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What's New

Updated: Wilder Ranch (Enchanted Loop via Wild Boar Trail)
December 8, 2016

This one is a fairly small update, but it represents a level of improvement to this ride that I found worth listing on this page. Earlier this year, a rerouting of part of Enchanted Loop in Wilder Ranch was completed. This rerouting eliminates the ugly, eroded, and super-steep climb back out of this loop. In its place, we now have a twisty singletrack climbing very gently. It's a huge improvement over what it replaced, which noticeably boosts the desirability of this ride, in my opinion. I've now updated the maps and GPS data of the ride to show this new trail section, as well as patching the relevant part of the photo set with images that reflect the change.

New ride: Mr. Toad's Wild Ride
November 19, 2016

I'm sure the name of this ride will be instantly familiar to any experienced rider who has spent any time on the saddle in the Tahoe area, and possibly to some such greener riders too. Mr. Toad's Wild Ride is probably the most famous trail of advanced difficulty level in that area, as far as I know. Roughly a 2.5-mile stretch of this trail easily qualifies for a double-black-diamond difficulty rating even by the most conservative assessment. Several miles of the rest of this route can occasionally feel like a never-ending rock garden too. Once I made it through the worst drops on the trail by lugging my bike, though, I quite enjoyed the majority of this ride. While it would take a rider with quite serious downhill riding skills to give this ride its due, I think the trail is quite manageable and often very enjoyable even for intermediate riders who would not be completely intimidated by frequent encounters with tough trail features where they'd need to get off and walk. If the idea of a shuttled descent on that kind of a technical trail appeals to you, take a closer look at this.

New ride: Mount Veeder Road
October 30, 2016

One of the road rides that have been in the pipeline since last spring finally finds a home on the site today. I had heard a lot about Mt. Veeder Road before I tried it for myself. Essentially, any resource that contains ride suggestions for the Napa area is almost certain to list an option that involves this road. The ride didn't disappoint. My route mostly traversed very peaceful roads in pleasant settings. Meanwhile, the possibility of getting hold of some great food around Napa after the ride or indulging a little in wine as part of the ride plan should count as a significant perk to many. I'm not sure I would rate this ride as "not to be missed" if you live far away from this area, but it's easy to see how it would serve as a sure-shot stand-by for any local cyclists.

New ride: Bolinas Ridge (long loop)
October 6, 2016

Ever since I tried a short loop covering part of Bolinas Ridge Trail and found it to be more fun than I expected, I've wanted try a longer loop that would include all of that trail. The fact that such a loop could include Olema Valley Trail, a rarity in terms of being a singletrack of sizable length in Point Reyes that's open to bikes, was an additional aspect I looked forward to. Earlier this year, I've found the opportunity to try out this longer loop and I've now added it to the site. I'm sorry to say that Olema Valley Trail was a bit of a disappointment, but I can't say anything bad about Bolinas Ridge Trail. The most fun and scenic parts of this fire road are still in the portion included in the shorter loop I had listed before, but this extended version of the ride should satisfy those of you who approach the ride with a bigger appetite for miles and more variety.

New ride: Summit Road
September 21, 2016

It's been a while since the last time I updated the site. The delay was due to the distractions of my summer travel season. But some apologies might be in order, because this time the pause was longer than it's been in recent years. I had a very hectic month of August and early September was no walk in the park either. It feels very good right now to return to my more relaxed routine, and almost as good as that to be able to put some work into the site once again.

Summit Road is a road I've learned about only in recent months (through a blog posting) and my curiosity was maxed out as soon as I read about it. I've, therefore, not wasted any time in trying it out and am now adding it to the site at the first chance I've caught. I'm not sure it would qualify as a ride not to be missed, but the road's location as well as its status is very unique. It also doesn't hurt that it allows rare views from high elevations where you can see the South Bay and Monterey Bay at the same time, in addition to getting as close to Loma Prieta peak as you legally can. Cyclists who enjoy something different are bound to like this one.

