Post Thanksgiving Turkey Burn

Stephanie & David posted this ride on the Different Spokes calendar and I had been looking forward to it. It’s now a “tradition” of sorts (do 2 years make a tradition?) to have a day after Thanksgiving ride, and with today’s weather, what a fabulous ride it was! David has cross posted the ride to the AIDS/LifeCycle forum and that brought Rod Wong out to join us, along with Will. I had not met Rod before, but I “knew” him from ALC and he is also a Training Ride Leader.

Todays ride was the Classic Marin One-Bakery ride, starting at the Millwood Community Center on Lucas Valley Road. We head out Lucas Valley and the first climb is up to Chimney Rock. From there it’s a nice downhill as we rolled through the redwoods and on to Nicasio, our first regroup point. From there, we headed out around the reservoir and up and over Pt. Reyes-Petaluma Road to the Cheese Factory, our second regroup. We had expected traffic to lighten up from here, but I think the clear gorgeous day brought out more cars and motorcyles.

Leaving the Cheese Factory, we turned onto Hicks Valley to head to the big, big hill called the Marshall Wall. From the top, what a gorgeous view of Tomales Bay. This was the first time to descend the Wall on the “new” bike and after some tips from Lorri with Velo Girls, and I must say, I felt more confident and comfortable on this than I recall the last time, which would have been the Marin Century in 2006.

At Highway 1, we head south about 10 miles to Pt Reyes Station and the Bovine Bakery for a late lunch. I had as slice of pizza, and David bought a cinnamon roll that he shared. A quick stop at the fire station to use the restrooms and then we started heading back. Pt. Reyes-Petaluma Road took us back to and around Nicasio Reservoir, and then it’s a gentle (mostly) climb back up Lucas Valley Road to Chimney Rock and the final descent back to the cars. All in all we were done just after 3pm, with just under 4 hours of moving time, averaging 15.6 mph!

Route profile


Morgan Territories & Palomares Canyon loop

My first ride with Different Spokes as a co-leader was Morgan Territory from Walnut Creek BART, with Tony Moy in the fall of 2004. It was my first ride in the East Bay since taking up cycling actually, and I really enjoyed it.

That same year Jerome posted and led an alternate ride, starting at Concord BART, up and around Morgan Territories, and instead of circling back thru Danville, it headed on to Dublin for lunch, then into Niles Canyon and up Palomares Road to end at the Castro Valley BART station. I had 4 flats that day, so it was VERY memorable. Four flats that could have been avoided, had I replaced the tires on the bike before tread started showing thru, not very smart.

In in 2005, I asked Jerome if he and I could co-lead his ride again. In 2006 Will led several different variations, including an 84 mile route back to Orinda BART, Bill and I were on our cruise, so I missed both of his rides last year. It’s a fabulous ride, that should be done in the fall or spring, as it can be quite hot in the summer or even the early fall. Imagine my surprise when the forecast for this year was for temperatures in the 80s!

Tony and Roger, Stephanie, Nancy and Will joined Jerome and I and we departed from the Concord BART station promptly at 9:30am, heading out Clayton Road. We did a quick regroup in Clayton before heading up Marsh Creek Road and the first climb before reaching Morgan Territories Road.

We regrouped at the staging area into the park, just about at the top of Morgan Territories Road. After just a tad bit more climbing we crested the top for the long downhill towards Livermore and then on to Dublin for lunch. The “normal” lunch stop has been the Bagel Street Cafe, but Jerome mentioned having stopped at a Subway on Main Street, so we had planned to meet there instead.

In Pleasanton, we caught up with Will, on Main Street, outside the Subway. Jerome then realized it wasn’t Subway he meant, but it was Quiznos down the block, which was cordoned off for some sort of parade or festival, so we at the Subway anyway.

From Pleasanton, we headed on to Sunol and onto Highway 84 into Niles Canyon. Will was waiting and marking the turn on to Palomares Road, as it is easily missed. The climb up Palomares isn’t as long as Morgan Territories, and we regrouped at the top, before a nice descent to Castro Valley. Will, Tony and Roger were way ahead of the rest of us on the downhill, we didn’t see them at the turn at Paloverde Road, where Jerome was waiting.

