Cycling Sightseeing Trips
Every once in a while, I like taking longer, all-day rides. I ride
at a slow, relaxed pace, go sightseeing, explore new areas, and stop
frequently to eat. Several of these longer rides have been over 100
- Berkeley - Orinda - Santa Clara - Berkeley,
October 27, 1991 (129 miles)
6:00am - 12:30am, avg. speed: 11.9 mph, climb: 5450'
On this ride, I rode from Berkeley to Great America Theme Park,
and back. This was only a week after the big Oakland Hills
firestorm, so Skyline Blvd. was still closed, and I had to
take a detour through Orinda to get around Oakland.
Then it was a flat, fast cruise along the bay to Santa Clara.
The return trip, though, was slowed by a fierce headwind, and
it took me almost twice as long to get back, arriving after
- Berkeley - San Jose - Belmont,
April 1993, (101 miles)
6:30am - 6:30pm, avg. speed: 10 mph, climb: 3600'
This was a ride around the bay, from Berkeley to home. I
followed the hills behind Oakland (Skyline, Redwood Rd) to
Hayward. From there, I just followed the edge of the bay
around to the Peninsula. I got lost once in Fremont, and
took a short detour into San Mateo near the end of the ride.
- Palo Alto - Santa Cruz - Half Moon Bay - Belmont,
December 15, 1995 (115 miles)
5:30am - 8:30pm, avg. speed: 10.5 mph, climb: roughly 5000'
I took this ride to unwind, the day after my last final. The
weather was cool but clear. In Sunnyvale, just as the sun
was rising, my rear derailleur cable broke. It was still
several hours before the first bike shop opened, so I decided
to ride on a fixed gear (on the back) until Santa Cruz. This
made the climb over highway 9 a little harder, but I made it
to Santa Cruz by noon. I bought a new cable and replaced it
while watching people play volleyball on the beach. Then I
headed up the coast. Almost immediately, I encountered a
stiff headwind coming off the ocean. It kept my speed in
single digits until sunset. Then it calmed down, and I made
good time into Half Moon Bay. I stopped for dinner, and then
made the last stretch over 92 to home in Belmont.
- Palo Alto - San Francisco - Belmont,
February 3, 1996 (111.6 miles)
6:15am - 7:30pm, avg. speed: 12 mph, climb: 3520'
Twice before I had planned trips to explore SF, but both times
it rained. This Saturday was no exception, but I felt like riding
anyways. I rode there and back on the flatlands along the bay.
I saw the piers, Fisherman's Wharf, the Golden Gate Bridge,
Sausalito, the Presidio, Golden Gate Park, Lake Merced, and
Market Street / Downtown. Everything went pretty well, except
for the wet conditions and a few mechanical problems: my water
bottle cage broke, I got a flat, and my back brake pads wore down
so that I was scraping metal on the rim... (ooooops!)
- Palo Alto - Gilroy - Palo Alto,
February 23, 1996 (119.0 miles)
5:30am - 5:45pm, avg. speed: 13.6 mph, climb: 2840'
The day was pretty cold. There was frost along the side of
the road for the first several hours of the trip, and it snowed
on local mountaintops that night. However, I managed to stay
reasonably warm. I traced around the edge of the foothills around
Los Gatos and San Jose to Calero Reservoir, and from there I
followed flat farm roads to Gilroy, stopping along the way to
fix a flat. I had lunch in Gilroy, bought another spare tube,
and then headed west to Uvas Creek. Then I turned north to head
back to Stanford. There was a gentle headwind, but happily it
wasn't much of a problem. It actually got fairly warm for a
while in the grassy hills, but turned cold again by evening.
- Palo Alto - Tracy - Palo Alto,
March 23, 1996 (144.2 miles)
6:35am - 10:40pm, avg. speed: 12.4 mph, climb: 4160'
This ride had almost perfect weather. I crossed the Dumbarton
Bridge and threaded my way through Niles Canyon to quaint Sunol.
Then a tour of urban sprawl and vineyards took me through Pleasanton
and Livermore to wonderfully green Altamont Pass. A strong tailwind
made it a swift and easy ride down to Tracy, where I had lunch.
Coming back I decided to explore Corral Hollow. The lower end
had some breathtaking scenery. The upper end had some
breath-taking climbs. But finally I made it over the summit, and
coasted back down to Livermore. Coming back I took Dublin Canyon
over to Hayward, and then headed south to the Dumbarton.
- Palo Alto - Morgan Hill - Santa Cruz - Palo Alto,
April 13, 1996 (137.9 miles)
4:30am - 9:30pm, avg. speed: 11.7 mph, climb: 6170'
I left early so that I could get through the urban areas
before traffic started. It was quite pleasant. By sunrise,
I was almost out of San Jose. I turned west at Morgan Hill,
and climbed up Mt. Madonna Rd, a fun climb that turns to dirt
halfway up. At the top, I took a short detour up to the
summit, and then continued west to Santa Cruz for lunch. Then
I climbed up Mountain Charlie Rd. and cruised back down
to Los Gatos. A few miles of flatlands brought me home.
