A weird thing about East Bay riding is that there's nicknames for different routes, loosely based on street names, landmarks, geographical features, and occasionally, seemingly at random. For the uninitiated, it can get a little daunting. I've been living and riding in the East Bay for some time now, so I can decipher the language a little bit, but generally I'm a bit slow on the uptake. Needless to say, when I opened my email Friday night and saw this:
"tunnel / grizz / bear / piggy / alhambra / carq scenic (awesome!) / port costa into crockett refuel …
port costa / mcewen / alhambra / bear / wildcat"
I was a little baffled.
Regardless, I woke early and met up at the predetermined spot at 7:45 for what would ultimately be a 75 mile modified out-and-back that would take us out to Martinez, up into Crockett and back.
The day was gorgeous, with perfect temperatures and clear skies, and the riding with some new folks: Barry, Kevin, and Zac, was awesome, as the route cut through green, rolling hillscapes and even a bit along the Caquinez straight, where the American River hits the bay.
The route took us up Tunnel Road, along Grizzly Peak Boulevard, down Wildcat Canyon to Bear Creek Road (also known as "the three bears" the first of which is also called "pumphouse". Confused yet?), up "pig farm" (named after the pig farm at the top) on Alhambra Valley Road, which eventually dumps into Martinez.
The Highlight of the ride was following Carquinez Scenic Drive out of Martinez, which eventually becomes a foot-and-bike-traffic-only section of closed road that I am hereby dubbing "LSD" do to the acid-induced paintings that cover the tarmac along the first part of the route.
"LSD" opens to cars again just outside of Port Costa and dumps into Crockett, right at the base of the Carquinez Bridge.
After a quick lunch in Crockett, we doubled back, passing Port Costa again, Then climbing out on the steep, yet scenic McEwan Road. A quick jaut along Franklyn Valley Road reconnects with Alhambra valley Road from which point the ride doubles back on itself: Up Alhambra valley Road, over "pig farm", onto Bear Creek and its Three Bears, then back up Wildcat Canyon.
From the top of Wildcat Canyon Road, Kevin, the strongest rider of the group, continued on, back up Grizzly Peak to Tunnel Road, while Zac headed down spruce towards El Cerrito. Barry and I, Exhausted and hurting (at least I was), took the easy way down Euclid to the flats of Berkeley, rounding out what was still a nice, solid ride.