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Old 01-27-14, 05:08 PM   #1
kreeess
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good newbie route

hey guys, new to the forum would like to know where is a good newbie friendly route around martinez/concord area. I'm not too familiar with the names but I have done Pinole-> Alhambra -> Franklin Canyon ->Cummings Skyway and back home to Hercules. another route I have done is along side the Iron Horse trail from Pleasant Hill bart all the way to Dublin.

I have some experience with longer rides with some incline, I am training along with my gf though who is pretty much new to road bikes and long distance. She can do the Iron Horse trail (30 plus miles) with no problem, shes done the Pinole through Alhambra to Hercules ride once but I know she struggled. We'd want to improve our climbing and would appreciate all the advice thanks!

I can probably do 40-50 mi roundtrip rides but I definitely need some work on my climbs, where would be a good ride for someone wanting to improve their climbing skills.

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Old 01-27-14, 08:04 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum!

You have a lot of climbs in your area if you need some hill training. You could just take Alhambra and Bear Creek road to do the 3 bears. If you are feeling ambitious, you could take Wildcat canyon road up to Grizzly Peak and ride around there through the hills of Berkeley. Diablo would be a trek at 20 miles before you get the the base of North Gate.

BTW, there is a new Hercules Cycling Club that do weekly rides on weekends. Just search the club on Facebook.
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Old 01-27-14, 10:50 PM   #3
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Welcome to the forum!

You have a lot of climbs in your area if you need some hill training. You could just take Alhambra and Bear Creek road to do the 3 bears. If you are feeling ambitious, you could take Wildcat canyon road up to Grizzly Peak and ride around there through the hills of Berkeley. Diablo would be a trek at 20 miles before you get the the base of North Gate.

BTW, there is a new Hercules Cycling Club that do weekly rides on weekends. Just search the club on Facebook.
Hey thanks! There are definitely lots of climbs in my area, I'm just in need of more saddle time to get back in to shape lol, I've gone through bear creek in a motorcycle but never in my bicycle, I guess the hill just intimidated me. I'll definitely have to try it one day since it's not too far from me, I do like the Hercules -Alhambra - cumming skyway loop though, I will check out the Hercules Cycling club, I see a lot of riders pass by San Pablo on the weekend it's probably them and few others .
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Old 01-27-14, 11:32 PM   #4
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Here is one you and your girlfriend should really enjoy together.
I picked Sycamore St. in Hercules as the start, just because I like the street name.
From there this 37 mile scenic loop takes you over the Crockett Bridge to Vallejo.
The route across Vallejo to Benicia was shown to me by a member of the Benicia Cyclists club.
It is safe and tried and true. I use this cut through a lot.
The route through the Benicia state park is paved.
The route through old town Benicia has scenic water views and great architecture.
You cross the Benicia Bridge into Martinez and then work you way to Franklin Canyon.
The route brings you up the easy side of McEwen Road (south to north) which is a nice climb. It is steep and nasty if you do it north to south.
Just watch your speed descending down McEwen into Crockett. Then back track to Hercules.
Lots of stores, and bathrooms are along the route. (Starbucks at mile 10.5) (Safeway in Martinez at mile 21.7)
The Valona Deli at mile 30 in Crockett is near the end, a unique and great place for a cold drink before the final miles.
http://ridewithgps.com/routes/3973207
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Old 01-28-14, 01:23 AM   #5
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Here is one you and your girlfriend should really enjoy together.
I picked Sycamore St. in Hercules as the start, just because I like the street name.
From there this 37 mile scenic loop takes you over the Crockett Bridge to Vallejo.
The route across Vallejo to Benicia was shown to me by a member of the Benicia Cyclists club.
It is safe and tried and true. I use this cut through a lot.
The route through the Benicia state park is paved.
The route through old town Benicia has scenic water views and great architecture.
You cross the Benicia Bridge into Martinez and then work you way to Franklin Canyon.
The route brings you up the easy side of McEwen Road (south to north) which is a nice climb. It is steep and nasty if you do it north to south.
Just watch your speed descending down McEwen into Crockett. Then back track to Hercules.
Lots of stores, and bathrooms are along the route. (Starbucks at mile 10.5) (Safeway in Martinez at mile 21.7)
The Valona Deli at mile 30 in Crockett is near the end, a unique and great place for a cold drink before the final miles.
http://ridewithgps.com/routes/3973207

