...and I for one am sick of this horrible grey weather. Haven't we suffered enough this winter? And how is it that three weeks after the solstice I'm still waiting for summer?
Such it was as we departed the Mission this past grey and windy Saturday morning. Still suffering a raging headache from the Levi's release party we threw at the shop the night before (I don't recommend EVER drinking Heineken light to excess, even if it's free), now especially wishing I had just stayed in bed and slept off the day with the lady and the cat.
In our previous nights revelry and skewed judgement, we'd decided to take a long, mixed-terrain loop through Marin County. In a drunken haze we'd plotted our route, listened to the slurred advice of our friends: "Riiiddeee Deeeerrrr Paaarrrkkk....ittt's soooo steeeep!", and made plans to depart at 10 a.m.
Now it's 11:30 and I'm suffering across the Golden Gate Bridge at a snails pace, boxed in by thousands of pink clad walkers-for-breast-cancer, trying to determine which way to puke if it comes: Into traffic? Over the edge and into the Bay? On the guy STILL riding with a whistle in his mouth, blasting it at participants of a CHARITY EVENT!?!? (that's right, I saw you!) Guess which one I'd pick?
Across the bridge and into the relative seclusion of the headlands. Fog and mist. Head clearing and legs loosening up as we start the first climb up Miwok trail. Blessing the 11-32 cassette I just installed on my cross bike as we climb the steep gravel of Coastal trail. Nobody out save for a few hikers and people on horseback. I'm always completely blown away by just how lucky we are to have untainted, empty, wilderness right in our backyard, just a quick pedal away from the city. Coastal trail to Coyote Ridge Fire Road to Coyote Ridge Trail back to Coastal Trail. A screaming descent into Muir Beach, always curious if I've made the right decision on tires, slicks for the road sections or knobbys for the dirt? The Panaracer slicks seem to be holding up alright (but I've got three tubes and a patch kit in my saddle bag, just in case).
From Muir beach we hang to the right on Muir Woods Road, looking for the gate that signals the beginning of Deer Park Road, which neither of us had ridden before, and which Gabe (from Box Dog) had insisted we ride the night before. Deer Park Road: a steep, dirt fire road that climbs nearly 1500 feet in five miles, from Muir Woods Road to Pan Toll Ranger station. I'm glad we took Gabe's advice. The climb up Deer Park, though at times steep and difficult, is a beautiful climb, alternating between open, grassy fields, and dense, ferny woods. Despite my earlier protests, I was actually happy for the crummy weather as it cooled us off on the long climb, fog catching in the treetops and coming down in big drops. Mud on the forest floor.
Pantoll ranger station. A quick stop for water and a snack. Back to the climb, this time on pavement. Pantoll road to Rock Springs to Ridgecrest Blvd along the famous "Seven Sisters" route. Bolinas Ridge Trail begins just at the Northern end of the "Seven Sisters" where Bolinas-Fairfax Road crosses Ridgecrest Blvd. To the right you drop to Alpine Dam, to the left, Bolinas. Straight ahead there's a firegate. Go under it.
It's been a few years since I've rode Bolinas Ridge, and as with many memories, mine of the trail had softened over the years to a fond one, full of easy rollers and wide open grassy spaces. While my memory served in that regard, Bolinas Ridge Trail is also rocky, rutty, rooty, and steep. At times all four at once. Though I recommend riding Bolinas Ridge at least once to anybody, no matter what you're riding, I for one don't expect to ride it again without at least a hardtail with a shock fork, and I hope that two years from now, once that memory has softened up again, someone will be there to remind me that Bolinas Ridge Trail on a cross bike is a hot, uncomfortable, 13 mile slog that leaves your hands, arms, neck and shoulders feeling like you've spent the day running a jackhammer instead of riding a bike.
Bolinas Ridge Trail dumps out on the bike path that parallels Sir Francis Drake Blvd, right near Samuel P. Taylor park, it was difficult NOT to just call it quits for the day and stay at the Hike and Bike site at Samuel P. for the night, especially when we came across Jenny, Shawn, and Pamela (some shop friends) in Lagunitas, stocking up with beer for a night of bike camping. But alas, we were ill prepared for a spontaneous overnight, carrying little more than the kits we wore and some spare tubes. So it was sandwiches and Gatorade a quick rest and the long winding way home through the 'burbs of Marin. It was a good, long, and fun ride, and despite the numbness in my hands and the stiffness in my neck, my head was no longer pounding and the last vestiges of last nights party had been banished from my body. Then riding back along Sir Francis Drake something miraculous happened....
The sun came out.
I mean, it is July, after all.