Do you know the way to Niles?

I didn't either. And, it turned out, neither did the friends I was bicycling to Niles with. The description of the ride said we would start at Coyote Hills Regional Park, by the bay, and ride 9 miles up the trail to Niles, where we would stop for lunch before riding back. That was all. I had debated even about going, as 18 miles is a little far for me. But I decided to chance it.

The paved trail is on the levee that borders the Alameda Creek. It's basically a flood control channel and not as attractive as other creeks. But there were birds, and we twice saw great blue herons. The trail rises so gradually that I never felt like I was going uphill. Plus, the breeze was at our backs. (It turned out to be more difficult returning, downhill!)

As we got closer to the white “Niles” sign high on the hillside, I asked my friend Jane, who had organized the outing, if she would know when we got to Niles, and where to eat. She looked a little surprised, and said no; she had copied the description from another group's write up.

Well, we kept going, and after awhile, I realized we were passing the hill that announced Niles. Not a good sign. A little further and I was at the end of the trail (the last to arrive, as usual.) Willie, another member of our group, was talking to a couple of young men and getting directions to Niles. Turned out we had gone too far, not knowing where to turn off the trail, and had to back-track about 3/4 mile to Niles Blvd.

Niles is a really cute old town, with original buildings. The type of place with little shops that would be inviting to browse in. We rode up the main street, but didn't see much in the way of restaurants. Willie went into a shop to get a recommendation, and was told to go to the Nile (no “s”, with Egyptian theme decor) Cafe, and to get the eggplant sandwich.

So we backtracked again to the Nile Cafe (on I street, 1/2 block south of Niles Blvd.) It was the nicest place. Appeared to be family run. Not fancy, even a little funky, with pleasant service and good food. I think all five of us ordered the eggplant sandwich, which came with a really nice salad. I asked for mine without bread, and they offered to make a lettuce wrap for me. (In all my years of avoiding wheat, why did I never think of that?) It was delicious.

So, the next problem was how to get back to the bike path. By this time, we did not know where we were in relation to the trail, and no one had thought to bring a map. Jane went outside and asked a couple we had spoken with earlier. He brought out his iphone and looked up directions and gave them to Jane. (My group was all over 60; no one had a smart phone!)

Turned out there was something wrong with the directions. Checking a map later, I saw that a street we were supposed to look for was a mile away. And a park we were supposed to go through wasn't there. So much for smart phones. But they did point us in the right direction, which was south, and we were able find the trail back. All in all, a nice ride and lunch.

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