Wow that route sounds awesome. I'm familiar with the route to Crocket bridge and over but never thought about riding towards Benicia and making a loop to Martinez. I didn't think there was such a route but we will definitely give this ride a try thanks for this
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Old 01-29-14, 02:17 PM   #6
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LanceOldStrong is the bestest route guy ever. He could do it as an actual job if it paid.
Several of my all time favorite rides have been ones he put together.
Check this story on his "Two bridges, three murder sites, squirrels and flowers ride."
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Old 01-29-14, 09:24 PM   #7
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and don't forget the old Carquinez scenic drive route from Martinez to Crockett. it's closed now for repair, but i think it may be opening again towards the end of this year. i, for one, can't wait. i love that route! i prefer it over Franklin Canyon. it's, well.... more scenic .

another good one, if you are really ambitious or maybe just a little ambitious. is to ride from Hercules to Orinda via Pinole/Alhambra Valley Road, Castro valley Road, San Pablo Dam road to Orinda. from there to Moraga and keep going via Canyon, Lower Pinehurst and Redwood Roads to Castro Valley, then over the old 580 access road to Dublin and back via Danville and Lafayette. cutoffs are at Orinda and Moraga to Lafayette for shorter routes.
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Old 01-30-14, 09:53 AM   #8
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LanceOldStrong is the bestest route guy ever. He could do it as an actual job if it paid.
Several of my all time favorite rides have been ones he put together.
Check this story on his "Two bridges, three murder sites, squirrels and flowers ride."
that was an awesome morning read for me, I enjoyed the pictures and the report very much! where did you guys start? any chance I can get a copy of this route? I would love to try it someday!

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and don't forget the old Carquinez scenic drive route from Martinez to Crockett. it's closed now for repair, but i think it may be opening again towards the end of this year. i, for one, can't wait. i love that route! i prefer it over Franklin Canyon. it's, well.... more scenic .


another good one, if you are really ambitious or maybe just a little ambitious. is to ride from Hercules to Orinda via Pinole/Alhambra Valley Road, Castro valley Road, San Pablo Dam road to Orinda. from there to Moraga and keep going via Canyon, Lower Pinehurst and Redwood Roads to Castro Valley, then over the old 580 access road to Dublin and back via Danville and Lafayette. cutoffs are at Orinda and Moraga to Lafayette for shorter routes.
Franklin Canyon is such a boring route lol, but that second route your suggesting sounds like a good long ride! MAYBE if I train well enough and be consistent enough this season I can give it a shot...
something similar I've done to that route is Skyline rd,Redwood rd, through Castro Valley,then Hisperian rd over Dumbarton bridge to Palo Alto then Cal train back to nearest bart station to bart back home to El Cerrito. This was the first ride I did when I picked up my Supersix in '12.
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Old 01-30-14, 11:19 AM   #9
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Thanks! I can't believe it was in 2011 that we rode that. It seems much more recent.
Here's a ride with GPS link.
http://ridewithgps.com/trips/2200787
We started in Concord where Dan used to live, but you could start any number of places. The Martinez Marina would be a good spot as it has parking and is near the bridge.
Of course, you can't do Martinez Scenic drive right now, but you could route around that easily.
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Old 01-30-14, 12:04 PM   #10
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thanks for the link! this is definitely going to be one route I will be doing when the time permits, BTW I've been reading your blogs and enjoying them very much! thanks for sharing!
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Old 01-30-14, 02:14 PM   #11
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Here is one you and your girlfriend should really enjoy together. . . . The Valona Deli at mile 30 in Crockett is near the end, a unique and great place for a cold drink before the final miles.
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LanceOldStrong is the bestest route guy ever. He could do it as an actual job if it paid.
Curtis is right about Dan and his route-finding skills. Be careful, though, as Dan's rides tend to feature journeys into the "pain cave." I usually let him go there by himself.

