The short articles/blogs in this area were first posted as messages in the OYJ Newbies email list. These ride previews and related topics are intended to offer newcomers information they may find helpful and useful as they prepare to ride with OYJ.
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Newbie Corner: Petaluma
I haven't done either the Advanced or the Light versions of this ride, and you might want to check out the maps and route sheets under the Rides tab. The rides start out the same route, and the Advanced and Humane cover some of some of the same turf, but are quite different in specifics.
What they all share in common is a beautiful part of California. Some random notes:
- Bohemian Highway is one of most beautiful hills you'll ever climb and descend, if you happen to like deep fern-covered redwood and evergreen forests.
- The Russian River is another vision of an idyll ... on warm day, seeing kids of all ages playing in the river, you feel like relaxing and kicking back even as you're peddling by...
- At times, it has been known to be very windy at the outset—traveling into a headwind as you start west in the morning. Also, caution-wise, Bohemian Highway is narrow, requires care on ascent because of car traffic.
- The last piece of the ride for both Humanes and Advanced can be tricky—rights and lefts and lefts and rights every mile or two. It's essential to have a route sheet and the best thing is to stay with people who have done it before ... until the last 5 miles or so, which returns by the same route you came out on....
- And, as a reward that many people love—assuming it's still on—when you come back to Petaluma you'll a farmers' market packing the park you started from. If it's on, there should be fresh fruit and misc stuff galore...
Mundane First: About the Routes
The intermediate and advanced start at the lake and climb BBR (Burdick - Butters), go down Redwood Road, over lower Pinehurst, then over Canyon to Moraga and down St. Mary's Road and eventually to the southern base of Diablo. That route to Moraga is a good one to know -- it's a good start to many rides. I personally wouldn't do that much climbing before climbing Mt. Diablo, but for the stronger riders it's a good warm up.
The Humanes start from Lafayette BART and the official route climbs to the junction ranger station at about 2200 feet or so. Rest your legs and get some water and decide whether you want to do the official OYJ route and continue down the north side .... or, join those who do the last 4 1/2 miles and 1700 feet or so to the top.
Light riders don't do Mt. Diablo but instead do a pleasant, circuitous, not quite flat, tour of the Diablo Valley from Orinda BART to Moraga, skirting Lafayette and Walnut Creek, through Danville, San Ramon, and to the Dublin/Pleasanton BART.
Three Bears & Some Redwoods
This route has one good climb for everyone, two good climbs for humanes on up, and three good climbs for the intermediate and advanced .. .But that's not why they call it The Three Bears.
The route starts with Tunnel-Grizzly, the first good climb.
Tunnel-Grizzly might the best known local climb. Grizzly Peak is the tallest hill and most visible point from the many places on the west side of the bay.
For Light riders—If you've been riding and doing at least some climbing—if you're getting into cycling shape, this will be a good climb.
My favorite part is that on a clear day, Grizzly Peak has the most gorgeous panoramic views of the city and Golden Gate that you could want ... You can see the Farallone Islands on clear mornings.
Things I Wish I Would Have Known About the San Francisco / Tiburon Route Before I Did it the First Time.
The Tiburon ride has a lot: If you've never cycled the Golden Gate Bridge, you have to do it at least once for the unique experience. For climbers, there's a stunning cinematic view if the day is clear. For the Lites and others who so choose, there's a sweet ferry ride across the Bay.
Three versions of the ride are Lite, Humane, and Intermediate/Advanced. But a lot of people prefer to some hybrid combination of the three.
- The climb up Conzelman is a steep little sucker, so this is on the Intermediate/Advanced Route only. However, a lot of folks, including me, love the view from the Marin Headlands back over the bridge and city—on a clear day, it's a cinematic event that reminds you of any number of movies. And it's not that long a climb.
- Only the Lite route calls for taking the ferry back to the City ... But in the past a lot folks like taking the Ferry, often after lunch at one of the outdoor cafes at the Tiburon ferry building. Some folks like to wait and then grab some of the gormet street fair at the farmers markets or cafes at the SF Ferry Building at the end of the trip.
