Last night, I decided to bike to work. I have done this many times before so the only question is which way to go. Both routes get me to Mountain View but by vastly different ways. One, the Bay Shore Way, has only a couple of hills and is about 45 miles. If I am in shape and hit the lights just right, I can do it in 3 hours door to door. The other route, HWY 35, is the hilly way. It is a lot more picturesque but you have to huff it up a lot of hills. The good part about it is that you descend into Silicon Valley, which makes the last bit all down hill.
Since I was not feeling that great and it was the first ride to work this year, I decided to wimp out and do the “easy” route. The only real challenge with the easy route is the assent up Cortland, which separates The Mission from Bernal Heights. It is a short but steep grade that gets the heart pumping. Once over Cortland, the next minor hill is San Bruno avenue, which is atop Bayview. That assent is not as bad as Cortland.
Once past Cortland and San Bruno avenue, the ride is mostly flat. It takes you past Sierra Lumber in Brisbane, along the 101 and into South San Francisco. The route through South San Francisco can only be traversed via Bike since you go through a couple of parking lots and then across a foot bridge, which happens to be part of the Bay Trail. Once past the Courtyard by Marriot, you wiggle your way past all of the Biotech companies on your way to SFO.
The road to SFO is Bay Shore and takes you right past SFO Long Term Parking. If I am hitting my stride, this is about an hour into the ride. Once past SFO, you continue on to Coyote Point, which as a kid, I went to all the time. It is a great park with lots of trees and great views of the East Bay. Once through Coyote Point, via the Bay Trail, you head toward the San Mateo Bridge and Foster City. At this point, you have two options. You can continue along the bay or head into Foster City. This trip I chose the more scenic route.
The trail through Foster City is beautiful. It takes you past all sorts of parks and marshes until you hit the Emerald Palace, Oracle. Back when I was a kid, Marine World Africa USA used to occupy this area. I remember fondly sneaking in as a kid to look at the Elephants and Zebra’s. They made the best slushies whose name escapes me. Continuing on past Oracle, you parallel 101 until you hit the San Carlos Airport. At this point, you have another decision, continue on past the airport and along the East side of 101 or head inland a bit. For me, I always choose inland since getting past Pete’s Harbor requires some creative riding.
The overpass at Holly street is a bit tricky but once past it, you it Industrial. Industrial is a wide street with a great bike lane. It will turn into Middlefield once you get past Redwood City but before that, you weave your way along, past the jail, train station and the Mexican section of town. Riding along Middlefield can be bumpy and the cars sometimes don’t see you but once past all that, you hit Menlo Park.
The ride through Menlo Park is beautiful. The bike lane is pretty good and if I can time the lights just right, it is a quick ride through. Once past Menlo Park, it is on to Palo Alto’s Bicycle Boulevard, better known as Bryant. Bryant is a great street and a wonderful ride along a residential street with beautiful homes. Once you hit Bicycle Boulevard, you are in the home stretch. The Bicycle Boulevard ends at San Antonio and then it is on to Central Expressway.
Once on Central, it is only a couple more miles to work. Even though Central is an expressway, it is a smooth road with wide bike lanes — perfect for the sprint to the end. My office is on East Evelyn, so I have to jog up to Castro and then along East Evelyn. Total riding time door to door, 3 hours and 15 minutes.