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  1. Cycling

    2013 05 23 cycling


    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.

    20-40 km

    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. April 2014 - El Cerrito-Davis 200K was my first century! (132 miles)

    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.

    Davis Double Century is in my sights as well. Maybe next year I'll get on the board of the California Triple Crown.

    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           ?
       _ \<,_         /:\
    --(_)/-(_)----.../ | \
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  2. Just Ride

    2013 05 17 books


    This is a pretty good book - though it's more of a set of short little blog posts combined into a book. It's nice to read the very opinionated thoughts of someone who's been dealing with bicycles for a very long time.

    The whole time I was reading this, I felt like this is the type of stuff that my pal Jon G would have said, and in a similar style to the way he would have said it. I look forward to reading Jon's treatises on cycling in the future.

    Reading this book made me proud to and convinced me to continue to never wear clipless pedals and cycling shoes (I have toe clips), and having a kickstand on my roadie. I'm an unracer - and to quote the title of one of the little chapters: "Racing ruins the breed".

    I also learned how to corner and turn properly - which has been invaluable in my windy descents lately. Finally, I was reminded to not just count miles, because every ride counts ("No ride too short"). Also it makes as much sense to count time spent on the bike, and the amount of elevation gain, and the number of days biked, period. Thanks to my commute, this means my days biked per week stays above 5 during the most of the year in California.

    I also learned a new word: Beausage (byoo-sidj). My current bike doesn't have any, but my last laptop certainly does.

    It also felt kind of cool that the author is local. Grant Petersen founded and still runs Rivendell Bicycle Works in Walnut Creek, CA.

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  3. Cycling log

    2013 04 17 cycling


    Why do I keep a log? Read here. This log is terse, if you want longer descriptions of the rides, read my advice for cycling in the East Bay.

    2016-05-07 Grizzly Peak Century - Rode to the start to add an extra 20k and 300m of climbing. (140km, 2100m gain)

    2016-04-30 Treasure Island - rode with Sara and Kayvon - so good to see them both again.

    2017-04-01 Tunnel Road + Orinda dash - A reasonably short ride with Greg

    2017-02-25 SF Tri Club in the East Bay - Kilian invited me and it was great ride. I had to take easy since I haven't ridden any significant amount lately. (113km, 1710m gain, 7 hours) -- 2017-03-22 Direct to Orinda and back - left my water bottle there the weekend prior -- 2017-03-15 Happy Valley loop -- 2017-02-25 Pt Richmond

    2017-02-18 Pt Richmond

    2017-02-11 Pt Richmond

    2017-01-29 Ciba and back - a lovely weather ride with Greg. I stuck around for a Hawk Hill loop before heading home. First time at Ciba - great coffee!

    2017-01-16 Happy valley loop - saw Gabi hiking in Tilden.

    2017-01-13 Friday morning ride - it's been a long time since I did one of these. This time I went alone, fueling up at Bica before heading up the last bit of Broadway.

    2017-01-02 Tour the Flats - Greg and I decided to start the year off right by going all the way across the Bay Bridge. It was cold. The flats gods tried to deter our plans, and halted our progress only 1.3 miles into the ride from our rendez-vous point. But Greg fixed it with grace, and we were on our way. Only to get another flat as soon as we made it to Yerba Buena Island. Once he patched that up, we decided to reward ourselves with cinnamon rolls from Ikea for our heroism.

    2016-10-23 Happy valley loop - didn't take any snacks with me, was OK.

    2016-10-18 Social ride - With Sara and Kayvon.

    2016-10-09 Russian River 200k (modified) - Stork and I had a great day on our bikes. On the way back, we decided to get off Highway 1 and instead backtracked our morning rollout (for calmer road conditions, and at the cost of some extra climbing. This was my first ride in 2 months and it showed - I had to go painfully slow from Bodega Bay to Valley Ford, spinning in low gear without being able to provide any power.

    2016-08-13 El Cerrito - Davis 200k - a my 5 consecutive monthly 200k. Left El Cerrito at 7am and got to St Helena at noon, which is 45 faster than usual for me - but it was so hot that, despite the extra time cushion, I ended up rolling into Davis at 6pm - which is an hour longer than last time. (213km, 2472m climbing, 11 hours total)

    2016-08-12 Friday morning social ride - Danny and Jon, over Grizzly Peak (42 km, 759m gain, 1.5 hours)

    2016-08-07 Bay Trail - Oakland to Fremont with Jon - beautiful day, the mixed terrain was very welcome. (90km, 137m gain, 5 hours)

