I am a very new very Athena rider. I only have about 200 miles under my belt. I ride the los gatos creek and similar trails mostly because the cars on the roads worry me. I have done canada road and Guadalupe trail. Last weekend I did 18 miles from AT&T Park up and over the GG bridge and down into Sausalito outskirts. I have been branching out to roads more, and just yesterday pulled off my first commute to work from San Jose to Cupertino and back. I took Moorpark because Stevens Creek scares me even though it is more direct- wish they had a bike lane on that road. Does anyone have any recommendations for beginner routes with bike lanes or not crazy traffic in the south bay and/or peninsula? I really can't do much for hills yet. My goal is to work up to 30 miles this summer.
Any help is appreciated since I know most of you are more serious riders. Someday maybe I will get up there, but step by step.
The easiest way to learn all the best bicycle routes in your area (as well as learn how to take care of your bicycle and to ride safely) is to join a local bicycle club. The 2 most beginner-friendly Silicon Valley bicycle clubs are Western Wheelers (Western Wheelers Bicycle Club - Home Page) and ACTC (Almaden Cycle Touring Club). Both let guests (non-members) ride with them for free. Both have detailed ride schedules on their web sites that describe the length and difficulty of their scheduled rides. Both clubs offer rides that are suitable for beginners (10-20 miles with easy terrain and easy pace) as well as harder rides.
1. Stevens Creek Trail from the south end (Sleeper Ave access, or Dale/Heatherstone on the other side of 85) to Lakeside Cafe, have a snack, ride back. Pretty flat ride, need to dodge pedestrians/dog walkers/etc.
2. Stevens Canyon Road, to the dead end. Low traffic and really pretty/shaded. Start south of 280 near Foothill to avoid needing to pass the 280/Foothill interchange, say Monta Vista Park or by Cupertino bike shop. Follow the road by the (mostly empty) reservoir to the intersection with Mt. Eden/Stevens Canyon, and turn right down Stevens Canyon. On a weekend there won't be any quarry trucks, but this is more challenging with rolling hills so there's a decent amount of climbing/descending, nothing steep.
Western Wheelers is a good suggestion too, I see them around all the time.
A little further south is the Coyote Creek trail. It runs 14 miles from Hellyer Park to Cochrane Road in Morgan Hill. No cars, and essentially flat. Once you're south of Metcalf Road, it's very rural and scenic, including several covered bridge creek crossings and a model plane airport. Goaliemom and I ride it regularly; depending upon where we get on and where we turn around, it can vary from 10 to 25 miles. A short way down Cochrane in MH is a Starbuck's that makes a nice "turnaround rest stop".
Warning - there can be serious wind. In the afternoon/evening it's usually from the north, so if you start out in SJ, it's into the wind all the way home.
Great suggestions above. Also add Skyline Cycling Club to your list of things to check out. They're not as large of a club as WW, but they still host a lot of nice rides (many start at the Bicycle Outfitters in Los Altos -- check their current newsletters for ride information and route sheets): Skyline Cycling Club
Foster City Lagoon to SFO SF2G: commute by bike from san francisco to the south bay!, pretty much all of it on a MUP, flat. SF Bay Trail. With my wife, we start at the Redwood Shores Library and turn around at the Marriott across from the SFO landing runways, there's a Starbucks in the lobby and a patio lounge in the back facing the runways/bay. The degree of difficulty can be turn up if you start late morning or early afternoon, the wind will be 10-20 knots out of the NW. Coming back you need not pedal. The are innumerable places to park/start along the trail north of the lagoon if you want to shorten the ride.
Fun casual ride, great smells and scenery, peaceful, just be careful passing the MUPpets. We observe the 15mph limit.
Coyote Creek Trail is similar, but somewhat boring and hot on a hot day, freeway noise in various parts. Be careful just south of Hellyer, you may encounter guys bombing the curves on that trail.
I lead a saturday ride from Campbell Performance, we usually have beginners riding with us and head out twards almaden and cut through the hills to Los Gatos via Shannon/Kennedy. I have yet to have anyone not make it over, but it is a decent little climb.