This route is a milder 200k mixed terrain with modest 8000k ft of climbing. The event starts at a civilized 7:00 am from Crissy Field parking lot.
The route includes three new to SFR routes fire road segments, the Phoenix Lake to Fairfax, the climb and descend via Loma Alta into Big Rock (Lucas Valley Rd) and the Marshall Beach Rd. The off-road segments are about 15% of the total distance.
The return from Petaluma to San Francisco is also new to SFR routes; we use many bike paths to connect to Novato, Marinwood, San Rafael, Larkspur (ferry landing) and Mill Valley. I think most would like this return route.
That’s right! A kindler, gentler mixed terrain route from Senor Duque, of La Ruta Loca fame – or infamy, as your opinion may be. For some reason I kept wanting to call it “Caballos Sueltos”, but the real name actually means Loose Ends, referring to the out and back segments – of which originally had been more, but Carlos modified the route to ease getting a permit from the National Park Service.
There was a sizeable turnout for a mixed terrain ride, even quite a few folks who’d been over at PBP. It was an overcast morning at Chrissy Field, and after a few words from Carlos we headed off over the Bridge. The beginning of the route was the usual wiggle, but deviated in Ross, cutting left to Natalie Coffin Green Park rather than the usual Shady Lane to San Anselmo. There was still a pretty big group, which backed up at the pass though to the fire road, so I ducked through the gate.
First dirt of the day! And the overcast organizing itself into some moisture coming out of the sky stuff. Around Phoenix Lake and up to Five Corners, with a bit of a spur fire road for good measure. I got to hear some tales of PBP from Metin and BFK. Down to Deer Park School and back on pavement through Fairfax. Over to White’s Hill School and back on dirt to climb Loma Alta.
I made it up to the water tanks, I knew there’s a steep section past them, and let folks who hadn’t done this before that they are in for a treat. What do you mean steep? They soon found out. I couldn’t quite keep traction, so walked a bit, but got riding again when the grade slackened. The climb had spread the group out, it was neat to see riders dotted along the fire road above me. The views were amazing, it was particularly noteworthy to be looking down on Sir Francis Drake – the usual SFR route over White’s Hill.
My saddle bag velcro wasn’t wanting to hold on, particularly on the bumpy descent. After a convo with other riders I realized I had the sleeve from my jacketvest, which I could use to reinforce securement. If you can’t tie knots, tie lots! It stayed in place the rest of the day. Woohoo!
The descent to Lucas Valley road was pretty fun, despite being cow pocked up. Mmmmm, burger…. Whoa! Big Rock from above. Patrick and Jason had caught up with us from having to stop and fix a flat, Jason took a giant pull down Lucas Valley and out to Nicasio. Past the reservoir, platform bridge and a (non-control) stop in Point Reyes Station. Alas, the line at Bovine Bakery looked just a little too long, so went to the market. Then a brief detour to Black Mountain Cycles for Michael to have a look at his new bike and Jason to get some tubes.
From town out on to Point Reyes proper, once we got into National Park we split up – I was going to say spaced ourselves out, but somehow that didn’t sound quite right – into the mandated no more than 3 per group. Just after the Inverness bump, rather than continuing left on Sir Francis Drake to Mt. Vision or the lighthouse we veered right on Pierce Point Road.
My left knee, which had been mildly niggling me on-and-off, which I could mostly keep off by not pushing too hard, gave a definite sqwock for no apparent reason. Alrighty then, I’ll just carry on at my own pace here. Lovely place for some solo time though, nice gravel road with great views of Tomales Bay to the east, rather than the usual to the west.
Onesie-twosie saw riders returning from the turn around control, and then quite a number on the last steep pitch from the beach. Uphill for them – many of them were walking. Wow! What an idyllic spot!!! Plus bonus ukulele serenade from Steffen.
I could have spent all day there but managed to tear myself away. I cleared the hill, which I was pleased about, especially after having seen so many people walking it when I came in. Saw a few folks on their way down to the control as I was heading out. Dan and Michael caught up with me, and we rode together most of the way back to Inverness, where they stopped at the deli. I was set for supplies and needed to keep moving, so carried on to Petaluma.
There was quite a crowd still at the 7-11: Ernesto with his twinsie Viaje, Metin, Jon, and Erics W and M. Dan and Michael also caught up, so we had a nice crew rolling south. I got to hear more PBP stories from Jon and EricW.
Out of Petaluma, down to the “new” bike path by the dumps, then up to the parking lot at Olompali Park for a control. Whoa, nice view over to Diablo. Back on the frontage road and then follow Bike Route 5, which I’d only started using recently going north (in some ways actually less hectic than going the back way), but was enough to make me navigator. Actually it’s signed quite well, but there’s nothing like being told where to go… At the stoplight at Lucas Valley Road someone suggested taking a right and going out for another lap.
Metin had been surprised I wasn’t having ice cream at the 7-11, I’d told him I was saving room for Three Twins, which was just off route in Larkspur Landing. There was a split in the group getting through the Cal-Park tunnel, he stuck with me, and EricW and Michael were also persuaded to take the detour.
Back on the road, I would have taken the curlicue bridge (ohand we could have gone by Rancho Shazam!) but the route had us go further south and take the underpass. Beyond this my nav got a little fuzzy, but EricW knew the “Camino Bajo” and bike path that the route takes instead of Camino Alto.
GB had joined us, and we had a nice roll through Sausalito, up to the bridge and down to Crissy Field, which was now clear and sunny. Earlier finishers were still hanging out, and it was great to swap stories and welcome other riders in. Everyone agreed it was a fantastic route – great to ride some new roads, especially some new dirt, and to be able to do it at a bit more relaxed pace and enjoy some stops along the way. Big smiles all around!
Ride date: August 29, 2015