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Old 04-04-14, 06:10 AM   #1
nielsp03
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Good Route - Walnut Creek

I'll be visiting the area the first weekend in May. I'll arrive Friday afternoon, and the earliest I'll be able to hit the road will probably be around 5:00. I'm staying at the Holiday Inn Express in Walnut Creek, on N. Main St. Is the Iron Horse Trail down to Pleasanton (an area I know well) a feasible option for a quick 40? I know that traffic will be crazy at that time, especially on a Friday, so I want to avoid roads if at all possible. The next morning I'll be riding from Patterson to The Junction so I want to keep the legs fresh. Thanks.
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Old 04-04-14, 10:47 AM   #2
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The trail is certainly feasible. But I generally avoid the section from Walnut Creek south to Danville since it has quite a few road crossings with limited visibility and lots of pedestrian traffic. The parallel road (Danville Blvd.) has a bike lane and is a good alternate. Once you get down to Dublin the Iron Horse crosses a little creek and the trail splits - turn to the left to stay on the Iron Horse and you'll go through the BART (light-rail/subway) station into Pleasanton while if you turn to the right you'll be on the Alamo Creek trail which also takes you into Pleasanton but a little farther west and just east of I-680.
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Old 04-04-14, 10:53 AM   #3
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Yeah the trail is useful, but lots of it isn't much fun.

I advise riding Diablo instead.
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Old 04-04-14, 11:31 AM   #4
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the holiday inn express on N. Main in Walnut creek is on the Contra Costa Canal trail. head east, under i-680 and the BART train tracks. the Contra Costa Canal trail and the Iron Horse Trail intersect. turn south and follow it to Pleasanton. it's about 20 miles each way.

i ride the section from Walnut Creek to Danville, north-south and south-north regularly, i find it, in general, safer and more enjoyable than taking the nearby, popular bike route from Walnut Creek to Danville via Danville Blvd. you won't be able to, IMO, safely hammer on it though except the odd moment when you may get 1/4 mile of clear road. maybe 10-15 mph on average is about it.

as mentioned, there are a number of street crossings, it's necessary to slow down and look. cross traffic, automobiles and cyclists too, will stop, but occasionally just fly through the white outlined pedestrian crossings.

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Old 04-04-14, 04:16 PM   #5
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The MUP is always best to be avoided. Very few people have consideration for others, including cyclists. Let's see...stay at home moms walking 3 abreast taking up the whole trail. Dog walkers either letting questionable dogs off leash, or if leashed, let them extend the leash as far as possible, making it impossible to pass. MUP cyclists riding 3 abreast at 10 mph taking up the whole trail. Runners with headphones so they don't hear when you call out. "Trail police" who yell at you "IT'S 15 MPH!!" or "CALL OUT WHEN YOU PASS!!!". Moms with strollers again taking up the whole trail. Groups of people who will just stop in the middle of the trail and chit chat. Little kids running amok or riding bikes, not that there's anything wrong with that but you have to slow WAAAAAAAAAY down because a lot of times kids on bikes get scared or can't hold a line. And on top of this is what others have already mentioned, the incessant street crossings, especially in the Alamo area.

Bottom line is I DESPISE riding any MUP if I can help it. I'd much rather deal with a few idiot drivers than have to navigate the minefield of the mindless MUP user.
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Old 04-05-14, 09:22 AM   #6
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Thanks all for the replies. Scott, can't say that I'm surprised by your response, but I'm a flatlander, and couldn't possibly climb Diablo. I'm used to relatively low traffic road routes here in SE Wisconsin, so I may just shift my ride to Saturday morning instead of during rush hour on a Friday. It sounds like the MUP isn't an option since it's congested with peds of all sorts.
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Old 04-05-14, 09:38 AM   #7
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Riding San Ramon Valley Blvd south from Danville (get there via the IHT) is your opportunity to bomb it down to Pleasanton (bike lane). If you want a relaxed, casual ride down to Pleasanton the IHT is not crowded south of Danville, frankly it's pretty empty. The so-called mindless crowds are between Danville and WC, just be patient.
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Old 04-09-14, 12:03 PM   #8
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I think the problem of congestion on the MUP is overstated by some here. I rarely ride the Iron Horse between Hillgrade at the south end of Walnut Creek and where it crosses the north end of San Ramon Valley Blvd. in downtown Danville. It isn't other peds and slow bikes and dogs as much as it is the too frequent road crossings. I think some have vastly overstated the problem with congestion on the MUP, especially on a Friday morning. The MUP is much worse on the weekend. I've done Iron Horse a few times through north Danville/Alamo, and it doesn't drive me too crazy, I'd just rather be on Danville Blvd.

On the other hand, at a crazy traffic time, I'd probably rather be on the Iron Horse. The crowds on the MUP are much worse during afternoon commute at this time of year than during the morning commute, but even then, it isn't all that bad. I really wouldn't worry about congestion on the MUP if you aren't looking to ride a consistent 18-20 mph.

From downtown Danville to the E. Dublin/Pleasanton BART station, I ride the Iron Horse a lot. It is utilitarian, but the road crossings are much less frequent, and it is a more direct route from downtown Danville to the BART station area. If you take San Ramon Valley Blvd. and then want to head east into Dublin or Pleasanton, there are some pretty hairy traffic spots. From the intersection of Stoneridge and Santa Rita in Pleasanton to downtown Danville, I've timed different routes, and the fastest way is through the BART station and Iron Horse all the way to downtown Danville, and there are a lot of stretches on the Iron Horse where you can crank up the speed. Yes, you have to slow down, mostly for road crossings, but no worse, and mostly better, than riding roads with stoplights, and sometimes for peds or other bikes. I don't find it miserable, and I find it faster. Others will find it miserable, so it depends on who you are and how you feel about MUP's in general.

By the way, since you're just out for a ride, I would have one suggestion when you are in Dublin. Shortly after you cross Amador Valley Parkway on the Iron Horse, you will cross the Alamo Canal, and come to a T intersection. The Iron Horse jogs a little to the left and heads to the BART station, crossing Dougherty and Dublin Blvd. before getting to the station. Rather than go that way, you should turn right on to the Alamo Canal trail. A connector was opened maybe a year ago that goes under 580. You can ride that trail until you cross Arroyo Mocho on a wood planked bridge. At that point, if you go straight, it is gravel, but if you turn left and go upstream on Arroyo Mocho, you can get to Hopyard on pavement. If all you're doing is riding as far as you can on the trails to get in something close to a quick 40, it is better to go to there and turn around rather than go to BART. You get more distance, and don't have to stop for lights or any road crossings, nothing stopping you between Amador Valley Parkway and where the trail comes to Hopyard.

Actually, if you have a bike that can go on flat wide gravel/dirt paths, you can keep going without leaving path or crossing a road until you get to the new bridge at the far eastern end of Stoneridge Dr. If you prefer being away from traffic, you can stay on path almost the entire way to the intersection of Tesla and Mines in Livermore (you end up on sidewalk to cross the new Stoneridge bridge, and there are a couple of blocks you ride on shoulder on Jack London just west of Isabel). It is gravel/dirt only from Hopyard to an area south of the outlet mall in west Livermore, but unless it is commute time, the roads aren't bad in that stretch.

If you're a flatlander out looking for a 40 miler on a Friday morning, I see no problem with the Iron Horse, but that's based on my preferences, yours may vary.
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Old 04-09-14, 05:07 PM   #9
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Regarding the MUPs, I have to agree with FrenchFit and blt and other earlier posters. While I wouldn't ride certain sections of the local MUPs if I wanted to get somewhere fast, they aren't at all bad for a leisurely, flat ride. In fact, in keeping with Strava's Grand Fondo Challenge "do something different" suggestion, this past weekend I road the entire Iron Horse Trail, the Alamo Creek Trail, the Contra Costa County Canal Trail and the Ygnacio Canal Trail as part of an 84 mile ride. Probably 60+ miles were on the MUPs and not once did anyone yell at me. Yes, there were times when I slowed down to pass groups of other trail users, but there were also plenty of deserted sections where I was cruising well above 20. And that was a mid-day weekend ride.

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Old 04-09-14, 05:22 PM   #10
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You could also go from WC north to Martinez - the trail is at places interesting, fun, industrial, and seldom crowded. The views of Diablo are good too.
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