I’d foregone the brevet, as it was just the week before the Shasta 1000k, but still wanted to do the route, so got together a few folks to do it as a perm. Patrick had been in the same boat as far as proximity to the Shasta ride, Rob and EricW had also not done the brevet, and Brian had started but not finished after trying to track down a lost wallet. So there we were, just another early morning at the Marina Safeway. There was a box in the trashcan with a sticker proclaiming YOUR DAY JUST GOT AWESOME. How did they know?
We rolled off towards the bridge. Our headlights caught the glow of eyes in the shadows. Coyotes! At Crissy Field. Wow. Some Nature Channel and we hadn’t even left the City! The ride over the bridge and meandering through southern Marin was still in darkness, with morning light creeping up on us as we climbed White’s Hill.
For the most part we were pretty well matched pace wise, or at least people were adjusting to stay together, then Rob went off the front. He’d seemed a little unsettled, so maybe he just had something to work out, but when we regrouped I felt like I had to ask if everything was OK. Which it wasn’t quite, I forget exactly what, but then I asked some more questions about whatever it was, thinking maybe I’d be able to help – I think feeling responsible since the ride was my idea. Then I realized, wait, it’s not mine to fix. Sure, I DID ask, but he decided on his own to join in, and he’s a big boy and been on lots of big rides. He’ll ride himself out of this whatever. Or not. But that’s on him.
I still couldn’t help trying to perk him up with a joke or two, which got the response, “Sarah Burke said your jokes are funny.” If I’d been a little quicker there I would have come back with, “Well, Sarah Burke has a sense of humor.” Although, probably just as well that I didn’t.
We were in to full daylight, but the sun itself played peek-a-boo with the mist for a while. As we rode it cleared to a high overcast, so we did get some nice views from Wilson Hill and Burnside, and there was further thinning as the day progressed, although never to complete blue only sky.
Fortunately our pace allowed for a stop at Wild Flour, despite it being not far from the control in Occidental. After how many times of being in there I happened to notice the owls and other birds painted up near the ceiling. Just goes to show – don’t forget to look around you!
From Occidental there was the always-fun-swoopy-through-the-redwoods descent to Monte Rio and crossing the Russian River. A short roll on River Road and then up and past the ROAD CLOSED sign onto Old Monte Rio Road. That section always feels particularly like its own little world – so close to busy River Road and yet so quiet up amidst the tree tops.
Wiggled through the neighborhoods and over to Old Cazadero Road. Climbclimbclimb and eventually/finally popped out at the gate with that view that I never get tired of. And WHEE! dirt. First the descent to the creek. Rob and Brian were stopped at a corner, I said, “Isn’t this AWESOME?!” as I went by. Rob had sunglasses on but I sensed a laser beam NO look. Well alrighty then. The climb out was a little dry and loose but then there was another fun descent to the intersection of adventure. We made the short digression in Cazadero to get drinks and snacks at the store. Rob had picked up a stick on the descent to the creek and was worried about one of his spokes. I remembered they have bike parts at Cazadero Supply, so Rob humored me and we all trooped in there to see about getting his wheel fixed up but no luck. He decided to continue on, but shortly after we started up Fort Ross Road he changed his mind and turned back. Note to self: just because I like someone and like riding with them doesn’t mean we’ll like all the same rides.
As the now four of us continued on, Eric started chuckling. I thought it might be re-enjoying Patrick’s pronunciation of sla(y)lom (apparently that’s how Aussies say sla(w)lom – which he’d been attempting with the road dots on the climb) but turns out he’d been carrying Rob’s vest, and was wondering what Rob would have done if he hadn’t stopped and returned it to him.
More climbing, more views, the fall-off-the-edge-of-the-world descent down Meyers Grade to Highway 1. That was fun! Let’s go back up and do it again! ha. More descending and a nice coastal roll to Jenner, where I’m now always thankful to arrive in unstung condition. I’d only ever stopped at the “C” Store, but it’s actually an open control, and Eric suggested the coffee shop, which turned out to be quite nice.
From there it was the magical ascent of Willow Creek, which is always a happy place, even when it’s not, if that makes any sense. Daylight was waning as we dropped off the ridge and toward the Coast. A fullish moon floated in the sky over the elephant rocks before Dillon Beach. We were all looking forward to some hot food at Pt. Reyes Station, even a sit-down meal, but you know what they say about expectations… Last time we’d just barely made it while anything was still open, this time there was plenty still open, but everything was full with a long wait. OK, it was Saturday night, but still, who knew Pt. Reyes Station was such the happening place?! Fortunately the Palace Market still had hot soup, and we enjoyed it in the ambiance of the Post Office.
After eating and donning more clothing we continued south on Highway One through Olema and Stinson Beach. I don’t think I’ve ever done the climb past Stinson in daylight, which is probably just as well not seeing the scope of it looming above, although the guys did get ahead so I’d see their tail lights indicating still more ups. The sound of the ocean was peaceful, and there were very few cars out – another bonus of the time. Seeing the lights of the City was beautiful and reassuring, although there was still more climbing to be done. Finally crested for the zoom down to Tam Valley, then through Sausalito and the last grunt up to the bridge. It was Brian’s first 300k, so we had him press the button to open the gate to cross. Unspool the last bit and hello Marina Safeway, so nice to see you again…