This easy 28.9 mile ride from the Mission District in San Francisco to IndoChinese food in San Carlos is a variation of the Bay Trail. Instead of taking a winding route along the airport, this inland one is easier to navigate. What you’ll miss in jet fuel fumes will probably be made up in automobile fumes before you shoot out along the bay for the last third of the stretch. Getting out of San Francisco is the most challenging part of this ride – there are three small climbs before you hit San Bruno. From there, it’s all downhill, and you can take Caltrain back from the San Carlos station. Total elevation gain is a mere 438 feet.
Don’t tell your gang about Red Cafe (2894 Mission St at 25th) – okay, maybe tell your closest brunching biker pals. The chilaquiles are out of this world! They’re a million times fresher, crispier, and tastier than the ones at the Saturday Ferry Building Farmer’s market. And a little insider tip from my friend Vincente – order the casamiento style refried beans and rice – not a lot of places in SF serve it. Add a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice, and you’ve got enough energy and protein to take you on a long ride.
Red Hot Chili Pepper (1125 San Carlos Ave at El Camino Real) in San Carlos is the end destination. Yes, they use Ghost Pepper, 3x hotter than a habanero, and the world’s hottest naturally grown pepper. Yes, we tried the Devil’s Vegetables. Yes, they were hot! It was a slow burn on the palate, with an onset of about 10 minutes before the full effects were felt. I didn’t get the heartburn I anticipated, and it was okay going through the rest of my GI tract. The Vegetable Coins in Manchurian Sauce were my favorite dish – a sweeter, earthier contrast to the Devil’s Vegetables. The decor here is a swanky modern Asian, so it felt a little funny strolling in wearing a chamois and covered in road dirt.