October 24, 2010

Grape Stomp Half Marathon

We ran the Grape Stomp Half Marathon in Livermore today for the second year in a row. Just as before there was also a 5k and 10k. The course was the same as last year, it started on the grass of Robertson Park and took you through Livermore on the Arroyo Bike Trail into Shadow Cliffs in Pleasanton and back. The  majority of the course was paved with a few areas of dirt and gravel mostly in Shadow Cliffs. There were very few hills. Weather was very cool to start and rain was in the forecast, quite different weather than the year before. Aside from a few sprinkles the rain stayed away until most of the racers were done.  There were about 4 or 5 aid stations along the way complete with water and Gatorade and one station had energy gels. Entry fee for the Half Marathon got you a finishers medal, performance fabric T-shirt and post race snacks. Post race snacks included orange slices, bagels and pound cake but the drinks were disappointing again this year. There was no bottled water and we couldn't find any cups to get water from the drink cooler.  The best part of the race was that the course was mostly on a designated trail and not on the street.

 Race Website

October 17, 2010

Devils Punchbowl Hike

We were in Southern California for the weekend and didn't want to miss an opportunity to hike. We had heard that hiking in Devils Punchbowl Park was a must do so we headed out to hike Devils Chair Trail. It was overcast and the forecast called for a chance of rain but we took the risk and made our way to the park. We were glad we did because the sky got clearer as we got closer. Once there we parked in the large paved lot among a few other cars. We stepped into the nature center for a trail map and met one of the nicest park employees ever. There were also some live reptiles and arachnids in cases. We explored the area around the center before setting out on our hike and saw a pit toilet and a good sized picnic area surrounded by trees. There were also owls that had been rescued from various places such as a home construction area. They have all imprinted on humans so were not impressed by us at all. We snapped some pictures and then headed out on the trail. The start of the trail is just by the parking lot and is marked by a sign to Burkhart Trail. We signed in on the sign in log and made our way up the soft dirt trail. We hiked behind a water tower and then came to a wide fire road. We continued on until we reached a fork in the trail and headed left onto Devil's Chair Trail. Once off the fire road the trail quickly narrowed.  We followed it along a cliffside with views of Punchbowl Canyon. With just under a mile left to Devils Chair we caught a glimpse of it. The trail climbed for most of the rest of the way. Just a short distance from the chair the trail became rough and rocky and we had to watch our steps carefully.

We finally made it to Devils Chair and found two other hikers already there. There was plenty of room for all four of us at the overlook. The view from here was amazing. We could clearly see the Punchbowl from here, which is a canyon where two faults come together causing rocks to jut up vertically from the ground. After several minutes we were alone at the overlook and were able to enjoy it alone while we snacked. The weather was nice and cool with a light breeze. After snapping our pictures we headed back on the trail. We retraced our steps towards the trailhead, passing a few groups of hikers along the way. The trail was far from crowded that day. After 7.4 miles we were back at the nature center. We made one more stop at the owls before leaving the park. The hike took us just under three and a half hours with 1000 feet elevation change. The weather ended up being perfect for the hike and with the great views we can see why this is a must do in Southern California.

October 9, 2010

Wheels for Meals Ride

We missed the Wheels for Meals Ride last year but didn't want to miss it again so this year we headed out to Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area. Proceeds from the event benefit the Meals on Wheels Programs in Alameda County. After paying our $6 entry fee for Shadow Cliffs, we parked in one of the paved lots. We made our way over to the check-in desk to check in for our ride. There was no same day registration for the event. There were three routes this year, a 15 mile ride, a 35 mile ride and a 70 mile ride. We did the 15 mile ride and pre-registered online for $25. To avoid a mass start each route was given a designated hour to be able to check in. For example, we could check in between 9am and 10am. Once checked in we received our bib for our bikes and a color coded wristband that matched our route markers on the ride. The wristband for the 15 mile ride was green so we followed the green route markers on our ride. There was coffee, water and bagels at the check-in station as well. We made our way through the parking lot and up our first hill to get out of Shadow Cliffs. We headed east on Stanley Blvd. and then made a few turns to ride through quiet residential streets of Livermore. At 5 miles we reached our first rest stop at Charles Borromeo Church. The volunteers here were very enthusiastic and friendly. There was water, gatorade, fruit, candy and trailmix. After a quick break we headed back on our ride. After about one mile we were riding through vineyards and up a few short hills.

