Mt Tamalpais via Mill Valley

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

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For today’s club ride, I volunteer to lead a clock wise loop up Mt Tam from Mill Valley with a return via Fairfax. The group meets up at the Safeway on Camino Alto & Miller Ave. Water and restrooms are available inside Safeway. There is ample street parking on Miller with no time restrictions.

We head NW on Miller to Throckmorton Ave. There is not much of a warm up period for this ride. The climbing starts right away at mile 2 as we turn into Old Mill Park on Cascade Dr to Marion Ave. Marion is a single lane road nestled between towering redwoods through a gorgeous neighborhood. The average grade here is around 3.6%. It increases to 5% as we continue on Edgewood Ave to Sequoia Valley Rd. There are a few pitches that hit around 8-9%.

We then head north on Panoramic Hwy. The first three-quarter mile or so takes us through a residential area with some climbing that averages around 6%, there is a short section that hits between 9-11%. Once you pass the Mountain Home Trail head the road eases up. We continue on Panoramic for the next 3.5 miles. It’s a fun section of road that begins with a slight downhill before the climbing starts. The average grade here is around 3.7%. It increases to about 6-7% for a short distance as you approach the Pan Toll Campground. Watch out for oncoming traffic!

There is a brief regroup at the Pan Toll Campgrounds at Mt Tam State Park. Water and restrooms are available.

We cross Panoramic Hwy and continue on Pan Toll Rd for the next 1.43 miles. The views along this climb are beautiful! The average grade here is 5.6%. The pavement is great too!



We make a right on E Ridgecrest Blvd to continue up to the summit. Restrooms are available at the parking lot. Water is available at the Mountain Theater on Ridgecrest. The climb up to the East Peak Summit is 2.9 miles with an average gradient of 3.4%. There is one short steep section after you pass the radar tower; it increases significantly from 9-14%. After that point, you hit a few rollers and a fast downhill towards the bottom of the parking lot. SLOW DOWN, there’s usually gravel around that area. There’s two ways to get to the Visitors Center; up the steep climb to the parking lot or take the gentler hiker/bike path on the right hand side of the road, it’s very easy to miss if you’re not looking out for it.


We head back down Ridgecrest; there are three short climbs before the descent to the lower east parking lot. We continue on Ridgecrest for the next 3.8 miles on rolling terrain all the way to Bolinas Fairfax Rd. The ocean views are stunning!

The descent on Bolinas Fairfax Rd to the dam is around 2.3 miles. The road conditions seemed to have gotten worse with more cracks and potholes. Be cautious! There is a brief regroup at the dam. You get some pretty nice views of Alpine Lake here.

We continue on Bolinas Fairfax Rd through the redwoods and make the climb up to Pine Mountain. The last mile to the top is fully exposed to the sun. The gradient does not exceed 6-7%. You’re near the top when you can see the rust colored guard rail.

It’s literally all downhill from here! You roll pass the golf course and through the residential area on Bolinas Rd. Watch out for cars coming out of the hidden driveways; they’re not watching out for cyclists.

The lunch stop is at Fat Angel Bakery in Fairfax. I called the bakery the day before to the let them know that 25-30 cyclists would be stopping in for lunch. They went the extra mile to have sandwiches, soups, pizza, Quiche and other bakery goods ready for us. I heard nothing but positive feedback from everyone. Water and restrooms are available inside. The Fairfax Scoop is also next store if anyone is so inclined to have an extra treat.

It’s hard to get started again after consuming a “Chocolate Pillow”; chocolate ganache sandwiched in between flaky buttery pastry. It was delicious!

We take the bike route on Landsdale and San Anselmo Ave to Bolinas Ave, Shady Lane and Lagunitas Rd. We ride through Fairfax, San Anselmo and Ross. The police are very diligent at giving out citations to cyclists that blow through stop signs. You have been warned! Once we pass Ross Commons, we continue on Poplar Ave which becomes Kent Ave. Magnolia Ave takes us through Larkspur. There is actually quite a bit of traffic in this area; stay alert.

We turn on Redwood to take Chapman Dr. The single lane climb up Chapman is about 1.2 mile with an average grade of about 4%. It’s a nice little detour to avoid climbing Corte Madera Ave. From the top, it’s a sweeping descent down Camino Alto back to Safeway.

“Thanks!” to everyone for coming out for this ride up Mt Tam. I had a fun time and hope you all did too. A “Congratulations” is in order for those making it up Tam for the very first time!

37 people in attendance with 2 tandems

40 miles with 4353′ of elevation gain

Weather: Absolutely FABULOUS! Sunny, clear blue skies with a starting temp of 56 and reaching a high of 62. Breezy on the climb up Pan Toll and on the return along Ridgecrest Blvd to Bolinas Fairfax Rd.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>RIDE ON!>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

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