Distance: 20 miles out and back
Elevation gain: 1770 ft
This ride is as simple as a ride can get: start at the beginning of Palomares Rd. near Hwy 580 and ride to its end, then turn around and ride back. It’s a perfect little ride: you do a little flat stuff to warm up, then climb gently, then climb a bit more steeply to a summit, then descend down through an exciting curvy series of esses to the end, all of it through pretty hobby farms and wooded creek canyons. Then you get to do it all in reverse. ‘Nuff said.
Palomares is currently closed at the southern end—see Afterthoughts for details.
(To see an interactive version of the map/elevation profile, click on the ride name, upper left, wait for the new map to load, then click on the “full screen” icon, upper right.)
The ride is pretty symmetrical—5 miles and 1000 ft up to the summit, then 5 miles and 1000 ft down to the turn-around—and you can start at either end, but it’s a better ride the way I’ve mapped it, because the north end begins with 20 minutes of easy pedaling as a warm-up. Starting from the southern end has you doing vigorous climbing from the gun.
The southern half is the better riding, because it’s curvier. The curves add interest on the climb, and they’re beautifully shaped so you can hold all your speed on the descent.
Adding miles: Since this is one of the Best of the Bay legs, you’ve got rides from our list to the north and to the south. A couple of miles to the north of your starting point is the southern end of the Grizzly Peak Blvd. to Redwood Road ride. Six miles down trafficky, narrow, shoulderless Niles Canyon Road from the turn-around point is the Calaveras Road ride.
Afterthoughts: Palomares is currently closed (totally, not just to cars) at the southern end while they replace a bridge. Estimates say the work is supposed to be done by 11/16, but that seems optimistic. The ride is still entirely doable from the north end—just turn around at the construction.