to the battered women’s shelter.

Anyway, back to Canyon and then a turn the other way on Pinehurst to the south. Those of you who did David’s May Lafayette/Sunol route will remember this part of the ride. But then instead of a left on Redwood, I made the right and then a left on Skyline for 10 enjoyable elevated miles through swanky parts of Oakland I’d never ridden, including Grass Valley and the Oakland Zoo.

The Grizzly Peak Century is a bit of a misnomer. It is put on in May by the Grizzly Peak Cyclists and consists of the first loop we did (75 miles) plus the second loop I started. Unfortunately, their advertised mileage and elevation were both a little lower than actual. It appears the actual “Grizzly Peak Century” is 115 miles and has 9,200 feet of climbing according to Klimb. By the time I reached San Leandro at mile 99, I faced a fork in the road: Castro Valley BART a mile to the right, or Redwood Road and 15 more miles and 1,200 more feet of climbing back to Orinda (those of you on David’s May ride will no doubt recall Redwood Road). Even the fact that there was a Peet’s Coffee en route couldn’t distract me from the siren call of the BART train.

Thank buddha for BART! Not only a nap on the ride back home to the city, but the option to change plans mid-ride!

If anyone is interested in doing this ride (or at least some substantial part of it) sometime later this season, let me know. I had a blast and could be persuaded to post it again. Who needs an organized ride and for a century, huh?