- Palo Alto - San Jose - Dublin - Palo Alto,
May 18, 1996 (119.8 miles)
8:37am - 7:32pm, avg. speed: 14.1 mph, climb: 4710'
When I left that morning, I didn't think it was going to
be a long ride. My original plan was just to climb over
Metcalf Rd. / San Felipe. However, on the way back, I decided
that I could handle a little more climbing (and a lot less traffic),
so I took a detour around Calaveras Rd. to Niles Canyon. However,
when I reached Niles Canyon, the road was closed for repairs. I
talked to the CalTrans worker at the roadblock, and she said that
bikes were not allowed through, and told me to use 680 as a detour.
When I pointed out that bikes are prohibited on 680, she
just shrugged. By this point I was tired and wanted to
get home, but there was nothing she could do to help. So
I started heading north for a three-hour detour over Dublin
Canyon, and then back to home.
- Palo Alto - Gilroy - Palo Alto,
June 30, 1996 (102.9 miles)
4:03am - 9:52am, avg. speed: 18.6 mph, climb: 1450'
Unlike most of my other rides, the main goal for this ride
was speed, not sightseeing. I wanted to see how fast I
could complete a flat century. The weather forecast
called for a hot day, so I wanted to finish the ride before
noon. I left early, and the weather was pleasant for
practically the entire trip. The air was calm, and the
temperature didn't get into the 90's until after the ride.
I set PR's (personal records)
on this ride for both 50 and 100 miles. I hit many
green lights for the first half of the ride, but had to
wait for many red lights on the way back.
- Palo Alto - Hollister - Monterey - Palo Alto,
July 13, 1996 (213.3 miles)
3:15am - 11:16pm, avg. speed: 13.7 mph, climb: 5830'
This was yet another sightseeing tour. I wanted to see if
I could do a double-century, so I took it easy and stopped
often to eat. My route took a detour through Hollister on the
way to San Juan Bautista, and then followed Hwy 101 to Salinas.
The Salinas-Monterey Highway took me to the coast, where I
relaxed a while and watched sea lions playing in the
remarkably clear water.
Back on the bike, I rode up the coast to Soquel. From there,
it was one last climb over the Santa Cruz Mountains to
Los Gatos, and then back to home.
- Palo Alto - Loma Prieta - Gilroy - Palo Alto,
August 17, 1996 (118.8 miles)
5:45am - 6:02pm, avg. speed: 12.0 mph, climb: 6350'
I climbed up Loma Prieta, as far as I (legally) could. I stopped
at the 3200 foot level (600 feet below the summit) when I
encountered a closed gate that said, "authorized vehicles only."
So I decided to continue exploring southward on Summit Road.
The next ten miles consisted of dirt road, hot dry dust,
and constant washboard bumps. I coasted down Hecker
Pass to Gilroy, and followed the flatlands back to Palo Alto.
- Palo Alto - Mount Tamalpais - Belmont,
August 24, 1996 (106.1 miles)
3:25am - 2:35pm, avg. speed: 12.3 mph, climb: 5390'
I rode the flatlands up the peninsula to San Francisco,
my headlight beam cutting through the dense pre-dawn fog.
I crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and continued on to Mill
Valley. Near the end of Blithedale Road, I caught the start
of Old Railroad Grade, a dirt road (except for two short
paved sections on Summit and Ridgecrest) that climbs up
to the peak. At the top, I turned around and came back
the same way.
- Palo Alto - Livermore - Belmont,
August 31, 1996 (119.7 miles)
4:00am - 12:48pm, avg. speed: 15.7 mph, climb: 3480'
I crossed the Dumbarton, and took Niles Canyon /
Vallecitos to Livermore (with a 10 mile detour on Calaveras
when I took a wrong turn...). From there, I took backroads
to Blackhawk. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see much of
the affluent community except for walls, gates, and security
guards (who assured me that uninvited cyclists were not
welcome on their private streets). I returned via Crow Canyon
and the Dumbarton Bridge.
- Palo Alto - Hayward - San Jose - Palo Alto,
September 14, 1996 (104.6 miles)
8:00am - 4:27pm, avg. speed: 15.6 mph, climb: 2660'
This was a fairly basic century. I rode up to Hayward,
and then took Palomares Road to Fremont. From there, I
headed south to San Jose, where I did some urban exploring.
Then I worked my way back up to peninsula to Palo Alto.
