Time for another installment of Beej's Lincoln Highway Rides!

Map: http://g.co/maps/tdr9p

This one is from the Jack London Square ferry terminal (that ran to the Ferry Building in San Francisco), down the 1913 route to Livermore. This is another ride through huge amounts of urban sprawl that I can now say I did and not have to do again.

I rode via freeway to Oakland to start off at the west end of Broadway, which is the historic ferry area. From there, it's east on Broadway to 9th, south on 9th to Harrison, east on Harrison to 13th, and then around the west edge of Lake Merritt (which used to be an estuary crossed by several rail bridges) and south on International Boulevard.

Of course, I got immediately disoriented, and had to stop and consult the map. (Hooray for Google Maps and their “my maps” overlays which work so well on Android phones!) Ah, I was supposed to be a couple roads back, so I popped over there.

Mistakenly, at a stop sign on an uphill, I made a second-gear start. And the engine was killed. Coasting along, I hit the starter. It turned over, but didn't catch. So I pulled over, and tried again. Same. I did not insist.

Ok. So helmet off, gloves off, phone out. First things first: send a text to Annie saying, “I'm in Oakland, my bike is dead, and I'm screwed!” Now, this wasn't technically true, but it got Murphy's Law working on my side, since if I sent such a message, my bike was bound to start and make me look foolish. I wasn't in a particularly bad part of Oakland, but I wasn't where I wanted to be, either.

Secondly, I checked obvious stuff. Kill switches seemed OK (I'm sure there were no animals in there), fuel lines were hooked up, gas was pretty full, fuel selector was ON. Sparkplug wire seemed in. I didn't check the air filter, but I just assumed it hadn't ingested a pigeon. The choke adjuster screw had come loose from its stopnut. I adjusted and tightened it, but I don't think that was related, since the bike hadn't been idling as if the choke was open—it probably had no effect.

Hmmm. Could it have flooded by having been turned over by the momentum of the bike before I got the clutch in? The old Dodge Dart would flood from time to time, and dad always told me to wait a bit. Would having waited five minutes make a difference? I hit the starter once more—and it sputtered to life! A second later, it was idling as if nothing had happened. Only later did I read that the procedure for starting a flooded motor was wide-open throttle (perhaps with the gas turned off), but I supposed I would have tried that eventually.

Annie texted back to see if I needed a ride. Not yet; thanks, Murphy!

Well, this Friday is Doc Wong's bike maintenance class—I'll ask The Learned for ideas on what happened.

Anyway, back on International. This road heads south through Fruitvale, which I'd never been to before. Later Ash explained that it was because so many people get shot there, but this was a fine sunny Sunday afternoon, so I figured it was unlikely. In town, International turns into a divided wide tree-lined boulevard, with little shops packed on either side. It still stops short of quaint, but really it's quite nice. There was a lot of traffic and going was slow.

Eventually International hits High Street, where I turned left. Technically, from Lake Merritt down to this point, I'd been on a “newer” stretch of the Lincoln Highway, I think from 1924. The 1913 route followed Foothill north from High Street up to Lakeshore Avenue, but this is one-way the wrong direction near the lake, so I'll have to do that stretch later. I bounced up High and turned right on Foothill toward Hayward.

Little-known fun-fact: Hayward was Haywood for a while in the mid 1800s. I'm guessing it was some sort of Bronx accent mixup, but really who knows.

But first I had to ride Foothill to MacArthur through San Leandro. Once upon a time, this was all grass and farms, but now it's all concrete and houses. This bit of town definitely had its dubious “moments” and was not entirely friendly. I was glad the bike wasn't deciding to stop there, but it probably would have been fine.

I did have to make a map check, so I pulled into a cul-de-sac that looked like it had relatively modern housing and nice cars, and pulled off a glove and checked the phone. I was on track, so I put it back in my pocket and looked up—shirtless people were starting to pop out of front doors, doors which I now noticed had steel gates on the front of them. They appeared to take an interest in what a man on a sputtery motorcycle with a lime safety vest and yellow helmet would be doing in their midst.

They'd have to keep wondering—I was outta there.

After MacArthur, the old Lincoln Highway disappears under 580, and that gave me some happy freeway time. It was a welcome break from the sprawl. Foothill pops out again on the east side of 580, and can be ridden for a short while, but then it vanishes again under the 580/238 interchange. Riding surface streets around it, you can rejoin it to drive into Haywood—er, Hayward.

The Lincoln Highway gets very close to downtown, turning left on A Street (due to construction, this is currently a “San Francisco left”.) This is the first hint you get that you might be getting into the countryside, since A Street crosses the still-uncovered San Lorenzo Creek and gives you a taste of this “nature” you've heard so much about.

A Street forks and you bear right on Grove Way. My bladder was urging me to bear right at the Chevron, as well, so I did. I topped off the tank for five bucks, and used the bathroom.

Now this was the first time that the bike had been shut off since its little incident at the beginning of the ride. It had been humming right along since then, so I had high hopes, but this was The Moment. At least I was in a better part of town should I have to leave the bike or whatever.

It started, no problem! Yay! That means “keep riding”!

Grove Way goes under 580 (a motorcycle cop was hidden in the nook in the underpass—watch out!) and then you turn right on Castro Valley Blvd to head up in the hills.

I'm not sure if the original alignment was under where Castro Valley Blvd is now, but I'm pretty sure from the old maps that it actually turned on what is now Old Dublin Road. Old Dublin is sliced in two by the much-newer Five Canyons Parkway, and Google shows the upper portion (incorrectly) as Barnhill Lane. The lower portion of Old Dublin goes under 580, across San Lorenzo Creek on an old bridge, and then dead-ends in a modern driveway. The old maps show it continuing around the hill and then across San Lorenzo Creek again to where Castro Valley Boulevard is now. The creek is smothered by 580 today, emerging from a tall, arched pipeway under thousands of tons of roadbed.

Turning back, I continued into the hills on Castro Valley Boulevard. This is a modern, wide, sweeping secondary roadway of the highest quality, and was exactly not what I was looking for. Mercifully, it ends soon enough when you turn right on Palo Verde Road. Now this is what I was looking for. It's tree-lined and narrow, with farms and sheep and fields and everything. It sweeps up on the flank of a small hill, past trees and green grass and flowers, and then down to—Castro Valley Boulevard again at 580.

Well, it was fun while it lasted.

The original alignment from here meandered under what is now 580, so the closest you'll get is the Dublin Canyon Road frontage. This is as-expected along the freeway, but it takes leave of it on the outskirts of Dublin and turns south a tad. And then you're back in the farms again, with more oak trees this time, and crossing small concrete bridges that—

—Wait! What was that? The bridge had a Lincoln Highway “L” painted on the concrete wall! I turned around and parked the bike to grab a photo. Someone (or organization) had painted the classic red, white, and blue marker on the inbound side of the bridge in both directions! Yay! More proof I was on the right track!

This stretch of road was also quite a treat, and the next old bridge had the “L” on it, as well.

At that point, the road would have continued northeast to old downtown Dublin, but it is run over by 580 again. On the north side of the freeway on Hansen Drive next to the Hexcel Corp building, some remnants of the old road are apparent. (Hexcel builds industrial carbon fiber composites, in case you were wondering.) From there it heads east on Dublin Boulevard, around the curve, down to Dublin Court, before getting sucked under 580 again.

Along this way, I drove past plenty of signs that said “Historic Downtown Dublin”, but feel that I must have missed it.

I jumped on the freeway and headed east. Somewhere under the 12 lanes of 70 MPH superslab was the old bumpy 1913 roadbed, beyond reach.

The next exit to take was Airway, though in the future the Isabel offramp would be better. Once Airway goes past Isabel and then loops back up to touch the freeway again, that's where the old Lincoln Highway ran.

At that point, I noticed an old road cutting back into a grove of eucalyptus trees behind a cyclone gate. Was this the old alignment? I'm not certain, but I hope it was.

Now it was time to get into Livermore. Airway turns into Portola, and then you make a very important right on L Street. On the left is Duarte Garage Museum, built in 1915 along the Lincoln Highway! Sadly, it was closed at the time, but I'll have to be sure to stop back in later.

URL: http://www.livermorehistory.com/Duarte%20Garage/Duarte%20Garage.html

Turning left on Pine/Junction, the Highway continues to a T-intersection, and then goes left on Old 1st Street. This route is now cut short is now cut by a rail line, but continues on the far side as Gardella Plaza.

Turns out Adam was in Truckee, so he couldn't meet up while I was in town. Py was in town, but his phone had unfortunately been left in his car, so he didn't get my message in time—a pity since he lives just a couple blocks off the Lincoln Highway. I rode out on First Street back up toward 580.

Along the way, three Harleys pulled up alongside. One had music thumping away, and all of them had loud exhaust. The bikes looked great. I'm sure they were showing off, pulling up next to my faded pink tweety KLR and safety vest, but it's all in good fun. Plus, I'm KLR, so I don't give a shit what your bike looks like. ;-)

Or what I eat, for that matter. I stopped in for a deluxe snack of two bean burritos from Taco Bell.

And that was the end of the Lincoln Highway portion of this adventure! Of course, the highway continues, going over the hills on old Altamont Pass Road, but that'll be another day.

Getting back, I took country roads north of Livermore and a bit of 680, went through Moraga, and snaked over the East Bay hills on Pinehurst Road. The next major city I have to go through is Sacramento, where the Lincoln Highway basically forms a four-way intersection at the Capitol, so that's going to be quite a bit of city riding. But from there out to the Nevada border, there's plenty of great road in two separate routes!
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Lincoln Highway, Oakland to Livermore (3 photos)
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