We descended for about two miles on the Vineyard and Wetmore bike paths before we reached our second rest stop at Sycamore Grove Park. This stop was "Fiesta" themed with music and sombreros. Again there was water, gatorade, fruit, jerkey, peanut butter sandwiches and trailmix. We enjoyed the shade for a short while before heading back on the ride. We took East Vineyard Avenue for most of the remainder of the ride through some beautiful scenery before making our way back to Stanley Blvd. We rode on the bike path to the finish and as we entered Shadow Cliffs there were volunteers cheering us on. We made our way back to the Lakeside Picnic Area where they provided a great BBQ for all participants, complete with dessert. We picked up our T-shirts and with our full stomachs slowly rode back to our car to head home. It was a great ride benefiting a great cause, we would definitely do it again. The weather was perfect, warm but not hot. We were impressed with how organized the fairly new event was. Can't wait for next year.

Pit Stop #1

Pit Stop #2

Post Ride BBQ

Post Ride BBQ

Wheels for Meals Website
Alameda County Meals on Wheels Website

October 1, 2010

October Events

Here are a few things going on in October

10/2   YMCA Homefront Run 5k and 10 races at Richmond Marina
10/2   2010 Canyons Century in Sonora
10/2-10/3  Seismic Challenge Cycling Event in the San Francisco Bay Area
10/3   Bridge to Bridge 7k and 12k races in San Francisco
10/3   Mount Diablo Challenge timed bike ride
10/3   Urban Cow 5k and Half Marathon races in Sacramento
10/3   Princess Promenade Fitness Festival in Sacramento with running and cycling events
10/9   East Bay Pride 5k and 10k races in Oakland
10/9   Loop the Lake 5k race in Lodi
10/9   Homecoming 5k Fun Run in Dublin
10/9   Wheels for Meals Ride in Livermore
10/10 Happy Fish Run 4 Education 5k and 10k races in Fremont
10/16 UOP 5k Tiger Dash race in Stockton
10/16 Biketoberfest Bike Expo in Fairfax
10/16 REI Berkeley 35th Anniversary Celebration
10/16 Veterans Muddy Run 5k race in Lodi
10/16 Rocky Ridge 5k and Half Marathon Trail Runs at Las Trampas Wilderness
10/17 NIke Women's Half and Full Marathon in San Francisco
10/23 Los Vaqueros 5k, 10k and Half Marathon Tarantula Runs
10/23 P.U.M.P. It Up 5k and 10 races in Lodi
10/24 Grape Stomp 5k, 10k and Half Marathon races in Livermore
10/24 Sunday Streets bike event in San Francisco
10/30 Race for Literacy 5k and 10k races in Concord
10/31 Four Bridges Half Marathon in Folsom

REI Free Clinics (all at 7pm)
   Explore Death Valley
     10/5  Stockton
   How to Clean and Lube Your Bike
     10/6   Brentwood
   Tips for Running a 5k to a Marathon     
     10/14 Brentwood
   California Rocks: Geological Tour of the Bay Area
     10/19 Fremont
   Snowshoeing 101
     10/19 Stockton
   Travels with "Meadow" Car Camping Journey
     10/21 Brentwood
   Free Bike Repair Clinic
     10/26 Stockton
   Perspectives on Climbing
     10/25 Saratoga
     10/26 Berkeley
     10/27 Concord
   Top 10 Adventures to do now: Bay Area and Northern California
     10/20 San Francisco
     10/28 Mountain View