Looking for some variety on the Mt. Hamilton loop, I set out this morning from home (115 miles, 8,500 feet climbing) and decided to check out Hwy 84 from Livermore heading back to Calaveras Road.
Jobst Brandt used to lead us that way until I and others decided it was a bit dicey riding up Pigeon Pass (875 feet) on a narrow two-lane road with no shoulder. Around 1983 we started taking Vineyard Avenue for a time until housing development made it less desirable. Then Jobst switched to Stanley Boulevard.
A two-mile stretch of Hwy 84, or Vallecitos Road, was widened at a cost of $32 million, completed in October 2008. This stretch of Hwy 84 was built in 1931.
On the hottest day of the year so far (90 degrees in Livermore), I started the climb at around 500 feet. I remembered it as being a grind and it still is, about 6-7 percent. It’s just long enough to be annoying.
The good news is that there’s a massive shoulder, with a rumble strip on the side, but even with that there’s plenty of room. The other good news is that the descent is wide open at 34 mph. Lots of traffic though.
There’s only one narrow section of 0.14 miles just before the 680 junction. You need to take the Sunol underpass exit to put yourself on Calaveras Road. I saw a couple on tandem heading the other way.
Even with coffee and chocolate coffee beans to stave off cramps, I started feeling twitches around 58 miles, so I downed a couple of Advil and that took care of the muscles. No doubt heat was a factor.