We then decided to head to the Bayfair BART station (where I was parked) instead of Castro Valley. Jerome, armed with his new iPhone and Google Maps, figured out that Castro Valley Boulevard would take us to East 14th Street and up to Bayfair, adding a few more miles and another Morgan Territories loop.

Route profile

Gold Country Weekend

Nine spokers enjoyed a great weekend of sun, scenery, great riding and comaraderie on our second annual Amador Country biking trip on October 11th to 14th. The Amador County nine included Stephanie, Nancy, Jaime, Roger, Jerome, Doug, Davids Fales and Goldsmith and your truly. About half of the group arrived on Thursday; the rest who couldn’t tear themselves away from work came up Friday evening.

While that Friday was a very rainy day in the Bay Area, we were lucky to be faced mostly with cloudy skies and only intermittent showers for our ride through the Shenendoah Valley zinfandel vineyards, past Mount Aukum and the Slug Gulch hill climb to an ultimate elevation of 5,000 feet in the Sierra foothills. From that point, we had a great descent back through the forest, and back through a few sleepy mountain hamlets. All told the ride encompassed 66 miles with about 6,700 feet of climbing, mostly concentrated in the first half of the ride. After our achievement, we celebrated with a soak in the hot tub and then went out to a local BBQ joint (Incahouts) for a huge meal. The portions were so big, we ended up taking much of it back home with us for our Saturday night dinner.

The weather on Saturday was perfect and we rode from Plymouth over a few steep but short climbs to Amador City for a wonderful little pastry stop at Andrae’s Bakery. Refreshed, we started the beautiful and more gradual climb toward Volcano. Following our lunch enjoyed in the sunshine on the steps of the post office, we began the significant and beautiful Ram’s Horn Grade climb (think Wildcat Canyon, but more scenic). From there it was back downhill to Sutter Creek and then into rolling grasslands and vineyards west of Plymouth. While Saturday’s ride didn’t feature grades as steep as Friday’s, the totals were almost identical- 66 miles and 6,700 feet of climbing.

On Saturday night, Stephanie, Nancy, David G and Jaime were kind enough to prepare a pasta and salad feast for us to go along with the remaining tri tip, ribs, chicken and pizza from the big Friday carnivore-fest. It was a sports fan’s dream-most of us were huddled around the TV watching the Indians – Red Sox playoff game or the computer trying to follow the Cal Bears football game. What a treat to see so many gay and lesbian sports fans together! After several bottles of wine (both locally grown and courtesy of Doug), we called it a night.

Sunday featured a more relaxing ride. The loop from Plymouth to Eldorado was approximately 43 miles and only 3,000 feet of climbing. We made good time on Sunday am and were back at the 49er Village RV Park, our home away from home for the weekend, in time to cleanup and enjoy a farewell lunch before heading back toward the City.

Thanks everyone for coming and enjoying this great weekend. I look forward to doing it again next year!

October Jersey Ride

Friday’s rain in the Bay Area and the nine club members enjoying the Gold Country weekend kept the turn-out low, despite the bright clear fall morning we had for the Jersey Ride. I was greeted by Dinei and Wly who were already at Peets shortly after 8:30, and we were joined by Victor who came out to enjoy the classic Tib loop, along with Patrick riding sweep. Rico (on his new bike), Jeremy and Yew-Hoe joined us in stages on Arguello along the way, bringing our total to 8 riders.

At the Golden Gate Bridge, we regrouped, but lost Patrick, who recently had orthoscopic surgery on his elbow turned back, as his arm was not as strong as he had hoped it would be. Another gorgeous crossing of the bridge, reminiscent of my first Jersey ride with the Club, four years earlier. Do we live in the best place for riding and views or what?

Another quick regroup at sanitation plant restrooms before hitting Camino Alto. Jeremy left us shortly after we started up Camino Alto, I wasn’t sure and didn’t get a chance to ask, if he hurried on to Peets in Corte Madera for a quick expresso shot or not. It was equally gorgeous heading around Paradise Drive and on into Tiburon for (early, shortly after 11am) lunch at Sharks Deli.

