This ride looked fun, but I thought that I was going to stay home and do chores or some hiking adventure with Ben, so i didn’t put out the call for a car pool until the morning before:
Mon May 28 4/TTM/45 Corte Madera to Bolinas II
from Corte Madera Park (Pixley and Tamalpais) to Mill Valley, Pan Toll, Stinson Beach and Bolinas where we’ll stop for lunch.. Return via Fairfax-Bolinas Rd. Meet at 8:45 a.m., roll at 9
Grizzly Estella responded right away, and was hoping i could do the driving, so my plans were set. Later that evening, another friend, Ann L, wrote to see if i’d gotten a car pool lined up, so i offered i still had space in my car if we put those two bikes on the roof rack and my bike into the trunk.
Checked the weather report which confirmed clear skies, sunny in Corte Madera but a bit cooler on the coast, with some winds expected… so packed my layers and off we went.
The ride started in the park directly below one of my old, short-term residences in Corte Madera, and the route proved to travel my preferred course from those times, over Camino Alto to Mill Valley in 1985 when i had just bought my first road bike.
I also knew we’d be taking PanTol which i had enjoyed once before on Pat’s 74th birthday ride, but what i hadn’t factored in was that we’d be taking it in the “UP” direction…. and the part i’d liked on Pat’s ride was the section OFF of Pantol (onto Hwy 1) back to Mill Valley, instead of the “scary” downhill section that rolls to Stinson Beach.
Since our leader Jim had stopped on the bottom of Camino Alto to assist one of the riders who’d flatted, I knew he was about 15 minutes behind us, at least, so when he didn’t pass us the entire stretch to Stinson Beach, i wasn’t concerned…..I’d earlier reported out to the group that Jim had stopped and was helping the woman with the flat, so i figured everyone would be waiting at the regroup in Stinson, and Jim — being a strong rider, would catch up soon.
as it happens, on Hwy 1 (from Mill Valley), it soon came time to lose some of the warmer layers, so shortly our little train of closely paced riders (Mark, Estella, me, Ann and several others), was spread out, and suddenly gone. I pulled into the same turnout as Estella to remove my jacket, and after she started rolling, I still had to take some time to put all the extra stuff put away, so I decided to wait for Ann, who had stopped on the road earlier to do remove her jacket and was slower this day on the hills earlier that morning. Once Ann caught up, we continued on Hwy 1 and around one corner, I saw she was stopped again taking a long drink of water, just below the intersection of Hwy 1 and Panoramic Hwy.. with signs clearly marking “Mount Tamalpais / Muir Woods” to the right (upward) and “Stinson Beach” to the left (downward)… well, our regroup destination was Stinson Beach, and just as I was approaching the intersection, deciding whether to go right up onto the Panoramic Hwy, Ann took off in the direction to Stinson Beach, so I decided “well, that’s where we’re going, i guess…..” and followed….
from this point, we were on a speedy, but rolling (climbs/descents) section of Hwy 1 that traverses the coast and has spectacular views of the surf and rock formations below, and it seemed every turn put us in a different micro climate — jacket on, jacket off, jacket on, jacket off.. and then the route mileage points stopped making sense. Additionally, it seemed my cyclometer was stuck at 9.2 miles for about 2 miles, the small stretch between mile 9.2 and 9.4 turning improbably and interminably long in both distance and time…. and then at one of the summits, just when it reached 9.4 miles, the cyclometer suddenly reversed its reading momentarily to 9.3 miles… HUH?
another mile or two of this and we were heading on the last stretches down to Stinson Beach, and came to an intersection of “Panoramic Hwy” at mile 12.9 (heading uphill again, just before town….. hmmmm, that doesn’t seem right!
rolled past the access to the beach and small market mid-town, which was set to be a regroup point.. but our mileages were all wrong, so we decided to keep rolling, until Ann mentioned she thought she’d seen some other Grizzlies stopped at the market, so we headed back (about 1/2 mile)…. where in fact our group was mingling and getting some refreshments. I went down to the beach to use the public restrooms, and when I returned, some others had arrived at the market… arriving there late because it turns out some of them had waited for Ann and me at the top of Pantol for a long time before realizing we might have taken a wrong turn… .which we had, and by the way, thoroughly enjoyed the windy, coastal views (the real route up Panoramic Hwy where we were supposed to turn would have taken us up through the redwoods and then back down the section i’d previously ridden and thought was scary.
it’s true that all roads lead to Rome, and at least 2 lead to Stinson Beach, so our version on Hwy 1 gave us about the same amount of climbing, but also more sustained traverses (in the wind, but made up for by the spectacular coastal views).
Finally all together and refreshed, the group rolled down the lower section of Hwy 1 to Bolinas for our lunch break, where a few us us enjoyed our home-made snacks on a small wharf just past the center of town, and others bought sandwiches and drinks at the market and/or bought a bottled water at the “Community Center” (basically a bar) in exchange for restroom rights.
From Bolinas, we pacelined out again on Hwy 1 to Bofax Rd, the remote section that just climbs and climbs for about 4-1/2 miles til the intersection at Ridgecrest, where we regrouped again before descending to the dam at Alpine Lake (Reservoir) and then made the final climbs to the Golf Course and finally down the last section of BoFax to Fairfax.
Now on the flats, a few miles of gentle, bike-friendly streets from Fairfax through San Anselmo, Ross, Kent and then back to our starting point at Tamalpais/Pixley in Corte Madera.
It all took me back a few years, and i savored memories of my first rides back then with my brand new, speedy, cute little purple 18-speed Bianchi Sport SX, while exploring new territory on my current velo.
Carpool company with Estella and Ann made the short car trip there and back very pleasant…. and i was wearing for the 2nd time my new SmartWool pippi longstocking base layer shirt, feeling all the more dapper and whimsical for it…..
Fun day, great ride, good company! Thanks Jim for posting and leading….. (and yes, i DID have an ice cream at Pixley from the Sikh ice cream truck….. but at 2 bucks, neither as delicious nor as priceworthy as the one I had from the gas station/convenience store at Valley View/SPDR the day of 3 small walls…. $1 and so tasty, but that’s another story, another ride….)
it just occurs to me that because of the little “detour” I did with my partner-in-crime, Ann – we did everything but the “Pan Toll” part…. hopefully Jim will list this one again soon, and i’ll remember to turn “RIGHT” where the cue sheet indicates instead of following the signs to Stinson Beach…
p.s. – and now i’m curious to know what that “jim tunes” in the email address denotes?