The Diablo Cyclists are based out of Central Contra Costa County. If we were in France this area would be where the Tour de France is held. Loads of seminal climbs--Mt. Diablo right in middle, Palomares to the south, Oakland hills to the west, Morgan Territory to the East. In lots of beautiful rustic roads with light traffic--Collier Canyon/ Highland, Foothill Road, the Bears, Redwood Road and Calaveras come to mind. Loads of cyclists all around.
|No one registered any elevation gain (except for Dr. Dave) so here is artist's rendition. (PC)|
Then there is East County. The Paris Roubaix part of France. Mostly flat. Usually windy. Some rural roads that are dangerous to cycle on. Either new suburban development that ignored bicycle accommodations with unswept glass all over the place (Pittsburgh/ Antioch) or some that accommodates bicycles (Brentwood) but as a new resident of Brentwood said "you never see anyone on bicycle." Eventually you get to lots of farm roads in outer Brentwood, but laced with highway bypasses. When the Los Vaqueros watershed was closed for two years for dam expansion there was no reason to ride in East County except that the view of Mt Diablo from the morning sun is tremendous.
Diablo Cyclists haven't been out here for 12 years--when Los Vaqueros Reservoir first opened. I think they took BART to Pittsburg and rode out to Los Vaqueros. Apart from East County being a lousy cycling destination there are two miserable roads linking Central to East County. Kirker Pass is a noticeable climb but its like riding on the side of a highway. At least it has a shoulder. The other alternative is the narrow, blind curve filled Marsh Creek Road which has no shoulder and lots of speeding traffic. So no rides ever come out here.
However a few things conspired for me to put an East County ride on our Sunday (casual ride day) schedule. Los Vaqueros has reopen. Cars have to pay to get into the watershed, and as there is very little to do almost no one drives in, so the 3 mile road is like a giant bike lane. At the end is a 1/4 mile? climb up the dam--not a significant climb by Central County standards but the best climb in East County. Additionally a back road through a subdivision finally opened--so access to Los Vaqueros can be done quickly with little traffic.
As I've done the East County bike club's route about 3x in the last five years, I was studious in studying the map as I didn't want to enhance my reputation for getting lost.. Who knew that Ward could download the route on his Garmin and it would tell him where we should turn. Hell, if I knew a Garmin could do that i would have gotten one 10 years ago.
Jack (Terra Bella), Ward, Dr. Dave and I (Lighthouse from Windy Triple Hell) all did century rides the day before. Don, Tom and I brought out the fixed gear, and Dr. Dave and Brian the anti-fixed gears--also known as recumbents. I had told Dr. Dave and Brian that this was a perfect ride for them on the 'bent as it was going to be a flat ride, I think they misunderstood me as they had 3 flats between them. The flat tyres were the only thing that marred the day, sun was out and the usual East County trade wind wasn't bad. Anyway we had a big group come out for the Diablo Cyclists Invade East County, and ride with Jeanne who had recently moved out here,.
Stop to regroup on Shady Willow as half the group gets caught at a long traffic light at the HolyLand. First great view of Mt Diablo. In the summer this field will be filled with corn (WI)