New ride: Emigrant Trail
July 13, 2016

This addition is to the Out-of-Area Rides section of the site. Emigrant Trail is likely to be on the short list of the trails familiar to any rider who has done more than just one or two rides in the Lake Tahoe area. If you're not a part of that group of people, this new listing should help you get acquainted with this trail and see the reasons for its popularity for yourself. I don't believe there are very many long trails around Tahoe that traverse open country but could still be considered suitable for less experienced riders. Emigrant Trail is one such trail, while it still has enough variety and challenge to hold the interest of advanced riders as well. This is not a trail that experienced riders are likely to make their primary destination for, say, a mountain biking weekend in Tahoe, but those who do include it in their ride plans are unlikely to be disappointed.

Updated: Fifield-Cahill Ridge
June 26, 2016

This ride is admittedly one of the most oddball listings on the website. Not only is it the only ride listed here than can solely be done as a guided group ride that requires advance reservation, but it's also an option that appeals almost exclusively to the small number of people who might be interested in trying it out of sheer curiosity, since there is little mountain biking satisfaction otherwise to be had from the trail. Still, that small group of people would I'm sure appreciate the fact that I've now updated this ride with more photos, more details, and—most importantly—a route that correctly represents the version of the guided Fifield-Cahill Ridge ride that is actually being done these days. The older content for this listing came from a ride I had done back when guided rides were available both from the Sneath Lane (northwestern) end and from the Route 92 (southeastern) end of the trail. In recent years, this doesn't seem to be the case and guided rides appear to start only from the Route 92 end lately. This new version now represents current reality. Still, I've kept the older ride information as an alternate version, in case anyone would like to refer back to it for whatever reason or in case guided rides from Sneath Lane are resumed at some point.

One minor bonus that this new version of the ride brings is that it's easier, with only 1600 feet of total elevation gain compared to the earlier version's 2400. Perhaps this easier incarnation, which is shorter and with its serious climbs not even adding up to a grand total of half a mile of the overall route, should make it easier for more people to find the will to try it out.

New ride: East Bay Canyons
June 14, 2016

This is a road ride from a portion of the East Bay that, I must confess, had been off my radar until I tried this route. It did not disappoint. On the contrary, it made me resolve to explore other overlooked backroads of the East Bay hills. The beauty of the setting rivals much of what the Peninsula, Marin, or the wine country has to offer. That should make it a treasure for any cyclists who live in the vicinity. Parts of the route offer a good amount of peace and quiet as well, away from traffic as well as from too many cyclists. In that respect, this wouldn't be an unreasonable option to seek out on days where more popular routes may be too busy with bicycles, in case you feel tired of that.

Updated: Repack Road (via Deer Park)
June 1, 2016

Here's another ride from the first set that was available when I first launched this site six years ago and that has had almost no improvement or changes since then. Last year I found an opportunity to repeat this ride, which now allows me to bring the ride's content up to the standards of more recent additions. In my book, any opportunity to spend time on the historic trails around Fairfax, descend the storied Repack Road in the process, and then hang out downtown, spells time well spent. As an option that could make that experience possible for riders who might not have enough confidence to try the route through Camp Tamarancho, I think this ride will remain useful to many.

New ride: Empire Grade Loop
May 21, 2016

As a mostly shady country road that starts from Santa Cruz and stretches for more than 15 miles with great pavement, very little traffic, and few distractions, it should come as no surprise that Empire Grade is popular with cyclists. Some riders may find the repeated steep stretches in its climb a bit less than palatable, but at least there are just as many gentle portions on the climb, too, that give you a break. This loop was my way of sampling the majority of Empire Grade while boosting variety by returning to Santa Cruz via different roads. That alternate return does add the potentially thrilling descent down the steep and curvy Jamison Creek Road into the mix, but it also forces you to contend with the busy traffic on the narrow and twisty Route 9 for quite a few miles. As I explain in the text of the ride, for those who don't mind dialing back the "variety" and "sightseeing" considerations, a simpler out-and-back ride on just Empire Grade itself might be a more rewarding alternative.

