Thursday, April 18, 2013

Tour of East Contra Costa County--Diablo Cyclists Invade East County (2013)

(April 14, 2013) Diablo Cyclists Sunday Casual ride--Tour of East County, 40 miles, 7' climbing w/o the Los Vaqueros Dam

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. 

Our best rides go in a SE direction (AA), from there we can do Palomares, Calaveras, Sunol, Collier Canyon. All nice and rustic. Of course then there is a good possibility to do Patterson Pass. The SW route (B) means the Oakland hills. For the most part more traffic and roads aren't paved as the richer communities in the (AA) sector.     The NW (C) sector are nice loops of the waterfront around Crockett--but these are usually shorter rides reserved for Sunday.  Today we go to the NE (F)--East Country. Windswept, flat, broken glass await and no good routes to get there .

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)

Diablo Cyclist have a hard time organizing for a team photo
 under the Mt. Diablo arch in Downtown Brentwood (PC & WI)

 Brentwood Downtown is only a few blocks away from the start of the
agriculture belt on Chestnut--leaving subdivisions, churches
 and stop lights behind (WI)

I didn't forget my fixed gear socks--I was overdressed but it felt good after being
battered around yesterday.
Continue in the ag belt on the Byron Highway
(WI--who did a great job getting the ever
present Mt Diablo in the background of many photos.)
Someone forgot their fixed gear socks

    Don forgot the fixed gear socks also. 

Amy wearing less clothes than I am, something is wrong. 
Mark probably told Amy he wasn't carrying her excess clothes today. 
Dr. Dave happy, its flat with little wind.

Hoffman Lane, and look what is ahead (WI
Peloton splits on Marsh Creek Road (PC)

 Brian doesn't salute the pumpkin and he will soon pay for his irreverence

Turn onto Walnut Blvd (WI)

 If Dr Dave rode those deep dish rims yesterday in the 60 mph crosswind
we would have found him in the cow pasture off the road.  Today he is enjoying Walnut Blvd.  
 Sssssh, don't tell him going straight is a shortcut to Los Vaqueros. 

On Walnut Blvd and ugly Vasco Road Brian gets flat #1 & flat  #2

Los Vaqueros Watershed (PC)

 Don heard that the local bike clubs pestering Jeanie to pay dues, attend meeting,
buy a kit. He said "what are dues, what's a meeting??"  
The Diablo Cyclists-the anarchist bike club.

 more Los Vaqueros Watershed (WI)

The (Rideable) Top of Los Vaqueros Dam (PC top 4, WI bttm 2)

Los Vaqueros watershed, road we came in the  background

Cyclocross champ Mark should be running down the stairs with his
bike on his shoulder

What they should have done at the top of the Dam (PC fantasy)

Dr. Dave's Flat Ride--3rd Recumbent flat of the day--
it's Strava Time (WI)

I think I see Tom and Jack dancing in the backgroundReturn on
 Camino Diablo (WI) 

Classic East County photo of the Mt Diablo by John Marsh's house with one of
the statue less monuments.  The fastest person on the secret Strava segment
is supposed to climb on top of the monument.

All of a sudden back in Suburbia (PC)


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

No wind.
No hills.
No whining from the bent doctor.
Lies, lies, lies.
Great Sunday ride. Great group.