Somewhere between Bernal and the Toll Plaza, for no apparent reason, Dancing Queen came on the radio station in my head. oof. This might be a long day. Not to mention that little detail of not having been on a brevet, or any more than double-digit length rides since October – and not many of them. I’d even missed the Populaire the weekend before, so this was the start to my rando-ing for 2018.
Fortunately it was a beautiful day, albeit a bit chilly in the morning. There were some clouds here and there, but thankfully no precipitation. I’m not sure I would have had the fortitude for that bonus challenge.
There was a large crowd – 115! starters – with special guest appearance from Max, who had managed to time a work trip back from Switzerlandia to coincide with the brevet. Rob administered the oath, although sadly he had forgotten a critical piece of gear and so did not ride with us. Well, by us, I mean on the brevet. I’m sure he would have been far ahead pace wise, so I wouldn’t have gotten to ride with him anyway.
I’ve been liking the let everyone go/start after the pack approach, Eric agreed, and Nevada City Gary, who we’d merged paths with on the ride to the start, hung out with us too. With such a large group and variety of paces it wasn’t quite as clean as other times have been, or maybe I just didn’t wait long enough. Anyway, there was some picking through folks going over the bridge, but it sorted itself out pretty well.
The dawn that had been impending at the Toll Plaza broke in spectacular fashion as we were crossing the bridge, firing up the sky with pinks and oranges. I stopped at the top of the rise on the north side of the bridge for a photo, although it turned out to be not as clear of a shot as I’d been thinking/hoping it would be. and we’re never going to get anywhere if you keep stopping to take pictures!
Sausalito, bike path, new bridge to jump out onto Miller, Camino Alto… didn’t feel too bad, although with it being early in the day I wasn’t pushing at all. There was a rider stopped at the light at the bottom of the hill – Rob had warned us about the law enforcement in southern Marin – even after we rolled up the light did not trigger, and the other rider, who turned out to be Chuck, went over and pushed the button to request for crossing. Chuck rode through the wiggle with us, and we chatted about various rides. Sounded like he’s had lots of grand adventures both here and in various overseas locales, is planning on PBP again (third time, I think it will be?) next year, and, when he heard I’ve not been yet, encouraged me to go.
On White’s Hill we came across pizza power brother Irving. He’d also missed the Populaire the week before, although he’d been down with the plague, so it was great to see him back on the bike. There was a hint of mist dancing in the San Geronimo Valley, and beautiful morning light slicing through the redwoods as we neared Samuel P. Taylor Park. Eric, Gary and I pulled onto the Inkwells bridge and peered over the sides, but did not see any salmon. We continued on the path for a bit of bonus dirt, and then cut back on the road rather than continuing on the path over Sir Francis Drake. The internal radio station had moved on to Under Pressure. Go figure. Not sure it was any kind of improvement over the previous selection, but it was something different.
We were still encountering other outbound riders as we went over Olema hill and took the brevets-don’t-usually-go-this-way Bear Valley Road, which is quite lovely. We rejoined the main going-to-the-Lighthouse road and passed through the greater metropolitan Inverness area. At the fork we took the not-going-to-the-Lighthouse road.
A short section was familiar from Los Cabos Sueltos, but then I got to find out what was down the other tine of this fork, as this was the first time I’d done this route. In a word, bucolic AF. We rolled through green pastures with glimpses of the Pacific Ocean in the distance. Some of the fields sported a yellow cloak of mustard flowers.
We started to see riders on their way inbound from the turnaround at Pierce Point Ranch. We woohood and dinged bells, getting various responses. There was The Climb, which I’d heard about, up to a ridge with most excellent views of Tomales Bay. I’m On Top of the World came on the internal radio. (Yes, thank you the googles, that was the Carpenters.)
There was a descent to the turnaround, where Jon (trying to think of appropriate adverb) stamped our cards. He had a bit of water, which I didn’t feel in need of, so left for others, and some snacks, which I did take advantage of. Then it was time to head back up the hill, which was pretty fun coming down, so I wasn’t super looking forward to climbing, but it turned out to be not too bad.
Shortly after I started up the hill, Eric yelled to me. uh, did I drop something? No, it was a big herd of elk up to the left. Two were up on their back legs sparring. Wow! I’d been feeling a little disappointed, since that was another thing people who had done this route before always mentioned – the elk. If I hadn’t seen any I might have had to ask for my money back, so good thing Eric pointed them out!
There were still some outbound riders, again we woohood and dinged bells as we passed. We retraced our path through all the bucolic AFness, through greater metropolitan Inverness, and then turned to Pt. Reyes Station, where we stopped for beverages. From there it was the second out-and-back up to Nick’s Cove (for making up the required distance) which felt a bit gratuitous, but at least there wasn’t much wind to contend with.
Again, we had the fun of seeing inbound riders while we were headed out and outbound riders when we were headed in, including a reprise of Eric Marshall who totally won the best shirt category with a brightly colored Hawaiian number. There was also a largest beard category winner and best pants (galaxy print) although I did not know their names – two separate people for the beard and pants, that was.
On the way out to Nick’s Cove we picked up a bit of a group, which I wouldn’t have minded – I wasn’t to the I need to ride solo point – but a couple of folks were a bit chatty, and I was at the I need quiet point, so after I was done with my pull I faded off the back. Then with the shuffling at the control managed to thin the herd. Whew. And I didn’t tell anyone to shut up.
Back at Pt. Reyes Station Gary wanted to have a sit down food stop, but Eric and I wanted to keep moving, so we parted ways. I was feeling OK, but with the not so much riding I didn’t want to stop for too long.
From there it was unspooling the morning – back over Olema Hill, oh the entire bike path this direction – big crowd at the ink wells probably looking for fish, we did not stop – through the San Geronimo Valley, over White’s Hill, Fairfax, the wiggle through southern Marin – WHOA low tide! and fairly quiet getting through Sausalito and over the bridge.
There was a lovely welcome from the finish control volunteers and other riders, including – surprisingly – Max! who had finished hours before. There were yummy snacks, and I was glad to be finished while it was still light out. And that the internal radio had gone quiet. Not a bad start to my 2018 rando-ing!
Ride date: January 27, 2018