- Palo Alto - Mount Hamilton - Livermore - Palo Alto,
September 21, 1996 (138.6 miles)
2:13am - 4:05pm, avg. speed: 12.3 mph, climb: 7120'
this ride started with a pre-dawn climb up Mt. Hamilton. The
stars twinkled above, and the streetlights of suburbia
twinkled below. The sun rose, I reached the summit, and
then descended the back side on San Antonio Valley Road.
It dropped 2000' along steep hillsides covered with bristlecone
pine trees, and then continued along cattle-populated hillsides
to Mines Road, which brought me down to Livermore. On this
ride I saw a wide variety of wildlife: deer, jackrabbits,
large hawks, ground squirrels, snakes, lizards, etc. It felt
like an episode of "Wild America", sans Marty Stouffer.
- Palo Alto - San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly),
March 21, 1997 (215.7 miles)
12:15am - 7:18pm, avg. speed: 15.4 mph, climb: over 5500'
This ride was my first day of spring break. I decided to go
visit my brother in Calpoly. I took Foothill, Fremont, Hollenbeck,
Stevens Creek, and Monterey to Gilroy. Then I hopped on Hwy 25
for 60 miles through Hollister and Pinnacles to Bitterwater.
This section was fun. It was peaceful, isolated, beautiful, and
somewhat hilly (mostly the last half). Then
Bitterwater road took me over the ridge and down to King City.
From there I took frontage roads & Hwy 101 to San Luis Obispo.
Traffic was never a problem -- I was either on nearly-abandoned
(and rough!) farm roads, or on the wide (10-15 feet) shoulder of
101. Actually, 101 was a lot of fun, with the draft of the big
trucks pulling me along in the mid-20's. The only drawback was
the sections with bumpy ridges every ~15 feet (to warn sleepy drivers
that they've drifted onto the shoulder?), which rattled my
bike so hard that my Avocet 50 died. The climb up Cuesta grade
was fine (plenty of shoulder), and the trip down into SLO was a
blast. The truck speed limit is 35, which meant I could easily
pull into the slow lane and coast with the trucks.
- Around the Bay,
June 7, 1997 (224.6 miles)
12:02am - 10:31pm, avg. speed: 13.4 mph, climb: 6130'
This ride was to celebrate finishing my first quarter as a TA
for cs348b. The weather was about average for summer, but the
winds were strong for almost the entire ride. I rode up the
peninsula, across the Golden Gate Bridge, north to Novato,
northeast to Napa, east to Fairfield and Rio Vista (the southernmost
crossing of the Sacramento River), south to Antioch and Brentwood,
southeast to Livermore, and then east through Niles Canyon and
across the Dumbarton bridge back to Palo Alto. Most of the
roads were 2-lane highways. Some of them had decent shoulders
(37, 160, Vasco Road), and some of them did not (121, 12).
The wind was tolerable for most of the ride (at least with
aerobars), but the 14-mile climb from Brentwood to the 960'
summit of Vasco Road was grueling. The hills (which, incidentally,
were covered with whining power-generating windmills) funneled
the already-strong winds into a vicious 30-40mph headwind.
After the summit, the winds seemed to disappear, in comparison.
- Palo Alto - Tracy - Patterson - Gilroy - Palo Alto,
June 28, 1997 (219.1 miles)
6:15am - 1:22am, avg. speed: 15.1 mph, climb: 3590'
This ride started with a blast. As I pulled out at dawn, the
wind was sweeping in from the west. For 70 miles, as I headed
eastward, I was running with full sails before the wind. Without
even hammering I hit Livermore in under two hours, and Tracy
(59.6 miles) in almost three. Along the way, I saw two stunt
planes practicing rolls, dives, and loops over the hills outside
Livermore. As I turned southward from Tracy, I lost the
benefit of the tailwinds. I took Kasson and River roads to
Patterson, and from there took Hwy. 33 south to 152. As I
approached 152, I noticed two things: the winds were getting
stronger, and there were darker-colored hills in the distance.
As I turned onto 152, I realized that the winds were blasting
through the canyon, just like the Livermore hills. I also
noticed that those dark hills were not hills at all, but the
quarried rock of San Luis Dam. It was probably the largest
man-made object I have ever seen, and in those blustery desert-
like conditions, seemed reminiscent of the pyramids. Roughly
400 feet high in the center, the dam also appeared to be
several miles long (separated into several pieces by the
intervening hills.) I crawled my way over the pass, and
then (due to the relentless winds) crawled my way down the
other side. I stopped at
Casa de Fruta
for a reprieve from
the wind, only to discover an oasis of shade trees, green
plants, and cool ponds and fountains. They had a grocery
store, gift shop, candy shop, wine shop, and other shops that
I was too tired to explore. I sat down at a table in the
shade with a heavenly ice cream cone, and watched the kids
ride on the miniature train that went around the park. Finally,
my strength restored, I once more battled the wind until
sunset and Morgan Hill. With the darkness the winds
died, and I cruised home to Stanford.
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