Monday, June 21, 2010

Mt Tam and then Mt Tam….

This past Saturday a bunch of us met up at Chrissy Field in the City to ride across the Golden Gate Bridge and up through Marin.

It was cold in the east bay and I assumed it would be the same over there so I packed a bunch of warm clothes. Turns out it was cold and very windy at the beach, but once we had crossed the bridge the weather turned nice.

As a matter of fact, I took off my jacket and then spent the rest of the day either sliding the arm warmers up or down depending on which direction we were headed.

Jerry had a couple of different routes scheduled, but the longest was only 53 miles and 3900ft of climbing. Seeing as the Death Ride is in a few weeks I had emailed Bob to see if he and Leticia were doing something a little longer.

It turns out they were doing Jerry’s ride, but if I was interested Bob would come up with something that had a little more mileage and a little more climbing. Immediately I fired off an email saying yes, I’d love to do that. And immediately after that I realized what I had just done...

Bob is one of the fastest climbers and strongest riders I know. And, in a moment of stupidity, I had just agreed to ride with him...this is not going to end well...

We met up, and along with Bob was his friend Larry and a new rider David who said he had only had his bike a couple of months and my buddy Troy. Ok, so maybe there was hope for me afterall. out David was a total climber and the four of them were waiting for me at the top of every climb. It’s not that I’m not in shape and it’s not that I’m a total slug, it’s just that my climbing pace is much slower than pretty much everyone else that I know. (yeah, I guess I should work on that)

So, after crossing the GG Bridge, we headed through Sausalito and into Marin where we started up Mt Tam. MT Tam is a really pretty climb and although the roads are narrow, the traffic never really seems to be too bad. The weather turned out to be much nicer than I expected and the views all day long were just incredible.

Once we got to the top we headed north and then instead of going east down to Alpine Dam as I thought we would, we headed west down to Stinson Beach. I’d never been to Stinson and it’s really a neat little area. The only down side is I could look up and see the top of the hill where I had been and where I knew I had to climb back to.

Sure enough, we started climbing again. First on Hwy 1 out of Stinson then turning inland along the Panoramic Hwy back up towards Mt Tam. (yeah, starting to feel like I had just been here)

This time after hitting the top and heading back down we did go east towards Alpine Dam. This is a steep, twisting, narrow downhill section that forces you to stay alert and pay attention. Definitely not my strong suit at this point in the day, but all ended well.

Once you cross the dam, you begin your climb out of the valley. This actually went better than I expected and once we were back in Fairfax (and flat ground) I actually felt pretty good.

On the next to the last climb as you come out of Corte Madera we ran into Leticia and the other group. They had done the normal loop and seemed to be having a good time.

There’s one last climb as you come out of Sausalito and while it’s not really that bad, at the end of a long day and directly into a strong headwind pretty much took the last remaining gas out of my tank.

Evidently we had been spared the wind by the terrain we were riding in because once we got out on to the bridge to come back to the City, it was howling. It was blowing so hard that at one point, coming around the towers, I came to complete standstill and almost tipped over...

Eventually though, we got back to the parking lot, enjoyed a nice cold one and headed home. What a great ride. And as for everyone waiting for me at the top of every hill...thanks guys and sorry if I held up the pace.

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