Sunday, April 21 in Union City, California:
My alarm rudely interrupted my sleep at 5:45, I got up, chugged down a bottle of Spiz, suited up, and rode off to the ride start at Logan High School in Union City at 6:20. The Primavera Century is the only Bay Area century that’s close enough to where I live to bike to, which is nice! I arrived at Logan at around 6:40, checked in and pinned my number on and shortly found Kristin (my riding buddy from the 2002 Solvang Double Century) and her friends Carrie and Kathryn. Riding with 3 lovely women was not an offensive proposition! 🙂 After some stretching and chatting, we rolled out at 7’ish.
This was the 30th Primavera Century, and they had a new route for 2002, heading east through Livermore & up the Altamont pass rather than the long, boring stretch on San Ramon Rd. out to Moraga of years past. The route went through the Niles district, along the peaceful Fremont foothills, past the lovely Mission San Jose, and south through Milpitas. Before too long, we headed east on Calaveras Rd., the first of 3 major climbs on this ride. Rest stop #1 (20mi) was about halfway up Calaveras at Ed Levin park. I shed my vest & armwarmers for the climb and stretched a bit. They had really yummy nutbreads, which I chowed on, and Cytomax – much better than the usual ride fare of Gatorade! One of the staffers who looked familiar asked me about my SunSpots jersey – it was Winston (a fellow Sun employee) whom I rode with on the 2001 I Care Classic. We talked for a few, and he took a picture of us.
We headed on our merry way to the infamous “Calaveras Wall.” This is a short stretch of road, but rather steep. Fortunately it was still cool’ish so we didn’t overheat. It was a beautiful climb. We saw a few riders hoofing it up the hill – not good if you have to walk a hill this early in a ride! We eventually got to the summit and enjoyed the beautiful rolling descent along Calaveras Reservoir and the Sunol Regional Wilderness. The clouds were hanging heavily over the hillsides as we passed, making it look mysterious and magical. There are some really fun corners going down Calaveras, and we had a blast. After another screaming descent past the entrance to the Sunol Regional Wilderness, the road straightens out and goes past an enormous nursery. Kristin and I were pacing along for a while, then I looked back and saw that a handful of folks had latched onto us. I pulled us along at a decent clip to Sunol and rest stop #2 (36mi). They had more cytomax, gookinade, and some super-good homemade chocolate brownies and cookies. I ditched my leg warmers as it was warming up nicely. We didn’t hang out here too long – after stretching & filling our bottles, we rolled.
The route headed north on Foothill through Pleasanton, then went across a bike bridge to Sunol Pleasanton Rd. I’d never been on this road before, preferring to stay on Foothill for most of my rides in this area. The road was pretty, but less so than Foothill. We were pacing along at a pretty good clip when the bike lane suddenly became at sidewalk level rather than road level. As I was riding near the lane stripe, I was startled to see a curb next to me where none was before. I was just about to yell something when I heard a shout and that awful sound that one never wants to hear on a ride. I looked in my mirror to see Carrie and Kathryn go down 😦 Kristin & I went back to survey the damage. Carrie had some nasty road rash on her knee, leg, and arm, and Kathryn had a large raspberry on her thigh. Kristin was extremely well-prepared and had bandages and wet wipes and cleaned Kathryn up, while I pushed their handlebars and brake levers back to where they belonged. Fortunately, their injuries weren’t any worse than they were (no broken bones , concussions, or irreparable bike damage), and after a while we set back out on our way. While we were tending to the injured riders and bikes, a bunch of other riders nearly suffered the same fate. This bike lane is horribly engineered! Whoever designed it should be bitch-slapped from here to eternity and back. An orange cone or other obvious marker would have been very helpful here. Before too long we came to a Raley’s and Kristin and Carrie went in to get some proper larger bandages for her leg & knee while Kathryn and I talked in the parking lot. There was an Oscar Meyer truck (haven’t seen those in years!), and some passing riders stopped and got a hot dog – yuk! After Kathryn was all bandaged up, we continued on our somewhat-less-merry way. The route from Pleasanton to Livermore wasn’t very scenic, with lots of traffic and a super-ugly alphalt processing plant, but we were out of town before too long on Patterson Pass Rd. A couple of turns later, we arrived at a water/loo stop at Analysystems, Inc. (mile 55). Since there wasn’t much at this stop, we only stayed long enough to refill our bottles, and un-fill our bladders.