New photo set format
May 16, 2016

One of the most significant changes that have shown up on this site in years may have gone unnoticed by all but the most eagle-eyed viewers, so I thought I'd add an entry here to point it out: I've started using a new photo set format starting with the recent update I've made to the Mission Peak ride. One of the requests I received for this site was to support keyboard navigation between photos in the photo sets. Not only does this new photo set format achieve that (you can go forward and backward using the right and left arrow keys), but it's also touch-friendly, and features responsive web design, making it much more suitable for mobile devices. It's not that you can swipe your way from one photo to the next, but you can touch the right half of each single photo to get to the next one or its left half to get to the preceding one.

So far, the photo set of the updated Mission Peak ride is the only one that uses this new format. However, any newly added or updated rides on the site will also feature this format from now on. Meanwhile, I'll also slowly convert the photos for all other rides to this new format at a (hopefully) steady pace.

Updated: Mission Peak
April 28, 2016

I've adjusted the route of the Mission Peak ride to comply with a trail access rule change that was made since I first posted that ride. The ride originally included Peak Meadow Trail, but part of that trail is no longer open to bikes. I was originally made aware of this fact by a viewer comment. (Thank you, by the way.) I've recently repeated this ride without including that trail and have now posted this updated version so that my ride description does not mislead anyone. The ride stats changed slightly too, since the route is a bit shorter now. I've also elaborated a bit more in the description of Hidden Valley Trail, now that the entire length of that trail is traversed during the descent of the ride that I describe. The changes aren't huge but, given the surprising popularity of this ride on the site, they are bound to be significant to quite a few people.

New ride: Skyline Trail
April 9, 2016

It's not that often that a new trail is opened to bikes in the Bay Area on which a 13-mile round-trip ride is possible, more than half of which is singletrack. It's probably even less often for that new trail to contain interesting and engaging singletrack mileage. However, that's essentially what happened in Sanborn County Park last year and I've already represented on this website some of the newly bike-legal trail mileage possible in this park with my Sanborn County Park ride. Those who have seen my description for that ride may remember my mention that Skyline Trail is actually the most fun part of that route. Doing Skyline Trail on its own, therefore, results in what is arguably an even more fun ride. The new ride I'm adding to the site today is exactly that ride. This one is a very easy recommendation to make.

Updated: Pescadero - San Gregorio Loop
March 17, 2016

The originally posted version of this ride was not really lacking in any significant way. Still, I wanted to do a minor update to it in order to tweak the route to become what I would consider the ideal version of itself. By "ideal", I mean the most fun, peaceful, and scenic version of it possible. In practice, this only means two changes to the ride route: it now continues north on Stage Road from San Gregorio in order to get to Highway 1, and it also follows an inland detour via Bean Hollow Road near Pescadero around the halfway point of the loop. Both of these were suggestions I used to make in the description of the original ride anyway. It's just that they've now become part of the shown version of the ride. Meanwhile, I've kept the older, shorter, and easier route as an alternate version that's still accessible.

New ride: Red Hills
March 6, 2016

It's time for a new addition to the out-of-area rides on the site. Red Hills appeared to me like a park experiencing benign neglect. That means you'll find no shortage of singletrack here. In fact, there's almost a bewildering profusion of them. But it also means that what you won't find are named and well signed trails, consistently careful trail construction, or even any rhyme or reason in the routing of many of the trails. It helps that there are few climbs and almost all that do exist are gentle or moderate (at least when following the route that I've taken on this particular ride). This place may not rank high in desirability for mountain bikers, but a short two-hour ride like this at Red Hills can fit into even part of your day, in comparison with farther destinations around Lake Tahoe, for instance, that require a full day trip at a minimum.

New ride: Three Bears Loop
February 25, 2016

Three Bears Loop was possibly the biggest gap in the road ride coverage of this site until now. Given the popularity of this ride, it probably should have been listed here much earlier than most of the road rides I've added in recent times. I don't have a valid reason for delaying this, but I have a few excuses. This is a case where the ease of the ride and its closeness to me actually meant that it took me a longer time to get around to trying it. It seemed a bit shorter than a "full-blown ride", making it not always worth devoting a Saturday to, and the thought that "I could always do it when I have less available time" since it's so close to me ended up delaying it even further when that occasion with less available time didn't really materialize. In any case, the stars did align a couple of weeks ago and this gap in the site's coverage is now closed. It also didn't hurt that I could do the ride while the grass is still green and, after years of bad drought when the area's reservoirs had ultra-low water levels, that they are now back to a more natural-looking water level, making the reservoirs encircled by the ride look better in the photo set.

