One of the best things about living in the San Francisco Bay Area is access to some truly fantastic road cycling. Even better if you can finagle a way to live close enough to the good stuff that you can leave the car and Thule at home. Pop up the garage door and shoot out into the street.
Fortunately, we have figured out how to so finagle. Example: While I haven’t done it in years, the ride to Mount Tam’s East Peak from my front door and back is almost exactly 50 miles. Something interesting about that nice round number. I have some very fond memories of that long ride, a reasonably regular excursion maybe 10 years ago.
I memorized the sketchiest corners that warranted whipping around in a short sprint so as to avoid surprising a following motor vehicle that might otherwise see me too late. In certain spots — sharp and blind corners — a surprised driver might swerve into the opposing lane to avoid a suddenly appearing rider just in front of him. Or the driver could quickly calculate his odds of injury and collision repair expense, then decide instead to bounce the rider off his car’s windshield. As the sign on Camino Alto says, “Lycra Is Not Body Armor.” So if the driver follows this particular branch of the decision tree, that is gonna leave a mark.
I have yet to experience this kind of unpleasant contact. I prefer to ride in the early morning when the roads are generally clear of those kinds of hazards. I’ll gladly trade a pungent dousing from a startled skunk than a run-in with a Land Rover’s bumper. Plus, like I say, I haven’t suffered my way up to Mount Tam in quite some time. So my odds of meeting up with that Land Rover are looking pretty good. “Good” as in, not going to happen.
I love a Tam ride facsimile much closer to my house — the Marin Headlands. A 14-ish mile round trip. Plenty of up for about 15-18 minutes. Ridiculous views of the Golden Gate Bridge, SF Bay, and the Pacific Ocean. Occasionally an intriguing run-in with a thick layer of fog. Obscuring everything beyond, say, a 20 or 30-foot circumference. Climbing up Conzelman in a blanket of fog turns a familiar route into a guessing game.
Was that tree always there? Is this the halfway point? What’s that noise on the rocky bluff above me?
I love it.
And I’ve missed it.
Until this past week, it had been more than two months since I last rode any kind of meaningful route. And probably a year or more since I last pedaled up into the Headlands’ fog. It’s generally not a good idea to go from zero riding to several Headlands rides in a week. The lower back will remind me of my age, aching for a day or so afterwards, regardless of how many Advils I chew.
But that kind of ache I’ll happily tolerate. I’m back in the saddle again.
Thanks for reading.