Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Mt Tam...the foggy, sunny, foggy adventure...

This past Saturday we started out at Chrissy Field headed for Mt Tam and Alpine Dam. This is a really nice loop that should net us about 60 miles with almost 5K of climbing.

I’m always amazed at the number of people that are out in the morning when we start at Chrissy Field. I don’t normally associate San Francisco with fitness, but based on the number of people you see out there running, walking, biking, roller blading or just strolling with their dogs, it seems like everyone in SF is athletic. (The bummer is that I forgot my camera so you’re just going to have to take my word for it. There were TONS of people out and about)

This past Saturday, there were even more than normal since there appeared to be some sort of training event going on...large groups of people were jogging along the marina and there was an obvious starting area with a large Nike tent set up and people milling about everywhere.

As we gathered, getting ready and waiting on some of the late comers, I faced the normal dilemma of what to wear. No, my concern isn’t about whether my shorts match my jersey, but whether I should bring a jacket, arm/leg warmers and long fingered gloves.

The problem is, that since I didn’t have the rack mounted on the bike, I knew whatever I wore in the morning, I’d most likely be carrying back in the afternoon. The question is whether it was cold enough to warrant the extra stuff or should I suffer across the Golden Gate in the hopes it warms up in Marin?

I decided on the jacket and left the arm/leg warmers in the van. As we started out, I was really thinking I had made a mistake. It was cold, damp and breezy as we headed out.
Afterall, as the saying goes, the coldest winter ever spent was a summer in San Francisco. (Here’s a pic from a previous ride that shows exactly what it WASN’T like Saturday morning)

Soon enough though, once over the bridge and down into Sausalito, the weather turned nice. So nice in fact that along the bike path headed towards Marin, I completely tuned into the music from my iPod and the beautifu morning and zoned out...zoned out so completely as a matter of fact that I missed the turn off. (Thanks, Jonathon for chasing me down and waking me up. Oh well, backtracking to regroup gave me bonus miles)

Once in Marin and starting on our way up to the mountain, all thoughts of cold vanished as the sweating began. Eventually, after enough climbing, we popped out above the fog and had a nice sunny climb up to the intersection that leads either to the summit or back down along the ridge and eventually down to Alpine Dam.

The majority of the group decided to skip the summit, but Eldred had never been so I agreed to head up to the top with him with the hope that we’d catch the group later at lunch. The funny thing about the climb to the summit is that much of it is downhill. This of course means you get to climb back up AFTER the summit...I know, weird huh?

Anyway, the coolest part of the climb this day was that part way to the summit, you come around a corner and have this amazing view of the City. Only today all you could see was a solid bank of fog with the very tip of Sutro Tower peaking out. A really amazing view! (again, since I’m an idiot and forgot my camera, you’re just going to have to take my word for it)

After reaching the top, taking the obligatory “I made it picture” and basking in the view, we turned around and began the climb back down the mountain...I know weird huh?

Once you get back to the bottom of the summit you head north and onto Ridgecrest Rd. This is usually an amazing road with views of the ocean on your left and the hills of Marin on your right...well, today you couldn’t see anything on your left except the solid bank of fog. It was ok though since we were above that in the sun and the road is exceptional.

Eventually you turn off Ridgecrest onto Bolinas Rd (I think) and you start down a steep, bumpy narrow road that gets considerably cooler as it descends into the redwoods before dumping you out at Alpine Dam. From here, the climbing begins again and although it’s not steep, it’s still a climb and the weather had warmed up so I was thankful that I hadn’t brought along the cold weather garb.

We caught up to Jonathon and Jerry at the top of the climb as Jonathon had flatted. We caught the rest of the group just before the descent into Fairfax where they had pulled in to the shade to wait for us. Once down in Fairfax we had a delicious lunch at Fair Fix CafĂ©…..I know it was delicious because I completely devored my turkey and cheddar on foccacia bread…..(of course that could be because it was 2:30 and I hadn’t eaten since 6:00am)

From there we headed back into the City via Ross, Kentfield, Larkspur and several other towns I don’t remember. As we got in to Sausalito the crowds increased and the weather cooled at almost the same rate. Sausalito was PACKED with tourists walking, driving and riding rental bikes. As we climbed back up to the bridge it really started cooling off and once at the bridge, the weather was once again damp and windy. It’s funny though, that the weather doesn’t stop the people from riding across the bridge in shorts and t-shirts...

Eventually we made it back to Chrissy Field where we enjoyed a nice cold beverage... What a fantastic ride...here's another picture from a previous ride that is pretty much the exact opposite of the weather we had on Saturday.

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