Updated: Grant Ranch
February 15, 2016

Grant Ranch is one of the original entries that were available when I first launched this site, and its sparse content hadn't been updated since day one. I have to admit that this is not one of the more desirable ride options available in the South Bay (or in the East Bay) in my opinion, which is why I hadn't gone back to update its content in years. But, having repeated this ride last year, I now have a newfound respect for the beauty of its landscape and scenery, especially in the pretty green garb of the late winter and early spring. Now that the ride's content on the site is more fleshed out with this update and its imagery shows the landscape in its prettiest state, perhaps this park may get more of the attention that—it turns out—it deserves from the viewers of this website.

New ride: Calaveras Road
January 31, 2016

Calaveras Road is a road ride option about whose desirability I've become aware very recently. This 14-mile stretch of road that lies within a few minutes' driving distance from several East Bay towns is mostly free of traffic, rich in scenery, and almost completely devoid of signs of civilization and any slopes that one could consider a serious climb. I'm sure it must be old hat for many cyclists living around the East Bay and South Bay, whether ridden out-and-back or as part of a loop that straddles both sides of the East Bay hills. While the loop option must be preferable for many riders living close by at least due to its practicality, I like riding it as an out-and-back and doubling my time on it much better than doing it as a loop with half of its mileage on suburban East Bay roads. So, I opted to represent this road as part of such an out-and-back ride route as I add it to the site today, but decided to include an optional six-mile (one-way) extension that multiplies the ride's difficulty and might expand the ride's appeal to more hardened riders as well, while including clear instructions in the ride text that can be followed by the less ambitious for doing only the gentler portion of the route. If you're a road cyclist who lives within easy access of this road and you haven't tried it yet, you're missing out.

Updated: China Camp
January 10, 2016

This one is a relatively minor update. The main thing that prompted me to refresh this ride's content is that its photo set was pretty dated. I also used the opportunity to include a side trip to China Camp Village in the ride route, which was only included as a recommendation in the text until now. In addition, I've changed the parking spot I'm recommending to one of the fee-based lots. The changes don't add up to a whole lot, but given the high popularity of this ride on the site, I expect that even minor improvements may prove worthwhile to a good number of people.

New ride: Sweetwater Springs Road
December 19, 2015

With the recent increase in the number of our weekends that are too wet for a trail ride, the proportion of the riding that I do on roads has seen a sharp rise. It looks like this trend will continue through our strong El NiƱo winter. While the ride I've added to the site today is a road ride, it's not one of the rides I've done due to the recent rains. This one is actually left over from last spring. This is a ride I've tried based on the advice of a book. Given the long list of road rides in the far North Bay that I have yet to try, I'm not sure I can claim that this one deserves to be prioritized over the other ones I haven't done yet. But, for anyone who can get over the one cruel climb on the ride, this is a pleasant route with a fair amount of side attractions included. I haven't regretted trying it out.

New ride: Big Rock Ridge
November 29, 2015

Given how rare a commodity bike-legal singletrack trails are in Marin County, I should be embarrassed that there's a 2.5-mile stretch of singletrack in Marin, which can be done as an unbroken descent, that wasn't listed on this site until today. In my defense, this is not the kind of singletrack that seasoned bikers would have wet dreams about. It's as tame and thrill-free as can be. In addition, it's not exactly the most conveniently situated singletrack in Marin, in my opinion. Still, it's a viable option for riders in this area that have already done everything else to death. So, it deserves some coverage on this site, and today it finally gets it.

