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    2003 Grizzly Peak Century Ride Report
    (Sunday, May 04 in Moraga, CA.)

    See also my photo album from this ride

    Unlike the night before last weekend's ride, I actually slept pretty well, waking up with my alarm clock at 5am. I hit the road, arriving in Moraga at 6:30'ish. Denise & Ralph pulled in shortly after me, and after gearing up, we went over to check in. Checkin was fast and easy this year, and we went over to another table to sign up for a "time trial" up Pinehurst to benefit Canyon School. I had no intention of trying very hard on the first of many hills of the day, but liked the idea of being serenaded up the hill, and supporting a good cause. After picking the bike shop to have our picture dropped off at, we hit the road at 7 sharp.

    There were dense clouds overhead, but they were more white than grey, so I didn't bring my rain gear. It was a pleasant ride through Moraga and out on Canyon Rd. to Pinehurst, then north on Pinehurst to the switchback that marked the start of the time trial. Ralph & I pulled off for a minute to shed a layer, while Denise went on. A woman started playing an acoustic guitar and singing as we climbed. Around another turn, they'd left a boom box blaring hoe-down music, which we all got a laugh out of. A few turns later, and a fellow in full scottish garb was playing a bagpipe - this was fun! Another turnout had someone jamming on a trumpet along with a bebop jazz tune. After being serenaded up the hill, I arrived at the top before I expected to and we stopped to have our pictures taken with pinhole cameras the students had made (they were also applying for a Guiness world record for the most pinhole cameras used in the shortest time). While we waited our turn (the variable cloud cover was making for some difficult exposure timing) Ralph took my picture. After that, we continued north on Skyline and Grizzly Peak Rd. Grizzly Peak is a great ride, featuring excellent views of San Francisco, the Golden Gate, and the north bay. The views were framed by dark, threatening clouds, but the light filtering through them lit up the bright green north bay hills. After a couple of gentle rolling climbs and descents, we bombed down into Berkeley then turned on Wildcat Canyon for a gentle ride to the first rest stop at the Island Staging Area (18.5mi). As usual, there was much good food, including an especially good glob of cookie-mess. They had soup, but it wasn't terribly cold at this point, so I passed on that. I didn't see the espresso they had in years past, but I wasn't looking too hard either. After a stretch and chow, we hit the road again.

    Panorama from Inspiration Point Wildcat Canyon is a fun descent, just the right mix of steepness and twistiness (its quite curvy!). I stopped at Inspiration Point to take some pics since its a lovely vista. Ralph stopped with me while Denise rode on. After bombing down the road (carefully of course - it was wet in many places), we turned left on San Pablo Dam Road and found Denise waiting for us. San Pablo Dam Rd. is the only stretch of the ride well-suited to pacelining (its all gentle and trends more down than up), and I pulled Denise & Ralph along at a pretty good clip. I looked back and soon found 5 or so other riders enjoying our draft - cool! There was a bit of a headwind slowing our progress, but not too much. We soon skirted Richmond and headed towards Rodeo on Alhambra Valley and San Pablo Ave. When the road turned up a bit, the folks who were drafting us passed by (I'm relatively much slower on hills than on flats), and even thanked me for the pull, which I appreciated. A small paceline went by us as we rode through Rodeo and I hopped on their tail. They soon picked up the pace to nearly 30mph, and I decided it wasn't worth the effort to hang onto these racers since there were still tons of hills in front of me! After a brief climb through the Tosco petroleum refinery (pheewww!) and another much more pleasant climb through intermittent sprinkles, we went through sleepy downtown Crockett and arrived at rest stop #2 at a city park (40.6mi). Amid a sea of brightly colored outfits, there were more good eats, which I merrily availed myself of. We stretched a bit longer here in anticipation of the forthcoming climb up McEwen Rd., then rolled back out.

    Denise cresting McEwen Rd. I was feeling spunky, so I rode on at my own pace along Carquinez Scenic Drive, which was pretty as always, although the gathering clouds were a touch worrisome. Before long I turned off on McEwen, which wastes no time at all climbing steeply above the Carquinez Straits. Only the first half mile or so is steep, but after 43mi of rather hilly riding, it felt pretty wall-like. A few riders dismounted and walked up as I slowly passed them. Ralph caught, then passed me, and before too long, we were past the steep part and enjoyed a good, solid mile of more reasonable climbing. As before, the Grizzly Peak Cyclists had placed a number of motivational/funny signs along the road, which was good for a chuckle. After regrouping at the top, we cruised down the fun, but short descent to Franklin Canyon Rd. After a brief spell pacelining behind Ralph, I again felt peppy, and boogied on ahead, the terrian being very much to my liking (very gentle hills). Before too long, I began the rolling approach to Pig Farm Hill, and it began sprinking on me again, a bit more heavily than before, but not too much. The climb up Pig Farm Hill wasn't too bad, and I stopped at the top to regroup with Denise & Ralph. I waited for a while for them, and figured they must have had a mechanical or something. They arrived after 15 minutes or so, having stopped to stretch their achey backs along the way. It was a sting'y descent in the rain down Alhambra Valley to Bear Creek Rd. (AKA "The Bears"), and a nice rainy climb up Mama Bear (the first climb on Bear Creek Rd.) to rest stop #3 (58mi). I was cooling down and getting wet by this point, so I removed my soggy arm warmers and vest and put on my tyvek windbreaker - less warm, but at least dry! There was more of the same good food here. Denise left very quickly, and Ralph & I rolled out soon thereafter, as we didn't want to get any colder than we already were!

