This ride is especially nice for the intermediate cyclists; Palomares is one of the best roads you’ll ever find on a true intermediate route. The beginner’s ride is long but flat; a good way to build up saddle time. The advanced ride tacks on Redwood Road, another top choice. Traffic and civilization levels are low except for along Highway 84 (Niles Canyon Road).
BART parking garage/Stoneridge Mall Road/Stoneridge Drive
Exiting the BART station on the south (Pleasanton) side puts you on the third floor of the parking garage. Might as well ride down! Exiting to the left puts you on the loop road around Stoneridge Mall; keep to the right to get to Foothill.
Foothill Boulevard (all rides)
Foothill is a fairly nice road, somewhat more traffic than you’d prefer, but usually there’s enough room to share.
Pleasaton/Sunol Road (all rides)
In contrast with Foothill, Pleasanton/Sunol has little traffic and wide shoulders. It parallels active and deteriorating railroad tracks; there’s a restoration effort underway on the deteriorating ones, which were part of the original Transcontinental Railroad. There’s one climb, more an incline than a hill. The road ends on a downhill at Highway 84.
Niles Canyon Road (Highway 84) (all rides)
Be sure to hop off Highway 84 at Sunol to take a rest in this tiny rural town. Other than that, Niles Canyon is a beautiful and unpleasant road; the canyon is the beautiful part, the traffic is the unpleasant part. There’s a lot of it and it moves fast. Most of the road has a good shoulder, but there are bridges and other narrow sections which can be harrowing. The turnoff for Palomares Road (intermediate and advanced rides) comes immediately after the road goes under a railroad trestle; it’s a steep switchback to get onto Palomares, so be ready for it.
Palomares Road (intermediate/advanced rides)
Palomares is a very nice wooded, rugged road with little traffic. The climb is alongside a creek, and has some steep sections peaking at about 400 meters. There are a couple of wineries along the way. After the peak there’s a fun descent into Castro Valley. Keep bearing to the left as you near the bottom; Palomares becomes Palo Verde and then E. Castro Valley Blvd.
Redwood Road (advanced ride)
Redwood Road is wooded, rural, and beautiful. There’s practically no traffic. The climb from south to north is harder than the reverse; the descent is nice, but then there’s another climb up to Skyline.
Skyline Boulevard (advanced ride)
Skyline is a residential road populated by ex-Berkeley liberals who have sold out and made a million bucks. It’s wide and there’s little traffic. If there are no clouds there will likely be some stunning views of the bay–if there are clouds it’s likely you will be in them.
Tunnel Road/Old Tunnel (advanced ride)
Tunnel is a beautiful twisty descent with great views of the bay. At the T intersection, turn left to go over Highway 24 and then turn right on Old Tunnel. Where Old Tunnel meets Broadway, go down the steep hill and then turn right on any of the residential streets to get to College near Rockridge BART.