New ride: Morgan Territory (eastern trails)
November 12, 2015

The new ride I'm posting on the site this time is not an option that would immediately spring to everyone's mind. With featureless fire roads, tough climbs, and the long drive to get there, Morgan Territory is best for those riders who are interested more in backcountry beauty than in a prime trail ride experience. I already had a Morgan Territory ride listed on the site, but that one was not from the most heavily used portion of this trail network. This one is. Plus, I love riding in the East Bay in the spring, and this ride is one that's left over from last spring, which—despite our extreme drought—was green enough to be quite pretty in this area.

New ride: Paradise Royale
November 1, 2015

The next new ride on the site comes from quite far away, so it's naturally an addition to the Out-of-Area Rides section. This purpose-built mountain biking loop is a relatively recent addition to the roster of ride options in California that appeal to advanced riders, but I believe it's already one of the prominent blips on the radars of riders in our region who are willing to travel for mountain biking. You're looking at a nine-hour round trip as well as at least one night's stay if you're interested in planning for this ride. So, if you need any additional excuses in this vicinity in order to stomach that prospect, you might want to start looking for one, because this is a great ride as long as the trip won't be too much for you.

Updated: Black Diamond Mines
October 11, 2015

In the early part of this year, I've had the opportunity to repeat this tough East Bay ride. While the first incarnation of this ride I had posted on the site included only one of the two sub-loops that I consider as making up a "full ride" through the historic core of this park, this second iteration includes the whole thing. It took me a long time to get around to it, but I've now updated the information for Black Diamond Mines with the data and photos of this more representative route. This version provides a more complete sampling of the historic sights in the park that can be visited by bike. It also doesn't hurt that this newer ride took place while the area still looked its best, covered in the green grass of spring, as opposed to the straw-colored setting seen in the photo set of the earlier version of the ride.

Updated: Demo Forest (Flow Trail)
September 24, 2015

I've first received word of the completion of the Flow Trail at Demo Forest some time during last spring but it took me until last weekend to find the opportunity to try it in its current form. Because this is such a popular trail for experienced riders, I've made sure to shoot some additional pictures and capture more up-to-date GPS data during that ride and I'm wasting no time in updating the site with that new content. The Flow Trail ride on the site now represents the full extent of this trail and the stats have also been tweaked to reflect the effect of the additional singletrack mileage added since the time I had ridden on the incomplete trail.

Having called this the "full extent" of the trail, however, I must point out that I was a bit surprised to notice that the length of Flow Trail on my GPS data recorded during this recent ride came to almost exactly three miles. This is in disagreement with the four-mile length that has been quoted for this trail since its plan was first made public. Perhaps the "missing mile" could be explained by a sign at the beginning of the trail that describes it as being "open but still under development". Here's looking forward to one more mile of this special trail in the not-too-distant future. (Update: Upon further examination, it doesn't look like there are any brand new sections coming up that account for that seeming discrepancy in the trail's length. What's "still under development" must be some aspects of the existing segments. Henry Bugatto, a viewer of the site, has sent me a GPS track (many thanks!) that measures the very same extent of the Flow Trail at 3.7 miles and I've come to realize that the mismatch is arising merely from GPS inaccuracies and the "rounding" of the many tight switchbacks of this trail.)

New ride: Sonoma to Rohnert Park
September 6, 2015

The main map of the website gets a new blue marker today. This new road ride is the first one on the site that takes place in Sonoma County. (The Marshall - Chileno Valley Loop ride also starts within Sonoma County, technically, but the vast majority of its mileage traverses Marin County.) There's clearly plenty of good road riding to be done in the wine country, but none of it was represented on this website until now. This new ride certainly isn't nearly enough to eliminate that shortcoming, but it's a step in the right direction. There is more wine country ride information to come.

Updated: Mount Diablo (Walnut Creek to South Gate Road)
August 27, 2015

I'm not sure anyone would notice this immediately but the ride title I'm mentioning here as being updated is a title that was not listed on this site until now. That is because this ride used to be titled "Shell Ridge". I've now expanded this route to its version that I had originally meant to do but had to cut short because I ran out of time when I did the ride. This not only means that the ride is now much longer, has more climbing, and completely new text, but I've also felt that it deserves a new name because only a comparatively small portion of the route traverses the Shell Ridge area now. Therefore, it seemed more reasonable to me to classify this as another "Mount Diablo" ride instead.

I feel that this version of the ride is a more desirable option. You get to catch more grand views, get a bigger workout, a couple more creek crossings, not to mention the opportunity to sample a miniscule amount of singletrack.

New geotagged photo maps
August 20, 2015

Those who follow this page with any amount of regularity might remember what I wrote late last year about EveryTrail.com becoming increasingly flaky and inoperable, which is where I set up the geotagged photo maps to which I link from the thumbnail pages of my photo sets. A couple of months after that, the feature for adding new ride data to EveryTrail had pretty much stopped working altogether. Most of this year's new rides and updates on the site, therefore, lacked a geotagged photo map link.

I noticed a few weeks ago that the new ride creation feature of EveryTrail has started showing some signs of life again. I used that opportunity to create the missing geotagged photo maps of all the recent rides that were missing it. These are:

I should make it clear that this does not mean EveryTrail.com has become perfectly usable again. It's still very much hit or miss. But, at least it's an indication that you might see my geotagged photo map links work once in a while. In other words, my need for a more reliable solution for geotagged photo maps is unchanged. I haven't been able to work on that in months. Incidentally, if any of you know of a handy option that you feel I may not be aware of, do let me know.

New ride: Fort Ord (eastern trails)
August 12, 2015

For the longest time, the only ride routes that represented the riding opportunities at Fort Ord on this site were two Sea Otter race course rides. That was due more to the fact that most of my noteworthy rides at Fort Ord were done with the excuse of pre-riding a race course than to any assumption that those courses best represented the ride varieties available at Fort Ord. Well, it took me a while, but I've finally broken my streak and tried a hand-crafted ride route at Fort Ord earlier this year that had nothing to do with any race course, and a lot to do with maximizing the amount of Fort Ord singletrack coverage in the least amount of overall mileage and elevation gain. As I add that ride to the site today, I hope the variety of Fort Ord coverage on this site is increasing substantially. And this won't be the last additional Fort Ord ride I list here.

New ride: Jackson Demonstration Forest (Double Loop)
August 2, 2015

One trail network within driving distance of the Bay Area that I've been itching to try over the last couple of years is the Mendocino Coast. I've heard nothing but praise for the trails in and around Jackson Demonstration Forest. I can paraphrase most descriptions I read of these trails as "miles and miles of great, bike-legal, forest singletrack that you can have all to yourself". I finally got to try out a ride there a couple of weeks ago. What I saw jibes well with the things I've been hearing.

The main reason you're likely to have these trails all to yourself when riding here must be the distance of this location from major population centers. However, I think that a couple of additional reasons for this may be the general low availability of information about these trails and the fact that navigating them is not easy. I hope that the Jackson Forest ride I've now posted in the Out-of-Area Rides section of this website may work toward mitigating those latter factors a little bit.

Help improve mountain biking in Marin
July 18, 2015

For those of us who are aware of and bothered by the sorry state of bicycle access on trails in Marin County, here's an opportunity to be of help in a small but concrete way: There's an online petition asking for the opening of a key connector trail in Marin (Bob Middagh) to bicycle access. The importance of this trail as a connection appears to be hugely out of proportion with its modest half-mile length. The petition explains that allowing bikes on this trail will save riders from having to follow a roundabout route via Blithedale Avenue and Camino Alto—pretty busy roads—when going back and forth between the trails in the Camino Alto Open Preserve or further west and trails on the east all the way to Tiburon. For further details, you may consult the map showing the trail and the MTBR forum discussing the petition. This is a good opportunity to make a difference with nothing more than a signature.

Updated: Wilder Ranch (Enchanted Loop via Wild Boar Trail)
July 11, 2015

This one can be considered a minor update. I've replaced the photo set of this ride, which is my favorite one at Wilder, with a brand new set of images. The ride's stats, description, and route are completely unchanged. On the other hand, this update should still qualify as a significant improvement to the information on this ride, because the original photo set for this ride was cobbled together from different rides done in different seasons ranging from 2007 to 2012. These new photos all come from the same ride, which is a recent one. It also doesn't hurt that these new images were shot when all the vegetation was still green.

