I really do live in cycling Nirvana. There are so many options that it is really just plain silly: road or mountain, ‘cross or not, Tam or Tamarancho, West Marin or Sonoma county. I could go on forever but won’t. I thought since the kids racing in the Tour of California will be traipsing through my hood this week it would be a timely, well, time to pen a piece about one of my favorite road rides in the entire world. I call it the Tam loop because in essence one loops around and over the entirety that is Mount Tam.
So, like I mentioned last week, I am indeed back on the bike. Being back on the bike after a few weeks off means regaining lost form, losing gained fat pockets, suffering more where there was less suffering prior, and revisiting some of my favorite rides, rides I know like the back of my hand, to gauge my fitness and see how much work needs to be done. Enter Tam loop.
Saturday morning – 9 AM. The sun is up and there is a faint and gentle breeze. The thermometer reads 68 degrees and I can see it will be a beautiful day. I kit up and throw a leg over the road sled and head out to the sleepy, smoky little town of Fairfax. Up we go. Bolinas road. I climb past famed trailheads, golf courses, the entrance that leads to the infamous Repack downhill. I smile. Not a car in sight. As I crest the first climb and begin my descent to Alpine Dam, I can feel the temperature creeping higher, take a drink. Twists and turns and smiles galore, and before I know it I find myself on top of the dam. Time to fuel up for the next two climbs. Pay Day and a banana? Why not.
Up to Ridgecrest Drive. Two-point-one miles of redwood lined, twisty and scenic climbing. So sweet. The shade is welcomed. I can taste the fecund smells of foliage as I breathe deeply trying to find the second chamber of my lungs, that deep breath I possess when fitness is in the house. I cannot find it this day – maybe next time. I see the sign. I am now on Bolinas Ridge. Time to hit the Seven Sisters.
Wide open and hot the serpentine humps come at me one at a time – seven in all. I sweat and the horse flies rally together to get their pound of flesh. I hate horse flies, but they sure like me. I look to my right and check the surf at Stinson and Bolinas beaches. I can see the fog hanging right on the coastline, that cool coastal breath ringing the mountain like a frothy tutu. Ah, the top. The climbing is done and done. A drink. Descent.
Dropping Tam when you know the road is somewhat akin to slot car racing. Outside of the one sharp right hander that I nearly high-sided on and flew into oncoming traffic, I slithered down the mountain without mishap and wearing a certain kind of eating grin. I roll into Mill Valley and almost have to stop at the 2 AM club for a beer after such an excellent ride … but don’t. There are still some miles to cover to home, miles where I will contemplate my fitness and what I need to do to get to where I need to be.
Rides like that, rides that I know, rides that flow, rides that show … me exactly where I stand and what needs to be done will be in my future and are exactly the types of rides I need right now. And that ride, Tam Loop, showed me that there is a lot of room for improvement, improvement that will come with a few more rides and a few more Tam loops, but it sure was fun.