Tag Archives: Palomares

First Century of the Year – Sierra, Calaveras, Palomares and Dumbarton

With all the emphasis on completing 5 doubles this year, it’s odd to realize that I haven’t actually completed a full century this year (I would consider anything 90-100 miles a century).  I think not riding this distance may have actually had some impact on how I did on Camino Real Double Century.

This weekend was not good timing with others, but I was able to coordinate a ride with Donald, doing Sierra Road, then Calaveras, Palomares.  I would also do an extended ride over the Dumbarton Bridge, then back home.  That would make a good loop around the bay.

Funny thing about Sierra Road … it starts out at 14% … that’s a rude awakening.  The picture doesn’t really give you a clue as to how steep it really is … trust me, when you see it in person, it is freakin’ steep.  It’s hard to determine how to really prepare for this.  I even rode from home, so I already had logged in 15 miles before hitting this climb, but I still was not prepared.  I realized you just have to suffer while climbing, then you get into the climbing rhythm.

I can’t imagine doing this on DMD after about 150 miles.  It’s hard enough just doing this after 15 miles.

This is a brutal climb.  It hits you with a steep pitch at first.  You do get short breaks of 5-8% but then continues at 10-14 %.  About 200 feet from the top, it does level off a little bit, before it kicks up to 14% again, then finally summits at about 12%.

Can you imagine ATOC riders, racing up this … and this year it will be a hill top finish.  This is going to be epic.

Donald ran a little late, so we decided to meet at the summit.  I was actually surprised he didn’t pass me up on the hill, but I did see a number of people pass me up … no surprise there.

Swooping down Felter, on the other side of Sierra is exhilarating.  The views are breathtaking … sorry, it was too good to just descend down this, and I just couldn’t stop and take pictures … you’ll just have to take my word for it.  There are a few straight stretches where you could pick up some serious speed, but I kept it conservative, maxing out at 43.5 mph.

Calaveras, other than the one short steep wall, is a nice gradual climb.  There is nothing too significant as far as grades.  There was a lot of riders coming the opposite direction on Calaveras.  There was the cinderella training ride, and a bunch of Team in Training riders going the same direction.  Not sure if both groups were the same training group, but I thought it was an actual event ride, but found out it wasn’t.  There were definitely a lot of cyclists out there today.

We made our usual stop in Sunol for lunch, then onto Palomares.  Normally, going through Dublin Canyon (to get to Palomares) has some stiff headwinds, but it wasn’t really that bad today.  However, I still had some issues just turning the crank.  Who knows … maybe e-pills would have helped here, but I forgot to bring them.

I made it up Palomares with no problems, but that’s not to say I was really fast either.  Let’s just say that I was just able to get into a climbing rhythm.  I guess that’s the trick with climbing … just getting into the right rhythm.

Back to Fremont, and no onto my detour to Dumbarton bridge.  Donald helped me out there by leading me on Alameda Creek Bike Trail.  It’s a nice detour, that avoids city streets and traffic.  That led me onto Paseo Padre, then onto Thornton and onto Marshland, where I got onto Dumbarton.  I had forgotten how bad the road is on Marshland.  It’s not too much of an exaggeration to say that the road on Marshland Rd is like riding on cobbles.  I had to ride about 2-3 miles on this, and was glad when I got onto the bike trail, and onto the bridge.

The rest of the ride was almost like a commute home from work.  Just a long cruise on Middlefield, then back home.  This was a tiring ride, even though it was only about 5000 feet of climbing, and 99 miles … but you gotta start somewhere, right?

Finally Did Welch Creek … Damn, what a tough climb

In honor of all the DMD riders, we decided to ride Sierra Road, which they will all be climbing after already riding 150+ miles.  Ooooh boy.  Anyhow, it was just Donald and me, and I knew right away that he would be waiting for me at the top.  I felt a little guilty about having him wait, but he was perfectly fine … gives him a rest while waiting for my slow butt to make it up the Category 1 hill climb.  Funny, I thought it should be more of an HC … but that’s my personal opinion.

As I’m climbing this, I kept thinking of something Donald said … Sierra is just a warm up for Welch Creek.  Oh lovely … and here I am struggling up Sierra.  As tough as Sierra is, it’s actually pretty enjoyable, just because of the scenic views as you are climbing, overlooking all of San Jose.

Another observation is how few riders I see coming up here.  All the locals here, who are into cycling, know about Sierra, and how much of a great climb this is … and yet I hardly ever see a large contingent of cyclists up here.  But hey, at least I didn’t get passed by anyone.

Finally got up to the top of Sierra, and who knows how long Donald was waiting.  But hey, I made it.

Now for the screaming downhill, then sharp right, and up Calaveras, before doing some rollies before hitting Welch Creek.  There were a lot of cyclists out there on Calaveras, but most of them going in the opposite direction from us (we were going northbound, but everyone was going southbound).  As far as we can tell, it was probably because of a club ride.  Anyhow, I digress.  As I mentioned with Sierra, all the locals know about Welch Creek, and eventhough there are a ton of cyclists riding on Calaveras, you can just make a right on Welch Creek, and start this epic climb.  Donald and I were the only cyclists making this climb today.

Welch Creek is also pretty scenic, but doesn’t have the views that Sierra Road has.  The climbing doesn’t start for about a 1/2 mile, then it starts to kick your butt.  Now there are breaks in the climbing, so it is not one continuous climb.  However, when the climbing continues, the grades are really tough.  There were some stretches where it kicks up to 22%.  I kept trying to stay on my bike, but the only way I could do that, without falling over, was to tack the hill.  However, some stretches of Welch Creek is pretty narrow, so there is not much room to tack there.

About 3 miles up the climb, I am soooo ready to have the climb be over with.  I was going so slow, I was thinking I might fall over … but my speed kept registering 3-4 mph, so that was good.  At least I still have the leg strength to still turn the crank.  Finally, I see Donald sitting on the hill, but not at the summit.  About a 1/4 mile later and I reach the top, where the road dead ends.  Kind of anti-climactic, after all the pain and suffrage climbing this friggin hill.

This really took a lot out of me, and hopefully with the long downhill descent, my legs can recover.

We stopped off at a cafe in Sunol for a quick bite to eat.  The bearclaw felt good, but it wasn’t really something that was going to wake my senses to another level.  The only bad thing is the cafe didn’t have any energy drinks, like Gatorade, or anything like that.  We had to resort to coke.  That kind of left Donald light headed, and gave me a little woozy tummy.  Oh well … that’s the carbonation getting to us.  I guess it might have been better just to have coffee.

Next up is head north on Foothill, over to Dublin Canyon, then to Palomares.  What sucked here … no pun intended … was the headwind.  This easily had me distanced, as Donald was much better at slicing through the headwinds than I am.  It seemed like no matter where we went, the headwinds followed us.  My legs were already a little lifeless, so adding the headwinds is just more punishment.  I guess I’d just have to suffer, and try to survive till we get to Palomares.

The climb on Palomares is really not that bad.  I think southbound, is actually a little easier than going northbound.  I say this now … one of these days, I’m going to eat those words.

All in all, not a bad ride.  At least I finally did Welch Creek.  I still think Sierra Road is a little tougher, but I would guess the two of them are very close in difficulty.  But then again, you’re talking about a guy who is not a natural hill climber.

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Total stats: 76 miles, 6580 feet climbing

For those Strava enthusiasts, I did upload my data to Strava.  You can see that at http://www.strava.com/rides/93396

Fremont to Berkeley with annoying Rain

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