2015 SFR Marin Mountains 200k


photo tour version

Another early morning in the Presidio, and here I am again. Slow learner… Again it’s a bit overcast, but not too cold. Nice riding temperature. Great to see Max and the rest of the mixed terrain tribe.

A few last-minute instructions, or at least my paraphrases of them:
1. Enjoy the course!
2. Easy on the downhills
3. In Point Reyes National Seashore groups must be three riders or less. So… if you get there in a group of five, you have to split into 3 and 2. Or 4 and 1. Wait, that wouldn’t work. Well you know, modulo 3.

JonB has the Bombadil today, and had sent an e-mail on the list about competing for lanterne rouge, but as soon as Max says time he’s off like a shot, muttering, “I’m going to win this thing!” There’s a few other rabbits, then the rest of us head out together.

Over the bridge, through Sausalito, bike path then over to Tam Valley. I end up toward the front, mostly since I know which way to go at the navigational decision points. Nice chit-chat up Highway 1 and onto Panoramic Highway.

The guys pull ahead, Kris and I settle in for the duration. It’s her first time doing this route, she’s a little concerned about finishing. She’s a super strong rider – new to the rando thing but jumped right in and did PBP this year! – but there is the unknown route and mixed terrain today, and apparently Robert Sexton told her to be prepared to DNF.

Anyway, I try to give her an idea of what’s coming without either sugar-coating it or making it seem impossible. Between this and some getting-to-know-you chatting we’re soon at the Fire Station and on to the first dirt.


Wend our way up. Oh the event date is later this year so the sun isn’t quite as high. Get some nice morning color in the clouds. I stop and take some pictures. More riding and talking and hey we’re at the West Point Inn already!


Finish the dirt climb and stop at the gate to answer the question. Tom and Roy are there, and we continue on the pavement together. Tom, AKA The Enabler, starts scheduling our ride calendars to finish the requirements for a RUSA Cup.

Highest paved road in Marin County! Congratulations! We’re into the clouds now, and it’s a bit moist. Pick up BrianJ on the descent. Whee! down the pavement and back on to dirt, with a couple short but rather rude kickers. Good times.

Bit more climbing, some descending and there’s the left turn onto Rocky Ridge. We regroup there. Kris arrives last, Sorry, sorry. OK, we’re adding another instruction: No apologizing.

Mostly downhill to Bon Tempe Dam, it’s neat to see Kris color in a bit more of the map and connect the dots that below the dam is the back end of Alpine Lake. She’s ridden over Alpine Dam on Bolinas-Fairfax Road.

Back on pavement. Stop in the new parking/payment kiosk area by Sky Oaks and fill water bottles. Out to the aforementioned Bolinas-Fairfax Road for some more climbing. We don’t go all the way to Alpine Dam, but turn back on to dirt at Pine Mountain Road.

It starts fairly innocuously, but then the steep bit looms. Kris says, Oh, that’s what you were warning me about. Yup. I have a pretty good go at it, but lose momentum with a moment of indecision about line choice and am off the bike, walking. After a bit do find a spot that’s a bit less steep and get going again. Maybe it’s not the most efficient use of energy, but it is more fun to ride.


Regroup at San Geronimo Ridge Road. Bumpbumpbump along that. Info Control. We’re going to have to talk to Max about this question…

Intersection, last dirt for a while. Descent, it gets pretty steep. Oh and there’s a gate at the bottom. Part way down there’s a guy coming up on a mountain bike, he says something about there’s a lady back there… uh, OK.

… with a crazy dog! Just when I was starting to wonder what the heck he was talking about, there’s some intense barking and an airborne dog. Fortunately the lady has a tight grip on the leash so it doesn’t actually get close to me but yikes.

That was exciting. And… here’s the gate. Oh and a pass-through. I thought there was a step-over but either I’m misremembering or they’ve taken it out. Roy and Brian are there already, Kris and Tom roll down shortly, then Tyler, MikeS and Cyndi (on a FS mountain bike!)

Tyler had gotten a late start, so isn’t riding for credit, there’s some chat about the rest of the course and Robert’s DNF prediction. OK, I’m not a big fan of lots of rules, but no more mention of Robert Sexton and that nonsense!


Pavement interlude. Through Nicasio, OH PUMPKINS!!!, by the reservoir, toward Petaluma. Brian and Roy pull in to the Cheese Factory, looks like maybe there’s some other randos stopped there but Kris and I are fine on water so we keep rolling. Tom pulls off then rolls on with us.


Out Hicks Valley and turn toward Marshall. Moist. Not quite rain, and no, Tom, Kris is not spitting on us, but heavy mist. Heavy enough to collect on the glasses. Hmphft. Gonna have to talk to the route director about this…


Just after the info control Brian and Roy catch up with us, and we continue up the wall. Despite the rainish, there’s some cool views over Tomales Bay. Tom predicts the weather will make for an uncrowded stop at the Marshall Store.


Predictions and weather aside, all the tables are full, but there’s only a couple of people in line when I go inside. Earlier I’d been thinking beer, but after the moist I’m wanting warm beverage. Boo, no hot chocolate. OK, coffee.

In line Roy asks if we’re getting sandwiches. I’m not, don’t want to be stopped too long, but do whatever you want. Go to get my coffee. Gah, it’s out too, and I’ve already paid. So much for quick stop, spose I’ll wait for the fresh pot to be made. Fill my bottles while I’m waiting.

