On the last weekend in February, Jer and the gang were planning on doing the Niles, Sunol, Calaveras loop which is a really nice ride. The route includes a few nice climbs, Palomares, Dublin Canyon and Calaveras for a total of just under 60 miles and about 3800ft of climbing.
Since I don't have the time for long all day rides lately, I decided to do a variation of my normal 25 mile loop and hook up with them at the start of theirs for the Palomares climb. The route from my house to Fremont is completely flat and since I started fairly early there was no wind. This allowed me to make really good time and I actually averaged about 18mph for the first 8 mile segment.
After hooking up with the gang at Niles, we headed out and up Palomares. It's amazing to me the number of riding areas we have here locally where you feel like you're anywhere but within the city limits. At this time of the year, Palomares is a tree laden canyon, shrouded in lush green beauty and dripping with cool wet shade. This is a wonderful environment for climbing and Bob, Leticia, Bill and I chatted easily as the road slipped by beneath us...
At this point, I had to turn around and head home while they hadn't even finished the first quarter of their ride. Where the cool shaded climb had been a relief and actually enjoyable, the descent was downright cold. I'm not sure if it's because I was born and raised in California and expect it to be warm all the time, or just that I don't always think things through, but this morning I had thought about and decided against bringing a jacket. My thinking was fine for most of the ride and it wasn't until this one section that I really stopped to think about it....it is February after all....I really should have brought a jacket.
The upside is, the fear of being run over usually motivates me to some pretty spirited riding and I definitely turned myself inside out trying to get through there. Eventually, I made it back to Mission Blvd and the long slog back home. The funny thing about Mission Bl is that no matter when I ride it, morning, afternoon, middle of the day....no matter when, it always feels like there's a headwind.
The other thing about Mission Blvd is that it's actually in pretty good shape. Nice wide shoulder, fairly new and smooth pavement and they keep the shoulder clean of debris....at least from Fremont through Union City and all the way up to the Hayward border....once you get there, things take a turn....for the worse.
At exactly the point where Mission leaves Union City the smooth pavement stops, the shoulder gets narrow and evidently the City has gotten rid of all it's street sweepers because the amount of glass and debris raises the challenge of the ride to all new levels as I try to maintain my cadence, keep up my speed and play dodge the junk in the road.
Eventually, I turned off of Mission on to Industrial Bl which has the same crummy shoulder conditions, but thnakfully less traffic on a Saturday. Pulling back in to the house I ended up with 34.5 miles and 1500ft of climbing. Not a huge day, but definitely a nice ride to be able to do in a couple of hours leaving from my doorstep.