Spot on about Valona Deli, though. Wonderful spot, great sandwiches, nice folks. Do not, under any circumtances, try to go up McEwen after eating one of their sandwiches, though - it isn't pretty.
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Old 01-30-14, 11:41 PM   #12
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Here is one you and your girlfriend should really enjoy together.
I picked Sycamore St. in Hercules as the start, just because I like the street name.
From there this 37 mile scenic loop takes you over the Crockett Bridge to Vallejo.
The route across Vallejo to Benicia was shown to me by a member of the Benicia Cyclists club.
It is safe and tried and true. I use this cut through a lot.
The route through the Benicia state park is paved.
The route through old town Benicia has scenic water views and great architecture.
You cross the Benicia Bridge into Martinez and then work you way to Franklin Canyon.
The route brings you up the easy side of McEwen Road (south to north) which is a nice climb. It is steep and nasty if you do it north to south.
Just watch your speed descending down McEwen into Crockett. Then back track to Hercules.
Lots of stores, and bathrooms are along the route. (Starbucks at mile 10.5) (Safeway in Martinez at mile 21.7)
The Valona Deli at mile 30 in Crockett is near the end, a unique and great place for a cold drink before the final miles.
http://ridewithgps.com/routes/3973207
I've actually did that run going the other way and along the water instead of Frankilin, quite enjoyable and not hard at all. Well "not hard" meaning not huge amounts of suffering that go on for days. IIRC, the climbs are all pretty short.

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Wow that route sounds awesome. I'm familiar with the route to Crocket bridge and over but never thought about riding towards Benicia and making a loop to Martinez. I didn't think there was such a route but we will definitely give this ride a try thanks for this
Do Vallejo in the daytime .....oh and fast......really fast......
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Old 01-31-14, 12:10 AM   #13
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OP, I just started a new route I'm going to do once a week until I get good at it.

Park along the entrance road to Mt Diablo on the north side on Diablo Scenic View (?).
About a mile before the gate is really the only places you can park without pissing someone off. You got 3 miles of pretty easy stuff before the real climb starts. Then 3 1/2 more miles to the Junction Ranger Station. Take a rest there (water fountains are on the back of the building, plenty of salt in the CCWD water to replenish you).
At that point you can either tackle the summit OR go down the south side and pick up Diablo Rd which turn into El Cerro Rd which dumps you into Danville.
Pick up the Iron Horse and run down to Dublin, in San Ramon, on Alcosta right past the golf course is a shopping center with a Starbucks that I usually take a break at.
Turn around and ride all the way back into Walnut Creek, you can either stay on the Iron Horse and pick up the Contra Costa Canal Trail which crosses Oak Grove Rd, hang a right on Oak Grove and it turns into Norgate Rd which takes you back to Diablo Scenic and your vehicle. OR you can take Ygnacio Valley Road off the Iron Horse (it's the road that crosses under the big ped/bike bridge), run up and over (easy), pick up Walnut Ave and that will take you back to Norgate right before Diablo Scenic.
I like doing the tough climb right out of the gate and the rest of the ride is easy-peasy. I want to say it's about 45-48 miles, not super far but lots of variety.
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Old 01-31-14, 11:28 AM   #14
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OP, I just started a new route I'm going to do once a week until I get good at it.

