Distance: 11.6-mile lollipop
Elevation gain: 980 ft
Until now Bestrides had no rides on the east side of the Skyline Blvd. ridge, so this is my attempt to fix that. This sweet little loop is easy and short. It includes a very sweet little dirt back route that only locals know (the “dirty” part of Dirty Moody). (A word of warning: RidewithGPS considers the dirt a “path” and as such won’t let me map it, so the map below just stays on Moody.)
The basic loop here is only 5 mi. long, and, while half of it is a climb, there isn’t a foot of it that’s work, so you’ll either want to start somewhere else to get some more miles or do the loop 3 times, which isn’t as stupid an idea as it sounds.
I begin at Shoup Park in Los Altos, for 3 reasons: it has a parking lot that’s a nice place to park (I was told it was OK to do so), it lets you ride pretty University Ave, and it leaves you only a couple of blocks from charming Main Street Los Altos and Satura Cakes, a great bakery, for post-ride refueling. If the parking lots at Shoup are full, there is plenty of curbside parking along University Ave. It adds 6 miles to the ride.
Ride University to S. El Monte Ave. University itself is a tranquil, leafy, upscale neighbor-hood street, very pretty. S. El Monte is almost a highway, big, open, and busy, but there’s a nice shoulder all the way and you aren’t going far. When SEM passes the unmissable Foothill-De Anza Community College football field on the R, the intersection is confusing because the main road seems to swing around the field, and the lone street sign telling you that SEM continues straight (on the island in the center of the intersection) is hard to see. You can go straight on SEM and take Moody St. when it soon goes off to the L., or, if you prefer bike paths or dislike the SEM traffic, at the intersection if you look at 1:30 (ahead and to your R) diagonally across the intersection you’ll see a little bike path which, if you take it, will parallel SEM for a short while and deposit you back on our route.
Moody Rd. itself is a very pleasant climb, so you could certainly stay on it until it deadends at Page Mill Rd., but eventually you’d be looking at a startling stretch of climbing that peaks at 16%, and there’s a easier and prettier alternative. Go R onto Moody Court. The signs tell you it’s private and not a through street, but you’re welcome to ride it and it’s closed only to cars. Soon you meet a cable across the road and you’re on dirt for perhaps a mile (which RidewithGPS shows as a trail). I am no fan of dirt, but this is dirt any road bike can ride in comfort, perfectly smooth hardpack at a mild uphill pitch that poses no traction problems. So you won’t actually get “dirty” despite the name (though, as with all dirt, I wouldn’t attempt it in wet conditions). It’s wild and wooded in there, quite the surprise after the multi-million-dollar manicured manses you’ve been riding past.
There is no signage, but just stay on the main route and ignore all obvious driveways. Soon you hit another cable, the dirt ends, and you’re on Central Drive. Central deadends at Page Mill Rd. Take a break and check out Foothill Park on PMR—it’s a charmer.
It’s a stone’s throw down PMR to Altamont Rd, which offers views of some homes remarkably lavish even for this neighborhood, and one short but super-sweet, fast descending leg—you’re there when you see the “bicyclists—caution” sign. As if.
When Altamont ends at Moody, return to your car. Don’t just pack up and leave. Main Street Los Altos is 100 yards away, and it’s an urban fantasy on the order of Disneyland’s Main Street USA. Why aren’t all main streets as pretty as this? Oh, right, they don’t have infinite amounts of money. Anyway, it’s delightful if you can forget the 1% issues, with lots of places to eat with outdoor seating and the killer bakery I promised, Satura Cakes. Yelp, which rates the expensiveness of eateries, gives Satura 4 out of 4 $’s, which must be a first for a bakery, but that’s just for the $90 cakes—the almond croissants are a perfectly reasonable $4.50.
Shortening the ride: You’re kidding, right?
Adding miles: Depends on your standards. Local cyclists ride the surrounding roads (Page Mill Road, for instance) all the time and think they’re swell. I prefer the riding on the west side of the ridge, so I encourage you to ride towards the sea and do the Bestrides rides there. For instance, if you continue up Page Mill Rd., when it intersects Skyline Blvd. you’re on our magnificent Pescadero/Tunitas Creek Road ride.