The Thomases journeyed to Northern California over the school holidays. We rented a small house in Berkeley. It was very nice and a welcomed change of scene. The weather was cool in the mornings, but dry. One day it rained; another day it was very windy. But the weather did not stop us from absorbing Berkeley, San Francisco and the California Dream, or from fitting in some fine riding. We flew JetBlue which continues to accommodate my Superleicht safely and economically.
I rode to Mt. Daiblo on the first day. I had no idea where to go, but there were so many cyclists on the road that morning I was able to “crowd source” directions to the north gate entrance. I was fresh and pushed myself on the way up. I squeaked into the Strava Top Ten as a result (This fleeting bit of pseudoglory will vanish next month when the Tour of California arrives at Mount Diablo, if not sooner). I took it easy on the way down as many cars were coming up the hill and cutting over the yellow line. I also need a lot of practice descending and I had no idea what to expect. A Mikes Bikes rider came blowing by me on the straight into the first hairpin. Sure enough, he hit a car that was on the other side of the turn. Remarkably, everyone was fine, but clearly the car was too far over and the Mikes Bike rider was going fast enough that he needed more than the right lane to complete the turn. Fortunately, there were no more events like that. I got lost on the way back, but made it back in fine shape. I did the Epic Ride of the week on the second day. I returned to Mt. Diablo since I knew how to get there: I went up the south gate approach to the summit, descended to the bottom of the north gate entrance, and then went back up to the summit. It was cool day and there was less traffic. I felt fine and my confidence and technique on the descents improved each time down. I made it back without getting lost. The next day I rode easy out into the Briones Watershed. This is a lovely green section of big rolling hills that captures the rain fall and directs it into a large reservoir. There is very little traffic and some of the climbs are one mile jobs at seven to eight percent. We did some brazen tourism that afternoon: Alcatraz, downtown San Francisco, etc. I can see why people are drawn to this part of the country.
|Bear Creek Road Briones Park Watershed
The next day we went to Sausalito. I rode up Mount Tamalaipis to pay homage to the gods of the mountain bike, and then set off through the park on the West Ridgeway Road towards Olena. The scenery is straight out of a Bicycling Magazine spread. It was foggy and a bit cool, but it was fine. Shoreline Road was spectacular although the fog blocked the view of the bold Pacific. The remaining days I rode to the north of Berkeley. Alhambra Valley Road and the roads around Porto Costa were very nice and more rural than the roads that take you to Mt. Diablo. There were some good climbs too (McEwen Road, Happy Valley Road). I went up Marin Avenue in Berkeley at the end of one day: this street must be about half a mile of fifteen to twenty percent straight up climbing, with little breaks on the cross streets. There are two sections that hit thirty percent. I was able to handle the climb up to Keeler Street, but the last section after that was too much. There were many cars and if one stopped in front of me at the stop sign at the end, I would have tipped right over. I found South Park Road in Tilden Park to be more reasonable and just as challenging: it is a mile and a half with an average grade of ten percent. Completing a climb like that at the end of a long ride felt very satisfying.
|West Ridgeway Rd, Mt. Tamalpais State Park
California is very green this time of year. Everyone says that within a month it will be brown and the specter of forest fires will return again. You would never know, but the frequent signs reminding people to conserve water signal just how dry and hot it gets in the summer. Berkeley is bursting with youth, urban cool and academia. In this city, property prices are going through the roof. Every house that lists attracts numerous cash offers and poignant letters explaining why the house is so perfect for the earnest buyer, the family and the pet. The Thai food and the Vietnamese noodles all seem to taste more authentic (the delivery certainly is) and the Dim Sum is reported to be very good. Alcatraz remains a compelling reminder on why one should avoid prison and the Golden Gate Bridge is really something larger than California. Almost anyone who visits California will try to picture themselves as a resident. It really is not that difficult, but of course, the Diablo is in the Detailso.
|An Austro-Daimler Superleicht Carbon!|
|Sugar Refinery, Rodeo, CA.|