January 13, 2007: Featured Ride of the Week -- Stinson Beach 94970


It's been really, really cold lately, so when Romulus suggested a morning road ride out to Stinson Beach for today, my legs and brain said "Yes! yes!" but my skin and weenitude said, "Are you fucking kidding me?"

Romulus and Duke met me at Church and 30th in Noe Valley at 8:15 a.m. and we were off. In addition to my winter MTB gloves, I was wearing five layers on my upper body and a balaclava around my neck. Bulky, but it worked; I was never really cold at any point during the ride. My eyes teared up and the tip of my nose went numb a few times, but all in all, I was perfectly geared.

Golden Gate Bridge
Visibility: crystalline

Because no 30-degree morning bike ride is complete without a Starbucks run, we hit Dr. Evil's outpost at Church and Market for some grandes. Properly fueled, we headed through the lower Haight across the panhandle, pausing to observe traditional safety precautions in the Park, and then up Arguello into the Presidio.

Out at Fort Point, the visibility was crystalline. Pinpoint. The Farallones looked liked huge sunken hound's teeth just a four-iron offshore. Temperatures were crisp but not unbearable, and there was just a slight hint of the icy winds that have been haunting the Bay Area the last week or so.

We raced across the western side of the Golden Gate Bridge, dodging tourists (you know the out-of-towners because they're riding rental bikes with goofy gear pouches attached to the handlebars), slower cyclists, construction equipment, random temporary structures, and of course the two main bridge stanchions. As sketchy as it can sometimes be, it is so much better now that they have erected a safety barrier to separate the bike traffic from the vehicle traffic. Up until 2004, there was a just a one-foot cement lip keeping cyclists from spilling into oncoming vehicular death.

Up towards the Waldo, then down into Sausalito, and on into Mill Valley we pedaled. It felt good. The coffee and the pull through the City had warmed us, and we built up a nice lather on the relatively flat Mill Valley bike path.

While we spun, Romulus expounded on his exponential event equation (E3), which states that one event or circumstance or thing can make the rest of your life -- by making you rich or famous, or by revealing your true character to yourself and to others. Case in point, Mr. Wesley Autrey. I don't know much else about the guy, but what he did in that subway, in the flash of a millisecond, out of gut instinct, revealed his true character. Sir, you are incredible, and I would really like to shake your hand and give you a big hug on behalf of all humankind. Intense.


Golden Gate Pan Toll Station
Love the barrier
Pan Toll, or pain toll?

Finally, the time had come to climb. It was an edgy and crowded climb up Edgewood to Pan Toll Station on the shoulder of Mt. Tamalpais. Lots and lots of cars, not much shoulder. I wear an eyeglasses-mounted rear view mirror, which literally gives me eyes in the back of my head. Don't know how people can road ride without 'em.

From Pan Toll, we dropped into the, uh, drops and hung on for the exhilarating tight, twisting descent into Stinson Beach on the Panoramic Highway. For a couple of miles, we zipped in and out of dappled sunlight, dodging potholes and far outpacing the cars. Then, we came around a tight turn, up a little rise, and were swallowed up in a bottomless azure background. The ocean was so blue and so expansive, and we were rushing downhill towards it at speeds approaching 70 km/hr.

This section of the ride was a bit dicey because with my hands in the drops, it was hard to grab the brakes with my thick snow gloves. At least twice I flinched for the brakes, missed, and felt a surge of panic course through my bunghole as I careened way off line through a tight hairpin. My hands were never cold though.

Down in Stinson Beach, we discovered that Highway 1 south from Stinson Beach, our intended return route, is closed for construction until March. That meant we had to climb back up the long, steep hill we had just rocketed down. D'oh.

Montara Mountain
A view of Montara Mountain from Stinson Beach

We rolled into the oceanside park for a snack, a whiz, and some safety precautions. The sun felt great and provided a warm and pleasant calm before the impending four-mile uphill storm to come.

The climb back up was pretty good. Didn't really hurt at all. We cruised the descent back into Mill Valley with no worries. Ahh.

Bogies were out there all day. Some we passed, some passed us. That wasn't our objective today. However, when some puffed-up ass clowns pedaled past us in Sausalito with what I interpreted as an air of pretension, I couldn't let it stand. After letting various riders in the offending pack pull out to various leads ranging up to a few hundred yards, I gathered up a head of steam at the bottom of Fort Baker Road and went roaring after them. Nailed 'em. For whatever reason, that hill seems to really take it out people. It's like they give up mentally. I ripped by 15 people on that one-half mile hill like there were standing still. Let that be a lesson, don't be pretensing, nnn-nnhh.

Back across the Bridge in a full sprint with the wind at our backs. Our energy was definitely flagging as we approached the 90km mark in the ride. As it usually is after an epic ride, our stagger through the Marina, up Polk Street through the Tenderloin, and over to Valencia is just a blur. We were all on autopilot.

I peeled off from Romulus and Duke at 29th and Mission, spent and satisfied. And with enough time to drive home, get some fast food, and catch the second half of the Ravens-Colts game. What a day.


Dist: 91.22 km Time: 4:55:43 Avg: 18.5 Max: 57.0 Wgt: 166.5

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