I needed a ride for April for the Rthing. SFR runs the Del Puerto 200k as a brevet in November. When I’d done it before I’d liked the route, and kept thinking how pretty it would be in Spring. Not that it wasn’t pretty in the fall, but it’s neat to see the green and wildflowers. One thing and another I hadn’t gotten around to it until now, when it turned out to be a good fit with my other Easter weekend plans.
Andrea agreed to join me, and was in for an (actual) early start. The lunar eclipse was retreating as we opened up the Starbucks in Pleasanton. After obtaining receipts, we rolled out through quiet streets, catching another glimpse of a midway covered moon, now having a reddish cast, floating over a drainage canal.
The imperceptible fade to day that I always enjoy on the bike as we headed to Livermore. Jog through town and out past vineyards. It’s not super cold, but not exactly warm either. It would be nice to have a little more feeling in my toes. Ah well, here’s the first hill to climb. Oh yeah super fun swoopy descent don’t overcook the turn at the bottom. “Go ahead, you’ve got the disc brakes,” Andrea says.
No motocrossers out yet at Carnegie, but the lines on the hillside are much more apparent against the green grasses. Roll past Livermore National Labs and flatten toward the Valley. All of a sudden the landscape has gone from green to golden. Notice Mt. Diablo in the distance. See you up close in a few weeks!
Outskirts of Tracy. Slight nav fumble, Is this our turn? Oops, yes. Quickly remedied. Straight line road. 90 degree turn. Straight line. The geometry of the Valley. Almond trees, leafed out now, and fuzzy baby almonds set.
First control, Jimmy’s One Stop! Andrea knows there’s a patio area on the side (with a water spigot!) We go inside for receipts. It isn’t even 0900 yet, but there’s a few men at the bar. Baseball caps, plaid flannel, salt of the earth. I feel a bit like I’ve dropped in from another planet. Andrea had been talking about potatoes (which they have, and she gets), they do look good but I can’t quite make up my mind. I end up going with something sweet. (Surprise.)
We eat, top off fluids and get on the road again. This early there’s very little wind. Angles through Westley and toward Patterson. Road closed signs. It looks rideable… Well if we have to we’ll walk. It does end up turning to gravel for a few blocks, but we’re able to ride it. I can’t quite figure out what the road construction is about, there’s also a huge new (most likely) warehouse facility going in, which is being worked on even though it’s Saturday.
We chat a bit about the craziness of it all – there are other warehouse facilities in the vicinity – the distances things get moved these days to fill the store shelves. And development in general. How soon til the Valley is full of houses?
Second control already. Not hungry but a warm caffeinated beverage hits the spot. Another customer wants to know how far we’re riding today. I’m never quite sure how to answer that question. How about the truth? 200k. Sometimes that turns into a more complicated conversation than I feel like having, but this fellow seems to know a little bit about randonneuring and thinks it’s cool. Have fun, be safe!
Over the irrigation canal, under Highway 5 and off to another world. Del Puerto Canyon! the signature road of the route. Sign for Frank Raines Park, who is he anyway? The research department didn’t find anything on the Park’s website, and the first thing the Googles came up with didn’t seem likely. Why would you name a park after a possibly shady businessman/national government executive? Giving a few more search parameters came up with this blog post which seemed more plausible. Local businessman, served on Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors for 36 years, including when the park was dedicated.
Helicopter with a spray rig goes over, wth? I don’t think there’s anything up the Canyon they would be working. We round a corner and it has come down on a truck parked on the side of the road to refill. Still, wth?! Why are they doing that here? It takes off and heads back east to the Valley. Bleh.
Bunch of beehives in the distance. It’s not as green as I was thinking it might be, but it’s still pretty. Neat rock formations and there are still wildflowers out. And it gets a bit more green as we get further up the canyon. There’s a rough terrain area (motocross) on the other side of the road from the Frank Raines park, it doesn’t look new but I don’t remember it from the other time I’d done this ride.
There are quite a few cyclists headed the other direction (which seems like the “wrong” way since I’ve never been on a route that goes that way), but I don’t get a chance to ask anyone if it’s a club ride or some sort of event. Vehicle traffic is very light so Andrea and I can ride together and chat.
It’s warming up, and I stop before the last bit of steeper climbing toward the Junction to remove a layer. Crest, roller along a bit more and WOOHOO! lunch time. Go inside to order and … you look familiar… It’s other Patrick (met at Grasshopper, Max’s carbon offset) and Frankie, who, once I say my name, recognizes that we have mutual friends on Facebook. She knows Andrea too. There are other groups of cyclists passing through, and several of them also know Andrea.
I go with a corn dog and sweet potato fries, Andrea gets pulled pork tacos (Note to self: try the tacos next time), which all arrive in short order. YUM! We chat with other Patrick and Frankie, they continue on to Mt. Hamilton, we take Mines Road back to Livermore.
It’s a bit slow getting going again, between digesting and some climbing, but it’s a beautiful day, great scenery and excellent company. Soon we’re back in the groove. A few more cars than Del Puerto, but still pretty quiet. Some cyclists going the other direction, but, perhaps since it’s into the afternoon now, not so many as earlier. Do see a tandem with luggage (wonder where they are headed) and, a bit later, another, without. Hey, was that the Dixons?
Roller along and OK it’s downhillish from here but yeah that’s the afternoon breeze isn’t it… Great views though, at one point I’m wondering if that’s Mt. Tam I’m seeing in the distance. Never noticed that before. Hmn.
When I’d done it as a brevet there was a different way back from Livermore, but the perm route just has us retracing our steps. Andrea knows both ways, it sounds like six of one, half-dozen the other, and I don’t recall anything super great about the other way, so we go with the perm route.
The headwind is rather punitive, but we take turns on the front, and fortunately it’s not too long on ? where we’re going straight into it. When we make the turn I say something about almost there. Andrea doesn’t quite agree. It’s a bit jarring being around all these cars after being out in the country all day. And having to navigate. There’s the crazy stop light intersection (sculpture?), the BART station … we’re stopped at a light, I sneeze, someone in a car next to us says “Bless You!” We turn on to Johnson Drive. OK, now I can say we’re almost there! Yes!
Yay! Glad to be done with the wind (and that there wasn’t more of it!), bikes in cars and then to Starbucks for the final control and a snack. Another great day on the bike!