Why the East Bay, when I live 90 miles away? Something new, and something old at the same time. I grew up in the East Bay, and since I live in Hollister, it’s always interesting to go back and ride in that area, its changed quite a bit, but a lot is still the same.
Being a Training Ride Leader for AIDS/LifeCycle, I had access to a large ride library there many of the East Bay training rides all start from the Orinda BART station.
And three years ago, I did my first ride from there, a ride that Tony lead, in fact. I was very glad that the weather was not like the ride 3 years ago, over Labor Day Sunday, when we did a 50 mile loop in 100 degree weather, including Redwood Road and the (then) freshly asphalted (and radiating the heat) San Ramon Valley Boulevard. And so the return to something old.
Bill B., David G2, Erika, Tony and Roger, Bart, Laura P joined Stephanie and I at the BART station, along with Jeff W. It was a bit overcast, but it was clearing as we rode out, just before 9am. The 7 miles past San Pablo Recreation Area went by quickly and we continued on Castro Ranch Road to Alhambra Valley Road and then on to Pig Farm Hill, which turned out to be a relatively short climb. And from what I heard, it’s a good thing that the pig farm is no more, Tony said you could smell “it” before reaching the top.
From there it was a nice descent, reminding me of Palomares Canyon. Here was the first minor route mishap of the day. ALCs route actually turns before Reliez Valley Road to get to the Alhambra Creek Staging Area for Briones Regional Park. I noticed the sign as we went past it, but the mileage did not agree with what I had mapped out on RouteSlip.com, one of the drawbacks to virtual routes. Laura, Jeff and I caught up with the group, who were ready to go.
We followed Reliez Valley Road to Pleasant Hill Road, and past Acalanes High School (my high school, although it looks nothing like it did from 1972-76.) On to Walnut Creek via Olympic Boulevard, where my second mistake, labeling the next right turn as Tice Creek Boulevard, instead of Tice Valley Boulevard. Bill knew the area and lead the faster riders (David G2 and Erika) on into Danville a different way. The others figured out my mistake and we continued on to Danville to regroup for lunch at Quiznos.
David G2 needed to get back to the city for some ongoing bike fit adjustments (have you seen his new Bianchi?), so he took Bailout option #1 back to Walnut Creek BART. Bill, Bart and Erika split off from us after lunch heading up Crow Canyon Road. The rest of us continued on San Ramon Valley Boulevard to Dublin Canyon. Can you say afternoon headwinds? As Stephanie and I got closer to the top, we were gaining on Tony & Roger on the tandem, but once they reached the top, they were long gone!
Stephanie & I hung outside of the Peets Coffee (next to the Castro Valley Safeway regroup point) for a while where we were hoping to regroup with Bill, Bart and Erika on their shorter but hillier ascent, but after 10 minutes or so, we decided to head on up Redwood Road. And only to find what the others had already come across, they were in the process of re-chipsealing the roadway, which meant there was gravel everywhere, especially near the shoulder. Yuck! Five miles up Jeff phoned to say that he and Laura had just gotten to the Safeway regroup, they were about 30 minutes behind us.
Eventually, Stephanie and I caught up to Tony & Roger on Redwood Road, and I hurried on down to take action photos of all of them as they turned up on to Pinehurst, but I didn’t get the burst setting on the camera in time. So I missed Stephanie all together, and Tony & Roger turned out blurry.
When we got to Moraga Road, Stephanie needed a quick bite to stave off a bonk she felt coming on. From there, it was one last, gentle climb up to the final descent back to Orinda BART. We all met at Starbucks afterwards.
Before I headed home, I swung back by the BART parking lot to see if Laura & Jeff were back. They weren’t, so I parked and regrouped things in the car for a few minutes, and then decided to head home. As I was exiting the parking lot onto Camino Pablo, there they were across the street turning off Camino Pablo back into the parking lot entrance. Glad to know they made it safe and sound also.