April’s end-of-month ride

Today was the Wind Dancers End of Month Putt. There were eight of us at first: Bonnie, Karen (a new member), Jodie, Cindy (with a new Harley Road King), Laura, Laureen, June, and myself.

Boring stuff for locals:

  • Bonnie led us from the meeting place in Fremont to Niles Canyon Road (which becomes Vallecitos Rd, which becomes Holmes St) to Livermore.
  • In Livermore, we turned left (north) onto Greenville Road and then right (east) onto Patterson Pass Road.

Patterson Pass Road is definitely one of my favorites in the area. It has some nice curves, some elevation (~6.5% grade), but above all, some amazing views.

Patterson Pass Rd weaves through the Altamont Pass wind farm in the East Bay hills. The wind farm is a massive grouping of wind-powered turbines, owned by private companies who sell the electricity to the power companies. California boasts the three largest wind farms in the world: the Altamont Pass wind farm, the Tehachapi wind farm (Kern County; about 280 miles southeast of San Jose), and the San Gorgonio Pass wind farm (just north of Palm Springs).

During the summer, the wind speed through the Altamont Pass turbines averages around 22mph, with frequent gusts up to 30mph — something to keep in mind when you’re riding over the pass. Patterson Pass Road is only about 1.5 lanes wide, but fortunately for the occasional motorcycle windsurfing, it’s low-trafficked. Quite a few of the curves are blind, though, so don’t make a habit out of going wide.

I really can’t explain riding through the wind farm. If you have the choice, definitely ride it from Livermore to Tracy (west to east). It’s surreal. There’s no other way to describe it. The windmills are everywhere — thousands of them — and they’re perfectly silent. They pepper the hillsides, always spinning, looming above the road. It’s like riding across a science fiction landscape.

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