Just this past Monday, I had driven up in the Oakland Hills coming up Sheppard Canyon and down along Syline and Tunnel Road. We got stuck behind a few cyclists, decidedly nervous on the perilous descent down to flats. There were dozens of riders heading up as we headed down and they just looked miserable. It was a cold day and the winding hills seemed steep enough to destroy the strongest legs.
But it was all an optical illusion. Today after work, I decided to tackle Tunnel Rd. myself to see what the big deal was. The big deal the view and the descent. The climb was a piece of cake. I’m not saying that because I’m getting in great shape or anything. It was just a cruise.
The ride from my house starts easy enough. It’s uphill to beginning of Tunnel Rd. But barely so. Up Alcatraz to Claremont and briefly on Ashby before it starts winding around the foothills by The Claremont. Up and up it goes, but never too steep. I pass multimillion dollar homes with spectacular views of the East Bay, San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge.
A few riders passed me on the way up, but I didn’t bother me. These guys were obviously fitter and more seasoned than me (wouldn’t be hard) and I was just enjoying the sun and the views while I tapped out a rhythm to the top. Before I knew it, I was heading downhill on Skyline on the curvy, leafy road and found myself quickly at the top of Pinehurst and Sheppard Canyon. It was so much to arrive at the top of Pinehurst without having to ride up that fucking hill.
Normally, I’m dead beat by the time I arrive there, but now, I felt totally fresh. It gave me a chance to actually to look around. What a view! You could see the pyramid of Mt. Diablo, the highest peak in the bay area. perfectly as the sun was starting to set. Really nice.
I took some pictures and steeled myself for the white knuckle descent down Sheppard Canyon. It’s funny. I can go much faster when I’m with a couple of other riders, especially if they are more advanced than me. Something about their fearlessness or a desire to stay up with them settles my nerves. But when I’m on the bike by myself, I’m much less fearless and a whole lot more careful. Maybe I just don’t want to wipe out an be alone. Who knows.
I did my best on the descent, but the straight part of Sheppard Canyon where I almost hit 41 MPH on Saturday, I was only able to muster 36. Still fun, but a little disappointing. The roads were slicker this time, but still, it would have been good to hit 41. Anyway, I made it down in one piece with no flats, and that’s all the really matters.
Ride Time 1:32:11
Max Speed 36.3
Average Cadence 61
Here’s the route map:
and the elevation: