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Bay Area trails for newbie?

Old 10-17-20, 05:28 PM
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Bay Area trails for newbie?

What are some good trails that are max 2 hours long for a newbie to road cycling in the Bay Area?
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Old 10-18-20, 06:50 PM
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Where in the Bay?

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Old 10-18-20, 10:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Barry2 View Post
Where in the Bay?

Barry
Hi Barry, the peninsula. SF to SJ
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Old 10-19-20, 07:15 AM
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You can start with the Bay Trail which runs quite a ways. Mostly flat so easy stuff.
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Old 10-19-20, 07:55 PM
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Originally Posted by kevsf View Post
Hi Barry, the peninsula. SF to SJ
Kev,
Sorry, we dont mix with you peninsula types.

Barry
Concord CA

But we do have a Mountain you come play with!
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Old 10-27-20, 08:46 AM
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I'm on the Peninsula too. My riding lately is about 80-90% road but hit some trails too.

When you say trails are you looking for gravel type routes or similar non-technical dirt riding? Or are you looking for good road routes for a beginner?

Bay Trail is flat, fairly and fairly easy riding. It is getting linked up so you can tailor your distance to easily create rides to meet your ability/schedule. The baylands area down from the Palo Alto Airport links up to the Bay Trail and can be a fun place to ride but it is a mixed use trail and there can be a lot of slower moving people around to watch for.

If you want a bit of climbing there is Arastradero Preserve just north of 280 that is great beginner riding on trails that are not very technical and just enough climbing to get you used to going up.

After you get used to something like Arastradero you can go up Alpine Road. There is a very easy road climb up to the trailhead and then a well used trail up to Page Mill Road that links up to a couple of other trails. At the top you can go over into Montebello Preserve or ride Page Mill Road up to Russian Ridge. This is a great area to move from beginner to intermediate riding as long as you get comfortable climbing.

For road routes there are a number of options for two hour routes. Going up to Portola Road via either Sand Hill Road or Page Mill/Arastradero Road is a great local rolling road loop. Once you get used to that you can branch off to lots of different routes to go up to skyline, Canada Road, down south to the area around Stevens Creek Reservoir, etc.

Give a bit more info of what kind of riding you like, how much climbing you are comfortable with, etc. and the advice can be more tailored to what you are looking for.
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Old 10-27-20, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by KJ43 View Post
I'm on the Peninsula too. My riding lately is about 80-90% road but hit some trails too.

When you say trails are you looking for gravel type routes or similar non-technical dirt riding? Or are you looking for good road routes for a beginner?

Bay Trail is flat, fairly and fairly easy riding. It is getting linked up so you can tailor your distance to easily create rides to meet your ability/schedule. The baylands area down from the Palo Alto Airport links up to the Bay Trail and can be a fun place to ride but it is a mixed use trail and there can be a lot of slower moving people around to watch for.

If you want a bit of climbing there is Arastradero Preserve just north of 280 that is great beginner riding on trails that are not very technical and just enough climbing to get you used to going up.

After you get used to something like Arastradero you can go up Alpine Road. There is a very easy road climb up to the trailhead and then a well used trail up to Page Mill Road that links up to a couple of other trails. At the top you can go over into Montebello Preserve or ride Page Mill Road up to Russian Ridge. This is a great area to move from beginner to intermediate riding as long as you get comfortable climbing.

For road routes there are a number of options for two hour routes. Going up to Portola Road via either Sand Hill Road or Page Mill/Arastradero Road is a great local rolling road loop. Once you get used to that you can branch off to lots of different routes to go up to skyline, Canada Road, down south to the area around Stevens Creek Reservoir, etc.

Give a bit more info of what kind of riding you like, how much climbing you are comfortable with, etc. and the advice can be more tailored to what you are looking for.
Wow! I didn't know there were that many options! When I said trail, I think I meant road routes. But can I bike on gravel with a road bike? (It's just not recommended?)

I had no idea the Bay Trails leads to Palo Alto. I thought it starts in Brisbane and ends at SFO Costco?
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Old 10-27-20, 10:17 AM
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Originally Posted by kevsf View Post
Wow! I didn't know there were that many options! When I said trail, I think I meant road routes. But can I bike on gravel with a road bike? (It's just not recommended?)

I had no idea the Bay Trails leads to Palo Alto. I thought it starts in Brisbane and ends at SFO Costco?
Gotcha.

Yes, the Bay Trail connects to the Baylands area in Palo Alto. I've done a loop around the South Bay and returning over the Dumbarton Bridge that starts in Palo Alto Baylands and uses the Bay Trail for a large portion of the ride. It's a fun, flat ride and could be done on a road bike though there are some gravel sections that are a bit loose. For a 45 mile loop it takes me about 2 1/2 hours if I ride at a good pace.

