We recently had rain for 5 days straight, and the weather site and news, kept advertising it would be dry on Saturday, so this was our day to ride. I have always wanted to do Fremont to Berkeley for a long time, so I decided to lead it, and go for it.
It started out really ominous. Saturday morning, as I was waking up, I could hear the rain continuing, and it was a constant driving rain. It was so hard, I even tweeted, and posted on bikeforums.net that I am cancelling the ride. Being off the bike for an entire week didn’t go well with Chris, and Michael. Looking at the various weather sites, they tell us the rain would stop by 7 am, and would be clear for the afternoon. That was good enough for them to still ride, but my concern was more of descending wet roads at high speeds. Since I was the ride leader, I felt I had to show up, even if we weren’t going to ride.
It did clear up, and seemed like it would be okay. For Chris, he was so desperate to ride, that he decided to ride from home, across Dumbarton Bridge. As I was driving to Fremont, it started to sprinkle some more. I had my doubts on whether or not this ride would actually go on. I could only think about how wet Chris is getting, and I even brought my bike rack, just in case it got so bad that he would need a lift back home. The rain did stop around 8 am, but we decided to postpone it till about 8:30 am, just so that the rain would stop by then, and it eventually did.
With rain, this meant fenders on the bike. Chris had brand new fenders, and it looked so streamlined, and looked like a better fit than even the race blades. What was interesting is the you have to zip tie the fender onto the brake calipers. I guess all you have to do is get extra zip ties and cut them off everytime you want to remove them, but I thought that was a little strange.
We finally took off a little before 9 am (about an hour later than we had first planned, but at least we would be a little dryer). So here we go for another epic wrecking crew ride.
We all knew this would be an all day affair, as it is advertised as an 80 mile ride … so why is it that Donald and Ramon are going at such a blistering pace? No matter, Michael, Chris and I just let them go off in the front. They would re-group for us eventually anyhow.
First climb of the day is Palomares. We have done this many times before, but we normally climb this from North to South. This time, we are doing it from South to North, which is a little steeper and shorter.
First casualty of the day … Ramon got a flat, most likely due to running over a pothole. I didn’t even notice a pothole … oh well, lucky me. Good thing it was after we got down the hill, and not on the fast part of the descent.
Next, we continue on Redwood, and apparently, Donald only rode this once before, so I have ridden this the most out of the group. I happen to remember the slight descent and attacked, aggressively positioning myself at the front … that is until everyone else caught up, and we started the up portion of the rollie hills. This stretch is kind of similar to Calaveras going northbound … nothing really too bad, but enough to let you know you are doing a slight climb.
Next casualty, Donald gets a flat. Dang, what is it about today? Well, I guess part of it may be due to wet roads, and have rocks, gravel, and pebbles stick to the tires more.
The further we climbed, the further away from sunshine we started to get. Eventually, we would get dumped on, but not too bad. As we turned onto Pinehurst, this reminded me a lot of the wooded areas of the likes of Old La Honda Road, or maybe even Pescadero Road. In other words, very green, and shaded by bunch of trees.
So what happened to that forecast of no rain today, and that it would not come until late in the evening? I actually was not too optimistic that we would stay dry all day, so this actually didn’t surprise me. Good thing I did put on my fenders. Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but it seems like the higher in elevation we went, the higher likelihood of getting rained on.
The rest of the group was getting restless with all these rollie hills, so as soon as we started the sustained climbs on Pinehurst, off they went … in the meantime, I was grinding my way up the hill. After reaching the top, we continued on Grizzly Peak, where we hovered the crest, where we normally would have a great view overlooking the bay … but visibility wasn’t that great today.
We next descended into Berkeley via Claremont. That was a nice fun descent. The switchbacks weren’t too bad, but I had this really annoying car, that was far enough behind me to see in the mirror, but was timid enough not to pass us up. I figured if he’s not going to pass me, I’ll just tuck down and speed up until we get down to the bottom of the hill.
When everyone got to the bottom, no one seemed ready to go grab a bite to eat. That would eventually catch up to us near the end of the ride … sometimes, you just gotta have solid food. Powerbars and/or Clif bars sometimes just doesn’t cut it … but more about that later.
We proceeded to ride through the Cal Berkeley campus. We pass by a Lacrosse field … women’s Lacrosse game going on … I say again … women’s Lacrosse … and we didn’t even stop? What the hell is wrong with us? I can’t say if they were cute, as I was busy trying to stay alive riding through a construction area, but damn … it’s women’s Lacrosse.
So instead of watching women’s Lacrosse, what do we do? Climb Centennial, and climb a 17% hill, up to Lawrence Hall of Science (I affectionately call it Lawrence Hill of Science). That was one hella tough hill, and it really took a lot out of me. I was definitely using all of my 30-27 gearing. I was glad to make it up to the Botanical Garden, but then I realized that wasn’t even the top … heck Lawrence Hall of Science wasn’t even the top. We still had to proceed up and over Grizzly Peak.
So this turned out to be a lot harder ride than I thought … hmmm, didn’t I say that last week? Anyhow, we proceeded to our next climb, South Park, in Tilden Park … that was another tough hill, peaking at about 18%. I was going so slow on this climb … all I can do was concentrate to just turn the crank.
At this point, we headed on the way back, all the way on Redwood. We eventually stopped off at Safeway in Castro Valley, for some much needed solid food. Even though it was not much, I had a small cup of potato salad, and boy, that really felt good. Ramon was having some stomach issues here, so we couldn’t quite take off yet. By the time he came out, it was 3:30 PM, and we were concerned about climbing Palomares, and finishing the ride before dark. So we did not do Palomares, and we didn’t do an extra 1,000+ feet climbing … but no one cared at this point. We were all tired, and we took a flat way back to Fremont Bart.
Now it’s true, we did not maintain the Wrecking Crew standard, 1000 feet climbing for every 10 miles, but it still qualified as a Wrecking Crew ride.
Pics at http://spingineer.smugmug.com/Cycling/Fremont-Berkeley/11043975_SMiTR#772696810_H8XSr
Total stats: 80.66 miles, 6653 feet climbing