A page about cycling in the East Bay (and the San Francisco Bay Area in general).
This started off as the sort of resource that I wish I had when visiting a new town: so hi there, out-of-towner, welcome to our corner of the world. Hope you enjoy your stay and find these resources helpful.
You need a bike, a water bottle, a jersey or a saddle bag (to store your snack, phone, patch kit). Everything else is optional.
Though I consider myself an avid cyclist, the reality is that I am only mildly so. I have not been on a ton of rides in the area, and don't know them well at all outside of the East Bay - I have yet to cycle across the Golden Gate Bridge - and the Marin Headlands (an omission I plan to rectify soon). I did mountain bike a bit in Marin when I was a kid, and rode a fair bit around the Peninsula while I was in high school. I got my first roadie the summer before heading off to UC Davis. It was a wonderfully light steel blue Peugeot from the 70s (you can see a picture of it here). I convinced (my then future roommate) Philip to get a matching white one. But it was taken from me my first year in grad school (2006). I hadn't been cycling much since, until I started up again recently. Below, you will find a concise guide to some of my favorite rides in the area. As far as my actual experiences, you can get a flavor of the rides I go on by reading my cycling log.
Here is the overview: If you want a shorter ride with a great view - I recommend this 24 km (15 mi) loop from UC Berkeley to Grizzly Peak. The ascent to Grizzly Peak Rd is steady and manageable. The road does get pretty rough when you turn off of College until you get to Broadway, but you avoid the dangerous Ashby route to Tunnel Road. Recently, I've been doing a similar ride that avoids that rough patch by going down College Ave all the way to Broadway. As an alternative option, instead of going up to Grizzly Peak, you can turn off for a slightly shorter (but really fun) descent that ends at the historic Claremont Hotel.
What's nice about these loops is that you can do them back-to-back for a total of ~50 km. But If you want to do a ride that long with more variety, read on for the longer routes.
50 km and beyond
If you have some time (about twice the time it takes to do the shorter routes above), the Redwood-Pinehurst route will take you through an incredible canyon that's filled with redwoods! You can take the loop in the other direction - Pinehurst-Redwood.
Another local favorite is the "Three Bears" ride, which has some truly scenic views all throughout (62 km, ~1 km gain).
My longest ride was the El Cerrito to Davis 200K
My previous longest ride took me half-way up Mt Diablo - the views from there are breathtaking. Can't wait to go all the way up! (115.5 km, 1825 m gain)
I haven't yet completed a century.
Here are some local ones that I have my eye on.
Grizzly Peak Century is one that goes through some of the local East Bay routes I described above.
Best of The Bay Century likewise starts off in the East Bay routes I'm most familiar with, and heads south all the way to San Jose, before returning a bit to Fremont BART station.
Foxy's Fall Century is an organized ride based out of Davis, CA, where I was an undergrad.
There are a lot of long rides listed on the Different Spokes San Francisco website. San Francisco Randonneurs run a very regular brevet series.
Routes to avoid
Ohlone Greenway: it's not fun - there are too many stops and unprotected crossings. This is a nice route to take a stroll through, on a bike it's just frustrating.
Local Bike Shops
I want to keep track of reasonable places that rent bicycles in the area (in particularly road bikes), as well as routes you should be sure to checkout (with variations, caveats, and general overview).
Missing Link Bicycle Cooperative - One can't say enough good things about this place, super friendly atmosphere. They're located right downtown Berkeley, they both sell gear and fix bikes, and even have two complete sets of tools and stands you can use to fix up your bike for free!
Blue Heron Bikes - a relatively new shop (opened in 2012), in "Westbrae" right of the Ohlone Greenway, I cycle past it every day on my commute. Soon after they first opened, I chatted with the owner, Rob, and he's a great guy.
Wheels of Justice Cyclery - The wheels of justice grind slowly, but exceedingly fine.
Bike East Bay - a very active local group (previously went by the name East Bay Bike Coalition).
Albany Strollers and Rollers - Albany, California, is a little 1.5 square mile city just north of Berkeley which I call home.
Berkeley Critical Mass - 2nd Friday of each month - departs at 6pm from Downtown Berkeley BART station.
East Bay Bike Party - a monthly evening ride.
Just Ride - my review of Grant Petersen's book.
Here's some ASCII art I made that I now use as my email signature:
_ / \ A* \^ - ,./ _.`\\ / \ / ,--.S \/ \ / `"~,_ \ \ __o ? _ \<,_ /:\ --(_)/-(_)----.../ | \ --------------.......J