Friday – 28-Nov-2014 – Post Thanksgiving Turkey burnoff – one bakery – Miller Creek – Marshall Wall – Pt.Reyes Stn loop

was looking forward to this one since seeing it earlier in the “future listings”…. combo of these particular ride leaders and the loop being such a winning prospect for a good day on the bike.
then thanksgiving and oh, am i supposed to stay home and finish making that big pot of soup, and start xmas baking? or would i be able to sneak out for a day of fun. in the errrrrrr sunshine…..
last minute posting for carpool, then just jumped in the Jetta and scooted on over the RSR bridge, getting myself to the start about 9:15, plenty of time to get ready in a more relaxed mode, for a nice change (-:

It had been clear skies at home, but as soon as i reached the end of Buchanan Street to merge onto the 580, the fog was already socked in (yes, my weather reports for all areas had predicted that, too, to the inclusion of “45 degrees and dense fog” in Pt.Reyes Stn….. however, for that location and everywhere else i needed to know, no actual rain prediction until 17:00. OK, i’m gonna put my trust in the weather dudes and sheer hope. Meanwhile, the further northwest i drove, the more grey and wet it became, and i’m thinking – oh man, this does not make for safe conditions – or much fun – for a bicycle ride…. ..

…. but somewhat magically, just past Terra Linda, blue skies and a bit of sunshine spread out above. by the time we rolled out, a nice group of about 16 or 17 had gathered, with a few more meeting us in Nicasio. This 60 mile loop is about the perfect thing for a bicycle ride. The hilly sections are just enough of a challenge to make one have to put in some good effort, and at the top of Marshall Wall, the view down toward Tomales lagoon is heavenly. Recent repaving and patching on Marshall Road over the past year or two replace the former nerve and wheel-rattling pothole-ridden obstacle course into a pleasurable swoop along some of the most beautiful terrain in our coastal hills and the section along Hwy 1 just after where the wall drops at Marshall and meanders along the lagoon is one of my favorite stretches of road, anywhere. Spacing of the terrain throughout the ride… where the hills are in relation to the flats and rollers…. is just about perfect for alternate bouts of climbing and stretching those bones at a fast pace. The only place i start feeling a bit laggy (and this is true every time) is the short section around Drakes Bay Oyster Company… it’s ridiculously scenic, but for some reason my energy just goes flat for a few miles before Pt. Reyes Stn.

Yesterday i took a very minor detour from the the standard cue sheet…. i’ve always noticed that Cypress Ave – the street immediately before Mesa Ave – off of Hwy 1 – comes back in at a right-angle to Mesa just before the first big left-sweeping turn on Mesa…. and wondered what that road is like… so yesterday i exited Hwy 1 at Cypress instead of Mesa. Quiet residential avenue with one little bump about 100 ft high. Nice. (disclaimer: hmmm, i’m sort of reporting this not in an effort to alter the cue sheet, and hoping it’s followed only on solo hops, not a bunch of loud-talking, hungry folks chomping at the bit in anticipation of that long-waited restroom break and Bakery stop in town – you KNOW how we can get!!… as Cypress is quieter and narrower then Mesa and i’m sure the residents want to keep it that way.)

Avg pace until the main part of the climb on Marshall Road: 13.7 (dropped to 12.6 by the top)… went back up along Hwy 1, but somehow (blame it on that section on Hwy 1 by Drakes Bay Oyster Co), my overall avg was only 12.4 by the end of the day…. and i didn’t quite have my normal energy after the bridge turn onto Petaluma-Hwy and section of reservoir along Nicasio, or even after the final combs on Lucas Valley Rd to the finish where i usually cruise along at between 19-25 mpg (only reached 21 tops in that section yesterday… then again, i pulled for a long distance both before and after the turn at the reservoir.)

My Stats for the day (taken from my cyclometer after reaching home):
Distance: 59.70 mi
12.4: Avg mph
35.4: max mph
4:46:47 saddle time

Route amenities: well, if you want to make a day of it, sure – in addition to the porta-potty stop at Nicasio (both directions), one can blow a bunch of time and $$ getting some R&R, food, water, etc. at the following along the way:

  • Miller Creek Community Center: restrooms (at start/fin of ride)
  • Nicasio Valley Cheese Company – YUMMMMY!! just around the bend outside the main part of “town” in Nicasio
  • The Cheese Factory – otherwise known as the Marin French Cheese Company, the home of “Rouge et Noir”: cheeses, sandwiches, beverages. Good restrooms in separate building outside. Enjoy a picnic lunch staring at the waterfowl in their own little pond. This well-known cheese factory and “shoppe” comes along right when you’ve dropped down from the stair step climbs off Pt.Reyes – Petaluma Hwy: heck, if you plan ahead, you can even have a tour of the place. Also, it’s really the last opportunity for any restroom, water or food purchase til you reach the coast. On the other hand, momentum is good, and you’re on a good roll, just keep on going. (yup, that’s why we bring “pocket food”).
  • Hog Island Oyster Company: right where you drop down onto the Hwy 1 from the wall.
  • Nick’s Cove:  i used to come here on my motorcycle trips. Burgers, BBQ oysters, beers
  • Marshall Hotel,
  • Tony’s Seafood Restaurant  –  Marshall, CA – never been, place always seems to be packed, though
  • The Marshall Store: this is the classic bike-picnic stop! Cash only; porta potties outside. great chowder and samiches, delicious and worth the wait.
  • any one will give you great chowder, crab sandwich (in season NOW), hot coffee, burger-death, fries
  • Drakes Bay Oyster Co.: the final stop on the coast before Pt.Reyes Station. BBQ oysters and fresh ones to take home, too. Always tempting to bring a satchel and stop in for a to-go portion for home. But while on the bike, it’s a total madhouse scene with way too many cars, set right where you need to start climbing a bit. Ugh. I usually have my big-mouth voice on for that section, ever vigilant for whoever is going to turn from the dirt parking area back onto the Hwy, or from the Hwy to the parking area, right across my path – “NO!!! HEY – STOP!!!”
  • Pt. Reyes Station public restroom: continue on Mesa Rd across State Hwy 1 (also accessible by crossing through the parking lot of the Wells Fargo Bank, if you’re too lazy to go all the way around between the restrooms and the Bovine Bakery).
  • Bovine Bakery: coffee, cocoa, hot soup, yummy treats both sweet and savory. Line 5 abreast in front. Thank goodness for pocket food! (and Thanks, Susan Jeiven for sharing her soup. Susan had joined us in Pt.Reyes Stn after soloing out from Sausalito.) And “secret” water spigot tucked away right next to the Grizzly Peak Cyclists bench at the edge of the Marin Commons. I sat THERE, sort of perched on my little Grizzly Peak throne, well – you know, cuz i’m a Grizzly and Grizzly Mama! and shared stories and a bit of chocolate brought by Birthday girl Sandy E! (thanks, Sandy!) btw, the many tree stumps strewn about the commons in the sunshine looked mighty welcoming, too!
  • Cowgirl Creamery: (Pt.Reyes Station). this is the original factory and store, located in Tomales Bay Foods on 4th Street (keep going straight instead of turning left for the Bovine Bakery)
  • Palace Market: everything! just gotta love a place that has a picture of parsnips featured in the fresh veggie bin on their website!
  • Toby’s CoffeeBar: California Hwy 1, same side of street as Palace Mkt. in Pt.Reyes Stn.
  • Station House Cafe: same street as Bovine Bakery (this is for if you’re really in a relaxed mode, maybe on a day trip or weekend holiday, and maybe have something else to wear other than your lycra!, live music Sundays at 5pm too.)
  • Rancho Nicasio: on the town square of Nicasio – sandwiches, oysters, crab and chili fries. to-go in the shed outside, or sit and relax with a beer at the restaurant. I’ve heard tell, “arguably the best chili fries, anywhere” (undocumented source)

But since this is a Bad Ass Grizzly ride, there is no such stopping. After climbing up and over Lucas Valley Road, short regroup/porta-potty, add’l sign-ins at Nicasio. The mere hint of a rolling re-group at Hicks Valley, the Marshall wall summit and the intersection of Marshall & hwy 1. Restroom and bakery break in Pt.Reyes Stn. Porta-potty back in Nicasio. That’s the way we roll on a Steph-Janet TM-paced ride. And it’s fun… and heck-yeah, we sure did beat the rain! Thanks to Stephanie and Janet for putting on a great ride and getting me out of my lazy stop & slow trend!

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