I’m not sure why I think of the SFR Dual Populaire and Picnic as an End of Season event (Extravaganza? Celebration?) – the weather in this part of Northern California does not shut down riding for the winter months, and there are certainly more rides on the SFR calendar. Hmn. Well, I suppose many of the big rides for the year have happened, or maybe there’s some sense of things winding down as the days start to get shorter.
Anyway, it’s a great day for riding with the usual suspects, reconnecting with those you might not have seen for a while, or introducing new comers to the joys of randonneuring, as it’s a shorter distance and SFR hosts a kick-ass picnic at Crissy Field after the rides. Yes, rides! For this Populaire you have your choice of all paved route or mixed terrain. Eric and I chose the mixed terrain, and he invited his brother and nephew to join the fun. At the start Greg said he’d been looking at the roster and wondering if there would be more Walstads or Viaje bikes on the ride. Turns out the Viajes won – five (me, Greg, Roy, Brian Koss and Ryan – who had SAID he was going to ride his Brompton but NO showed up with his Viaje, some nonsense about being tired from ultramarathon training. Silly boy.) to two, as nephew Justin ended up having Dad duty preempt riding.
It was a pleasant morning, and a great turnout, with the numbers swelling to a parking lot lane choking crowd. The silver ceiling truncated the tops of the bridge towers but it was dry at Crissy Field. Carlos had a few last minute comments about his mixed terrain route, and Rob re-itereated the fact of two routes, and that they diverged on the north side of the bridge so to make sure if you were following someone they were doing the same route as you were planning to do. And, “Raise your right hand…” we were off.
The mixed terrain route makes a left at the north side of the bridge, and we climbed into the fog. No splendid San Francisco views. Fortunately it was not particularly moist, so the Poop Your Pants Hill descent was dry. It also helped that we dropped below it as we descended.
Cal and Eric were ahead of me, and towards the bottom I heard the sad sound of air escaping…. Cal had flatted but was able to stop with no issues and get it fixed and we were on our way again. At this point I figured all the other riders were ahead of us, but we did see someone else at the first control who ended up riding with us for a bit then we leapfrogged a few times – he’d go ahead but seemed to keep having navigational issues.
The expected sign wasn’t there, which we noted, enjoyed the view and continued on. There was one more out and back bit in this part of the Headlands, and we saw almost all the other riders returning from that as we headed out on it. Eric had his eye on the surfers, there were a pair of cargo ships crossing paths in the distance – one outbound and one inbound, and I noticed a small battery turret in the hillside I hadn’t seen the previous time I’d ridden this course.
On the way up Bobcat trail I was able to help out a rider with some electrical tape for his rim. He said it was the first time he’d flatted from a rimstrip issue. “I’d heard of flatting from the inside, but…” It sounded like he hadn’t believed it.
Carlos had mentioned the waterbar dips on Marincello, which I probably wouldn’t have remembered – the last time I was on that was climbing, and somehow they are less noticeable/memorable that direction. And it wasn’t until the second downhill, so at first I was wondering what he’d been talking about, but as we were about to start downhill again it came back to me.
The parking lot at Tennessee Valley was crazy busy full and more people circling and finding creative parking spots. I needed a little house stop, and then we were back on the road – literally – the route went to pavement for the next section. Oh, well, Eric did take us on the singletrack option under the overpass to bypass waiting for the signal at Shoreline Highway. From the bike path I pointed out Mount Tam that we would be climbing later.
But first, over and around the Paradise Loop. By Blackie’s Pasture I saw Cheryl and Brian Koss heading inbound and my first thought was, “you’re going the wrong way!” but duh the route cuts back on Trestle Glen rather than going all the way around to Corte Madera. “That’s right – we have to get back to get over to Old Railroad.” In Tiburon we made a not required stop at Caffe Acri. Actually all of the controls on this are untimed info controls, so if you’re rando mixed terrain curious, this would be a great introduction! I was just going to get the obligatory affogado (the last couple times they’ve asked what flavor (ice cream) – wth? that’s even a choice? … vanilla of course!) but the bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon caught my eye and I must have had a loud thought bubble, as Eric asked if I wanted to split one! I hadn’t thought I was particularly hungry, but it hit the spot.
The rest of Paradise around to Trestle Glen seemed a bit longer than I thought it was going to be, and all the cyclists we saw were going the other way, but there were nice views – we were out of the fog by now, and good company. At Trestle Glen there were 3 riders who turned out to be on the ride as well – one of them asked if we were going to Old Railroad Grade, and when we said yes they followed us.
I’m not a big fan of the Blithedale Avenue bit to get to Old Railroad Grade, but we made it through without incident. Cal’s home turf is the Loomis/Auburn area, and he mentioned his rides are usually way quieter in the number of cars department. That sounded pretty good. But at Railroad Grade we were back on fire road, and that was nice and quiet. Much of the first bit is shaded, and on the second bit there’s the waterfall where we stopped and dunked our heads for a refresher. We saw a couple other riders along the way here, and a couple more caught up to us at West Point Inn – they had stopped for thefoods at the Chevron in Mill Valley. Sadly there was no one with a beer for the cause.
Eric noted the time, and that it was all downhill (almost – well, we’re at the high point of the route) from there, so we shouldn’t have a problem finishing within the alloted time. I went ahead and started rolling, since I hadn’t swapped wheels/tires and I would be going slowly on the dirt descent. The guys soon caught me, and went ahead, we regrouped at Pantoll. The paved descent went a bit faster, although we did get somewhat backed up behind the car traffic.
Through Mill Valley and back on the bike path, in the other direction now headed back to Sausalito. I braced myself for the touron jousting, but getting through town was mercifully easy. The right hand turn into the Fort Baker area was closed so we had to cross the road, but somehow were able to get a break in the traffic without having to wait too long. There was the last info control and the fun of a different view of the Bridge and then all those tourons that weren’t in Sausalito were on the bridge and it was WINDY so they were having trouble getting around the tower and riding in straight lines in between and I JUST WANT TO GET ACROSS IN ONE PIECE PLEASE which eventually did happen but whew it was a little touch and go there a few times.
The “extra” bit down and back to Crissy Field, where the lovely volunteers checked us in and lots of folks were still hanging out enjoying the day, despite the wind. I figured we were lanterne rouge, but not quite. Dan had been stand in for Angela on food duty, and allegedly done a bang-up job at it, so much so that most of the food food was gone when we got there. There was still beer though, and snacks, and I’d held out on a nectarine-plum-cherry crisp just to be sure we got to at least taste it. Yum! Good times!
Ride date: August 6, 2017