For the road rider looking to get loopy with a few heart-pumping climbs, head for the hills; specifically, the East Bay burgs of Moraga, Orinda, and Lafayette. Take a 21-mile spin that starts in the college town of Moraga, home to Saint Mary’s (and its March Madness Cinderella team). Start with smooth rolling for a few miles along Moraga Way, passing pleasant tree-lined streets. But get ready. After Orinda, the first of two solid climbs comes on strong: Bear Creek Road doesn’t have much traffic, which is helpful when you’re pumping up a 500-foot ascent. To the left, Briones Reservoir is a refreshing sight. Top out and descend to Happy Valley Road where you get to do it all over again. This seldom-used ribbon of road is a bucolic beauty. Giant trees arc overhead, providing ample shade for the climb. A short descent quickly brings you into Lafayette, where traffic picks back up. Turn onto Moraga Road for the final 4.5 miles, including one last—mercifully brief—climb.
Park at Moraga Commons Park (map). Ride south on Moraga Rd. for .3 mile. Make a right onto Moraga Way and go 4.6 miles into Orinda. Bear left to stay on the main road, which becomes Camino Pablo and passes under Hwy. 24. Go 2.2 miles, then turn right onto Bear Creek Rd. Ride 4.2 miles, then turn right onto Happy Valley Rd. Travel 4.1 miles into Lafayette. At the T-intersection with Mount Diablo Blvd. turn left and ride a few blocks to Moraga Rd. Turn right onto Moraga Rd. and go 4.4 miles to Moraga Commons Park.