Sunday, February 26, 2012

Embarcadero BART to Bolinas via Railroad Grade, Ridgecrest Road

For the last 3 hours of this ride I dealt with less than a dozen cars in my lane and just a few dozen heading the other way. Bliss.

I started from Embarcadero BART and took the bike lane along the waterfront to Northpoint bike lane, then cut over to the hill between Aquatic Park and Fort Mason Center. The Golden Gate bridge was terrible. The west side bike lane is closed for a spell so now we mix with tourists and joggers on the east side. It was very slow.

Once across the bridge and through Sausalito things start to improve on the Mill Valley - Sausalito bike path through Bothin Marsh Preserve. I took Miller straight up through the parking lot by the old Depot coffee shop and zig-zagged up to West Blithedale.

After about a mile or so there's a gated fire road on the right, with an entrance you can ride through just behind the redwood on the left side of the gate. Get ready to climb.

Railroad Grade consistently winds up the south side of Mount Tamalpais at 7%, from Mill Valley to the peak it's about 90% dirt fire road and 10% paved. Lots of rocks and bumps but still passable on 23mm slicks if you don't mind constant bumping and occasional loose grip. Slightly cushier 25mm tires would be better.

Looking up from about 1/3 of the way up, West Peak on the right and East Peak on the left of the ridge -

Looking back down -

My steel Bianchi, no not the traditional celeste green.

The grade ends after at least an hour of climbing, hitting the ridge road about a mile or two below West Peak. After a quick ride on the road there's a paved bike/pedestrian path on the right after that takes you to the parking lot at the peak. Views from the top are stellar.

From West peak it's exhilaratingly fast and bitingly cold downhill at first, but then you're slogging uphill again on a couple cruel little climbs. Finally, after East Peak it's all downhill to the junction and a straight shot onto West Ridgecrest Road, an all time favorite.

Bolinas is on the left of that point of land jutting into the ocean in the center of the picture.

At the junction with Bolinas - Fairfax road I pause for a snack. It's quiet in the filtered light among the redwoods, and I'm filled with anticipation for another long snaking downhill.

Looking back up the way I came -

Anticipating -

I wanted to head out to the end of Mesa Road but was short of time, so I explored the Mesa a bit and found myself on this overlook at the end of Maple Road.

What a beautiful day, cycling over Tam in peace and quiet to meet up with my family in Bolinas. I'm blessed.

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