Distance: 42 miles Time: 4-5 hours Difficulty: Medium Elevation Gain: ~1600ft Road: Mostly away from car traffic with 5 miles of dirt and gravel road Landscape: Industry and Conservation
This long medium route covers the majority of the San Francisco Bay’s eastern shore, taking you through industry, ecological reserves, suburban sprawl, and across the Dumbarton Bridge to Stanford University. Being mostly flat, this route is perfect for riders who want to go far and see much without having to tackle too many hills.
A few notes to help you prepare: Approximately 5 miles of dirt and gravel road are on the Hayward Shoreline of this ride. You may venture inland to avoid them, but you will miss an incredibly scenic tour of wetlands, migratory birds, and crashing waves. I was fine on 700×23 tires, but it doesn’t hurt to use fatter ones.
You have your pick of restaurants once you reach University Ave in Palo Alto. I was craving spice and carbohydrates, so I opted for Darbar (129 Lytton Ave). The service was classy, the flavor profiles robust. Naan and rice come with your entrees. There is a very non-traditional beef samosa on the menu, which I didn’t try. Conveniently, the restaurant is located one block from the Caltrain station.
START at West Oakland BART, exit SOUTH on Mandela Pkwy. In0.2 miles, Mandela Pkwy becomes 3rd St. Continue reading →
This easy 16 mile ride out and back takes you along the rolling and bumpy hills of the West Shore Trail of Lake Chabot, through the strip malls of Castro Valley, and out to Val’s Burgers in Hayward. Total roundtrip elevation gain is 1,000 feet. The short trek is a half-and-half mix of solitary natural environments and dusty suburban sprawl. Bring a lock and some cash for Val’s.
On Lake Chabot, you’ll be sheltered from the sun by trees, and the only major obstacles you will encounter are pedestrians and children. Proceed slowly around sharp turns, and take special care within 1 mile of park entrances, where there is a denser population of families. There are only a few stretches of paved roads on the West Shore Trail and East Shore Trail. Bring your fat tires for dirt roads if you want to do a loop around the reservoir.
In Castro Valley, you will be in traffic with cars, despite the fact that Google Maps indicates bike paths. There is no shoulder here, and the roads are pockmarked from ongoing construction. We took up the entire right lane, and cars were respectful and safe when passing.
Val’s Burgers is for omnivores – and boy howdy is it tasty! They make a well-seasoned fresh patty and have some fantastic condiments to go with it. The huge fat fries were definitely the shining star of sides. Open since 1958, they have preserved the 60′s diner feel with vintage signs, neon lights, red and chrome bar stools, and a machine that can dish out up to 12 milkshakes at a time!
The decision to eat a burger was not without some guilt about about the environmental footprint. In the end, I justified it by the fact that I bike or take public transit almost everywhere, eat mostly vegetarian, and haven’t had a burger for almost a year.