Tuesday, March 5, 2013
The route I mapped out for today’s century begins with a clockwise loop around China Camp State Park into Central San Rafael and heads NW to Pt Reyes Station for a stop at Bovine Bakery #1. The course continues north on Hwy 1 into Tomales and heads east to Petaluma for a stop at Bovine Bakery #2. The return leg heads south with a climb up Red Hill for a descent to the Cheese Factory, Nicasio and Lucas Valley.
We start by heading south on Redwood Hwy and Civic Center Dr to the Marin Civic Center by Lagoon Park. The turn on N San Pedro Rd takes us for a clockwise loop around China Camp State Park. The flat rolling terrain on the north edge of the park has fabulous views of the flatlands and marshes of San Pablo Bay. During open hours, you can go down to China Camp Beach and take a tour around China Camp Village. It’s a wonderful place to learn about the Chinese history of this area.
We descend Point San Pedro Rd along the southern shoreline of San Pedro. This road opens up to awesome views of the San Rafael Richmond Bridge and the surrounding San Rafael Bay. We ride along this beautiful residential neighborhood pass the Loch Lomond Marina, the San Pedro Elementary School, the Marin Yacht Club and San Rafael High.
The traffic volume increases as we enter Central San Rafael on 3rd St by the Montecito Plaza and the Hwy 101 interchange. We turn south on Lincoln Ave to Irwin St and ride through the industrial area around Andersen Dr and Woodland Ave. Irwin St continues up along a quiet residential neighborhood to ridgeline on Tiburon Blvd. This road offers fantastic viewpoints of San Rafael Bay and the city below. There’s water and a porta pottie available at the Bret Harte Park. The slight turn onto Via La Cumbre has a very short steep pitch, so you need to gear down to pounce on the climb to get up and over to the other side. The climb is followed by a steep descent down to Sir Francis Drake Blvd.
The short distance on this section of Sir Francis Drake Blvd has a lot of traffic-be alert! We turn on Bon Air Rd and cross the Tamalpais Creek to Magnolia Ave and head north on the bike route through the towns of Kentfield, Ross, San Anselmo and Fairfax. Cherry blossoms and Magnolia flowers are in full bloom along the residential neighborhoods of these towns-it’s a beautiful sight!
At the end of the bike route, we continue on Sir Francis Drake Blvd for the climb up White Hill; it’s 1.3 miles to the top with gradient ranges of 6-9%. The fast descent drops you down to the flats on San Geronimo Valley with gorgeous views of the surrounding rolling green hills. Roys Redwood Preserve is a beautiful backdrop to the meticulously groomed greens of the San Geronimo Golf Course. We ride pass the small towns of Woodacre, San Geronimo, Lagunitas, and Forest Knolls. Sir Francis Drake Blvd follows the San Geronimo and Lagunitas Creeks into Samuel P Talyor Park.
The road surface on Sir Francis Drake Blvd from Forest Knolls to the bridge crossing over Lagunitas Creek has been wonderfully repaved; no more dodging potholes and cracks! The remaining repaving of the northern section of Sir Francis Drake Blvd is set to resume later this summer/fall.
To get off the main road, we turn into the Camp Taylor Campground and take the Cross Marin Trail for the next 3.5 miles through the redwoods in the park. This is a very scenic detour with no traffic. The park is closed on Monday and Tuesdays through March 21, 2013 so that means the restrooms are closed too.
The north end of the Cross Marin Trail leads you back out to Sir Francis Drake Blvd near Platform Bridge Rd. We continue west on Sir Francis Drake Blvd for the short 7-8% climb up Olema Hill and for the descent into Olema. Bovines are already out grazing the open grasslands-I suspect we’ll see them throughout our day of riding around the back country roads of Marin and Sonoma.
From Olema, we continue on Bear Valley Rd for a quiet short 2.2 miles pass the Bear Valley Visitor Center and the Olema marshes.
From Bear Valley Rd, we take Sir Francis Drake Blvd to Hwy 1 into Pt Reyes Station for our destination stop at Bovine Bakery #1. Our first bakery treat is a huge slice of sticky morning bun coffee cake with pecans; there’s enough sugar in that thing to fuel us for the run along Hwy 1!