From the water stop we went out on Greenville Rd to Altamont. The climb up Altamont took rather a lot out of me, emphasizing the lack of hill training I’d been doing prior to the ride. We plodded along at a slow pace. My energy was getting pretty low at this point, and I had 2 power gels and a clif bar to give me a boost. This is windmill country – good because wind power is to be encouraged. Bad because where there are windmills, there is wind. It wasn’t too windy today, however, and we eventually turned off on Flynn Rd. This started with some more climbing (uggh), and finished with rolling hills (which were quite lovely). Eventually we turned off on Patterson Pass Rd. for a short jaunt to Cross Rd. This too was a bit of a climb initially, but shortly became a super-fun downhill! A turn on Tesla later and we arrived at the lunch stop at the Rios Lovell Winery (68mi). Lunch was DIY turkey & cheese sandwiches, which really hit the spot, minestrone soup, and pretzels. Carrie spotted another rider in a Sun jersey, so I went over to see who it was. It was Brad, from the Sun CAAR8 team. We chatted for a few, then I went back to our table and we relaxed a bit. Carrie changed the dressing on her road rash while the rest of us stretched and got ready to roll. I heard my name again, and this time it was my friend Amy, who was arriving at lunch. We chatted for a bit, then she ate while we left.
After lunch we continued on Tesla Rd. to Concannon, heading back towards Pleasanton. This was nice rural countryside with many vineyards and other farmland. The road was level to slightly downward, and we cruised along at a good clip. A couple of turns later we were on Bernal, almost back to Foothill and then … uggh! A short, but nasty climb! I was pretty fatigued, but the hill was mercifully short, and we finally got back to Foothill Rd. in Pleasanton. I’m very familiar with Foothill, since I train there often, and we headed north at a pretty decent clip. I missed the turnoff to Laurel Creek Rd., since I’m used to taking Foothill directly to Dublin Canyon. After a block or two of backtacking, we were back on course (Carrie wisely followed the road markings and didn’t get off-course). Laurel Creek proved to be a steep and unnecessary climb (those meanies!), as it came out on Dublin Canyon, which we could have gotten to without any climbing whatsoever. At the ride finish, when we talked to the new route organizer, he said that they wanted to avoid the turnoff from Foothill to Dublin Canyon due to all of the merging traffic from Hwy 580 & 680 – fair enough. We continued climbing up Dublin Canyon, a rather uninteresting stretch of Hwy 580 frontage road, but its the only way to get where we were going, so no harm, no foul. The headwinds weren’t as bad as usual (thankfully!) and we soon turned off on Palo Verde and arrived at the 4th rest stop (89mi). As it was last year, this was in someone’s driveway. They had delicious fresh strawberries and pineapple, along with chex mix, gookinade, cytomax, and other yummies – these rest stops were superbly stocked! Amy arrived shortly after us, and we hung around for a bit until they announced that the rest stop was closing soon.
We continued on to the last big climb of the ride, Palomares Rd. This 10mi road consists of rolling hills for several miles, followed by a nasty wall, then a 5 mile downhill. The rollers were OK, but the wall really put the hurt on all of us! After what seemed like an eternity, we finally crested the hill and took a couple to regain our breath. The descent on the south side of Palomares is exhilarating, with some good rollers near the top, and some steep and sharp turns near the bottom. I passed several folks on the descent (it helps that I know the road well!), and in short order arrived at the bottom and waited for everyone else. Amy went past Kristin and I while we waited, and we had soon regrouped and headed back on the final 5 miles! We headed west on Niles Canyon Rd., a beautiful road with a horrible inconsistent shoulder, and heavy traffic. To add to the charm, a jacked-up pickup felt the need to harass us, shouting epithets at us, and waving a shirt (?!?) at Amy and her friend just up the road. Before we knew it, we were back on Niles/Alvarado Rd., through the quaint Niles district (which was hosting a TON of harleys at one of the bars), and we were back at the finish within the half hour! We checked in and got our patches, Carrie and Kathryn filled out incident reports for their crash, and we got some grub. They had really tasty veggie lasagna and bread sticks, which we greedily devoured. Amy finished hot on our heels, but she didn’t hang around. We hung around for a while and talked and generally had a good time. We got one of the staff to take group pictures, then said our goodbyes. I biked on homeward and a few minutes later was well and truly done (in more ways than one!).
This was a great ride overall! Carrie & Kathryn’s crash was definitely a low point. Kudos to them for actually finishing the ride! I don’t think I would have continued after falling like they did – what toughies! The support was awesome, the food delicious and varied, and the route beautiful – way to go Fremont Freewheelers!.
|Distance:||110.4mi (including 6 extra miles getting to & from Logan High from my place)|
|Total Time:||10h 39m|
|On-bike Time:||7h 43m|