We opted not to take the short-cut straight up Alexander Avenue from Sausalito, taking the East Road return to the bridge, past Fort Baker; what a crystal clear view of both Angel Island and Alcatraz. Jeremy commented that he had never noticed Angel Island before.

It wasn’t until on the return ride, that I noticed Wly had blood on his elbow; while on Paradise Drive hearing a car coming from behind, he moved closer (well, too close?) to the shoulder and went down. Good to hear that it resulted only in minor cuts, but he opted to skip the impromptu stop at Velo Cafe on the way back to get home for some TLC from Bob. Dinei headed on, Jeremy had already turned off shortly after the bridge, but Rico, Yew-Hoe and I did stop for coffees at the cafe, enjoying the sun and chatting. While it’s great when there is a huge turn out, it’s much easier to enjoy everyone’s company when it is a small group; thanks Wly, Dinei, Patrick, Victor, Rico and Yew-Hoe for coming on out!

Konocti Challenge DSSF event

Having done the Konocti Challenge last year solo, the ride was put on the DSSF calendar as a club event at my urging. With the 3 hour drive, I wasn’t expecting a huge turn out, in fact, the response to the poll was, well, minimal. And unfortunately I registered, then went to post a message to the club with a reference to the write up I had posted last year, when I discovered the events Ride Coordinator had found my blog entry. She offered to comp my registration in fact. So since I had already registered, I asked if she would be willing to extend that comp registration to any DSSF members who came up (knowing there were only 2-3 interested), to which she did!

Weather predictions showed our ride start would be in the 40s when I packed Thursday night. Friday night, the weather prediction showed a 10 degree drop in predicted weather. And I had only brought the light-weight full fingered gloves, not the winter ones. And worse, poor Will only had fingerless gloves to start. Needless to say, the three of us were quite chilly until the first rest stop at Clear Lake Oaks at 21 miles at the Indian Beach Resort.

Proceeding on around the lake clockwise, thru Clear Lake Keys, we turned onto Sulphur Bank Drive and on around Borax Lake. Rest stop 2 was just outside of Lower Lake at the Anderson Marsh State Park again. Leaving Lower Lake, we turn right on Highway 29 before turning onto Siegler Canyon Road and the climb thru the canyon and up Loch Lomond toward Cobb Mountain. Jeff and I arrive at lunch rest stop 3 at Jellystone Park at Cobb Mountain, Will had been there about an hour and was napping in a chair.

From there the climbing resumed up Bottle Rock Road. Rest stop 4 was at Point Lakeview and Soda Bay Road. No sign of Will, but after a break and some stretching, Jeff & I continued on around Konocti Bay. I nearly missed the turn for rest stop 5, new this year at the Narly Dude Ranch. Jeff was in front of me a bit and I hollered and hollered, but he did not hear me. Funny that this stop was almost missed, as one thing about this ride is that it is very well marked, with new signs this year even.

I finished the last stretch on Kelsey Creek Road to rest stop 6 at Adobe Creek, which had a tropical theme no less, with inflatable palm trees, music, and a photo op too! The worst road stretch of the entire ride is continuing on Adobe Creek Road from this last rest stop, and then some. But no where near as bad as King City on ALC, but close. They put on a nice ride and Bill and Jeff seemed to enjoy the ride, different territory and something new! And I was able to meet Jennifer, the Ride Coordinator post-ride and got to thank her in person. Her goal was to bring the number of riders from 300+ to over 500 this year, to which she succeeded, she reported. Her plans for next year are to send a couple of comp registrations to bike clubs to auction off or whatever, neat idea!

Route profile

Altamont Pass & Lake del Valle loop

The idea for this route came from an ALC Training Ride from the spring, which was canceled due to weather. I had the route sheet and saved it. David G2 and I were talking, he offered to co-lead with me, and I mentioned wanting to do this route, and so it began. I also pulled out an old route sheet for the Primavera Century, from 2005, as I remembered riding up to Altamont Pass then. So between the two, I came up with this new and improved version going to Altamont Pass and then going up to the summit at Del Valle Regional Park.

Starting at Union City BART, the weather was strange, but in a good way, all day. While there was cloud cover and at times it looked fairly dark and menacing, the forecast of no rain proved to be true. What was equally amazing (no complaints, mind you) was the lack of wind, even up crossing 580 on Altamont Pass. The wind turbines were not even running!

