Pierce Point Ranch-In Search of Tule Elk

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Click here to watch a short video of today’s ride

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Wyatt and I head out from Miller Creek to meet up with the group in Nicasio for a ride out to Pierce Point Ranch. The climb up Lucas Valley drops us through the ever beautiful redwood forest and to Nicasio Valley Rd.

We arrive at Nicasio and see a fairly large group of cyclists already there. Water and drinks can be purchased at the store. Public use porta-potties are available next to the ball field.

We take Nicasio Valley Rd to Pt Reyes-Petaluma Rd. The views along the reservoir are fabulous!

We continue on Pt Reyes-Petaluma Rd heading west and ride upon more fantastic views of the surrounding area. The water in the reservoir is looking mighty calm and still; it’s mesmerizing! The reflection of the sun’s rays makes the water sparkle too!

The fast descent brings us to the colored bridge and we continue south on Platform Bridge Rd for the next 2.4 miles on rolling terrain. It’s very quiet back here with minimal traffic. Instead of turning directly on Sir Francis Drake, we make the little turn to cross the old platform bridge and continue on the old road that brings us back on the main road. It’s a nice little detour.

The climb up Olema Hill is about 3/4 of a mile with gradient ranges of 7-9%. The descent drops us into the town of Olema.

We continue on Hwy 1 heading north and make a quick turn onto Bear Valley Rd. The 2.2 mile run on Bear Valley is pretty flat with one very short climb. We hit a pothole in the shade and immediately get a pinched flat. Wyatt changes out the tube fairly quickly and we’re off again.

We meet up with everyone at the Inverness Store along Sir Francis Drake Blvd. You can purchase made to order sandwiches, snacks and cold drinks at the store. There is a public use porta-pottie located across  from the parking lot.

The route continues on Sir Francis Drake Blvd heading north. The climb up Inverness Hill is about 3/4 of a mile with gradient ranges of 9-11% and maxes out at 13% as you near the top.

We get a nice descent on  the backside; at the Y intersection, stay to the right to continue on Pierce Point Rd. The climb up and over takes along the top of the ridge. The views are amazing; you can see fog cover in the far distance-that’s where we’re heading. Wyatt and I have our windbreakers folded up on top of the pack; just in case.

Pierce Point Rd continues on and on through Point Reyes National Seashore. The scenery and surrounding landscape in this whole area are spectacular!

There are a few operating dairy ranches out here with plenty of jerseys roaming the open pastures. The occasional whiff of the country air will give your senses a quick jolt now and then.

There is one steep climb after you pass the ranch and cross the cattle guard; the gradient ranges from 9-14%. It’s a steady climb up to the ridge. The views are amazing!

You may think you’re at the top, but there’s another climb ahead. It’s actually very short and not too steep. The views from the top of the ridge are awesome! The fog is starting to roll in. It certainly changes the feel of the whole ride. But we have yet to put on our windbreakers; it’s still warm out here! 

The descent will drop us down to Pierce Ranch; but wait, we see Paul making a U-turn and we quickly follow suit. There’s a herd of roaming elk out there; you can hear the bulls bugling very loudly. Wyatt stops safely which allows me to get off the tandem and take some pictures. I’m not sure if I even got any shots of the elk; the fog is rolling in fast. The sights of the herd of elks are unbelievable! This is one of those moments where I feel so blessed to be able to ride on a weekday and fully enjoy the benefits of it all!

We drop down the hill to Pierce Point Ranch for lunch. There is no water here. Restrooms are available at the lower parking lot. There is a lot to see around the ranch; you can walk through the open barn and check out all the other buildings.

After lunch, we reverse the route from which we came. It’s always a much faster ride back; we know what to expect. The scenery and views are outstanding. We stop at the same spot to see if there were any more elk; the fog is quickly rolling in and I can see the remaining three elk taking off on top of the ridge. Again, I’m just zooming in with the camera and have no idea if I get any shots in at all. I couldn’t really see through the fog and the wind was just blowing the camera around.

The ride back on Pierce Point Rd has a different feel to it; everything is seen from another perspective. This has got to be one of the most beautiful rides in west Marin.

The end of Pierce Point Rd brings us back to Sir Francis Drake Blvd. The descent back into Inverness is so much better now that parts of the road has been repaved and patched-no more potholes to watch out for! It’s a flat ride all the way to Hwy 1 into Point Reyes Station.

We take Hwy 1 to Pt Reyes-Petaluma Rd to Nicasio Valley Rd. The ride ends at Nicasio for everyone else; Wyatt and I still need to ride back to Miller Creek. We both chug down a can of Coke before heading out on Lucas Valley Rd. It’s a nice easy 10 miles; half of that is ridden under the shade and the last half is a blasting fast downhill back to the start.

Thanks to Bob for leading today’s fun and fabulous ride! The weather was perfect and Tule elk was found! This goes on my list as a “favorite ride”.

Thanks to Wyatt for his patience and willingness to stop “on demand” for my photo needs!

I played around with the editing on Picasa and miraculously the pictures of the Tule elk came out pretty good! I hope you enjoy seeing the photos.

The video was taken with my hand held camera. It’s not that easy holding the camera and trying to keep my hand on the handlebar at the same time. The road was a bit bumpy on certain sections and the wind was blowing a bit. I hope you enjoy it just the same.

33 people in attendance with 1 tandem

73.4 miles with 4567′ of elevation gain

Weather: WONDERFUL! Sunny and warm throughout the day. Coastal fog heading towards Pierce Ranch. Temps ranged from the low 70’s to high 80’s

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>KEEP RIDING!>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

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