Ride Bike!--Route Descriptions

These are roughly in the order I schedule rides, starting in March and ending in July. After July it's more random.

  1. Moraga, Pinehurst

  2. Happy Valley Road

  3. Palomares Road

  4. Bear Creek Road

  5. Mount Diablo

  6. Morgan Territory metric century

  7. The Tiburon Loop, with the Marin Headlands

  8. Mount Tam

  9. Cheese Factory century

  10. The Berkeley Hills Death Ride

  11. Highway 1, Tunitas Creek Road

  12. Tilden Park (off-road)

  13. East Bay Dead End Tour

  14. Mount Hamilton via Mines Road

Note: "Difficulty" rating is a scale of one to 10 within each category--a beginner's ride with a difficulty rating of 10 is about the most difficult beginner's ride offered, but is still easier than most of the intermediate rides.
Pinehurst Road Moraga, Pinehurst Road
RouteDistanceDifficulty
Beginner15km 1
Intermediate30km 1
Advanced50km 1
Comments: This is a simple ride, designed for groups getting out for their first ride of the year, or in some cases, the first ride of their adult life. The beginner's ride is as simple as they come, but most people seem to want to try the intermediate route, which contains one significant climb and then descends into Berkeley. The intermediate and advanced rides feature Pinehurst Road, one of the most popular cycling roads in the area. The advanced ride also travels on Redwood Road, a pleasant route down to Castro Valley and Lake Chabot. The traffic ranges from moderately heavy in Moraga, to light on Redwood Road. The civilization level is low after you leave Moraga; bring water and food.

Happy Valley Road Happy Valley Road
RouteDistanceDifficulty
Beginner13km 3
Intermediate20km 1
Advanced35km 2
Comments: This is a nice easy ride for the late winter or early spring. The beginner ride is your-mom-could-do-this easy, and the intermediate and advanced are good starter rides for people hoping to move up to more strenuous rides later. Both the intermediate and advanced rides feature the long Pumphouse Hill descent on Bear Creek Road. Traffic and civilization levels are moderate.

Palomares Road Palomares Road
RouteDistanceDifficulty
Beginner29km 7
Intermediate45km 5
Advanced75km 5
Comments: This ride is especially nice for the intermediate cyclists; Palomares is one of the best roads you'll ever find on a true intermediate route. The beginner ride is long but flat; a good way to build up saddle time. The advanced ride tacks on Redwood Road, another fun road. Traffic and civilization levels are low.

Bear Creek Road Bear Creek Road (The Three Bears)
RouteDistanceDifficulty
Beginner17km 6
Intermediate65km 8
Advanced75km 6
Comments: The Three Bears are the three climbs on Bear Creek Road, and they're very popular with cyclists. Bear Creek is featured in the Grizzly Peak Century. Not much traffic, not much civilization (bring water). The intermediate and advanced rides are especially notable.

South Gate Road, Mount Diablo Mount Diablo
RouteDistanceDifficulty
Beginner30km 10
Intermediate60km 9
Advanced80km 9
Comments: Mount Diablo is a much more dramatic climb than Mount Tam; it starts and pretty much goes up without interruption for 20 km. The views get gradually more panoramic as you go up, and the view from the top is one of the most panoramic in the world--on a clear day you can see Half Dome and the Farallons. It's mostly a grind; South Gate Road is a fairly even 5% grade, and Summit Road is a fairly even 7% grade, except for a 13% footpath at the very top. The descent is epic. You can decide when you get to the halfway point whether you want to attempt the summit, or just coast downhill to BART.

Morgan Territory Road Metric century, Morgan Territory Road
RouteDistanceDifficulty
Intermediate70km 10
Advanced103km 10
Comments: This is an astounding ride which includes two of the best roads in the Bay Area. Morgan Territory is particularly notable, with a pretty climb with virtually no traffic, and a long bombing descent on a wide-open one-lane road. Palomares Road at the end of the ride is no slouch either. There's a stretch of almost 50km, from Clayton into Pleasanton, where there is no civilization at all. Traffic ranges from nonexistent, on Morgan Territory, to heavy through Pleasanton. Plan to bring extra food and water, and to be in shape before you attempt this ride. The intermediate ride is really just a bail-out point; this route is off the scale for intermediate rides (as the number of bonks we've seen attests).