    2016-08-05 Friday morning social ride - just Danny and I, took Claremont. (40km, 678m gain, 1.5 hours)

    2016-07-23 Happy valley loop - good to be back on the bike, it was a hot one. (57km, 1062m gain, 2.5 hours of saddle time)

    2016-07-10 Cloverdale to SF 200k - Stayed up front at the beggining and got a chance to ride with some fast riders through the first two controls, and then from just before Sir Francis Drake climb. (202km, 1694 gain, 8 hours 40 minutes)

    2016-07-09 Boonville Lollipop 300k - My first 300k! (310km, 3188m gain, 14 hours 56 minutes)

    2016-07-07 Hawk Hill with Janet! We saw whales when we stopped part way down the descent.

    2016-07-03 Return to Reliez - haven't ridden on Reliez Valley Rd for over a year, maybe two... Decided to correct that today. (73km, 1463m gain, 3 hours 40 minutes)

    2016-07-01 Friday with Jon - had a good conversation about 3D modeling tools, and a possible stealth project... (52km, 860m gain)

    2016-06-25 Russian River 200k - what a lovely ride! (205km, 2026m gain, 9 hours 25 minutes)

    2016-06-24 Friday with Danny and Jon - good thing I did this ride, because the only water I had at the start of the 200k the next day was a single mostly full bottle from this outing.

    2016-06-11 Happy valley loop - Saw a gorgeous Stellar's Jay in the woods, and two young deer on the Wildcat on the way back. (57km, 1062m gain, 2.5 hours of saddle time)

    2016-05-22 El Cerrito - Davis 200k - a solo ride, the second in my quest for my first R-12. Took a bunch of photos. (213km, 2472m climbing, 10 hours total)

    2016-05-12 Bike to Work day! A sweet leisurely ride from the office to Hawk Hill (my first time there) with Danny and Janet. Danny and I rode the ferry from Oakland, so I had another 13km before the SF portion of the ride. Danny has a few photos on his Strava (56km, 650m gain, 3 hours)

    2016-05-08 Bear-y Happy Nice and foggy morning ride, fueled by Doughnut Dolly! (75km, 1174 m gain, 3 hours)

    2016-05-01 Grizzly Peak Century - Spontaneously ended up riding with Mark within the first few miles, and after meeting at the first rest stop, we rode most of the 110 mile version of the ride together at a brisk pace. The conversation sure made the miles go by a lot faster. Also bumped into randonneurs Rob Hawks and Barb who volunteered separate rest stops - nice to see familiar faces. (190km, 3101 m gain, ~ 10.5 hours total)

    2016-04-30 The ride of two Pauls - I took Paul The Elder on his first ride in the East Bay. It was a beautiful morning, which we started at Semifreddi's. I had to ditch Paul at the top of Happy Valley to head home, but he was a good sport about it. (56km, 1062m gain, 3.5 hours of saddle time)

    2016-04-29 Another Friday with Danny - Danny and I took on Grizzly Peak - I returned home the more direct way, opting out of the extra climbing. (33km, 579m gain, 2 hours)

    2016-04-16 El Cerrito - Davis 200k - a wonderful day for a ride (213km, 2472m climbing, 9 hours of saddle time, 10 hours total)

    2016-04-10 Happy LaMo return via Arlington again - the weather kept me from leaving earlier in the morning in trying for Mt Diablo. Climbed around Albany Hill when I got back just to add a little extra. (57km, 1062m gain, 3 hours of saddle time)

    2016-04-03 Longer training ride, the 200k is only two weeks away, so I extended my usual loop by going through Moraga. Pleasant sounds of bubbling creeks on Redwood Road: delightful. (88 km, 1720m gain, 4.5 hours)

    2016-04-01 (Anti) Social ride - Danny slept in, so I took on Grizzly Peak by myself. (42 km, 759m gain, 2.5 hours)

    2016-03-26 Happy LaMo return via Arlington - trying to get ready for the El Cerrito-Davis 200k (57km, 1062m gain, 3 hours of saddle time)

    2016-03-25 Friday with Dmatt - Danny and I decided to take on Grizzly Peak. (42 km, 759m gain, 2.5 hours)

    Wildcat Only - wow, not

    Friday with Dmatt

    -- 2016-01-23 A run - ran to El Cerrito BART station, then the North Berkeley one, once around UC Berkeley campus and back. 16.7km, 222m gain -- 2016-01-15 Tunnel Road to Claremont - Danny was freezing, Jon's back tire had a slow leak, but we still got out there! I wore a jacket and was much warmer. (40km, 678m gain, 1.5 hours)

