2017 SFR La Ruta Loca Randonnee (LRLR) 200k

We were early to the start, since Eric had volunteered to help. The fog horns were booming call and response across the bay. A dozenish riders collected, although no sign of Patrick.

One thing and another I haven’t rolled out with the pack on previous rides this year, and found that I kinda liked it/have gotten used to it. Much easier in some ways, and, depending on the morning it’s nice not to feel like I’m supposed to be having a conversation.

From the bridge it was uphill on Conzelman rather than downhill into Sausalito, and soon we were on the dirt in the headlands. There were numerous bunnies in the brush along the sides of the trails, with some of course deciding to dart across in front of us. Fortunately there were no intersections of trajectories.

It was Sergio’s first time on the ride and first time in the headlands – it was cool to hear how stoked he was about it all. Sadly he had a mechanical and had to turn around at the Tennessee Valley trail head.

Patrick caught up to me on Old Springs Trail – he had arrived at Crissy Field just as we were leaving – I let him pass and he was soon out of sight on the downhill. We regrouped on the roll down Tennessee Valley, he wondered why the start wasn’t at 0700 (rather than 0600) – “there’s plenty of daylight!”

We climbed Coastal to the first bend that I always think is the turn but no that’s not turn you’re looking for – there’s more climbing. As we got up a bit higher there was Eric coming back down. I asked if he’d been to Muir Beach already. Heh.

The last time I’d been on the descent to Muir Beach had been on the full squish rig, which I knew I wasn’t going to be going that fast on the all rigid steed of the day, but I figured to take my time and make it down in one piece at least. Right. Too much thinky and case of the overly-cautiouses – oh maybe this wasn’t the greatest line choice ah should I be over there oh ah um …. and on the deck. Slo-mo slide out, but left a little skin behind. Bike was fine, and I was able to get back on and make it down the rest of the hill (and the rest of the day) with self, bike and ground in correct relative orientations.

We popped out into the sun on way to Deer Park trail, where I had a nice solo climb. Eric and Patrick got to chatting – or maybe just riding along – whatever they were soon out of sight. As I neared Pantoll I could see East Peak through the trees, which was pretty cool, and I’m not sure if I’ve noticed before.

Roy was at the bathroom at Pantoll – it’s funny on these rides how people I figure I’ll never see again we’ll end up coming across at a stop or something. There was a bit of a pavement stretch, with awesome views, and … is that a guy on a bike with shopping bags?! He was headed the other (downhill) direction, and I almost thought I’d imagined him, but then Eric commented something like, “To do today: grocery shopping, ride over Mt. Tam.” so I wasn’t the only one who had seen him!

Back on dirt for the grunt up Rock Springs, we regrouped at the meadow and Patrick had his flask out. Some liquid courage for the sketchy downhill? Sure. And OH FLOWERS! So many Mariposa lilies!

On this descent – which had a warning note on the cue sheet – I actually felt better than in the Headlands, and made it to the bottom fine, even with the somewhat surprising truck coming up midway. The guys asked if it was someone I knew (from work) – probably, but I hadn’t looked too closely, being more involved with avoidance plus staying upright.

We regrouped at the turn to go around Lake Lagunitas. Patrick, who had made it to the bottom first said he’d seen Kris come back, and just after I got there Alan was coming back from a navigational miscue for some bonus miles. Just what you need on this route!

Brian joined our group on Eldrige, he was stopped on a turn and we found out later he had lost his camera off the handlebar mount. Boo. We stopped for water at the fountain on Eldrige (thank you MMWD), and both Kris and Alan come from other direction. Whoops. More bonus. Once everyone was watered and otherwise situated we rolled out. Or at least I thought we all had, but once we were downhill and climbing again it turned out Kris and Alan hadn’t.

There were several spots the fire road was narrowed down to one side with the down side slipped out. Riding along one of the flatter stretches I managed to drop my camera. Whoops. Fortunately I managed to stop and pick it up.

When we got to Bolinas Fairfax road we got the word that Eric had had a mechanical. Since there was climbing to come I figured he’d catch up, and kept going, although not quite full speed. On the descent to Alpine Dam my pocket felt a bit different, but a reach back didn’t seem to indicate anything missing. Fortunately there were others behind me paying more attention – my brevet card had snuck out – Patrick picked it up for me.

From the dam there was a climb up to the ridge, this was the first time I’d been on the road since it had been open again, we could see the fortifications that must have been where it had slid out and been closed. This is another one of those roads where there’s a place that I think is the top (or near to) that isn’t… sad trombone… There was a big group of road cyclists at the ridge – or was that just a coincidence they all had the same outfit?

