Get out there and do it.
Tag Archives: pinehurst
Get out there and do it.
Last Wednesday, I spent the day riding with two, then one, of the newest additions to Box Dog’s staff. Geoff and Eric. I was stoked to get out with some new riders and try to hit some new terrain. Our plan was to ride from North Oakland to Lake Chabot, around the lake, then back on as much dirt as possible.
The day started off normal enough, with the 1000ft plus climb up Tunnel Road in the first 5 miles of the ride, which is always a good indicator of how the day is going to go. I was feeling good up the climb despite having spent several weeks off the bike. From the top of Tunnel, we made our way the 2 miles to East Ridge trail, which began the dirt portion of the ride. East Ridge from North to South is much funner than the other way (how I normally do it) and you can more or less coast the entire way. Tuesdays rain brought some mud, so the trails were fast and grippy.
East Ridge Trail dumps out at Pinehurst road, which we followed to Redwood road then about 2 miles to the MacDonald trail head. MacDonald trail starts out VERY steep (and in yesterday’s case muddy). About 200 yards up the steep section, I hear Eric, behind me, very calmly exclaim “Ooops, I’m done.” I turned around to find Eric stopped with his rear derailleur tied up in his wheel. A twig had sucked up between the jockey wheels of his derailleur and seized the whole thing up. After wrestling the derailleur free and a little emergency tweaking, he got it rolling again, but he turned back anyway, fearing that it might happen again (turns out it was the right choice. The hanger would shear off completely before he made it home).
Reluctant to leave Eric behind, but wanting to continue the ride, Geoff and I continued climbing. MacDonald trail stays steep for almost a mile, with many “false summits” to tease the heart out of any rider. The payoff, however, is a long flowing descent along a ridge line as MacDonald drops towards Bort Meadow. Brandon Trail links Bort Meadow to the Lake Chabot bike loop, a truly “mixed-terrain” loop that varies from steep, rutted dirt descents to flat, smooth pavement. There’s even a footbridge crossing.
Geoff and I must have taken a wrong turn somewhere after circling the lake, because instead of looping back to the trail head that began the Lake Chabot loop, we were spit out in downtown San Leandro. The nice folks at Robinson Wheel Works directed us back onto our route, pointing the way back to Skyline Boulevard. Our mistake in navigation led us up Golf Links Road, a short, but steep climb leading up to Skyline Boulevard. At this point, my lack of preparation was catching up with me, and I was out of food, low on water and starting to bonk. Bad. After a brief attempt at getting back in the dirt (Goldenrod trail parallels Skyline boulevard for several miles in this section) I finally admitted defeat, and decided to stay on the road until we could drop into East Oakland, get some tacos and call it quits. We dropped down Redwood road, a long, steep, brakeless descent, that would have been perfect for setting a personal speed record (if I hadn’t been shaking and seeing double at this point), and rolled out into the flats of East Oakland.
Luckily, the descent down Redwood Road hits International Boulevard mere blocks from my favorite taco truck (29th and International, in the Goodwill parking lot. Get some). A thousand or so calories later, I was feeling like a new man, and the urge to quit altogether and jump on BART had diminished significantly, and Geoff and I got back on the bikes to ride the last few miles home. I split with Geoff at 12th st. BART station seeing him off towards SF and limped home, satisfied with a long day in the saddle with some new bros, yet defeated, broken, and mildly embarrassed for getting so worked by a 45 mile ride.
….or maybe it was the other way around.
Saturday was another glorious Bay Area day, and with the new road frame in the paint shop, I took the opportunity to take yet another East Bay hills Mixed terrain ride on the cross bike. This time I had along some new riding partners, Zac and Ian from the Nub City Wheelsters.
Taking off from Oakland at a most reasonable 12pm start time, we rode one of my favorite East Bay Hills Loops , with a new variation on the ending, which takes you through the East end of Joaquin Miller Park via Big Trees, Sunset and Sinawik Trails, some of the most beautiful and funnest cross-bike-friendly, legal single track that the East Bay has to offer.
The ride went off without a hitch, with gorgeous blue skies and warm enough weather to make due with just my basic short-sleeve kit (I love these Bay area February heat-waves). Ian and Zac are both long-time Bay Area riders and although we stuck to my tried-and-true route, they had many gems of East Bay trails wisdom to share for future rides.
