Sneaker Summer.

Jersey Burn

Cyclists may well be the only athletes who pride themselves on their tan-lines. Having grown up surfing in Southern California, the farmer tan was considered a sign of kookism. A tan-line on your arm meant time wearing a shirt, which meant time not spent in the water. With cyclists (well, at least roadies and cyclocrossers and maybe xc mountain bikers) the tan-line is a testament to time spent riding, the straighter and more defined the line across the biceps (unless you're a triathelete, in which case you're probably wearing a sleeveless jersey with arm warmers, so it's backwards...anyway, I digress) and quadriceps, the more time spent on the bike and therefore the more dedicated, more hardcore the rider. However, this overgeneralized rule doesn't excuse idiocy, which consequently, is exactly what lead to the, BURN-lines that I've got today.
Saturday was cold and windy in the city, but somehow summer still sneaked up on us as we completed a 70-some odd mile road ride in Marin. Before leaving the Mission district, I thought about throwing on some sunscreen, but the sky was cloudy and the wind biting so I figured arm and leg warmers would suffice for the whole day obviously, my powers of deduction failed me again.
Myself and frequent riding buddy, Tim, left San Francisco at 10 a.m. on a loop that we've done several times before, and one of my favorite, most varied road loops in Marin county. There's not much to be said for leaving the city on any given day, generally just a boring slog through traffic, then the grueling task of crossing the Golden Gate bridge, this weekend being particularly bad in that the West side bridge crossing was closed. For those who frequently ride the Golden Gate, you know exactly what this means. Sharing the East side crossing with pedestrians, tourists on rental bikes and even worse, impatient "hard core" cyclists is an exercise in patients and control unequal to none. Not only must one deal with oblivious tourists stopping at random for photo opportunities, walking four abreast on the 8 foot wide path and generally being in the way, but add to that impatient, inconsiderate cyclists barreling through it all as if their getting across the bridge in good time was tantamount to winning the Tour, shouting "on your left" to anyone they come across, blowing whistles (I'm sorry, but if you ride with a whistle in your mouth, you're an asshole), even throwing shoulder checks at 13 year old kids (Yep, shame on you! I saw that!). Remind me not to ride north until the Western crossing of the bridge is open again.
One of the great aspects of this ride is that instead of taking the heavily trafficked, overrun Highway 1 out of Mill Valley towards Muir Beach, it climbs out of Mill Valley on a very steep, but untraveled, back way by following Miller Ave into downtown Mill Valley, then turning left on Montford ave. There's a bar on the corner called the 2 a.m. Club which acts as a marker for the turn and is the route's namesake. Unfortunately for me, the steep climb means overheating, and overheating meant removing the leg and arm warmers very early in the day. Cresting the hill at the intersection of Muir Woods Drive and Panoramic Highway, the sun broke through the clouds and despite the cold wind still howling off the Pacific, summer was upon us.
Usually, we'll continue climbing on Panoramic to Pan toll ranger station then drop down the hill into Stinson Beach, instead, we opted to head straight down Muir Woods Drive to meet Highway 1 and continue on the coast through Stinson Beach. With a driving headwind through the flats around Bolinas Lagoon, Tim and I traded drafts, hardly managing a minute at a time at the front for the 5 or so miles between Stinson Beach and Bolinas-Fairfax road.
There's something very disconcerting about starting a long climb with no legs left, which is exactly what happened as we turned onto Bolinas-Fairfax Road to start the 4.6 mile 1500 foot climb up to Ridgecrest Blvd. known to us as "suffering hill" for the supposedly motivational graffiti that some sadistic cyclist scrawled on the pavement on the way up, single word slogans such as "hope..." "regret..." and "suffering..." gauging your progress on the way up the climb. As I settled into the climb, I began thinking of the words I'd put down if I could: "I..." "can't..." "believe..." 'I..." "didn't ..." "wear..." "...sunscreen". Legs burning in more ways than one.
It's funny though, how a ride can seem over before it's close to done. Such it is with this ride. The peak of "suffering hill", where Bolinas-Fairfax road crosses Ridgecrest is quite literally the halfway point of this loop, but to me the ride seems like it hits the homestretch here. A long, bumpy and somewhat technical descent down to Alpine Lake leads into rolling hills leads straight into Fairfax, and from there it's the straight and easy way home through the various boroughs of Marin: San Anselmo to Ross to Kentfield to get the point.
All in all, its a fun day loop that touches on all the splendors of road riding in Marin. Coastal vistas, mountainous woods, fast, rolling terrain, long hill climbs, vast open spaces, and suburban city streets. I welcome you to check out the route and try it yourself.
Just don't forget your sunscreen!

June 12, 2011 by Angus
Tags: journal
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Adrian said:

another good, even less traveled and more pleasant way to get up to edgewood ave and the intersection w/ panoramic and muir woods rd is to take miller all the way into town, go left on throckmorton, left on cascade, and left on marion. marion is a wooded residential street that meets edgewood, the climbing is gentle. more roundabout, but worth it:

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