We headed out Bolinas Ridge, beautiful as always, a few moist spots here and there, even in June, and memories as one of the first places I went mountain biking, back in the day, on a full rigid Bridgestone MB-3. The more things change…

On our descent of Randall I was surprised to see a bunch (heck – I would have been surprised to see one, but this was quite a number) of cyclists climbing, including oh was that George Hope?! Hmn probably on some crazy ride.

Maybe it was the being out in the woods, but the traffic on Highway 1 seemed particularly jarring, although we didn’t have any terribly close calls it did seem to be Day for Bad Passing for the automobiles.

Previous times I’d stopped for “lunch” at Pt. Reyes Station, this time Eric advocated for fluids redistribution only, to get further along and hopefully have time for a nice sit down at Caffe Acri, which sounded good to me. At the restrooms we picked up GregM and EricL, giving us a group of 7! Hey I think that’s like half the ride!!!

It was nice to get back on bike path – the Cross Marin Trail – away from cars, although dang I had the dropsies – this time it was my pen, again someone (Roy, I think) noticed and picked it up for me. Dang it’s a good thing my head is stapled on… Anyway, it was super awesome to have such a great crew for this pavement section. It really helped the miles pass much more pleasantly.

Some folks have said La Ruta is more difficult than Marin Mountains – I’m not sure about that/haven’t really thought about it – but one tough thing about La Ruta is the spots where you could just go on auto pilot and end up back in San Francisco relatively quickly BUT NO – don’t go up Camino Alto, go out around Paradise to Tiburon.

When we rolled in to Caffe Acri I was surprised to see Bill, DaBrim (CarlS) and Albert, although – perhaps prompted by our arrival – they were soon back on the road. But I wasn’t going to get torn up about it, since there was AFFOGADO!!!! and THE SOUP OF AWESOME!!! and an almond croissant for later.

As we headed out from Tiburon we could see Mt. Tam – yep, we’re headed that way again. Past another of those mind f@#% spots – NO, don’t get on the bike path, go climb Mt. Tam again. Really?! Really.

Railroad Grade, Fern Canyon, Old Railroad Grade. A welcome hose down at the bike box. And YES!!! The West Point Inn, which turned out to be populated with a bunch of bikey people who seemed somewhat interested/appreciative of our ride, but more importantly shared a BEER! OMG I love you forever. At just over a century with a crap ton of climbing, it doesn’t take much. And no, it doesn’t matter what. Whatever you’re willing to share.

Time for descending, and… the supple life… Eric flatted. Patrick installed himself in the trailside bushes and said he’s going to sit there and not be helpful. Eric suggested the rest of us roll on, most of us did, including me after taking the opportunity to have some of that almond croissant.

There were more pretty flowers along the way, and we caught up to Greg, who had stopped to put on more clothes as we were headed downhill and back into the blowing fog. We got back on pavement on Pantoll, and then back onto dirt in the Headlands. Eric and Patrick caught me shortly after I was back on the dirt. And did I mention the blowing fog?!

Oh yeah, there’s that steep that has no business at that point in the ride – but I rode it – and though, oh that was not too bad but for some reason didn’t upshift even though the grade had slackened a bit then we came around the corner and oh yeah there was a longer steep one. But I rode that too. Yay me.

Then the symmetry of descending Coastal that we had climbed in the AM, and rolling up out of Tennessee Valley. Then over to Marincello, where a couple of guys were wrastling a case of Heineken up the hill. Eric – I think jokingly – asked how much for one, and they gave him one. Free Beer #2! Woohoo!

Super fun descent down Bobcat, and then final climb on Coastal Trail that had been descent in the AM – and descending to the bridge! Yes, DESCENDING to the bridge!!! Super sweet since usually it’s a climb.

Crossing the bridge I thought I saw something spout or big splash out in the distance, Eric did too – we stopped for a bit and watched but didn’t see anything else. At least spout/splash wise. There was some pretty late afternoon sun sneaking under the overcast in the distance.

Whoops! Clock was still ticking… back on the bikes, over the bridge, down the hill and over to Crissy Field. 14 minutes to spare! Carlos was there with some nice snacks but I was SO COLD once I stopped moving. That blowing fog thing. Fortunately Eric had driven, so I went and huddled in his truck. Even once I had more clothes on I didn’t want to get out, but enjoyed the finish sort of second-hand. Super fun day. And yeah, I think the 0600 start is the right choice.

allthepictures: me, Eric, Patrick, GregM

Ride date: June 24, 2017

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