Nothing deflates a cyclist's ego like being passed by a recumbent. (unless, of course, you ride a recumbent). Lovely Sunday morning Three Bears ride tainted by the insistent pedaling of a gray braided medicine woman pedaling up the grades with relative ease, lounging back in her chair (I'm pretty sure it was leather and had a built-in massager). As we caught up to her at the top of Baby Bear, she casually offered me a Clif Bar (did I appear piqued?), warned of the forthcoming Mama and Papa, and winked! We debated whether she sourced her strength from the asphalt (or earth...a sage?), had a hidden motor, or was just plain bad-ass. Most likely the latter. In any case, she was waaay nicer than racer clowns ridiculing Jay's HUGE rack; the old fart questioning Dave's safety triangle; or the uber-serious weekend warriors who just can't take 2 seconds to return your friendly "good morning!" with even the slightest acknowledgement! But we didn't let it sour our ride--we, like recumbent lady (or the tortoise), just kept going.
Ride Route: Begin Nabolom Bakery in Elmwood (Berkeley, Russel and College). Wind up through campus to Euclid. Short detour at the "magical place" near the Rose Garden. At top of Euclid, quick left on Grizzly Peak, right on Wildcat Canyon into Tilden Park. Stop at Inspiration Point for water, restrooms, and musing. Head down into LaMorinda, and turn left on San Pablo. Ride (into) the wind! Right on Castro Ranch, (convenient store on corner) up and over into Briones. Right onto Alhambra Valley--catch your breath. Right on Bear Valley, three bears--highly recommend overcast days or early in the morning in the heat of summer because there's NO SHADE. Water at Briones staging area. Once over the Bears, you can continue back up Wildcat Canyon back into Tilden, or turn left on San Pablo and go into Orinda for coffee. Just under Hwy 24, turn left into Orinda Village for Peets (be careful, lots of traffic coming on and off ramps). Back onto Camino Alto toward Moraga. Right on Canyon Road, head back toward Oakland Hills. Right on Pinehurst. Sharp left turn, and the grade increases significantly (triple, baby!). At the top, right on Skyline, and take any number of routes back down toward Rockridge/Berkeley. Drink beer and barbeque. Approx. 50 miles, 4 1/2 hours, a whole lotta climbing.