New ride: Sanborn County Park
July 5, 2015

The new ride I'm adding to the website today is the kind of new ride that gives me the greatest pleasure to post: a ride that has newly become possible in a park that used to disallow mountain bikes on its trails until recently. Not only that, but it's actually quite a desirable ride, made up primarily of singletrack, and the new trail whose construction made this new ride route possible (John Nicholas Trail) was actually designed with the needs and enjoyment of mountain bikers in mind along with those of other trail user groups. At the moment, the only kind of mountain bike ride possible in the newly biker-friendly Sanborn County Park is a somewhat awkward out-and-back route such as this, but I'm excited because there are more new bike-legal trails in the pipeline for Sanborn Park, including looping routes.

Vote for funding a new trail
June 1, 2015

Here's something all of us can do to help advance mountain biking in California: I've learned about an online vote that Bell Helmets is holding to decide which of three trail building projects will receive its $100,000 grant. One of these projects is a gravity run in the Exchequer Mountain Bike Park in Mariposa, California. While this location may not be within the immediate biking range of most Bay Area riders, it will interest many who can afford the time for weekend biking trips. Moreover, it's bound to bring fringe benefits to all of us in terms of being another step toward making Northern California a prime mountain biking area.

Voting ends on June 4th. My vote is already cast...

New ride: Morgan Territory and Vasco Road Loop
May 15, 2015

Here's a new one for the road cyclists out there. This long ride impressed me, though mostly for reasons other than what I initially expected. The ride features a good amount of beautiful scenery as well as a full traversal of one of the most secluded roads I know of in the East Bay (Morgan Territory Road). My original inspiration for this ride route was an urge to try biking on Vasco Road. (See the ride description for more on that.) In the end, the bigger highlights of the ride turned out to be Marsh Creek Road and Morgan Territory Road instead; especially the portion of the latter that descends back toward Livermore. Try it out for yourself and see, though I have to point out that the ride will impress the most if done in the spring when the land is green.

Updated: Mount Tam (Deer Park Road and Coast View Trail)
April 23, 2015

The content of this ride originally dated from the earliest history of this website and was a little slim. At the very least, it deserved more than the couple of photos originally available to represent its sweet and scenic singletrack descent on Coast View Trail. Though this ride is not a big or ambitious one, this trail still makes it one of the best ones that Mount Tam has to offer (even leaving aside for a moment the rarity of good bike-legal singletrack in Marin in the first place). With the main aim of adding a full photo set, I've repeated the ride not too long ago and the ride's content is now more well-rounded.

The new full photo set still doesn't include some of the best views to be seen from Coast View Trail because of partially foggy conditions at the time of my ride, and it also lacks any images to represent Muir Beach Overlook (which is ordinarily one of the highlights of this ride, in my opinion) because it was closed on that day. A few unexpected details are also revised now. One odd change is that, while the entire trail making up the descending part of this trail used to be called "Coastal Trail" in earlier years, the singletrack stretch of this trail now appears to be referred to as "Coast View Trail" on trail signs and on the park's online map(s). This meant a tweak not just to the ride's text but even to its title. The path followed to Muir Beach is also slightly different from that on the earlier route plot of the ride due to the slight repositioning since then of the parking lot there and its path to the beach. Finally, those who are really paying close attention may like to know that the ride's stats are all tweaked down marginally, which is mainly because of a part of the old route meandering through some of the streets in Muir Beach that I've left out on my latest ride.

Elevation profile clean-up
April 9, 2015

Until today, there was a little inconsistency in the elevation profile plots displayed on this site. While most plots were scaled so that the lowest and highest elevations in the data determined the lower and upper limits of the value range in the vertical axis, some of the older plots had the lower limit of the vertical axis at or close to zero feet even when the plot included no elevation values near that. The problem with this is that less than the full height of the plot area ends up being used for representing all the elevation variation within that ride, resulting in a loss of "vertical resolution" and making it difficult to see some of the more subtle elevation changes. I've now gone through all elevation profile plots on the site and fixed the ones with this problem.

