31 August 2019
3/B/50 – RECCE – BART Orinda-San Pablo Bay Trail and Carquinez Bike Path-Martinez-Moraga Loop
This route led to the new extensions on the San Pablo Bay Trail along the shoreline of Hercules and Rodeo. Starting from the Orinda BART station, avoided the Oakland hills and transitioned into a quite scenic route to Martinez along the aptly named Carquinez Scenic Drive, which incorporates a bike trail as well. Only 3,000 feet climbing along a 50-mile course.
Joining me was Tony Ng, who has now healed up from a crash he had on June 13th. As planned, we took the 0923 train from Fruitvale and started from Orinda heading North on San Pablo Dam Road. We passed quite a few cyclists along the way, taking care to wait for lulls in traffic when doing so. Entering town at Mile 7, SPDR is being partially milled and resurfaced, but we did not have to ride the rough pavement very long, since there was a turnoff to Castro Ranch Road at Mile 7.7.
The route continued through El Sobrante on quiet roads, until we encountered the first bike trail at Mile 12.8. We saved ourselves a short detour through the Hercules suburbs, since a section of bike trail had just opened. The shoreside excursion continued all the way to Mile 15.7, the terminus of the San Pablo Bay Trail (SPBT). After traversing about 50 feet of dirt track, we came to a gate I had previously seen from satellite imagery and on Google Street View. Thankfully this gate was only held closed by a short section of bungee cord, and Tony and I were able to proceed unhindered.
Back on San Pablo Dam Road, we made our lunch stop in Port Costa at Mile 22. Temperatures until then were in the mid 80’s and I announced the pace would be reduced, as the majority of climbing would lay ahead. It was only as of Mile 31, that we recorded 90-100 degrees, by which time we had ridden the Carquinez bike trail, transited through Martinez and were on Alhambra Valley Road. The only real test was the 1-mile climb up Reliez Valley Road with some 10 per cent pitches. Tony was massaging his thigh muscles, since he feared he might cramp. I believe he was not getting enough electrolytes, because he carried only water in his bottles and was using some powder as a supplement.
After a rapid downhill, we joined up with the Lafayette/Moraga Regional Trail and made our final rest stop in Moraga Commons Park at Mile 45. This trail is mostly shaded, so we did not experience any noteworthy discomfort in the elevated temperatures. I made certain to always be in sight of Tony as we traversed the final few miles to the Orinda BART station. We were fortunate that we had not planned exiting the train further North on the Antioch line, because track replacements are being made on six consecutive weekends and connections to Lafayette and beyond are by bus during those times.
We averaged 14.6 mph and arrived in Alameda before 1500 (3 P.M.). The route is beautiful, with varied terrain and a nice mix of road and trails. It was easy to navigate, though it took me quite some time to plan for it properly, since certain satellite shots showed many trails still under construction. I have learned that even Google Street View may show dated images, so one must plan for detours. I plan to do this ride again soon. It is well worth the total of 45 minutes on the BART.
It was a good day for a ride. I've gone on several rides around San Pablo Dam road, but this one was unique and more enjoyable for its variety.
Ralph and I left Moraga Bart and rode San Pablo Dam Rd towards Pinole. Ralph led us through the suburbs and shared pedestrian/bike path that ran alongside the rail tracks. We climbed the road along the refinery and then descended to Port Costa for coffee and cake. We climbed some more to take in some nice views of the delta, followed by a descent to Martinez. I was drained after climbing the last hill in Pleasant Hill. My legs began to cramp on the way to Lafayette. I started to slow down as we made our way back to Moraga.
It was still a lot of fun. Thanks for leading Ralph.
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