Arlington is one of my favorites...some beautiful territory and some good, attention-getting descents where you can practice and focus on your technique.
After heading north using the standard Market - Sacramento route through Oakland and then Berkeley, the groups other than the light riders head for the hills, climbing The Arlington to Kensington to El Cerrito.
Rather than climb, the light riders continue along Key Route to San Pablo Dam Rd.
The Arlington is a nice climb through a pleasant, upscale area -- never really steep but fairly steady for a few miles.
I love the descent ... it's a sweeping, sometimes steep drop to San Pablo Dam Road to briefly rejoin the Pt. Pinole Route.
For light riders, this is the most often first route this season that has a climb that merits being called a climb. Dublin Grade is not a difficult climb... not very steep and not extremely long. Mostly a fairly gentle slope to the top of the grade followed by a nice descent and a last few miles to a BART. Maybe the most challenging piece is getting there in the first place. East Castro Valley Blvd has some steep little sections just before you get to Dublin Grade, and before that, you have to beware of traffic on that busy street.
For others the steepest climb is Fairmount, which you may be familiar with if you did Lake Chabot.
The Peets on Railroad Ave at about mile 40 is not indicated as a rest stop, but it is an unofficial favorite of OYJ'ers and other cyclists throughout the area. In a small plaza that also includes a bike shop and a sandwich shop, on a nice day you'll find the plaza overflowing with cyclists, including OYJers, having a cup, a pastry, a sandwich.
For Light riders, Lake Chabot is really "out to San Leandro and back... almost all flat." For everyone else, there's some climbing—more for the more advanced.
All groups take off from the lake and retrace the first part of the kick-off ride through Alameda and along the bike trail at Bay Farm island.
After a regroup at Doolittle Dr. and Harbor Bay Parkway, the route takes you southeast, past the airport, until you wind around and up through San Leandro city streets to the famous Union gas station at mile 16—famous for no other reason than being a frequently used OYJ rest stop.
Humanes, Intermediates, and Advanced
is beautiful—basically climbing for 28 miles
, starting along a mountain canyon wall and then through meadows (maybe with wildflowers) along streams and over a ridge to an historic cafe rest stop... And then you re-climb a bit to the summit and head back down for the return.
It may be challenging for those who are not good or experienced climbers or who aren't young and strong enough to get away with the lack of experience. It's may be very hot, and with about 4200 feet of climbing, it's quite a bit more climbing than many rides.
There's no place to get water after you leave Livermore and start climbing—until you get to the cafe at the top. Bring lots of water and electrolytes to stay hydrated.
Except for the Light route, Morgan Territory basically circles around the feet of Mt. Diablo. It covers some beautiful territory, deep, woodsy creek roads, granite-boulder lined ridge, views over miles of hilly grasslands and pastures ... For the Light route, see below
It's quite different from the Dublin Grade, the Tour de Suburbs, though the final miles cover some of the same route to the Walnut Creek BART.
Morgan Territory has good climbing ... up and over a ridge summit on the southeast side of Diablo ... not like climbing Mt. Diablo itself of course... but if you're newer to climbing and still developing the muscles—or older and still trying, for that matter—it would be best to save some leg (meaning: don't wear yourself out by taking a pace you can't sustain for a long time...) for the last part of the climb at around mile 18 or 19, where it becomes steeper before going over the ridge summit.
Hydration and Electrolytes
On a recent ride to Sacramento on a very hot day (~100 F) one friend I was riding with starting having cramps after leaving Davis. It's one of the things I'm always concerned with when riding in hot weather -- one of the things that can happen with dehydration.
I made it without cramps and actually felt pretty good ....
Just to be clear: I'm one of the best candidates for heat prostration you'll meet. I'm in my mid-60s, overweight, and at the time of this ride I had hadn't put in enough strong miles this season to feel confidently trained.
Two things help:
- Taking a comfortable pace ... not pushing and not pushing up the body heat by trying to get there sooner.
- Appropriate electrolytes. I think there's a lot of misinformation about "electrolytes" out there, as companies make lots of money selling tasty sugar in various liquid forms, sometimes with mixtures of minerals or vitamins and then calling it great electrolyte.