31 March 2018
3/C/62 – 2,900 feet climbing – BART Walnut Creek and Behind Morgan Territory
As reported for my reconnaissance report on 23 December 2017, no carpooling!
This was one of the most beautiful rides I have ever done, especially for the 13-mile section on Marsh Creek Road, since everything was in bloom and the hills green. Even the glass shards on the Delta de Anza Trail had been picked up. The three (3) flats we encountered were previous to that and did not markedly slow us down. Just the ascent up Kirker Pass Road was a little grippy, since it was getting warm.
We had five members show up:
We proceeded to the Fruitvale BART, only to find a single ticket machine in operation. Even after standing in line for this procedure, Tom’s purchased ticket became ensnarled in the turnstile and would not spit it out again. The attendant had to open the metal cover to extricate it. Still we had some minutes to spare for the 0823-train to the 19th Street station to eventually exit the Walnut Creek BART station at 0900.
Tom’s bad luck ended on the Contra Costa Canal Trail (Mile 3) with a rear flat. Thankfully he had no sew-up tires on his rims and within 10 minutes and a group effort, the inner tube was replaced. The weather was initially cool, but not overcast, as announced. Perhaps hazy skies, but these soon gave way to sunny skies with fluffy clouds. The next announced stop was at Turtle Creek Park, where I could announce what lay in store, with two climbs for the day, none with more than 900 feet elevation gain.
My sell may not have been so effective, as at Mile 15, Ron and Rob decided to go right at the fork to climb Morgan Territory proper. David, Tom and myself as ride leader, continued on Marsh Creek Road. Tom and I did not realize it, but David had a flat barely 200 feet beyond this fork. By the time I had doubled back, it was mostly fixed and we could continue as a fairly strung out group.
I made certain that we could keep in sight of each other for the most part. It really did not matter, whether we rode as a cohesive group or not, since there is only one main road and the scenery was extraordinarily gorgeous. I submit Ron and Rob made an egregious error, since the back side of Morgan Territory was absolutely stunning, with so much greenery, flowers and blooming trees, interspersed with horse- and sheep farms, wild turkeys, buzzards and birds overhead, that there was plenty to absorb.
After reaching the suburbs of Brentwood, stomachs were starting to grumble. At exactly noon and the halfway point, we stopped at Mr. Pickle’s Sandwich Shop, where David incurred his second flat and I surrendered one of my spare inner tubes. I joked this one would hold, since it was a Continental.
Most of the rest through Antioch and Pittsburg was spent on bike paths, with occasional forays on roads. Since I had performed the recce in December, there was no issue finding the proper turns. The paths were mostly spic and span. We even encountered a group of civic-minded citizens picking up trash alongside the Delta de Anza and there were fewer winos about.
Then we reached Railroad Avenue at Mile 44 and we were tested by the climb up Kirker Pass, which achieves 17% gradient near the top. David and I hung back for Tom at the turn across four lanes to Hess Road and the promised oasis along this 1-mile detour. It was pretty warm up there by then, 90 degrees in the sun. I acknowledged Tom’s perseverance, though he was offered a ride by the local farmer in his pickup. This farmer even gave us cool, bottled water, surmising it was getting a little warm.
We hung out in the shade of a barn, until we had composed ourselves for the rapid descent back into Clayton. The bike trails through Walnut Creek were mostly deserted by then and we made good time. Though we had three flats and some longer than expected stops, we achieved an average speed of 13.5 mph.
This route is a keeper and we should try to adopt is as part of the repertoire of BART away rides. I was home at 1715, two hours later than my prior recce ride, but still well worth the hour spent on the trains.
TeamAlamedaPO Box 1216Alameda, CA 94501