Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Beginner's Middle East (Bay) Way Ride Report (Tuesday, 7/20)

Vital stats:
Departed 16th and Mission BART at 6:22 am, arrived San Leandro 6:54 am
Riding time: 2:28
Mileage: 35.6
Avg. rolling speed: 14.4

Summary: I really enjoyed this ride and would recommend it to anyone who wants to change things up from Bayway or Skyline. It’s exhilarating to be on a commute to work where at times you can see no other buildings or people - it makes you feel much farther away from civilization than you really are. There are 3 dirt sections - sections 1 and 3 are easier technically, while section 2 is a little more challenging. If you haven’t ridden on dirt before, this is a good introduction. Section 1 gets you used to the feel of dirt and by the time you’ve arrived at section 2, you can handle the slightly rougher terrain. I have no special tires or equipment and I was fine.

Details: We got off BART, biked for about 10 minutes and then entered our first dirt section. It was definitely dirt, but I had pictured something much more intimidating - something like the deep grooves of BTN mud, which in my opinion, share some of the same tire trapping properties as MUNI tracks.

We exited dirt section 1, rode on pavement for another 10 or so minutes, and then headed on to dirt section 2. This section was more difficult because the stones over the path were larger than on the previous section. Still this was totally do-able for an intermediate cyclist like myself. I only slipped once here - and did not fall - w00t!

Somewhere during the ride, we rode through Hayward, where there is no bike lane and a few rushed and rude drivers came within a foot of our bikes. There was very little traffic on the road though, so luckily the cars were few and far between.

In Freemont, we entered a bike path, which started as a paved trail, and then transitioned to dirt section 3. This section was similar to the easier dirt of dirt section 1. By this time, I felt comfortable on the bumpy terrain and even found it fun!

As we continued on, we took our requisite photos with the Christina Maria:

(Now I know you all want to go on this ride for your pictures w/her!)

As we finished our last dirt section, we headed across 84 surrounded by the bay. Then it was back to our familiar Bayway stomping grounds - Sun, EPA, and finally Goog.

Brett insists that I tell you that I pulled him from Sun to GOOG ;) - and this was possible because I still had lots of energy from trying a new ride! For me, this ride was easier than a Millbraeway - it’s about 5 miles longer, but we were going significantly slower. This ride is more technically difficult than our standard routes, but that shouldn’t prevent anyone from trying it out. For beginners, you may feel a little wobbly on the dirt, but let’s face it, if you do fall (unlikely), it’s not going to hurt as much as falling on the Bridge to Nowhere...not that I know anything about that. ;)

The Bottom Line: If you’ve done Bayway and Skyline, this is the next ride to put into your ride portfolio. The ride is probably best in summer when it’s drier and the mud is less muddy, so you have plenty of time to test it out before the winter rains come back. What are

you waiting for? GO!

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