Bike Palo Alto, the city's popular community bicycling event, is stepping up the fun for its 10th anniversary this Sunday with four routes featuring a variety of activities, including glass-blowing demonstrations, Palo Alto Baylands tours and up-close visits with Barron Park's beloved donkeys.
The free bike riding event, which takes place from 1-3 p.m., encourages people of all ages to reduce their carbon footprint. It's a chance to discover bike bridges, underpasses, bike boulevards and pathways providing safer alternatives to busy, traffic-clogged streets, Bike Palo Alto co-organizer Penny Ellson said.
To energize cyclists, treat stops dot each route. Three of the four routes are suitable for families and amateurs and are on fairly flat terrain, co-organizer Penny Ellson said.
Registration and all bike routes start at Fairmeadow Elementary School, located at 500 E. Meadow Drive. Participants can take advantage of bike-safety checks and helmet fittings and booths with information about bicycle safety.
The 9.2-mile "yellow route," which spans 6.8 miles when using a shortcut, takes riders through parts of Palo Alto and Menlo Park. A stop at Heritage Park in Palo Alto includes a chance to decorate bikes and hop aboard a playground train. The route wends to the historic El Palo Alto redwood tree on the city border and continues to Menlo Park's Burgess Park where riders can cool off by making their own smoothie they can prepare through pedal-powered blenders.
The 8.3-mile "red route," which can be covered in 7.9 miles through a shortcut, takes riders west from Fairmeadow Elementary to a secret pathway for a treat at Robles Park, then by bike bridge to another secret passage off Monroe Drive. The route continues to Los Altos for a stop at the Sweet Shop for a frozen yogurt sample. (Adults can purchase espresso at the stand.)
A return trip takes the Bol Park bike path for a visit to Barron Park donkeys Perry and Jenny. After a treat stop in the park, cyclists ride to the fountain near the California Avenue Caltrain station for another treat before heading back to the Fairmeadow campus through the California Avenue tunnel.
If birds and brine are more to one's liking, the "blue route" is a 9.6-mile sojourn to the Palo Alto Family YMCA, down Ross Road bicycle boulevard and on to the Great Glass Pumpkin Patch at the Palo Alto Art Center, where glass-blowing demonstrations will take place every half hour.
After a stop at Edgewood Plaza Shopping Center for pastries, the tour continues to the Baylands EcoCenter, where nonprofit Environmental Volunteers will host an open house with smoothies made through pedal-powered blenders, docent-guided interactive exhibits and microscopes to explore tiny marsh creatures. Birding and expansive views of the bay top off the experience.
Die-hard bikers can take the fourth route, or Grand Tour, an 18.3-mile journey encompassing all of the routes.
To register and download route maps, visit bikepaloalto.org.