Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Wyatt and I opt to extend today’s ride by starting out on Miller Creek Rd to meet up with the group in Nicasio. We head out into the fog on Lucas Valley Rd and rise above it on the climb up to Big Rock where the sun is shining! The view of the fog lingering below the valley is fantastic!
The descent on Lucas Valley takes you through a beautiful shaded redwood forest with a scattering of homes and ranches throughout the area. It’s also a very cool 44 degrees back here!
We arrive in Nicasio to sunny blue skies and minimal winds. The weather forecast today calls for high wind warnings of up to 70 mph! Will that affect us? We’ll just have to ride and see. It doesn’t seem to stop this group of cyclist from going out to Marshall; everyone looks prepared.
We take Nicasio Valley Rd to Pt Reyes-Petaluma Rd. The brown hillsides are slowly turning green again! The views of the reservoir are always a marvelous sight. You can feel the winds out here but it’s not as bad as we all anticipate it to be.
The climb up Cheese Factory hill is a little over a mile long with an average grade of about 6%. The descent on Pt Reyes-Petaluma Rd takes you pass the Marin French Cheese Factory; food, water and restrooms are available there. We continue to head north and take Hicks Valley Rd to Marshall Petaluma Rd.
The 6-7 miles of rolling terrain to the Walker Creek Ranch is a great warm up to the climb up “Marshall Wall”. It’s a 2 miles stair step climb with a false summit. The first section is the steepest with gradients ranging from 9-11%. The road eases up a bit to the false summit and continues to climb along the ridge with gradient ranges of 7-8%. Take the time to enjoy the views of Tomales Bay and the surrounding hillsides; it’s magnificent! The screaming descent on the other side drops you down to Hwy 1.
We continue south on Hwy 1 to our designated lunch stop at the Marshall Store only to find out that they’re closed for the Thanksgiving holiday. Some of us opt to go directly to Point Reyes Station while others stay.
The 7.50+ miles run on the rollers on Hwy 1 are really fun and fast; the north winds are blowing us along quite nicely! The views of Tomales Bay are fabulous! There is one short steep hill as you approach the Point Reyes Winery to Point Reyes Station.
The turn on Mesa Rd takes us through a residential neighborhood and back onto Hwy 1 to the Bovine Bakery. The food of choice for many at the bakery is a huge slice of pizza. We all linger for a LONG while; it’s sunny and warm with barely any wind!
The return to Nicasio is on Pt Reyes-Petaluma Rd to Nicasio Valley Rd. It’s a fun downhill with a small bump all the way to the turn at the colored bridge. The climb up the spillway is fairly short with gradients ranging from 5-7%. The road opens up to the sight of the Nicasio Reservoir.
The flat three plus miles on Nicasio Valley Rd takes us back to Nicasio. We bid our farewells to the others and head out to Lucas Valley for the final 10 miles back to San Rafael. The climb back up to Big Rock is very gentle and the descent on Lucas Valley is a great way to finish a ride! BTW, we did experience some strong gusts of winds on the last 5 miles to Miller Creek Rd. The autumn colors of the foliage are a nice last memory to this ride.
Thanks to Joan for leading this wonderful ride! It was a superb day to be out on the bike.
Extended route: 62 miles with 3393′ of elevation gain
Original route: 42 miles with 2361′ of elevation gain
~29 people in attendance with 3 tandems
Weather: GREAT! Early morning fog on Lucas Valley Rd turning to bright sunny blue skies in Nicasio. Winds were not bad; just like any other normal day. Temps ranged from the low 40’s through the redwoods to the high 60’s at Point Reyes Station.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>RIDE, RIDE & RIDE>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Follow this route for today’s ride: