Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Mt. Tam (almost) century

The Marin 200K was to be an 'intermediate' goal leading up to Solvang. I ended up doing the Mt. Tam century instead, which was listed as 94 miles with about 7800 ft of climbing.

I rode with Kim, who was insisting beforehand that I'd gotten so strong that I would leave her in the dust. Kim is such a hoot. She's a strong climber and I was hoping at best I would be able to keep up with her on the climbs. Well, turns out, notsomuch. But at least she didn't have to wait as long for me as she used to.

I've never ridden up Mt. Tam before, so I didn't know what to expect. Sometimes that's good. I was told it would be beautiful up there, and it was. The climb up Fairfax-Bolinas was nice and shady for the most part, and the Alpine Dam area was lovely. On the way up I happened to meet one of the organizers for this years Waves to Wine MS ride, a guy named Dan, so Kim & I had a nice chat with him about the upcoming ride. Sounds like the celebration at Sonoma Mountain Village is going to be fun. Must remember aspirin.

Kim left me in the dust and soon so did Dan and his companion (whose name I have forgotten). I'm so used to climbing alone that it's no big deal. But I reached Ridgecrest Road and I thought, oh crud, long rollers for as far as I could see. Ridgecrest, as the name implies, goes around near the top of Tam. What I mistook for rollers were in fact a series of climbs called the Seven Bitches (or the Seven Sisters in polite company). Not knowing that these were not mere rollers, I started getting really down on myself when I couldn't get any momentum and power up the inclines like I normally would. Looking at the elevation profile afterwards I could see why I was having such a tough time. But at the time, I started up on my "who am I kidding" mantra not too far along Ridgecrest.

We were well above the fog line out in the sun, and it was freakin' hot up there. But the scenery was lovely. When I finally reached the intersection of Ridgecrest and Pan Toll (where Kim was waiting patiently, working on her suntan), we still had about 3 miles to go to the summit of Tam. It was an up and back, and after about 30 milliseconds of debate I wussed out on it (to be fair, Kim would have done it if I wanted to - but my tenacity leaves something to be desired) and we hung a right to begin our descent down PanToll and Panoramic Hiway.

Heading down Panoramic we rode into the fog, and in the space of about a half mile it went from sunny & freakin' hot to damp & cold with a nearly 40 degree temperature drop, so we soon had our armwarmers and vests back on. We rode past the entrance to Muir Woods, which can be a bit dicey with all the cars parked along the road and pedestrians wandering about and the @#$% tour busses passing within inches on the narrow windey shoulderless road (can you tell I really loved that part).

We finally reached Highway 1 which alas wasn't all that much better, it was still narrow and windey and relatively shoulderless with lots of cars and a slog of a climb after Muir Beach to boot. I was well into my "who am I kidding mode" by then, and whenever I caught up to Kim (who by now was waiting for me at the top of every little anthill roller, it seemed), in betwixt general purpose whining I was informing her and anyone else within earshot that no way in creation was I attempting a freakin' double century in this lifetime.

But by the time we passed Stinson Beach the traffic volume went down considerably, the road widened, the fog had lifted by then and it was nice & sunny but the temperature remained pleasant, and all was well with our world. Just past Pt. Reyes we headed inland on Pt. Reyes - Petaluma Rd. and hung a right past the Nicasio Revervior. Almost done, yaaay! My lower back was tightening up so I took a couple of vitamin I's and by the time we reached the final rest stop in Nicasio it was much better.

It started getting really hot again as we went inland so we had some nice cold Cokes at the final rest stop at the Nicasio School. This rest stop was common to the final leg of all the rides so it was fun to chat with people - and everyone was glad that they were almost done! We met up with MP and her friend Sky at that rest stop and she gave me some words of encouragement which helped a bit, but I still wanted this ride to be O-VER. I met Jim (cyclofiend) at this rest stop, he was hard to miss with his Rivendell wool jersey and his lovely burnt-orange Quickbeam. (He rode the Marin Century route on a single-speed wearing a wool jersey. In the heat. It's so reassuring to know there are many people out there much crazier than I.)

Lucas Valley Road was hot as well but at least we were in the shade a lot, and Kim was joining in on the whining by now and misery really loves company so I was plenty fine with that. Once we got over the final (thank gawd, short) climb in the baking sun we had the nice long descent to the finish.

At the finish I made a beeline to the ice cream freezer and wolfed down a Haagen-Dasz ice cream bar as we waited in line for the real food. You know that saying, life is uncertain, eat dessert first!

We rode about 88 miles of the 94 mile route (since we wussed out on the 3 mile up & back to the summit of Tam) and my Ciclosport showed about 6300 feet of climbing. Compared to others' computers my Ciclosport seems to underestimate climbing but, whatever. I've seen someone else's report in which they recorded about 7200 feet of climbing for the same route (that is, w/o the Tam summit) using an Edge 305 GPS.

Eh, it's all relative. Looking back at my old journal entires this seems to be the most climbing I've done on a single ride. That'll change soon.

There was a nice email from MP waiting for me when I got home. She told to give it a few days before deciding on Solvang. Well, after sleeping on it, I'm pretty pleased with the ride all in all. I obviously have to get stronger at climbing - and not give up so easily !!! - but that'll come.

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