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Alert for East Bay folks - Upcoming Wildcat Canyon Rd closure

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Alert for East Bay folks - Upcoming Wildcat Canyon Rd closure

Old 10-16-23, 07:04 PM
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Alert for East Bay folks - Upcoming Wildcat Canyon Rd closure

No, not the washout at the bottom of Wildcat near Orinda. This is new and will go about three weeks, not two years.

I just did my usual quick late afternoon ride from my house in North Berkeley to/from Inspiration Pt via Spruce St, and there are signs that say Wildcat will be closed for "emergency repairs" from Oct 24 to Nov 13. I think the problem area is fairly close to Grizzly Peak, and the signs are not exactly models of clarity, but it appears that you won't be able to use Wildcat between the Brazil Bldg and Griz Peak for three weeks or so.

Any additional info is welcome, but that's what I saw.
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Old 10-17-23, 12:22 PM
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Thanks. There have been various repair projects in that neck of the woods lately, and from what I can tell, the signs are consistently confusing.

I'm not a huge fan of Wildcat Canyon between the Brazilian Room and Grizzly Peak, too many cars that want to drive crazy. It probably doesn't help that, on the rare occasions I ride that stretch, when a car is driving too fast past me, my thoughts go back to the 1970's when I was with my sister's boyfriend driving his dad's convertible Alfa Romeo on that stretch, driving in a manner that could easily have wiped out any cyclist that happened to be riding along the road. Against his wishes, I put on a seat belt, I told him it was because I didn't trust other drivers, but I didn't add that I didn't trust that even good drivers could necessarily get out of his way. Coming from the Brazilian Room I'm usually only heading to Creston, so I almost always ride Shasta to Grizzly, one time I decided to ride Wildcat to Grizzly to avoid the steep hill, but after that ride, I decided the steep hill is better than the scary cars (the crappy pavement on parts of Grizzly if I'm going further than Creston, however, is another matter, hope that gets fixed soon).

While we're on the subject of Wildcat, I have an etiquette question. On Saturday, I rode up from Camino Pablo, and the only 4 cyclists I saw between Camino Pablo and El Toyonal happened to be at or near the washout the same time as me (a few more were coming down between El Toyonal and Inspiration Point, and several dozen were going up between Inspiration Point and the Botanical Garden). When I hit the washout, one rider was already in the narrow part, and I waited for him to exit before heading up. There were three up the road coming down, but not there yet, and I went ahead and entered the narrow part. Two of the three up ahead rode down through the narrow part while I was still going up. We passed each other okay, and they went slow and carefully enough, but it felt a little nerve wracking, there is barely room for cyclists to pass each other, and since I'm next to the abyss, it felt like I was the one more at risk. The other person coming down waited for me to get through before he entered the narrow stretch and I said "thanks" as I came past him.

In hiking etiquette, when there is only room for one to be on the trail, right of way goes to the uphill hiker. Such a situation would very, very rarely be encountered in road cycling (I can't remember any other time such a thing has happened to me), but is there any etiquette rule for road cyclists when in such a situation? Since I could see up the hill that 3 people were going to be there soon, should I have just waited for all of them to come through? Should the three up ahead all have waited for me? I have no idea. If I had to do it again, I would have let them all come down just to avoid any of them deciding to come through while I was in the narrow stretch, no matter what is "proper," but I am curious about what is "proper."
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Old 10-18-23, 05:15 PM
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I would think whoever is there first gets to go and the second one there waits; if in doubt, I'd say the downhill rider should take precedence, not for an inherently moral reason, but for the practical reason that it is easier for the rider going uphill to stop that it is for the downhill rider, but I am hardly adamant about that.

I am more set on waiting if another rider is already in the washout section. Yes, it is possible to have two riders pass each other on the washed out section, but only just barely. It is simply too narrow and the potential consequences for getting it wrong too severe to force anyone to have to put their trust in their own baike0handling skills, about which they may feel shaky, or someone else's skill about which they know absolutely nothing. To me, this seems like common sense.
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Old 10-18-23, 07:14 PM
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Thanks, bikingshearer. That's consistent with my thinking, first come first served but if in doubt, let the downhill go.

But with doubt that downhill riders will follow the "first come first served" notion, next time I would wait for the other three downhill riders who I beat to the washout section, because the brief delay is worth avoiding the risk of what happened, that the downhill riders decide it is ok to have riders pass each other and don't follow "first come first served" and don't wait for me. In this case, not only is it easier for the uphill to stop, it is riskier for the uphill rider if something goes wrong. The risk of plunging into the abyss isn't worth the time saved by going ahead.
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Old 10-19-23, 06:14 PM
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I wondered about that too, but then I realized that it's easier for the downhill rider to start. Have you ever tried starting from a standstill on a steep slope?

Originally Posted by bikingshearer
I would think whoever is there first gets to go and the second one there waits; if in doubt, I'd say the downhill rider should take precedence, not for an inherently moral reason, but for the practical reason that it is easier for the rider going uphill to stop that it is for the downhill rider, but I am hardly adamant about that.

I am more set on waiting if another rider is already in the washout section. Yes, it is possible to have two riders pass each other on the washed out section, but only just barely. It is simply too narrow and the potential consequences for getting it wrong too severe to force anyone to have to put their trust in their own baike0handling skills, about which they may feel shaky, or someone else's skill about which they know absolutely nothing. To me, this seems like common sense.
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Old 10-19-23, 07:45 PM
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Yup, and it ain't fun. It's even less fun when captaining a tandem. But my thought is based more on how best to avoid a crash and less on how to get going again after having avoided the crash. You have a valid point, and reasonable minds can differ. As a practical matter, there is no general agreement on this because it doesn't come up very often, at least for bikes. I guess all we can do is be alert, use common sense, and be aware that not everyone uses theirs. As I like to say, common sense . . . isn't.

FWIW, the slope at issue in blt's post (Wildcat Canyon Rd about a quarter mile above the Orinda end of the road) is a 7% grade, give or take, so annoying but not that hard to resume one's upward slog if need be.
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Old 10-20-23, 09:19 AM
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Personally from many years of mountain biking the rule I always followed is that on any trail (especially trails where hikers and potentially horses) that is used for both directions uphill has right of way. There is no way a bike going downhill on such a trail should be going faster than visibility ahead allows and it is much harder for an uphill rider to get going again. There are trails that are designed to be downhill only as well as some that are generally considered to be downhill trails where it is accepted that downhill has right of way.

I try to always give uphill the right of way unless they clearly stop first and wave me on.
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