Park along the entrance road to Mt Diablo on the north side on Diablo Scenic View (?).
About a mile before the gate is really the only places you can park without pissing someone off. You got 3 miles of pretty easy stuff before the real climb starts. Then 3 1/2 more miles to the Junction Ranger Station. Take a rest there (water fountains are on the back of the building, plenty of salt in the CCWD water to replenish you).
At that point you can either tackle the summit OR go down the south side and pick up Diablo Rd which turn into El Cerro Rd which dumps you into Danville.
Pick up the Iron Horse and run down to Dublin, in San Ramon, on Alcosta right past the golf course is a shopping center with a Starbucks that I usually take a break at.
Turn around and ride all the way back into Walnut Creek, you can either stay on the Iron Horse and pick up the Contra Costa Canal Trail which crosses Oak Grove Rd, hang a right on Oak Grove and it turns into Norgate Rd which takes you back to Diablo Scenic and your vehicle. OR you can take Ygnacio Valley Road off the Iron Horse (it's the road that crosses under the big ped/bike bridge), run up and over (easy), pick up Walnut Ave and that will take you back to Norgate right before Diablo Scenic.
I like doing the tough climb right out of the gate and the rest of the ride is easy-peasy. I want to say it's about 45-48 miles, not super far but lots of variety.
this sounds very doable I can probably give this a shot next weekend with the GF, this weekend I will be helping a buddy pick up his road bike and should be able to bike around Palo Alto area any suggestions?
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Old 02-01-14, 11:01 AM   #15
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this sounds very doable I can probably give this a shot next weekend with the GF, this weekend I will be helping a buddy pick up his road bike and should be able to bike around Palo Alto area any suggestions?
I don't know Palo Alto at all lol. Maybe you'll see me out there on the mountain killing myself on my MTB

The only thing that bugs me is the Iron Horse gets pretty crowded during the day, especially when the weather is nice, you might enjoy sticking to danville blvd and taking that south. I dunno, seems like it's really crowded and tight thru N danville/alamo/walnut creek, seems a little more wide open south of there.
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Old 02-03-14, 12:46 PM   #16
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I don't know Palo Alto at all lol. Maybe you'll see me out there on the mountain killing myself on my MTB