Conzelman Road, Marin Headlands The Tiburon Loop
RouteDistanceDifficulty
Beginner20km 7
Intermediate45km 3
Advanced90km 5
Comments: The Tiburon Loop is one of the most popular rides in the area, pleasant and rolling, with very little traffic once you pass through downtown Tiburon. You can also take the ferry back from Tiburon to San Francisco, which many "advanced intermediate" cyclists do on this route. Both the intermediate and advanced rides feature maybe the craziest descent in the area, on Conzelman Road. Civilization level is high, and traffic is light except going through Sausalito and into Tiburon.

Mount Tamalpais, from Berkeley Mount Tamalpais
RouteDistanceDifficulty
Beginner20km 7
Intermediate45km 3
Advanced95km 7
Comments: Mount Tamalpais is the prettiest of the three major mountains in the Bay Area, and the easiest ride. It has beautiful views of Muir Woods, San Francisco, the bay and the ocean. The intermediate ride and beginner rides are also notable; the Marin Headlands is a good start for "advanced beginners" who want to start beefier rides. Civilization level and traffic are mostly moderate.

Paradise Drive, Tiburon The Cheese Factory Century
RouteDistanceDifficulty
Beginner20km 7
Intermediate90km 9
Advanced162km 10
Comments: This 100-mile ride features a broad variety of terrain and microclimate, and a midway stop at The Cheese Factory in Marin for sandwiches and relaxation. The intermediate ride could be an easy advanced ride. The beginner's ride is a popular circuit around the outskirts of San Francisco, through Golden Gate Park and the Presidio. Traffic varies from light to heavy; the civilization level is fairly high. There aren't a lot of possible centuries around here which are easier and more enjoyable than this one. (Harder and more enjoyable is a possibility).

Lomas Cantadas The Berkeley Hills Death Ride
RouteDistanceDifficulty
Advanced60km 10
Comments: Usually organized for the same weekend as the Markleeville Death Ride, this homage to masochism heads up and down 5 of the steepest streets in the Berkeley Hills (steepest grade, over 25%). It's actually not all that bad if you pace yourself, but this ride will punish you if you try to attack it. From just about any point on the ride you can coast downhill to a BART station.

Tunitas Creek Road Tunitas Creek Road
RouteDistanceDifficulty
Advanced108km 10
Comments: The left turn from Highway 1 onto Tunitas Creek Road is the most dramatic change in ride characteristics that I know of. Highway 1 south of Montara is a flat, straight road with a tailwind--serious big-ring territory, with a lot of traffic but a wide road. Tunitas Creek is a 15km long climb with 600 meters of altitude gain, with no traffic. They're both outstanding rides for completely opposite reasons, so this route makes everyone happy, at least, everyone strong enough to do it. Once you leave Pacifica there's really no viable bail-out until Palo Alto, and after Half Moon Bay no civilization until Woodside (some 40km). If you're prepared, it's a great ride. The last 20km or so are a little dull, mostly surface streets and the Dumbarton Bridge.

Inspiration Point, Tilden Park Tilden Park (off-road)
RouteDistanceDifficulty
Intermediate40km 6
Advanced50km 5
Comments: As a non-driver, it's hard to do a lot of mountain biking, so my old Bridgestone doesn't get out too much. I'm also far too much of a wimp to ever be a serious off-road bomber. This is a nice route that's easily accessible by bike, and most of the difficult parts are uphill, which means you won't die when you fall off.

Cull Canyon Road The East Bay Dead End Tour
RouteDistanceDifficulty
Beginner20km 3
Intermediate70km 7
Advanced120km 10
Comments: The East Bay has a lot of dead end roads that are either through roads which have been abandoned, or go into a canyon or up a hill and then stop. They usually have little traffic and interesting terrain. This ride combines six of the most memorable. The beginner's and intermediate rides are pleasant and enjoyable, the advanced ride is nice but strenuous, with a lot of distance and two nasty climbs. Civilization level and traffic are both low, except on a couple of the connecting roads.

Mines Road Mount Hamilton
RouteDistanceDifficulty
Advanced130km 10
Masochistic170km 10
Comments: Mount Hamilton is the tallest peak in the Bay Area, and Mines Road, which eventually approaches it from the east, is the longest, most remote road. From the edge of Livermore to the top of Mount Hamilton is over 80km, and in all that distance there's only one establishment (the Junction Cafe). This is a scenic, quiet ride unlike any other you'll find in the area, but it's also an ass-kicker. Masochists can loop around to Fremont or Dublin BART; the easier route is to catch Amtrack in San Jose. Civilization and traffic are practically non-existent once you leave Livermore.

Last updated 10/16/04