David G2 and I were joined by Will and Roger Chapman, along with Tim and Ann, along with a co-worker of David’s who rode with us to Sunol. We regrouped in Sunol at the Niles Canyon Railway station. From there, we headed up Foothill Road, passing by a tarantula crossing the road on up to Pleasanton. What I didn’t realize is that there was the possibility of two left turns onto Bernal Road. The one I wanted us to take was the second one, so we ended up with a slight diversion heading west back towards 680. A quick phone call to Tim out in front, he had already realized something was amiss and was headed back.

When we got back to First Street, we picked up the route as it should have been, zig zagging thru Pleasanton and Livermore to out lunch stop on Vasco Road. I checked with a freind at work and there was a Quiznos and a Starbucks at this strip mall. What I didn’t know was, that the Quiznos was closed on Sundays. Fortunately the Starbucks was open and some chose to lunch there, and some of us chose to eat at the Mexican restaurant, Taqueria Consuelito, which had huge burritos, I was glad I only ordered the regular.

From there, we were only a few miles from Altamont Pass Road, on the north side of 580, which we followed to Carroll Road which crossed us over 580 to Flynn Road North and the view of all the wind turbines. After a bit more climbing, descended some to Patterson Pass Road and then another small climb over Cross Road and we were headed down Tesla to Mines Road, which could take us all teh way up the back side of Mt. Hamilton.

David G2 was feeling a bit off by this point, and so he opted to head back from there, skipping the Lake del Valle out and back portion. This proved fortunate, as he discovered my second route error and he called to tell me that there was no left turn onto Wente, but onto Concannon. So there are definite drawbacks to using only a route mapping program.

The out and back to the summit overlooking Lake del Valle is just a tad over 5 miles each way, this part of Mines Road being a gentle ascent, but the real climb starts as soon as you turn off to head to the reservoir. And unfortunately, there is no real view of the reservoir from the summit either. I rode down a bit just to see if there was a view from a ways down, but you’d have to go most of the way down.

Route profile

The descent back to Mines Road was nice, and we continued on the Livermore to Pleasanton, and rather than heading back down Foothill, the route took us on Pleasanton-Sunol Road for a bit of variety on the return portion. We regrouped again at the railway station in Sunol before heading back into Niles Canyon, and thanks to the interesting weather, we did not have the expected major afternoon headwind, ending back at the Union City BART station, with 81 miles, just 4 over the planned, with our missed turn. Thanks again everyone for coming out to ride!

Big Sur Ride

There’s nothing like signing up to do a fantastic 2 day, 170 mile, 11,000 feet ride a second time, all the while hoping that the weather is just as incredible as the previous year. Well, I was not disappointed one bit, in fact the weather on the first day was a bit warmer at the early morning start then last year. This year, Scott, Roger and Jeff also came along, and equally enjoyed the ride, the scenery and made for great riding partners both days!

Day 1 – Saturday – Carmel Valley to Ft. Hunter Liggett
Route profile
Day 1 we depart from Carmel Valley Village and head to Highway 1, a brisk downhill but a gorgeous scene. From there the route follows Cabrillo Highway 1 south past Point Lobos State Reserve and just around the corner from the Cal Trans pull out, we came across a spot where some California Condors were hanging out on the rocks on the cliff or on the scaffolding in place on a ($12 million?) remodeling project on a home. Someone had a high powered scope set on a tripod and he offered us a chance to peek through and see them close up.

The first rest stop at Rocky Point Restaurant at mile 23, which has it’s own spectacular views. The next landmark is the Rocky Creek bridge, which is often confused for the Bixby Bridge which we crossed about a half mile later, followed by a long climb to Hurricane Point, the highest point on Highway 1 between Carmel and Big Sur with fantastic coastline views both directions. At mile 30 we passed the Point Sur Light Station and then Andrew Molera State Park, where we left the shoreline heading into Big Sur and Pfeiffer-Big Sur State Park, followed by a 2 mile climb to the entrances to both Post Ranch Inn and the Ventana Inn & Spa.