The only thing that bugs me is the Iron Horse gets pretty crowded during the day, especially when the weather is nice, you might enjoy sticking to danville blvd and taking that south. I dunno, seems like it's really crowded and tight thru N danville/alamo/walnut creek, seems a little more wide open south of there.
iron horse does get REALLY crowded, we usually ride Danville blvd all the way south then turn back around. Actually thinking of taking my buddy on that route this coming Sat since he's a noob on road bikes, itll give him a good chance to learn his bike and the fundamentals of owning a roadbike, if you want to meet up would be cool!
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Old 02-03-14, 08:17 PM   #17
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iron horse does get REALLY crowded, we usually ride Danville blvd all the way south then turn back around. Actually thinking of taking my buddy on that route this coming Sat since he's a noob on road bikes, itll give him a good chance to learn his bike and the fundamentals of owning a roadbike, if you want to meet up would be cool!
You thinkin just a run down from like WC to Dublin and back or do you wanna drag yer buddy up and over Diablo? lol
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Old 02-03-14, 11:54 PM   #18
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You thinkin just a run down from like WC to Dublin and back or do you wanna drag yer buddy up and over Diablo? lol
Haha probably WC-Dublin ans back maybe I can convince him to give diablo a shot but we will see
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Old 02-04-14, 12:29 AM   #19
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Haha probably WC-Dublin ans back maybe I can convince him to give diablo a shot but we will see
Depending on where we start WC/Dublin is pretty flat, maybe 500-600ft total climb there and back, especially if we jump back on the Trail down at say Bollinger Canyon, IIRC if we stay on the main road there's rollers going further south. Depends on what your friend thinks he can handle, either way, I'm grinding out on a MTB so I'm not breaking any land speed records on climbs but I can do a moderate flat pace of about 17-18 with no trouble. WC/Dublin is around 36 miles I think.
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Old 02-04-14, 09:25 AM   #20
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Depending on where we start WC/Dublin is pretty flat, maybe 500-600ft total climb there and back, especially if we jump back on the Trail down at say Bollinger Canyon, IIRC if we stay on the main road there's rollers going further south. Depends on what your friend thinks he can handle, either way, I'm grinding out on a MTB so I'm not breaking any land speed records on climbs but I can do a moderate flat pace of about 17-18 with no trouble. WC/Dublin is around 36 miles I think.
Probably start at around PH bart through Iron Horse then stay on Danville blvd the whole way south, do you recommend any descent climbs that are newbie friendly? this would actually be his actual FIRST day riding a good distance so I guess gradual climbs or rolling hills would be more ideal
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Old 02-04-14, 10:48 AM   #21
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Maybe some other folks who know the roads to the south a little better than me could chime in here because I typically stay on the Iron Horse that far south. Since I ride mainly at night I don't have to deal with a lot of people, mostly wildlife . Well the Iron Horse from PH is a slight grade then a bump up and over Ygnacio Valley Rd, from there nothing of any decent grades until San Ramon. For more of a grade you need to go east or west. We could go up Tassajara out to Blackhawk, it's a few miles of steady grade going out and turn on Crow Canyon which has some rollers heading back towards the freeway. Tassajara is nice because they have big well marked bike lanes.
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Old 02-04-14, 01:49 PM   #22
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Maybe some other folks who know the roads to the south a little better than me could chime in here because I typically stay on the Iron Horse that far south. Since I ride mainly at night I don't have to deal with a lot of people, mostly wildlife . Well the Iron Horse from PH is a slight grade then a bump up and over Ygnacio Valley Rd, from there nothing of any decent grades until San Ramon. For more of a grade you need to go east or west. We could go up Tassajara out to Blackhawk, it's a few miles of steady grade going out and turn on Crow Canyon which has some rollers heading back towards the freeway. Tassajara is nice because they have big well marked bike lanes.
actually this ride sounds pretty descent, any idea on the grade of the climb? roughly 40plus mile ride?
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Old 02-04-14, 03:11 PM   #23
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actually this ride sounds pretty descent, any idea on the grade of the climb? roughly 40plus mile ride?
lol, just looked on a map, I had the street wrong, the start of it is Sycamore Valley Rd off of San Ramon Valley Blvd (which is Hartz/Danville Blvd), Sycamore comes into Tass and continues east, it's all pretty slight grade until the last half mile before Crow Canyon then it climbs to maybe 5-6-7%? Once we turn on Crow Canyon it will climb some rollers that go up to about 10% i think but the climbs are short. I want to say there are two or three of those climbs then it rolls downhill, crosses the Iron Horse again and there's a Pete's there. All told I think it would add about 6 miles maybe to the overall PH BART to Dublin run so it would put it somewhere in the 40+range? I'm riding today from Concord to Dublin and back, maybe I'll swing out that way and check it out, I drive Tass often but don't really remember Crow Canyon.
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Old 02-04-14, 03:48 PM   #24
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From Pleasant Hill Bart a nice loop to do be it the 3 bears loop already mentioned. Out and back its ~30 miles. From the Pleasant Hill Bart side you'd go Alhambra/Pig Hill and left on Bear Valley which then ends on San Pablo/Camino. From there you can just turn back around or cut across and take the St. Stevens bike path along the 24 till you get to Mt. Diablo Blvd and take that into Walnut Creek where you can get back on Iron Horse to make your way back to Bart.

If you don't mind I'd like to ride out with you guys. I missed out on the last BF bike ride.
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Old 02-04-14, 04:05 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by acdronin View Post
lol, just looked on a map, I had the street wrong, the start of it is Sycamore Valley Rd off of San Ramon Valley Blvd (which is Hartz/Danville Blvd), Sycamore comes into Tass and continues east, it's all pretty slight grade until the last half mile before Crow Canyon then it climbs to maybe 5-6-7%? Once we turn on Crow Canyon it will climb some rollers that go up to about 10% i think but the climbs are short. I want to say there are two or three of those climbs then it rolls downhill, crosses the Iron Horse again and there's a Pete's there. All told I think it would add about 6 miles maybe to the overall PH BART to Dublin run so it would put it somewhere in the 40+range? I'm riding today from Concord to Dublin and back, maybe I'll swing out that way and check it out, I drive Tass often but don't really remember Crow Canyon.
that would be awesome! cool just let me know and hopefully the weather holds for saturday
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