    2016-01-08 Tunnel Road to Claremont - with Jon, I was very cold, was shivering at Fourne for quite a while after the Claremont descent. Jon and I came up with and idea for an electronics project. (40km, 678m gain, 1.5 hours) 2016-01-01 Wildcat Only - wow, not cycling for two months really made me weak... The cold temperature (5-7°C / 41-45° F) didn't help. (31km, 560m gain, 2 hours)

    2015-10-25 Happy LaMo return via Arlington - saw one turkey doing a pretty dance for another turkey... in the middle of the road... Turkey's aren't very smart, it turns out. (57km, 1062m gain, 3 hours of saddle time)

    2015-10-30 Tunnel Road to Claremont - Jon, Danny, and I. Saw some turkeys, one of whom had beef with us and took it out on the car behind us.

    2015-10-25 Happy LaMo return via Arlington (2.5 hours of saddle time)

    2015-10-16 Tunnel Road to Claremont - Just Danny and I today.

    2015-10-10 Winters 200k - continuing my tradition of forgetting to put water in my bottles before rolling out - rode 'dry' and ended up filling them at the first control (38km into the ride). For the first half of the ride, I somehow ended up in a group with 2 anciens and 2 anciennes (Robert, Barry, Kris, and Renee). Having done only two 200k rides before this, I was actually surprised to keep up with them for as long as I did. We got to the Winters control (93km) at 10:10 - I was aiming for 10 hours which would have only put me there a bit before noon. The cardiac hill climb is where I couldn't keep up anymore, though our paths still crossed at the next control (124km) - but I decided to sit and cool off for a bit as they rolled out from there (and finished exactly an hour before me). I was pretty much alone for the second part of the ride, which is too bad, because the headwind was quite strong and took a lot out of me, but I'm happy with my performance. (Photos from an SFR member) (200km, 2266m gain, 9 hours, 28 minutes)

    2015-10-04 Willow Ave Park and Ride Scoped out the Winters 200K start control for next week. (51 km, 460 m gain, 2 hours)

    2015-10-02 Tunnel Road to Claremont - All of us again (Sara, Kayvon, Danny and Jon) - met up at Blue Bottle this time. Fournée post-ride stop again! (40km, 678m gain, 1.5 hours)

    2015-09-27 Pt Reyes Station loop with Danny and Stork! Danny's longest ride ever - but he paid for it with two flats. I played with staying in the big gear for several of the climbs, and the new-to-me segments of the Cross Marin Trail were delightful. (150km, 8 hours)

    2015-09-25 Tunnel Road to Claremont - Our biggest turnout! Sara, Kayvon, Danny and Jon all showed up. Jon got a flat halfway up Tunnel Road. Our first time at Fournee bakery afterwards, yummy! (40km, 678m gain, 1.5 hours)

    2015-09-18 Tunnel Road to Centennial - A ride with Jon and "Hawkeye" Danny! (40km, 678m gain, 1.5 hours)

    2013-09-14 Lucas Valley Populaire: Danny's first randonneuring event, it was a really nice, overcast day. (113km, 1417m gain, 6 hours)

    2015-09-06 Happy Valley First weekend ride with Danny! (56km, 1057m gain, 3 hours)

    2015-09-04 Tunnel Road to Claremont - With Danny and Jonathan! Rode up Euclid for good measure afterwards. (40km, 678m gain, 1.5 hours)

    2015-09-01 Tunnel Road to Centennial - Sara, Kayvon, and Danny! (37km, 600m gain, 1.5 hours)

    2015-08-27 Wildcat and South Park - went for a run with Stéfan afterwards (1.5 hours)

    2015-08-21 Tunnel Road to Centennial - Just DMatt and I this time, we split off with Danny taking Centennial down, whereas I stayed on Grizzly and came down Spruce. (37km, 600m gain, 1.5 hours)

    2015-08-09 Wildcat Moraga Redwood - a good weekend ride. (80km, 1.5km gain, 3.5 hours saddle time)

    2015-08-07 Tunnel Road to Centennial - another Friday morning with Sara and Danny. Danny's first time up to Grizzly Peak. (37km, 600m gain, 2 hours)

    2015-08-03 Freestone Bread Run 200K - Awesome ride with SF Randonneurs, - here's an album where I can be seen holding a coffee at the beginning of the ride. (205km, 3km of climbing, 11 hours 45 minutes of saddle time, 3 wild blackberry pickings on the side of the road)

    2015-07-31 Tunnel Road to Claremont with Sara and Danny (DMatt's first time!). Sadly, found out that Nobolom ...

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