Saturday, July 01, 2006

Mt. Tam Ride

74 miles, 6840' of climb, with Roberto, Marius, Brian Wickman and Dana Levine. Lovely views of the fog on the coast and in the inland valleys, and pleasant temperatures, but no pictures!

We met at 8:30 at the Tamalpais High School Parking lot. Dana asked if I had a first aid kit in the car, since he had crashed into a seagull while riding over to meet us! After he cleaned up and I moved the car so it wouldn't be at risk of being towed, we started off. This was my first ride with Marius Eriksen, and it soon became apparently why other riders held him in awe. He sped away on the flats and up the hills quickly. When we got to Panaromic, we turned left and then descended Panaromic to Highway 1 in the fog.

I saw Dana fish-tail in front of me, which was a signal to pare back on my descent (not fast by anybody's standards). Brian later told me that he fish-tailed behind me as well, so evidently there was a spot of oil on that section of the road that I was just lucky to miss. Highway 1 curves around Muir Woods, normally providing a lovely ocean view that was enshrouded in fog.

A few climbs later, I was climbing alone, having given up on chasing any of the faster riders. When we stopped at the bottom of Panaromic Highway Roberto asked if I could look at his bike, since he felt like it wasn't as fast as it normally was. I looked at both front and rear wheels, and they were true and in good condition, so I couldn't help him. We tweaked Dana's front deraileur, which had been pushed out of alignment with his crash, and then began climbing Panaromic. I started climbing next to Roberto, and to verify that his bike was truly OK, we pedaled to about the same speed and started coasting, and when we slowed down at the same rate, concluded that his bike was no more broken than mine was.

We climbed through the fog, but after a few switchbacks Roberto concluded that it was in fact, something wrong with the way he felt today, so he announced that he would just ride back to the car and wait. He was indeed uncharacteristically slow on both the climbs and the flats, so when we regrouped at the Pan Toll Ranger Station I gave him my car keys and he rode back. We had burst through the fog while under the shade of the Redwood Trees along Pan Toll, and now rode strongly above the clouds. The temperature had warmed to about 80 degrees once we were above the fog, and below us we could see a spread of cloud cover spreading through the trees all the way to the horizon. It was a magical view, and I regretted not having a camera, mine being on loan to my mom who was travelling through China.

Past Ridgecrest drive, we continued to the summit, where the road wound around the mountain enough to show us that San Francisco and the Bay too, was enshrouded in fog, with only the top of Coit Tower peeking out through the fog. I was again, last up the mountain, and got there to see Mt. Diablo across the Bay, with its massive base in fog.

We made a rapid descent to Ridgecrest and headed North towards Fairfax Bolinas road. This is my favorite part of the ride, where you feel like you're riding on top of the world, clouds below you. Large groups of cyclists were coming at us the other way, so there was a club ride going on, but I did not stop to inquire as to what the ride was.

The descent on Fairfax Bolinas road was rough and bumpy, with just enough traffic to keep us from taking any risks around the blind corners. Once we linked up again with Highway 1, we headed North, over a series of sharp rolling hills, down the back of which we managed 38-40mph into Olema. We pacelined our way into Point Reyes Station, where we shared a pizza at the cafe.

Past Point Reyes Station, we turned right onto Point Reyes Petaluma Road, a long flat road along gentle terrain. I found a good position behind Marius and we all hung on as best as we could and begged him to ease up a bit on the gentle inclines so we could all stay together. Past the reservoir, we turned right onto Nicasio Valley Road, where we stopped at the Old Ranchiera turnoff to relieve ourselves and take a break. Soon after that, Nicasio Valley Road entered a shaded climb whose descent would drop us onto Sir Francis Drake. Ignoring the wide road, we took San Geronimo Valley road to by pass the traffic until the pass into Fairfax. We rode the pass into Fairfax separately, agreeing to meet at the turn off to the bike path.

I survived a rude driver and the fast descent into Fairfax, and then gathered with Dana and Marius to wait for Brian. He showed up a few minutes later, having fallen due to his chain dropping off as he shifted at the top of the hill. Fortunately, the traffic was in front of him, so other than a few scrapes he was OK. We then wound our way through San Anselmo and Larkspur through bike paths and backroads before making it to Mill Valley, where we split up, Marius and I heading back to the car while Dana and Brian riding home to San Francisco. We got back to the car at 3:45pm. Brian would get an excess of 105 miles and 10,000' of climbing by the time he got home.

Roberto was waiting for us when we got to the car (fortunately, he had brought a book with him). We would find out later that he had been dehydrated prior to the ride.
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