Our second rest stop was at mile 49 at the Vista Point. Well, actually we were just past the Point at a dirt pull out. PG&E was doing some sort of construction at the Vista Point and we watched a helicopter bring in construction material. Unfortunately, they had run out of lunch meat at the rest stop, so the choices for a sandwich were cheese with lettuce and tomato, or peanut butter and jelly which worked for me. On the way to the third rest stop, we pass Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and then past the very small resort town of Lucia and at mile 65 we arrive at the Kirk Creek Campground, the third rest stop of the day to regroup and refuel before Nastymiento, as a friend has heard it referred to by other cyclists.

Nacamiento-Fergusson Road, the 7.5 mile, 2,500 foot climb is tough, they represent it as a 6% average grade; it’s the average that’s misleading, the lower section is much tougher than the second half. And mind you, you start this climb having already gone 65 miles and nearly 5,000 feet. Just past mile 72 you reach the summit and a welcome reprieve from the afternoon heat and the long climb.

From there it’s 20 miles to camp at Ft. Hunter Liggett, most of it downhill. The battery on the Edge GPS bike computer decided to die also at this point, leaving my export file and map about a mile and a half shy of the actual camp spot and the end of Day 1 riding.

In camp, we set-up our tents on the ball field, and I took a shower then headed over to the Hacienda Ranch House for dinner. Jeff, Scott and Roger showered and then went for a dip in the pool and followed shortly. After dinner, they held a raffle and 3 out of 4 of us won! I won a t-shirt, Roger a Sea Otter ball cap, and Jeff won a Garmin Edge 205 bike GPS computer!

Day 2 – Sunday – Ft. Hunter Liggett to Carmel Valley
Route profile
Awoken by reveilli at sunrise, you pack up your gear, take down your tent, leave your gear at the truck and then ride your bike back to the Hacienda Ranch House for breakfast. Before joining the route, we rode over to check out the Mission San Antonio de Padua, the third mission founded by Father Junipero Serra in 1771. It wasn’t far from the start point, and we were back at the Hacienda Ranch House and on our way not long after 7:30am. The first six miles include several good warm up climbs, and you travel out of the sun into shaded valleys and the temperatures were chilly, as I remembered.

Once we got on Jolon Road, we are on our way to the top of Quadbuster. It was interesting that Roger’s reaction was the same as mine last year, surprised that we were there so easily. The climb is rather gentle, and I guess Day 3 of AIDS/LifeCycle where we climb the 1.3 mile hill known as Quadbuster, affects our perception of the downhill afterwards.

New this year, headwinds! So I guess last year was a freak weather year, as there were no winds coming into or leaving King City (honest!) I don’t know if Jeff, Roger & Scott believed me, Jeremy will have to back me up about last year. But we were fortunate to come upon a rider who wanted to pull a paceline and he did for most of the 10 miles thru King City on Spreckles and Metz Roads, saving us a lot of energy.

The first rest stop at Oak Park on the outskirts of Greenfield was at mile 33, a long stretch to go without a stop (at least when you are used to one every 15 miles on ALC!) From Greenfield we head on County Road G16 to the Arroyo Seco River (aka ALC skinny-dipping) bridge, ending the point where we had been retracing ALCs Day 2 route. At this point, we turned left, heading into Arroyo Seco canyon and the Santa Lucia mountain range.

At mile 47 is the second stop of the day and lunch before heading up Carmel Valley Road. Our paceline friend and his riding partners left this stop at the same time, and he and I chatted for awhile. He was not happy with his riding partners, the gal was from Colorado and had assured him she was trained and ready, and the guy had taken off at the start the day before and burned himself out too early. He wasn’t a happy camper.

The climb up Carmel Valley Road is about 11 miles but nothing like yesterdays Nacamiento Road climb, for sure. You arrive at Cahoon Summit, the last rest stop of the day (and memorable from the Sea Otter Road Ride this year, when they were out of water when we got there.) There is a great view looking back down thru the canyon towards the Salinas Valley.

And from here, it is (mostly) 20 miles of downhill returning to the starting point at Community Park in Carmel Valley Village, where the post-ride Fiesta was in full swing. Scott, Jeff and Roger were all in agreement, it was a great ride! And one that Different Spokes should do as a club event next year!