Tam Loop by Jason Harrod



Tam Loop


Jason Harrod

Tam Loop

Tam Loop

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.






  1. captnagro says

    That writing speaks to my soul and tells me that I am not alone in the world regardless of what I hear from others regarding my love of the wheeled beast.
    Thanks Jason; keep up the writing and hopefully deliver it in more regular intervals! Maybe one day we cross paths and find we are one in the same…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *