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I was looking forward to this ride, since it would be good heat training for the upcoming Davis Double Century, I'd never ridden on most of the roads the route went on, and it would be my longest un-supported ride. I found the route on the Bikemaster route page (a great resource for bay area bike routes!), and at 4500' of climbing over 100mi, it didn't sound too terribly difficult.
I met Kristin and Kath at 9 at Livermore Park, and we headed out. It was already in the low 60s, so for once I didn't have to bother with arm & leg warmers. We headed east on Tesla Rd. past some lovely wineries, one of which was a rest stop on the Primavera Century a few weeks earlier. Tesla Rd. turned into Corral Hollow and gently made its way over the hills towards Tracy. Corral Hollow is a beautiful, rural road and had virtually no traffic on it. It climbs about 1000' over the eastern hills, but isn't steep at any point. After a fast and fun descent, we continued east on the now-flat road. There was an offroad motorcycle park a few miles past the end of the descent, and the hills were torn to shreds from the riding :( Before long, we were in the outskirts of Tracy and a few turns later, arrived at a store where we planned on refilling our water bottles and getting a snack. Unfortunately, the store was closed on Sundays - argh! Luckily, there was a firehouse across the street, and the firemen there were kind enough to let us refill our bottles from their chilled bottled water. We talked to them for a little bit about where we had been and where we were going (they thought we were slightly crazy :), then went around the corner to a school and sat down and snacked a little.
The route said to go south on Hwy 132 for a few miles, but there was a sign on the onramp forbidding bikes, so we retraced a half mile and took the California Aqueduct trail, since we were supposed to pick that up a few miles south anyways. The Aqueduct trail was very pretty and peaceful (and flat) - we rode on it for about 15 miles and didn't see a single other person. There were annoying gates, however, at every road crossing where we had to dismount, go through the gate, across the street, and through another gate before proceeding. This got tiresome after a while, though the road crossing weren't terribly frequent. If I do this ride again, it'd be nice to shave 5'ish miles off of the Aqueduct portion. After crossing Blewett Rd (where we were originally supposed to pick up the trail), the trail dead-ended! We pondered for a few, then decided to head east on Blewett to see where that went, and shortly found where the Aqueduct Trail resumed.
After a while, we arrived in the town of Patterson and I got a flat tire just as we pulled into a truck stop area off of I-5 to get lunch. As far as flats go, that was pretty convenient timing! We got sandwiches & water and sports drink at a Subway, sat down next to a nice pond, and scarfed down. It was getting pretty warm by this point, but not blisteringly so. After lunching, I fixed my flat front tire, and we continued on Del Puerto Canyon Rd.
Del Puerto Canyon is a gorgeous road, slowly winding up towards the east side of Mount Hamilton. We kept expecting the road to get steep, but for a long ways, it was a very gentle climb. Kristin went on ahead, while Kath & I took it easy. I knew the road had about 2500' of climbing, and I didn't want to waste energy on the easy bits! After a while, we arrived at a county park and took a break to relax and refill our water bottles (Update 09/12/02: A visitor to this site said that there were signs at this park warning to boil the water prior to drinking it, so you may not want to rely on getting water there!).
Past the county park, the road continued at an easy grade for a little ways, and then got quite steep for a couple of miles! According to my Topo! software, the average grade from the park to the junction with Mines Rd. is 18% over 6 miles (though that sounds a bit high to me for the average). I was plodding along in my lowest gear, and poured a good deal of water over myself to keep cool, as Del Puerto Canyon is largely unshaded and it was hot by now. We finally arrived at the Mines/San Antonio/Del Puerto junction and stopped for a couple to rest.
There's a little store that we should have stopped at to get some water, but it was only 28mi (and 1000' of climbing) back to the start, so we didn't. Mines Rd. is also gorgeous and extremely remote. After some rolling hills, it climbed gently for a couple of miles and then we were at the high point of the ride - it was all downhill from here :) I had a gel, then down we went. The descent was also mostly pretty mellow, but there were several miles of fast, fun downhilling, and the scenery was fantastic the whole way. There were lots of wildflowers along the road, and some shade as well, although by this time, it wasn't too warm. Though its generally downhill, it still took us a couple of hours to get to the end of Mines Rd. There was a little bit more traffic here than on Del Puerto, but that's not saying much at all! I really enjoyed this section of the ride, along with Del Puerto Canyon, since it was so quiet, peaceful, and removed from civilization. Kristin & I both were out of water by the time we got to the intersection of Del Valle Rd., but it was only 10'ish miles left by then, so it wasn't a big deal (though more water wouldn't have been a bad thing!). We eventually arrived back in Livermore and rode the last mile to Livermore Park.
This was a really great ride overall! I loved how out-of-the-way almost all of it was, and the lack of traffic. We saw very, very few people anywhere (though no doubt that's partly because it was Mother's Day).
|Total Time:||9h 33m|
|On-bike Time:||7h 46m|
|Total Climbing:||~4500 ft|
08 February, 2011 MST
Copyright © 2009 Adam R. Paul