Have Bike, Will Ride

This month’s green issue includes a guide to 11 iconic East Bay road bike rides, each well worth exploring.


Published:

Spring is here, so on the weekends, I’ll be on my bicycle enjoying the sunshine and scenic vistas of the East Bay when I can.

That’s because I have signed up to ride in May's Wine Country Century, a lovely organized event I have joined about half a dozen times.

The best way to be prepared for a 100-mile bike ride is to practice. I used to start the season by doing a regular Alameda loop after work, anticipating with dread the afternoon headwind on Main Street by the ferry terminal and then drafting effortlessly off the wheel of my co-worker. We did a few rides to San Leandro and Lake Chabot with Team Alameda and also joined the club in tackling the Oakland hills.

My first 50-mile road bike ride was around Lake San Antonio in Monterey County with a Wildflower Triathlon veteran and her equally fit friend. I can’t recall if they lost me on Beach Hill, Nasty Grade, or Energizer Hill, but I finished alone, cold, wet, and miserable. At least I knew to keep turning left until back at the campground.

Then I met Chris Orr, one of the biking-est gals I know. She led me through San Francisco and over the Golden Gate Bridge to Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, and then on to Tiburon and Sausalito for our first excursion, a most pleasant experience. I was hooked.

No telling how many miles we have pedaled together since. Slow and steady, we persevere, sweating sometimes, shivering others. Most often she is the strong one, with me catching up on a downhill or at a stop sign. But otherwise we are well-matched. Astride our bikes we have zigzagged through the hills of Marin County, huffed and puffed alongside Sonoma County apple orchards, admired plump horses in the Sierra foothills, and marveled at the eerie moonscape of Mono Lake. We have shared ibuprofen and sunscreen, hotel rooms and BART rides, all in the name of biking. And I can count on her to plot snack and fuel stops, recall restrooms, share history, and think up ways to shorten or lengthen routes.

Largely thanks to her initiative, I have ridden all—or major parts of—the 11 great road routes listed in our feature, “The Guide to East Bay Road Biking,” and includes her take on six most-enjoyable outings. Thanks to Janet Byron, Patrick Hoge, and Kathy Hrastar for rounding out the list. See you on the road.

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