Today was the first of the many Schwab training rides leading up to the Waves to Wine 150 mile ride in September. I met 6 co-workers at the Sports Basement at 8:30am after taking the Transbay bus across the Bay Bridge from Emeryville and riding up the Embarcadero from the Transbay terminal.
It was cold. Really cold. And foggy. When I first arrived around 8:10, I couldn’t see the bridge for the fog. I t started to burn off and I took the above picture, which is not a black & white image despite appearances. I didn’t have a jacket because I didn’t want to have to carry it when the sun came out. My arm warmers kept the worst of the morning chill off, but it was still cold.
We took off about 8:40 at a very leisurely pace across the Golden Gate Bridge. At that hour, there wasn’t much much traffic on the bike path. But there was this one mountain biker who was giving some of our riders shit for what he called “breaches of etiquette. He told Peter he shouldn’t be using his Aerobars on the bridge and he made some comment to another guy, Phil, which I didn’t quite catch.
Meanwhile, this guy is riding with two iPod ear buds and whistles to people when he’s going to pass them instead of saying something. When Phil pointing this out, the guy asked if he wanted to fight. What a prick.
The sun was starting to peek out as we made our way off the bridge and down into Sausalito. From there, it’s onto the San Francisco Bay Trail for a few miles, up to the tiny Camino Alto climb and around the Headlands to Tiburon. It was really nice ride though I did pass two turkey vultures fighting over a deer carcass which was was fairly disgusting and very inauspicious.
At Tiburon, which is only about 20 miles from the Sports Basement, we broke for brunch. I had a great omelette with avocado, fontina cheese and ham. Exactly the fuel I needed to for the next leg of my trip from Tiburon to Stinson Beach.
After about a 45 minute break, we were back on the road. I continued with the group until we hit Highway One where I peeled off and headed up the slopes of Mt. Tamalpais on my way to Stinson Beach. Almost immediately the road starts to wind up the mountain. It’s a narrow two lane street with barely a shoulder. Super freaky. I used to see cyclists coming up and down this road all the time when I was headed up for a hike or going to the beach and I thought they were insane. Now I was one of them.
The worst part was going around a right hand turn in places where the shoulder narrowed. I could hear the cars screeching around the corners behind me, knowing full well that they had no idea I was just ahead of them. It was nerve-wracking.
The first part of the climb to the fork that head up to the summit of Mt. Tam wasn’t bad in terms of grade. The funny thing is that I thought I was done with the climbing. Oh no. Not even close. The worst of it was still ahead of me.
I dropped through thick fog to Muir Beach on the most hair raising descent of my life. It’s not just the windy roads, the fog and the cars. It’s the grade and the speed. It’s just almost impossible not to go fast. You just have to white knuckle it and hang on for dear life.
There’s a short flat section past the Pelican Inn, but then it’s back into the steeps for the hardest part of the ride. There are tons of false flats and every time I thought I had reached the summit, there was another hill ahead of me. It was tough, but at least the fog kept me cool.
When I did reach the summit around noon, it was so socked in with fog it was hard for me to believe that it was going to be a nice beach day, but a couple of riders heading the other direction assured me that the sun was shining at Stinson. I had to go up and down a few more hills before I reached the scenic lookout above the beach.
Dropping into Stinson was brilliant. The sun was out. The road was nice and smooth (and relatively straight) and I knew I wouldn’t have to ride back. Jennifer met me in Stinson. We had a great afternoon sitting on the beach eating the picnic she brought and hanging out. It was a great way to wrap up the three day weekend. After 199 miles and 14 hours in the saddle over 4 days, it was good sit my ass on the sand and do absolutely nothing for a few hours.
Ride Time 4:13:05
Max Speed 35.7
Average Cadence –
Here’s the route map: