Distance: ~22 miles (intermediate) or ~40 miles (advanced)
Difficulty: 6 out of 10 (intermediate) or 8 out of 10 (advanced)
Elevation 1800 feet (intermediate) or 3500 feet (advanced)
Type: Road, Mountain, e-bike
Terrain: Paved road with hills
Intermediate Route: https://www.strava.com/routes/3145809563889890690
Advanced Route: https://www.strava.com/routes/3145806723207725274
The Three Bears Loop is the gold standard loop of the East Bay. A picturesque ride of modest duration, this route takes you along smooth roads through the green hills of Berkeley. Cyclists are able to admire both the San Pablo and Briones Reservoirs while ascending Mama Bear, Papa Bear, and Baby Bear, all relatively short and pleasant climbs. With secluded views and close proximity to both Berkeley and Oakland, the Three Bears Loop is both convenient and enjoyable.
For anyone who isn't already familiar with this route, the nickname of the ride cries out for an explanation. The "three bears" are three noteworthy climbs on Bear Creek Road, which are almost the ride's only significant climbs. The first of these is "Mama Bear", which arrives a little bit past the 14-mile mark of the route shown on this page. This half-mile climb with an average slope just under 8% grade is certainly enough to make you take notice, but it's not enough to test the will of any riders other than those who are the most out of shape. The "Papa Bear" climb deserves a bit more respect, but only because it includes a quarter-mile introductory stretch whose average grade doesn't even reach 5%. Not counting that addition, Papa Bear would come out to be almost identical to Mama Bear: a touch over half a mile in length and just under 8% in overall average grade. That only leaves "Baby Bear", which is a bit like the last hurrah of Bear Creek Road. In the last 900 feet or so of Bear Creek Road before it ends at Camino Pablo, the road decides to do one last climb where it gains 90 feet in elevation. While that's not a big climb in quantity, it is in terms of slope, because the ride's single steepest spot arrives in this stretch. At its steepest point, Baby Bear attains at least a 16% grade and possibly as high as 18% for one brief moment. But those are over in seconds.
While the above is an intermediate ride (~22 miles, 1800 ft of climbing), advanced riders can optionally add a 4th bear, the “California Golden Bear” to Campanile (the iconic bell tower of University of California Berkeley). This route will be a total of ~40 miles and 3500 of climbing.
Route and elevation profile:
The MIT Club of Northern California and organizers do not assume any responsibility for any personal injuries or property damage suffered during this event. Cycling is a sport that has inherent risks. Each participant is entirely responsible for being aware of these risks and taking necessary precautions. Every cyclist must wear a helmet. We require that all cyclists submit a signed liability waiver, which we will provide to those who RSVP.
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I acknowledge and understand that: (i) I am not required to participate in this event; (ii) my participation is voluntary and at my sole risk; and (iii) I am responsible for my own protection against Covid-19, including, without limitation, following all health and safety protocols communicated to me or posted at the event venue.