Best Heart-Pumping Bike Ride

The Three Bears

Want to feel the wind whoosh through your ears? You will on this bike
ride, but you’ll have to work for it. Known as the Three Bears —
a heart-pumping, thigh-burning, three-hill romp around the San Pablo
and Briones reservoirs via San Pablo Dam Road, Castro Ranch Road,
Alhambra Valley Road, and Bear Creek Road — this jaunt is one
that East Bay cyclists typically use as an early-season tune-up when
the rains finally let up. It can be a scorcher out there in summer, so
go in cool-weather season or you’ll be sorry. San Pablo and Castro
Ranch can be trafficky, so newbies beware. The dips and valleys of
Alhambra are a cinch, but the long, steep rises of mostly car-free Bear
Creek Road’s Mama and Papa Bear are, well, bears. But grind up them and
then relax for the long coast down to Baby Bear while your heart rate
settles. Take BART to Orinda, ride from Berkeley through Tilden Park,
or carpool to the Kennedy Grove Recreation Area for this scenic,
unshaded two-wheel tour. Bonus reward: Huff over to Orinda for a
Thanksgiving or Reuben sandwich at Europa (see “Best Reuben Sandwich”
in Restaurants & Bars).

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