05-06-07, 11:20 PM
Hi Northern Cal folks,
I'm from Portland and will be down your way for three weeks starting the end of June through the first 2 weeks of July. I'm looking for recommendations of where I should ride (road) and what days to ride and all that jazz. Also, would it be beneficial for me to bring my bike or are there rent shops that could accommodate (I ride a 63cm road bike) me?
Not looking for weekend riding as I'll be sailing the bay.
05-07-07, 12:03 AM
Do you like climbing (since you're from Portland, i suspect you might)? Especially in the Livermore valley, you can stitch together a longish ride without a lot of climbing, but the more interesting rides around here tend to involve a fair amount of climbs. Check out the Valley Spokesmen website - they list a lot of rides on their bike routes page (www.valleyspokesmen.org). And, if you like climbing, go up Mt. Diablo. It's a long climb (10 miles or so), not the steepest (6% avg. grade) except at the very top. If you really like climbing (and can spend an entire day on your bike) go down Mines Road and up Mt. Hamilton. Just bring lots of water and food - it's pretty rural, without a lot of stores or anything. In fact, I think there's one bar/restaurant, a few houses and that's about it on the way (and it is 40+ miles each way). Anything involving Redwood drive and Pinehurst over by Castro Valley and Moraga are going to be really nice, too. There's so many great places to ride in the East Bay, it is hard to know where to start.
Be prepared for it to be kind of windy, ride in the morning if possible (avoid some of the heat and on many days the wind kicks up around lunch time).
This weekend, we did the first half of the Devil Mountain Double route - up Mt. Diablo from the South Gate, down through the North, through Walnut Creek and Clayton to Morgan Territory Road, then down through North Livermore to the Altamont Pass, up that and then over (through the windmill farms) to Patterson Pass Road, but then instead of heading down Mines Road, we went back to Danville. 108 miles, 9 - 10,000 feet of climbing (depending on whether you believe the altimeter or GPS). Windy conditions made the long, tough ride even tougher. I can only admire anyone who does the entire Double Century route.
05-07-07, 12:14 AM
Call Livermore Cyclery in Livermore, CA. I know they rent (or demo), but don't know if they can accomodate 63cm.
05-09-07, 06:04 PM
When you get here (or maybe even before), you'll probably look at a map. So here are some roads that are worth including in rides, and some to avoid, in the Livermore/Dublin general area (including some that are a little bit far afield, but may well be part of a ride from Livermore or Dublin):
Good to include:
Mines Road (if you are staying in Livermore, it's a great out-and-back, especially since you'll be climbing all the way out, so coming back is a snap. Plus, once you get about 10 miles or so out on Mines Road, there will be very few cars, houses, or any other signs of civilization - great place to ride)
Tesla/Corral Hollow Rd*
Patterson Pass Rd.*
Altamont Pass Rd.*
*There are a bunch of possible loops you can do using these roads.
Collier Canyon Rd.
Palomares Rd. (south to north easier - this is a really pretty road)
The roads on Mt. Diablo (Northgate Rd., Southgate Rd., and the road to the top from where those two meet)
Norris Canyon Rd.
Crow Canyon Rd. (between Castro Valley and Norris Canyon)
Morgan Territory Rd. (north to south is easier than south to north, but would have to part of a much longer ride - the south side of Morgan is very exposed and fairly steep (especially opne really nasty pitch about half way up) so don't even think about doing this one on the afternoon unless you enjoy baking)
Roads not to ride:
Vallecitos Rd/Highway 84 - this looks on a map like a great way to get between Livermore and Sunol. DON'T. It is a death trap for cyclists. The hilly, curvy part carries a lot of high-speed traffic on lanes that are far too narrow. For Livermore to/from Sunol, take the flatter, duller but infinitely safer Stanley Blvd between Livermore and Pleasanton and either Sunol Blvd or Foothill Rd between Pleasanton and Sunol.
In Pleasanton, avoid Santa Rita Rd or Hopyard as much as possible - these aren't nearly as bad as Vallecitos, but they are multi-lane high-speed high-speed arteries. If they are unavoidable because you them as connectors to somewhere, try to get onto side streets as soon as reasonably possible - you'll enjoy the ride more that way.
Stanley Blvd between Livermore and Pleasanton is a good way to get from one side of the Livermore/Amador Valley to the other, but is flat and dull and not a "destination" by itself.
Dublin Blvd and Village Parkway in Dublin are trafficky - use as connectors as needed, but don't expect to enjoy them.
Late June/early July most likely means hot afternoons. Hot as in potentially in the 100's, almost certainly in the 90's. It usually cools off at night, so try to ride as early in the day as you can. It can be cool enough in the morning so that you will want to bring arm warmers and leg warmers if you have them, just in case. It is highly unlikely to rain. As a general rule, if it is ideal riding weather at 9:00, it is going to be hotter 'n hell come 1:00 or 2:00. The wind will probably kick up in the late afternoon, generally from the west. If the wind is coming from the northeast, prepare to fry (that is more likely happen in the Fall, though). The wind tends to more of a factor in the northern end of the Livermore/Amador Valley, but there are exceptions. Altamont Pass and Patterson Pass Roads will almost certainly be windy in the afternoon (there's a reason why there are so many windmills near them).
The drivers in the area are pretty civilized, for the most part. Out on some of the further reaches of the country roads, the locals can sometimes be a little obnoxious, but has become more and more rare over the years. You're not likely to see outright hostility, but you will see folks who will insist on passing when they really shouldn't. But on the whole, the cagers shouldn't be much of an issue, if any.
The Valley Spokesmen website is good for more info. Livermore Cyclery is hands-down the best shop in the area, and is probably the best all-around shop in the entire Bay Area. If you need something, check with them. The owner's name is Steve Howard (I was a couple years behind him in high school) - he is knowledgeable, friendly, fair, and an all-around good guy.