    Climbing Papa Bear We rode on the rolling hills leading out to "Papa Bear" (the biggest climb on Bear Creek Rd.) in relative dryness, but the rain started to pick up as we neared the top of Papa Bear, where Denise was waiting for us. The heavens opened up on us as we flew down Papa Bear, and I was reminded that rain is really quite painful when pelting one at 42mph! I was getting pretty sodden by this point, and resolved that if my feet were squishy when we got back to the cars at lunch, I would pass on the second loop. Thankfully it dried out a bit as we returned to Miramonte High School on Camino Pablo and Moraga way. We pulled into the high school at 1:30. I was very glad that lunch was at the ride start, since I had almost a complete change of cycling clothes in my car, so I put on a dry jacket and dry knee warmers, packed my rain jacket, and put in clear glasses lenses, thus ensuring that there would be no further rain and that the sun would come out. I then wandered off to check in and get some food. As usual, the Grizzly Peak Cyclists had great food with delicious chicken BBQ, tabbouleh, and rice with fruit and nuts. I ate a good deal even though I didn't really want to overly burden my tummy for the second loop. I said goodbye to Denise (who never had any intention of riding the second loop) and Ralph (who wasn't feeling up for it today), and set out on the second loop at 2:00.

    Skyline Road I rode back out on Moraga Way & Canyon, the same as in the morning, then headed south on Pinehurst. This was a pretty climb, although dark clouds still loomed overhead. The descent to Redwood Rd. was fast and short, then it was on to a short climb up to Skyline Rd. I always forget that there're still several pretty steep rollers on Skyline before it gets fun, and this time was no exception. I was starting to tire a bit, but before long, the rolling downhill began in earnest, and I bombed down into south Oakland. After a scenic detour through the Oakland Zoo on Knowland Park Rd., and a short urban zig-zag, I started the climb on Lake Chabot Rd. This is a pretty nice climb, although the traffic is relatively heavier than elsewhere on this route, as Lake Chabot is a very popular destination for all sorts of recreation. I continued to tire more, but was making decent time, I thought, and before too long, turned on Seven Hills Rd., which true to its name, features a bunch of short rolling hills. A left on Redwood Rd. through Castro Valley, and a climb of a rather unpleasant wall brought me to the final rest stop at the Proctor School (93.7mi). There weren't many folks here, but there was plenty to eat, incluing some popsicles, which didn't sound at all appealing (I was rather hoping for some of the soup I hadn't wanted earlier in the day!). I saw a rider in a Chain Reaction jersey who turned out to be the fellow who sold me my mountain bike. We talked for a bit, then he headed out while I contented myself to continue eating and stretching. One of the staffers said that only 200 riders had started the second loop, most likely due the weather. I had a double-caffeine gel to make sure I had plenty of energy for the last couple remaining climbs, then headed back out.

    Watershed lands near Redwood Rd. The climb on Redwood Rd. from Castro Valley is always easier than I'm expecting it to be (fortunately :). Its a long haul, about 10 miles, but nearly half of that is downhill, and nearly half of the rest is a gentle grade, so I actually made fairly decent progress heading northward towards the end of the ride. There were few riders left on the road, but the sun came out for us slow-pokes, and I enjoyed the lovely climb, with great views east into the verdant watershed lands. It was a super-fun descent on Redwood to Pinehurst, the back the way I'd arrived via a short climb on Pinehurst and Canyon. I pulled into the high school late, at a bit after 5. Alas, there was no BBQ left, but there was plenty of everything else, so I had a small platefull of eats (I wasn't all that hungry, actually, having mostly kept on top of my nutrition needs), checked in and got my patch, then hit the road.

    The Grizzly Peak Century remains at the top of my list of favorite bay area organized rides - its a near-perfect mix of scenery, challenge, food, and support. The ride was perhaps a little bit more routine this year, having done it twice before, but the unseasonable weather made for a variation (if a not entirely welcome one).

    Ride Stats:
    Distance: 106.6mi
    Total Time: 10h 29m
    On-bike Time: 7h 43m
    Average Speed: 13.8mph
    Maximum Speed: 42.7mph
    Calories Burned: ~7,600
    Total Climbing: ~8,500'

    Ride Rating:
    Difficulty: 4
    Support: 5
    Food: 5 - tasty, fresh, and varied!
    Route: 4 - familiar, but lovely
    Overall: 4

    Last modified 02 November, 2021 MST
    Copyright © 2009 Adam R. Paul