It was. Barely. I stopped 3 or 4 times to rest. I walked two blocks because I was tuckered out. I literally turned back two times, but each time I ended up immediately converting my downhill momentum into another try up the hill. It was still pretty tough. In future I think I'd walk the first couple of blocks up Spruce past Rose, because they turned out to have the worst gradient of the whole ride. Because I got that very early on, I was tired and had more trouble with the rest of the trip. Still, lots of nice views of the Bay and San Francisco and Marin and Angel Island and all the rest. I sometimes pretended that I was going slow to enjoy the views ...
It was equally gorgeous, though in a different way, when I got up to the park's level. I thought I'd have to go over the ridge, but it turns out that if you take Wildcat Canyon Road, it goes around the ridge, so you just turn off Spruce, peddle a couple of blocks, and boom, you're overlooking all of Tilden Park.
Wildcat was the type of road I wouldn't normally ride, because it's narrow and windy, but there were so damned many bicyclists up there that I knew the cars were going to have to be pretty careful. And such was the case. Not that there were a lot of cars; I think the bicycles outnumbered them.
I rode along Wildcat Canyon Rd. from the north side of Tilden to the middle, overlooking a lush green valley the whole time. I'd planned to go past the Botanical Garden and head up South Drive, which would have gotten me to parts of Tilden that I'd never been too. However, as I turned up South Drive, I saw it was another steep grade, and I decided I'd had enough of them.
So I locked up near the Botanical Garden, headed in (thankfully they don't charge us for public gardens like they do in SF), and wandered around a bit. It's a really beautiful garden with lots of stone paths and some dirt paths, all on a hillside, that you wander up and down — and down at the very bottom you have a cute little burbling creek. I sat and read at a bench right by the creek for a while. Locke & Key Volume 5: Clockworks — which was excellent.
Afterward, I rode back down the hill, which was a lot easier than going up. Pretty nice gradient for going down too. I was biking at about 20 mph most of the way, but the slope was just right that my bike wasn't trying to go faster and spin me out of control.
Total for the ride was 13 miles, which included a trip out to Solano so that I could visit the Pegaus-or-Pendragon Books there.
I am bone tired now. While on the road I saw lots of people who where taking the hill a lot easier than me. But, they were all wearing spandex. I also know that I'm in a lot better shape than I was a decade ago for this sort of riding. When we Iived in North Berkeley at one time I decided that I was going to start trying to bike up the hills with the goal of first getting to the Rose Garden and then all the way up to Tilden. So one day I started heading upward and a few blocks later I was so dizzy that I felt like I was going to fall down.
And that was 12 years and 20 pounds ago.
So, yay for making it to Tilden for the first time. It was a lot of work, but worth it. I'll do it again sometime, and this time I'll know which blocks are actually the worst and might be avoided.
It also looks like the Garden may be within 100 feet or so of the highest point on the way to Moraga, so some day when I'm feeling even more adventurous I might see if I can go through Tilden and over the hills to Moraga, which would be a great step forward.