Whether you want a quick workout or a leisurely spin, The Loop in Palo Alto has you covered. This popular road bike route has several iterations; the one we recommend is relatively short, not too demanding, and suitable for novice or advanced riders. No road bike? Rent one at Bike Connection for $35 (a bit steep, but the wheels are yours for 24 hours). The 18-mile loop passes the Stanford campus, vaunted venture-capital companies on Sand Hill Road, and multimillion-dollar estates. The most-scenic stretches are west of I-280 in the less-trafficked towns of Woodside and Portola Valley. Those on a leisurely pace can make a pit stop at the historic Alpine Inn, two-thirds of the way through the ride; at more than 150 years old, this roadhouse beer garden is one of the Peninsula’s longest running businesses. Finish with a mad dash or a slow ramble. Either way works to close the loop.
BONUS: Grab a post-ride brunch at Saint Michael’s Alley just a few blocks from Bike Connection. Try the blue monkey pancakes (filled with blueberries and bananas).
The Bike Connection, 2011 El Camino Real (at Stanford Ave.), Palo Alto; 650-853-3000. Open Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Road bikes can be rented for $35. Directions from the Bike Connection at Stanford Ave. and El Camino Real: Travel southwest on Stanford Ave for 1.4 miles. Turn right onto Junipero Serra and go 2 miles to the Alpine Rd./Santa Cruz Ave. intersection; turn right. Then turn left immediately onto Sand Hill Rd. Ride 3.7 miles west on Sand Hill Rd., passing I-280. Sand Hill Rd. becomes Portola Valley Rd. Continue south on Portola Valley Rd. for 3.3 miles. At Alpine Rd., turn left. Pass the Alpine Inn in 1 mile. Travel another 3.5 miles to Junipero Serra where you turn right and return the way you came. St. Michael’s Alley serves brunch Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at its 806 Emerson St. location.