Coming down through Joaquin Miller on Sinawik trail, with Zac and Ian on my rear wheel, I heard Ian shout out that he’d lost a water bottle after a particularly rough spot on the trail. Instead of keeping my composure and braking to a safe stop, I made the fateful mistake of breaking my concentration for just a second. Before I new it I was careening off into the brush at the side of the trail. There was a loud CRACK as I ran over the upright branch of a fallen tree and next thing I know I’m on the ground, laughing, the front wheel of my over-ended bike still spinning, hissing as air escaped from a newly acquired pinch flat. I stood up, dusted myself off and took quick stock. Nothing hurting too bad, except for a decent sized scratch on the knee (probably from that damned tree branch) that had already began to bleed significantly.
You should’ve seen the other guy, though.
After a quick break to fix the front flat we zipped down the last bit of Sinawik trail (this time proceeding with the reasonable hesitation that always seems to follow a crash), linked up with Bishops Walk at the West end of Joaquin Miller, and finally limped home along the road.
Take THAT, East Bay Hills!!!
Well, it’s been a long and cold winter, last night and today included (I just read that stage 1 of the Tour of California was delayed and shortened from 118 km to a mere 50 due to a snowstorm in the Sierras last night). Regardless, Saturday was a little overcast but dry, and my first free Saturday in a long, long time. What better way to start out my cycling season that to jump in headfirst and pedal out the cobwebs on a nice, long, hilly ride? Right?
Along with friends Moshe (Citizen Chain) and Tim (Valencia Cyclery), I departed my house in Oakland to grey skies and mist over the Oakland hills with the intention of riding a loop which includes riding to the summit of Mount Diablo in the East Bay.
Departing from Oakland, the ride starts with a long, sustained climb up Tunnel Road climbing a little over a thousand feet within the first 7 miles. The road traverses the ridge for a while then drops down a forested decent on Pinehurst Road. It then meanders through the residential areas of Moraga, Lafyette, Walnut Creek, Alamo and Danville on its way to the base of Mount Diablo.
The climb up Mt. Diablo is a 10 mile slog that rises over 3,000 vertical feet from the entry of the state park. I imagine stronger riders can rip up it in about 45 minutes, but it took my out-of-shape-and slovenly-ass over an hour from the start of the ascent to the summit at 3,849 feet. At the summit we were awarded with a final 200m pitch with a sustained 13%+ grade and temperatures in the 40s. I got up last to find Tim and Moshe huddled in the visitors center, trying to keep warm. Instead of enjoying the view and catching my breath, I choked down a snack and some water, threw on my leg and arm warmers and turned around for the descent.
Despite painfully freezing, numb hands and a sustained ice-cream-headache from the cold, the decent down North gate road is a cyclists dream. A mix of hairpin turns and long, flowy sections and straightaways make the decent challenging enough, but not too hairy. Not to mention it’s FAST. I ride without a computer, so I couldn’t tell you an exact number, but you can really fly down that mountain.
The one drawback of this ride is the necessity to traverse the entirety of Walnut Creek on the return trip. There are ways of sticking to less traveled, residential streets, but I found its easier just to grit your teeth and stay on major, high-traffic thoroughfares just to get through it ASAFP. Besides, Walnut creek permits a pitstop to take a rest after the climb and get some real food (my greatest downfall as a cyclist is that I can’t eat just energy food all day). (Also, if the climb up Diablo really took it out of you, or if you’ve only got time for a shorter loop, there’s a BART station in WC where you can catch a train home.) After grabbing a quick sandwich downtown it’s a short pedal to the Lafayette/Moraga regional trail, a nicely paved, multi-use path that dumps out directly into Downtown Lafayette.
The greatest challenge of this particular loop isn’t the major climbs, but that it finishes with two smaller, yet still significant climbs on the way back. Remember those hills at the beginning of the ride? Yep. You’ve still got to get over them to get home. We climbed about halfway up the ascent on Happy Valley road out of LaFayette. A cutoff down Sundown Terrace snakes through a nice little neighborhood and dumps out on Camino Pablo in Orinda. A final 3 mile 600 foot climb up Wildcat Canyon Road, brings you up and over the last hill. From there, it’s a long, leisurely descent down Euclid st. into the flats of Berkeley, home, and a cold beer on the couch.
Check out the full route and information HERE.