30th Anniversary Ride II: Sunol Valley

Sunol Valley 2012

Unusually dry winter weather threatened to end on the morning of the second 30th Anniversary ride through the Sunol Valley area, but we managed to squeak by with just slightly damp roads by the time we rode out. Eight participated: besides Nancy and I the others were my husband Roger, David Gaus, David Goldsmith, Will Bir, Doug O’Neill, and Scott Steffens. The day started out overcast and chilly but that was perfect because we ascended the Castro Valley side of Palomares right away. The group was chatty rather than racy (Will excepted) and conversation waxed and waned depending on the steepness of Palomares. Nancy is planning a trip to Tuscany this summer and she and I were discussing tips for prepping for the quintessential cycling vacation. As we ascended the road went from dry to damp to authentically wet. Since there was no rain all morning it had to be the result of night rain or just heavy condensation. In any case the road was fine but the lane striping was slick, as I found out when I stood up to honk on the pedals a couple of times.

We regrouped at the top and there just happened to be a Team In Training table set up whose group was just beginning to arrive coming from the Niles Canyon side. David Gaus happened to know the training leader, who appeared in his car blasting loud rap music and sporting a cowbell, which he clanged with enthusiasm to encourage his trainees. Well, better that than a vuvuzela! Everyone managed to make it down the descent without incident despite the slightly slick conditions, and as usual Niles Canyon had enough scary car traffic to make me think twice about leading a club ride on it ever again. I wish CalTrans would widen the roadway just enough to put in a decent shoulder and add signs at the bridge crossings warning drivers to slow down for cyclists. The saving grace was that everyone’s anxiety meant a fast dash up the canyon to Sunol. But I’m just kvetching: if you want to endure a truly horrifying and dangerous bridge crossing, try going across Coos Bay Bridge on a bike. This cycling abomination has copious lumber trucks, narrow lanes with no shoulder, and a ridiculous bridge sidewalk that make any bridge overcrossing in the Bay Area seem like a paragon of transportation enlightenment.

Out of Sunol it was a quick dash to Pleasanton for lunch at Me and My Friends Deli on First Street. I discovered this place on Yelp and decided to give it a go. It’s a busy little place just on the edge of the business district with a convenient outside patio to stash/protect your bike. By now the sun was peeking out so we dined al fresco on their fat, well-made sandwiches. Everyone thought the food was delicious and it was moderately priced to boot. Unfortunately Me and My Friends Deli is not open on Sundays, so if you’re planning a weekend ride out that way, better make it a Saturday. Despite feeling like a snake that had just swallowed a pig, we trundled off on the final jaunt up Foothill and over the Dublin Grade, where we endured just a slight headwind rather than the usual gale. The exception was Will who, despite the temptation to take it easy, in the end went off on his own to climb Calaveras. For the rest of us we were back in a trice to Castro Valley BART, where folks hopped back on the train to SF. Thirty-six fabulous miles!

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