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26 August 2017 2/D/105 – 3,323 feet climbing – Alameda to Sacramento AMTRAK [almost!] via River Road (Reconnaissance)

  • 27 Aug 2017 10:41 AM
    Message # 5050999
    Anonymous member (Administrator)

    26 August 2017

    2/D/105 – 3,323 feet climbing – Alameda to Sacramento AMTRAK via River Road (Reconnaissance)

    This route was designed to allow for a more scenic route to Sacramento that would still constitute a century ride


    This is a much nicer route than my earlier attempt through Fairfield with the Fairfield Linear Park Pathway and 4-mile Yolo Causeway into Sacramento.  River Road requires some judgment about road position, as there are stretches with no shoulder and 55 mph speed limit.  Sight lines for motorists are good though.  More about that later.



    The route I chose went over the Oakland Hills and attempted to negotiate the Moraga Bridge road closure, since I had heard it could be detoured.  I first rode down the street to find a new chain-link fence stretching clear across the road, plastered with many warning signs, including those intended for cyclists.  Obviously, the locals had complained about cyclists trying to sneak their way through.  I had been under the impression, the off-road detour I heard about was just before the bridge, but I was mistaken.


    I doubled back to the bike trail and found a barricade with no warning signs.  After squeezing through, I heard the police on the speaker, warning me I was risking a citation.  Not the kind for meritorious persistence either.  Included in the message was the order to let my friends know about the state of things.  Since I had no bullhorn, I merely nodded and made another U-turn.


    I then clambered up a 15-foot path on an earthen embankment and a path leading out to Augusta Drive through somebody’s driveway and sidewalk, just like Ken mentioned.  Now that I know the detour, I will never lose those 20 minutes again.


    The rest of the ride transpired as planned, except it became increasingly warmer.  The mercury started to climb at Mile 35 and just gradually increased from there, reaching a whopping 108 degrees towards the end.  I should have known better, because an announced high of 99 always means at least 10 degrees warmer on the exposed road.


    However, the various bike trails I selected really helped me make good progress.  The Iron Horse and Contra Costa Canal Trails already started in Walnut Creek at Mile 22 and extended all the way to Mile 31.  The Delta Anza Regional Trail follows shortly after from Mile 33-43, and displays various dips next to exposed sections of pipe, that can be overcome with sufficient momentum. 


    I reached the crest of the Antioch Bridge at exactly noon, at Mile 50.  This was my marker that the rest of the schedule would follow as planned, allowing me to meet my 1555 (3:55 PM) train on time.  Was I ever mistaken!  I had counted on a 15-mph average pace overall, but with at least 17 mph actual on River Road (Highway 160).  I saved time by not crossing and re-crossing bridges by following 160 as it switches river banks, but I had other issues to contend with.


    I tried my best to hug the right road edge, where the pavement was good, by following the fog line.  Traffic was sporadic and usually arrived as groups of cars, since many road section display the double yellow center lines.  However, certain road segments showed cracked or uneven pavement and I would look behind and move further into the lane then.  Most cars would give me sufficient space, but there would be the occasional motorist or truck who would buzz me as if to say I do not belong.  Even with a shoulder, I would stay right on the fog line, since I did not want to incur a flat tire from the debris.


    This all worked quite well.  I would say a group would need to single up on most parts of River Road, except for the sections less frequented by traffic, and a steady pace brings its own rewards as you see the miles spooling by.  It was the rising temperature, which challenged me.


    I had to loosen my boa laces on the shoes repeatedly to avoid the dreaded hot foot.  My respiration increased as my heart rate and average speed decreased.  It felt like my brain was starting to cook and I would soon hear the ‘bing’ of the microwave when it was done.  I stopped on occasion to cool off, but realized I needed more effective countermeasures.


    I was on the lookout for a garden hose, so I could douse my head and feet.  At Mile 82, I came across a nice couple as they were watering their garden.  They gave me enough water to drown a horse and some ice.  I mentioned a group would come passing through October 14th, and they said we could partake of their water, even if they would not be home.


    I carried on and the next few miles were pleasant again, but it was only a matter of time.  Soon I was struggling again.  I reached the Sacramento city line and was counting down the miles, but at Mile 99 I saw a fellow in his front yard.  I stopped on the spur of the moment and spoke very politely once again.  I must have looked pitiful, because he opened the spigot of his garden hose and brought me ice water.  I know I created a puddle in his front yard, but I was beyond caring.  I could not even walk in a straight line and so I laid down.


    Carrying on the last 8 miles would have been hazardous in my state, and he was kind enough to follow my suggestion to take me to the Amtrak station.  He even refused my money.  I had already missed the 1555 and I bought a ticket for the 1700-hour train with fifteen minutes to spare.  Reaching the 85 degrees that prevailed in Alameda saw me recovered and back at a good pace and I was home at 1915. 



    I would consider my recce a success, because it will be undoubtedly much cooler in October.  Because I do not wish to flog the group and since sunset occurs earlier that time of year, I have moved the assembly time at Kaiser on October 14th from 0800 to 0700.  See  you then!

    -- Ralph

    Last modified: 28 Jan 2018 12:53 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

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