One ride whose elevation profile exhibited one of the most noticeable examples of the original issue is the Saratoga Gap and Long Ridge ride, not least because I used to emphasize the seeming flatness of the elevation profile of the ride by also mentioning it in the ride description. Here's what the elevation profile of that ride used to look like before this fix and what it looks like now:

Notice how much more fine detail is noticeable in the "After" plot and how it does a better job of expressing which parts of the ride have a grade that is relatively uniform and which parts have more variation.

At first blush, it might seem like placing the lower limit of the vertical axis always at zero would be a better way of standardizing these plots, since it sounds like it would make them more comparable to each other. When you think about it for a few more seconds, though, it will be clear that this is not the case. Since the vertical scale on the graph will be different for different rides (a ride taking place around 7000 feet would squeeze a 7000-foot range into the same graph height into which a ride not exceeding 500 feet would squeeze only a 500-foot range), no such direct comparability would exist. So, the best that one can do with a plot like this is to maximize the amount of the graph area being used to represent the detail of the plot by scaling the vertical axis to show only the range of elevations within the data being shown, just like how the horizontal axis is scaled to show only the range of distance in the data, which is now true for all elevation profile plots I show on this site.

New ride: Crockett Hills
March 29, 2015

It's not at all common for me to post a new ride on this site the very next day after doing the ride. It has happened maybe once or twice until now, and only when I felt that the content is urgent in its usefulness to all of us. Well, it has happened again today and it's for the same reason. Easily one of the most interesting things that have been going on in Bay Area mountain biking in recent weeks is the sudden, exponential growth in the popularity of Crockett Hills Regional Park. This month, I've received two unrelated messages from this site's viewers within the space of a single week, both suggesting that I post a Crocket Hills ride, which is unprecedented. There is a very good reason for this: the recent construction of three (yes, three!) flow trails built specifically for mountain biking. These additions, along with a couple of older singletrack trail segments in the park, make it possible to do a 13-mile ride here with nearly 80% singletrack mileage, like the one I've just posted. Let's tell all our friends, let's all enjoy these great new trails, and let's all behave responsibly and nicely while we do that and there will be much more of this to come.

Updated: DeLaveaga Park
March 23, 2015

I don't get to ride at DeLaveaga often, but I think I'll make a conscious effort to change that from now on. Most recently, I rode there last May. (This update has been waiting in the pipeline for quite a while.) I was surprised at how much better I found it to be than I remembered. It's easy to underestimate this park. I have to agree that it's not enough to be considered a true destination for people who'd be driving from long distances, but I think I'll be doing just that anyway, at least once a year. It shouldn't disappoint anyone looking for a short ride (or is okay with repeating trails) no matter what distance they've driven from.

I'm sure it will surprise no one that I've used that last ride to refresh the material of the ride posted on this site. There's now a full photo set, where there were only three semi-relevant photos before. More importantly, the route shown is now more sensible and starts from the park's main parking lot, which is easier to get to and has many more spaces than the secondary parking option I was pointing out before. The description text is also much more fleshed out now and, hopefully, more informative.

New ride: Mount Hamilton
March 12, 2015

The new ride I'm adding to the site today is easily one of the most iconic road rides of our area. It wasn't overnight that I worked up the will power for this mountain climb and to convince myself that I'm in good enough shape to try it. In the end, however, I was pleasantly surprised. The climb on the ride is actually of a very manageable kind; it's just that there is a lot of it. You don't need race-winning cycling chops in order to make it to the peak. Those who can just keep pedaling all day at a slow burn can easily pull it off. The grade is possibly the most reasonable of any that you would find on a major mountain climb. The ride does rank among those with the highest total elevation gains on the site right now. So, it's nothing to sneeze at. But it's easily manageable by mere mortals who happen to be having a good season, and it's a very easy recommendation to make to all such riders.

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