For road riding I highly recommend getting used to looping through Portola Valley. It's very bike friendly and will get you used to some rolling rides without making you climb for long periods of time.

Also, Foothill Expressway is a good flat road to get some miles on that will eventually link you to other stuff both north and south when you get more endurance. And again, Canada Road is super bike friendly too.

How comfortable are you with climbing?
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Old 10-27-20, 10:53 AM
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Originally Posted by KJ43 View Post
Gotcha.

Yes, the Bay Trail connects to the Baylands area in Palo Alto. I've done a loop around the South Bay and returning over the Dumbarton Bridge that starts in Palo Alto Baylands and uses the Bay Trail for a large portion of the ride. It's a fun, flat ride and could be done on a road bike though there are some gravel sections that are a bit loose. For a 45 mile loop it takes me about 2 1/2 hours if I ride at a good pace.

For road riding I highly recommend getting used to looping through Portola Valley. It's very bike friendly and will get you used to some rolling rides without making you climb for long periods of time.

Also, Foothill Expressway is a good flat road to get some miles on that will eventually link you to other stuff both north and south when you get more endurance. And again, Canada Road is super bike friendly too.

How comfortable are you with climbing?
Is Portola Valley where Stanford Dish is or south west of it? I haven't been on Canada Road but I biked thru the Sawyer Camp Trail just north of it two weeks ago. It was nice but alot of pedestrians. I'll check out Canada Road sometime

I think I'm comfortable with quarter-mile climbs currently but would be interested in doing more/longer in the future. I notice it's easier to climb if I'm wearing cycling shorts vs baggy shorts. How is climbing measured?
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Old 10-27-20, 03:01 PM
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Grade percentage and length. So, for example, if you come out of Sawyer Camp at Crystal Springs, turn right on Skyline and ride up to the top of the hill, from the South end of the bridge, it's about 1/2 mile of about 6% gradient, gaining 156 feet.

Canada Road is nice - wide, enormous bike lane, nice rolling gradients that you can spin up or charge up, depending how you feel. 6 miles with no stops, starting from 92, and only 2 after that before you get to Woodside. From there, your options expand a lot!
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Old 10-28-20, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by kevsf View Post
Is Portola Valley where Stanford Dish is or south west of it? I haven't been on Canada Road but I biked thru the Sawyer Camp Trail just north of it two weeks ago. It was nice but alot of pedestrians. I'll check out Canada Road sometime

I think I'm comfortable with quarter-mile climbs currently but would be interested in doing more/longer in the future. I notice it's easier to climb if I'm wearing cycling shorts vs baggy shorts. How is climbing measured?
I keep track of elevation in feet, but as genejockey mentions above the grade matters (a lot).

A great beginner climb is the paved section of Alpine Road starting at Willowbrook Drive until the gate before it turns into Ciervos Road. You know you are at this point because Alpine Road itself has a gate where it turns into the dirt trail section of Alpine Road. This climb (based on the Strava information) is about 2.38 miles, 541 ft of climbing, with an average grade of 4.3%.

One of the basic road climbs in the area is Old La Honda Road which turns off of Portola Road. From the bridge to Skyline Boulevard Strava shows this as:2.98 miles, 1,255 ft of climbing, with an average grade of 8%.

The Portola Valley loop is between Sand Hill Road and Alpine Road.

I like my road and gravel cycling kit to be tight race fit personally. I find it is overall more comfortable to ride in for serious riding.
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Old 10-28-20, 02:40 PM
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Yeah, most of Alpine up to the gate is pretty gentle. Gets a little harsher closer to the gate, but not bad at all. And because it dead ends, there's not much car traffic. It's a LOT easier climb than OLH, and also a less technical descent. Good for building up climbing AND descending skills.

I like to cut over to Alpine from Portola on Willowbrook - it's pretty, shaded, almost no traffic, though the last maybe 40 yards is steep as all hell. Right to go up the hill, Left to get back onto The Loop. My personal preference is to go East on Alpine, get in the drops and the big ring, and zoom down it. The other way it's a long boring slog. Sand Hill, I like to go West, because the traffic lights on the climb make gaps in the traffic heading to 280. But Portola, between Sand Hill and Alpine is fun either direction.
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Old 11-04-20, 09:20 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
Yeah, most of Alpine up to the gate is pretty gentle. Gets a little harsher closer to the gate, but not bad at all. And because it dead ends, there's not much car traffic. It's a LOT easier climb than OLH, and also a less technical descent. Good for building up climbing AND descending skills.
I'd disagree about descending Alpine. Several times while riding down a car or pickup heading uphill took up half of my downhill lane, either due to passing uphill cyclists, or just shortening through the corners. When I took new riders there I carefully explained why I was slow downhill, and not in a 'descending' mode.
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Old 11-05-20, 02:27 PM
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Originally Posted by tgot View Post
I'd disagree about descending Alpine. Several times while riding down a car or pickup heading uphill took up half of my downhill lane, either due to passing uphill cyclists, or just shortening through the corners. When I took new riders there I carefully explained why I was slow downhill, and not in a 'descending' mode.
Fair point. I haven't done Alpine as much as 84 or Kings Mtn. Less technical than those, but possibly more problematic traffic.
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Old 11-06-20, 07:54 AM
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Originally Posted by tgot View Post
I'd disagree about descending Alpine. Several times while riding down a car or pickup heading uphill took up half of my downhill lane, either due to passing uphill cyclists, or just shortening through the corners. When I took new riders there I carefully explained why I was slow downhill, and not in a 'descending' mode.
I get this perspective but have to admit that I do get fairly aggressive with my descending on Alpine. I've been riding it for over 30 years now and all of its corners are mostly second nature to me. It's not like Old La Honda Road where pretty much every corner is a blind corner (and feel even narrower than Alpine), there are more than a few sections that you can see multiple turns ahead to see if there is traffic ahead to gauge your approach. The corners that are blind I'm still very cautious on.

I do feel that there is some worth in it being a good place to learn some descending skills as the sections that are visible are nice, smooth, sweeping corners as long as attention is paid to how far ahead you can see.
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Old 11-07-20, 01:12 PM
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Originally Posted by KJ43 View Post
I get this perspective but have to admit that I do get fairly aggressive with my descending on Alpine. I've been riding it for over 30 years now and all of its corners are mostly second nature to me. It's not like Old La Honda Road where pretty much every corner is a blind corner (and feel even narrower than Alpine), there are more than a few sections that you can see multiple turns ahead to see if there is traffic ahead to gauge your approach. The corners that are blind I'm still very cautious on.

I do feel that there is some worth in it being a good place to learn some descending skills as the sections that are visible are nice, smooth, sweeping corners as long as attention is paid to how far ahead you can see.
Is it just me, or do there seem to be a hell of a lot more people descending OLH than there used to be? It used to be that almost nobody would go DOWN OLH. In fact I still won't - though I LOVE going down West OLH. I tend to stick with OLH up, 84 down.

Mind you, two weeks ago I saw some poor schlub going UP 84 - what a nightmare!
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Old 11-07-20, 05:22 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
Is it just me, or do there seem to be a hell of a lot more people descending OLH than there used to be? It used to be that almost nobody would go DOWN OLH. In fact I still won't - though I LOVE going down West OLH. I tend to stick with OLH up, 84 down.

Mind you, two weeks ago I saw some poor schlub going UP 84 - what a nightmare!
That's a good point. Every time I climb OLH there are multiple people doing the descent.

I'm with you in that I will avoid OLH as a descent and go down through Spring Ridge Trail in Windy Hill or 84 or Kings Mountain. OLH is the worst descent I know of in the area....pretty much all the corners are blind, you can never see far enough ahead, and it's only a single lane in width for a good portion of the ride.
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Old 11-08-20, 03:44 PM
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I never understand descending WOLH. Seems narrow and tricky, not fun.

Add me to the up OLH, down 84 votes. On bigger days, it's the figure-8, OLH, Skyline, West down 84 to West OLH, up WOLH, Skyline again, then down 84 to the east.

One of my best hard rides this Summer was actually Alpine,.OLH, WOLH..
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Old 11-09-20, 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted by tgot View Post
I never understand descending WOLH. Seems narrow and tricky, not fun.

Add me to the up OLH, down 84 votes. On bigger days, it's the figure-8, OLH, Skyline, West down 84 to West OLH, up WOLH, Skyline again, then down 84 to the east.

One of my best hard rides this Summer was actually Alpine,.OLH, WOLH..
The surface is pretty good, it's not all THAT steep, there's damn near NO traffic, and the scenery can't be beat.




I'm also a big fan of the WOLH climb. I used to do a 'bow tie', where I'd go up Kings Mtn, down 35 to 84, West on 84 to WOLH, up WOLH, then 25 to Skylonda and back down 84. My LEAST favorite part was 35 between Kings and Skylonda.
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Old 12-18-20, 10:59 AM
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Another vote for bay trail and sawyer camp.

https://baytrail.org/get-on-the-trail/map-by-number/

looks like sawyer camp is closed with the san mateo stay at home
https://parks.smcgov.org/sawyer-camp-segment
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Old 12-23-20, 03:42 PM
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Welcome to road biking!

I am more in the Santa Cruz/Watsonville area so I cannot comment so much about the SF/SJ area.

Maybe also download Strava and you can see what routes other take.
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