EricW appears, asks if we’re doing a turn and burn. Well, not Max stop, but not too long. He and Albert have been here, having lunch. Asks if we’ve seen Steffen, John and Dan. Not sure. JonB? Pretty sure he’s ahead. Does he not know what lantern rouge is? There’s still a bit of baked brie and bread. Oh sure, why not. ohthasssreallyguuuud.

Coffee! Now bathroom. Kris thinks I’m leaving. No, not yet, just going to the bathroom. Ha, am I being That Guy today? Oh well. MikeS, Tyler and Cyndi have come in, and Steffen, John and Dan – they’d been stopped at the Cheese Factory. What was I doing? Oh, porta-potty… and Aunt Rose has arrived on her monthly visit. Lovely.

Gotta get moving before the chill sets in. Well if no one else is going to have that last bit of brie… and off we go, plus Eric and Albert. Wow that brie and bread was really good. Between that and the coffee, once I’m moving again I just feel smiley happy all over. I’m still thinking about it, the brie and bread that is, miles later. YUM!

Rolling down the Coast, pulling again, enjoying going my pace. Hey there’s Sherry headed north! Nope, no stop in Pt. Reyes Station. The parklet next to Bovine is almost empty of cyclists. Just past the bridge see Hunt in a group of riders, headed in to town.

Turn on to Sir Francis Drake to head out to Mt. Vision, see MarC Moons, Tony (space his last name, a few miles later remember – Lee!) and someone else. Hmn, wonder if there’s some SRCC ride. Not sure if we’re supposed to split up here, or if it’s just when were on the trails in the Park.


The cheese and coffee glow gets me to Mt. Vision – there’s a ranger parked at the bottom, oh, is that the monitoring? – but then starts to fade. Urgh. This climb always seems rather interminable. Perhaps I should come do it some day without 78 serious miles already on the legs. I try to distract myself with the views. And I do have the pleasant company of Kris and Tom. AND!!! There is the reward of super sweet dirt. Yeah, let’s get this climb over with.

Eric and Albert have continued on, but Brian and Roy are still at the info control at the top. Oops. 3+. Y’all better skeedaddle.

Black (AKA Elephant) Mountain

Black (AKA Elephant) Mountain in the distance

WHEE! Ohyaysuperfun through the tree tunnel and nice nice dirt and oh lookee there I happen to glance up and Black Mountain! – over between Pt. Reyes Station and Nicasio Reservoir, fun to see it from a different vantage point. Stop for a picture, notice a piece of black plastic on the ground. Trash pickup. Ah, part of a … tailight. There’s the front, and … battery, battery. Still works!

Regroup at a trail junction. Kris has a big smile. We talk about how beautiful and magical this section is. YAY! I’m so glad she’s stoked on it!!!

Roll on – huh, I don’t remember there being houses right there. Maybe they’ve thinned the trees out some. Or maybe the not trying to keep up with Max I’m looking around more.

Dump out on a short paved section, then back on gravel. Roy and Brian are stopped, fixing a flat. Back on pavement, super fun swoopy descent, then cruise over to Olema.


Receipt control. I’m not quite warm enough for ice cream, but Kris, Tom and Roy get milkshakes, so we’re well represented in that department. Not up for a whole beer either (I know, what is going on here?!) but Eric shares his. The other groups roll in.


We head out, nice warm-up down Highway 1 and then hit Randall Trail. Everyone finds their own pace and we all make it to the top. Mike comes charging up (Strava???) and pops a gratuitous wheelie just before the gate. Nice.


Next up, the sweetness of Bolinas Ridge. It’s surprisingly dry. On one of the longer steep rooty sections (rideable with the right combination of umph and line selection) Tom busts out with, just as he goes over the top and my wife says I never clean anything! I just about choke and fall over from laughing. Line of the day!


Discussion at the info control – several possible answers. Yeah there’s another thing to talk to Max about. We joke about going by his house and knocking on the door. (Turns out he is at the finish, by that time we’ve forgotten all the things to tell him.)


Kris wants to know if we’ll be done with the dirt before it gets dark. Yep, there’s just a bit more of the Ridge Trail and then we pop out on Ridgecrest. Pavement the rest of the way.

Seven sisters. I’ve never been able to keep track. It just goes up. To the top. Well, we’re not going to the tippee top, just the junction with Pan Toll Road. The sun is glinting on the ocean, and there are clear views and then some swirling clouds WOW moments as we make our way to the penultimate control.

Add some clothes for the descent. WHEE! A car pulls over and lets us go. No one needs water so we continue on down Panoramic Highway. BIKE LAME written on the road, wth?! There’s where we turned off to dirt this morning, it’s retrace our steps from here.


People out to watch the sunset parked along Panoramic. Slow cars into Tam Valley. Over to the bike path, egrets and sunset light over the Sausalito wetlands. Relatively quiet going through town and over the bridge. Yay for no untoward incidents.

Back to the Presidio, there’s Max – with awesome t-shirt! And Metin is also volunteering. Being later in the year it’s dark (bit of a waste of the great hang-out lawn), but we finished with almost a half hour to spare! Woohoo! JonB is still hanging out – Did Eric explain to you what lanterne rouge means? More chit-chat about the day, and some tasty snacks. Max mentions he’s been working on some other routes. A more difficult than Marin Mountains… what, are you trying to make something unfinishable??? Well, Patrick and I did a test run. We finished. In exactly 13.5 hours. Oh, Max…

Anyway, I love this route, and it was really fun to share it with people doing it the first time, as well as the repeat offenders. Great company all day long, beautiful scenery, excellent riding – super awesome fun day on the bike!

Eric’s pictures

Ride date: October 17, 2015

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