Saturday, August 4, 2012

Ride Report: Marin/Mt. Tam Century Part 1

"Which way, Jay?"
 I love riding with a group of talented, dedicated athletes.. they've taken me places I wouldn't have seen on my own and the company is priceless. 
I have to start this post with an explanation: I've since May I've been riding with the Diablo Cyclists, a club based in Walnut Creek. It was a  decision I made because all the solo rides were getting dull and also because I've been toying with the idea of trying some bike races... and to race, you have to ride with people. Hence, my decision to ride with a club. 

Me, Jay and Ward doing the Marin Century the week before the Tam Century... a training ride for Jay. For me, this is the first time in my life that I've consistently done long rides (80+ miles) each Saturday a week.

What I wasn't prepared for was the caliber of athlete I'd meet there... or the diverse range of athletic ability I'd put myself up against (or with.) One rider in particular, Jay, astounds me. Today, as I write this ride report for the Mt. Tam Century (96.97 miles at the end of the day according to my little computer), Jay rode what's known as the Mt. Tam Double which is exactly what it sounds like: twice the distance (basically riding the Marin Century + the Mt. Tam Century all in one solid go.) To help him train, another club member (an amazing rider as well) Ward, rode with him on what is known as the Marin Century last weekend so Jay would know the route in advance. I tagged along because it sounded fun. 

And it was.

And now, having ridden both centuries, I have to say I like them both; but for vastly different reasons. They day we rode Marin, it was sunny and warm with a cooling breeze that somehow nearly always was a headwind. Riding Mt. Tam (today) was in a perpetual heavy fog (save for en route to the summit of Mt. Tam when the sun broke through the fog and I removed my jacket... only to put it on again at the summit--40 miles into the ride-- and for the rest of the 96 miles and change.) But how can you dislike redwood forests and Muir Woods and Hwy 1 when there's that endless expanse of the Pacific to your left? And Point Reyes-- perhaps one of the most special places on earth. Rain, sun, snow, shine or... fog. It's really just the most beautiful place around.  It's a tie, in other words. Maybe next year I'll do the double and see if I like both legs equally when I'm forced to ride them back to back. 

Marin Century:

Ward and I in front of a one-room school house with a rather spirited painted wall.  It was colorful enough to catch our attention for a photo shoot.

The best way to describe the Marin Century is to simply state that it's 100 miles of constant climbs and descents. Jay calls them "rollers" but some of those ascents demanded more respect from my lungs and legs for that appellation. But no climb is mountain-high; and no descent is, either. You're constantly on the gears, shifting up or down depending on the terrain. In some ways, I think it's a more challenging ride simply because there are no 20 minute descents-- ever. You have a brief respite and then it's up again. 

On this ride, I discovered my strength and my weakness: simply put, I kick ass on the climbs if I keep my heart rate in the mid 170s, but suck on all downhills (probably since I had a bad accident last year on wet pavement and the scars on my right hip and upper thigh, still, to prove it.) 

Jay and I on one of many climbs (or "rollers".) Here, we're cruising through a grove of Eucalyptus Trees which provided some nice shade.

Another thing I admire: the while-ride-shot. Both Jay and Ward are able to take photos of us while riding. I find this amazing. I need both hands for steering. Notice the landscape: this is what the Marin Century (mostly) looks like. Jay asked me: "does this remind you of Nevada?" [That's where I'm from.]  And I could only say: no. Because in Marin, there's no sage or bitterbrush and the smell each plant makes when "sweating" under a summer sun.

Here I am in Fallon, California. (Are you reading, Mom? There's a Fallon in California, too!)  A quick stop for a photo-shoot of a field of abandoned (antique) gas pumps and a tractor-golf-cart thing filled with little dogs and two houses along "Yesteryear Lane." Sort of sounds like Fallon... sans Air Force Base and sagebrush. 

Stopping for a snack. I love how Jay and I are both obviously eating.  I just remember thinking how lovely the coffee tasted there... and the breadstick with pesto and basil on it. Mmmm after 60(?) or so miles.

Riding along Tomales Bay. That day, this was the coldest part of the ride... and in my opinion, the most beautiful. Again, the terrain was rolling (up and down, up and down) but I was just saturated in that ocean (OK not ocean) but definitely moist and slightly salted air.

After climbing the back side of Marshall Wall. Whew! But I did it.

Oh yeah. That's Part II. Stay tuned.

Me, trying to look like those wooden-carved Native American statues behind me. Am I as tough? Probably not.

Banana under the windshield wiper. Yeah, we roll that way. 

No comments:

Post a Comment