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A Quick Oakland Hill Climb - with a Surprise!

Posted by Friends at Sports Basement on

Title text: Shelter in the Greatest Place laid over a photo of a mysterious telephone booth amid the trees.

This article was written by Lynell Lacey, Director of Buying and complete and utter badass cyclist.


If you're looking for a quick, 60-90 minute cardio blast, this one is picturesque and steep-as-heck. This route is not mysterious, but there is a twist at the end! There are two variations, with two possible starting points. Here's the overview with a turn-by-turn guide below:

Map of cycling route

Start at Fruitvale and Macarthur. Why start here? Easy: La Farine and Peets are two doors apart, so you can fuel your pre-and post-ride pastry and coffee needs (to go, of course). And there is a free lot on Bienati Way, right behind the businesses. As with any free lot, hide all valuables, and lock up.

Alternate start: Rocky’s Market at Leimert and Oakmore. Rocky's is a friendly local market with organic produce, water and snacks--and a great beer selection. Just sayin’. Head up Fruitvale Ave, and take a right at the bottom of the short, brutal hill just at the entrance to Dimond Park (Fruitvale actually takes this right also). Follow the road as it changes to Whittle Ave, and turn left on Tiffin Rd. 

Go right at the T with Waterhouse, left at the T with Clemens, and up the short brutal bump to Leimert (you're warm now, right?), where you wave from a safe distance to your friends who started at Rocky’s, and take a sharp right to head up Leimert.

Leimert curves up and around through the neighborhood. There’s just the first intersection with Hoover, where you need to remember to bear left to stay on Leimert. You’ll come over a crest, then descend to Monterey Blvd.

Here, you can choose to take the Snake route, or continue the famed Leimert-Burdick-Butters-Robinson way. We're gonna take the Snake route. A left takes you rapidly down Monterey to Park (yes, you could have hugged the gutters up Park, but where’s the fun in that?), and a right over Hwy 13, followed by a left on Mountain, and a right at the foot of Snake, where you will climb, climb, climb for a solid 20 minutes or so.

Snake is now open all the way up to Skyline, following an 18-month closure. But if you are a real masochist who just <3s to climb, you can take a right on Colton Blvd., and climb up a wall for 3 blocks, then follow it along rollers until you reconnect with Snake at the Skyline junction.

Take a right on Skyline now, and enjoy the rolling road as it follows the spine of the East Bay hills for 2.5 miles. 

Now, it’s time for the surprise:

Take a left up the steep driveway of Chabot Space and Science Center. This is another wall, but you are sooo ready for that now.

Selfie of Lynell with a telephone booth in the woods behind her.Just as the road levels at the top, before the parking, you will see a locked gate on your right marking off a tiny parking pad. And there, among the trees, is the most forlorn public phone I think I’ve ever seen. It even has a phone book! Take a selfie with it (but be sure not to touch it or any other surfaces that may come into contact with someone else’s face or hands, of course!) and tag us on Instagram at @sportsbasement. Yep, that’s the surprise. Just a little pay phone in the woods.

Now that you've had your (metaphorical) brush with the 1990's, descend the driveway and take a left on Skyline. Follow it down the hill, taking a right on Joaquin Miller, where in 10 minutes you’ll scream down what it took you absolute ages to climb. Joaquin Miller turns into Lincoln, taking you past the Mormon Temple and down. Follow Lincoln all the way to Macarthur, then take that back to Fruitvale, and La Farine. If you started at Rocky’s, take a right at the stop on Tiffin (first stop sign at the bottom of the hill), and follow Tiffin back to Rocky’s.


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2 comments


  • First of all: I’m so sorry about your colleague’s passing. That’s a terribly sad thing to be dealing with, and you have all of our condolences here at SB.

    Second: you’re absolutely right. We’ve been so focused on keeping people’s spirits up that we’ve neglected to maintain focus on what’s really important: staying safe, healthy and socially conscious. We’ve edited this post to find that balance, and I hope you’ll agree it’s much improved now. We sincerely hope that you’ll reach out again if you find any other oversights like this- it’s citizens like you that make our community strong. Thank you for taking the time to comment, and again, our heartfelt condolences for the passing of your friend in Paris.

    Jessica @ SB on

  • Are you really telling people to go out and pick up a public pay phone right now on their ride?!? what’s wrong with you guys. corona virus can live on hard plastic for days. just like the the thousands of other doctors, nurses and health care workers that wonders whether this is the day i catch corona virus while taking care of the sick people in the bay area, I don’t get to to stay home. this isn’t a mini vacation for me to discover fun new spots to ride. i’m writing this with a mask on my face during my break. I just found out that one of my doctor colleagues I used to work with in San Francisco just died in Paris after catching Covid while on the job. you guys should edit this or take this down immediately. unbelievable.

    christo swan on

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