264 was a fun ride. I left at 6:00 a.m. to the sounds of wild turkeys gobble-gobbling in Mountain View Cemetery three blocks away. Five minutes later, I returned to the same sounds, having left both bottles at home. In light of the upcoming four-plus-hour ride this was a prudent move. As I was leaving home for the second time, still to the sounds of gobbling, I noticed that there was enough daylight now to ride without a light. I thought this wistfully, as we were changing clocks that night, so back to lighted riding we go.
I was meeting Gary in Danville at 7:45 and now was running late, so I decided to take a shortcut and climb Shepherd Canyon. After something in the order of eight minutes of reasonably strenuous climbing, I found myself at Skyline and Shepherd/Pinehurst/Manzanita intersection, just 26 minutes into the ride, having saved all of five minutes, thus recovering the five minutes I'd wasted on my return home. As before, I grabbed the drops and resolved to ride as much as I could in that position. In that position, I rode through Canyon, Moraga, Lafayette, Walnut Creek and Alamo into Danville. In Danville, I stopped at Peet's, ordered a medium latte in a large cup. There's a reason for that order. I dump two spoonfuls of honey in the cup and top off the latte with milk, bringing the drink's temperature to just above tepid, allowing me slam this caffeinated energy drink. This time, this was unnecessary, as Gary was running a few minutes late and I had time to sip rather than gulp.
Gary arrived and we set off southbound toward San Ramon and Dublin. I went back in the drops. I'd spent so much time in that position that tops and hoods felt unnaturally high, making feel as though I were an old man on an upright beach cruiser. When we reached Dublin, we decided to explore north side of I-580. Normally, we take Dublin Canyon Road that runs parallel and south of the freeway. It's straight and utterly boring. Dublin Boulevard, west of 680 climbs and curves up a barren hillside to Schaefer Ranch housing tract at the top. The tract is unattractive, but the climb, though steeper and shorter than east side of Dublin Canyon is more interesting and at least provides an alternate route. It's also quieter and less trafficked. Dublin Boulevard dead ends, but we took Schaefer Ranch Road south, joined Dublin Canyon, and descended to Castro Valley.
We rode through most of Castro Valley, then decided to explore Cull Canyon. Cull Canyon Road is a 6.25-mile road that runs north from Heyer Avenue and dead ends almost at the latitude of the Redwood-Pinehurst intersection. Alas, it appears there are no dirt roads or trails connecting Cull Canyon with Redwood or Pinehurst, for it would make for a fun and scenic mixed terrain ride. Cull rolls gently uphill at 1-2%. There are no appreciable turns. There's much wild and farm life and a vineyard. It's beautiful, serene, scenic, and quiet. I'll ride it again soon and often. A very pleasant 12.5-mile detour. As we rode back, I remarked that it would be nice to have a car take us to Redwood Road on the outskirts of Castro Valley, where scenery was similar to Cull Canyon's. Riding through town would definitely harsh my mellow. It did -- houses, traffic lights, cars, trucks, convenience stores, teenage drivers...
Fortunately, this didn't last long and soon we were on Redwood, riding through Redwood East Bay Regional Park. We climbed and descended Redwood and parted at Pinehurst intersection. It was time for me to go home. I continued up Redwood, a little more briskly now -- I was on schedule to be over half an hour behind schedule for my return home -- then right on Skyline, down Joaquin Miller, through Montclair. A pleasant, decently long, and not too strenuous ride that left me optimistic for Solvang. If I aim for ~16 mph average speed, I should have an enjoyable ride and should be able to complete the double even without a suitably long training ride in my legs.