We exit Pt Reyes Station through Mesa Rd; it’s a nice detour through the residential area of town out to Hwy 1 north.
On Hwy 1, we experience sweet tailwinds that propel us up and over all the rolling climbs along Tomales Bay out to Marshall. It’s a weekday and there’s minimal to no traffic along this usually busy stretch of road-it’s fantastic! I see more Bovines; it’s a perfect fit for today’s Bovine Bakery Century-a ride mixed with lots of cows and baked good, what’s not to like?
The scenery and landscape is hard to beat here; you get magnificent views of the green rolling hills along Bolinas Ridge and the beautiful Tomales Bay with the Tomales State Park in the background-WOW! The sight of blue waters always brings out a sense of calmness within me-I love it; it’s active meditation, you can do it anywhere!
We continue quite happily on Hwy 1 along Tomales Bay out to Blakes Landing and Nick’s Cove; the tailwinds are still with us as we climb up and over the high rollers to the flat run along the lagoon. You get more gorgeous views of Tomales Bay and the mud piles around Preston Point. There’s also nothing better than riding and hearing nothing but the swooshing sounds of the tires rolling on smooth pavement! AWESOME!
We stay on Hwy 1 into Tomales for our lunch stop at the Tomales Deli. The key for the restroom is hanging at the front counter of the deli. The Tomales bakery is closed.
The route continues east on Tomales Petaluma Rd for the next 7.1 miles with a couple of climbs that takes up and over through the gorgeous open grasslands and ranchlands surrounding this valley. Bovines are dotted everywhere for miles and miles around this very scenic rural road. Brilliant yellow wildflowers carpet the open spaces between the ranches and farms-it’s absolutely beautiful out here! I love this time of the year in California when winter is slowly fading in preparation for early spring.
We cross the county line into Sonoma and continue on Spring Hill Rd for the next 7.2 bumpy miles; this is a quiet country road with lots of potholes and cracks to maneuver around but then again, there’s little to no traffic here, so it’s a trade-off.
We roll pass the USCG Training Center, the Two Rock Presbyterian Church and Cemetery. This area around Chileno Valley is studded with guess what-more Bovines! This valley is dominated by dairy farms, cattle ranches, horse ranches and equestrian center, chicken and egg farm along with some small vineyards.
The valley floor is blanketed with a show stopping display of yellow wildflowers-it’s quite stunning! The landscape along this road is the ultimate of all bucolic scenery in Sonoma County-WOW! You can see the magnificent mountains riding above Laguna Lake, the looming dark clouds above just makes it that much more alluring.
At this Bovine Bakery stop, I get friendly service at the counter along with a big savory scone with Cajun yam, spring onion and feta. It’s very tasty and filling. A convenient water and restroom stop is at Walnut Park which is two blocks away off Petaluma Blvd.
The return leg of this route heads south on Dt St for a couple of short humps and descents before the longer 5-8% climb up Red Hill on Pt Reyes Petaluma Rd. This idyllic country scene includes of course more grazing Bovines, old weather beaten barns, horse ranches, the Union School house, and equestrian center; all set along the soft undulating green hills surrounding this valley.
But wait, there’s more beauty to come! The descent from Red Hill offers a panoramic view of Hicks Valley; the road seems to go on with no end in sight. The valley floor is an oasis of Mother Nature’s capabilities; spreading warmth and smiles with just the simplest of things-the natural growing cycle of wildflowers! They just know when to spring up at the right time of year, it’s remarkable timing! We make a quick water and restroom stop at the Marin Cheese Factory.
By now, the great tailwinds we had heading north along Hwy 1 has become stiff headwinds; it’s a tough grind out from the Cheese Factory to the backside of Rocky Hill down to Nicasio Valley Rd. The flapping flag near the bottom of the hill confirms the existence of this strong headwind!
We roll through Nicasio and continue on Lucas Valley Rd, we’re sheltered from the winds for a short bit as we wind through the redwoods for the gentle climb up to Big Rock. We descend Lucas valley on the flats back to Miller Creek Rd.
This is a very beautiful century route with plenty of eats and gorgeous scenery-I’d do this again! I even know the Bovine schedule now; they’re all let out to graze on Tuesdays!
Thanks to Wyatt for another great tandem ride!
103.63 Miles with 5672′ of elevation gain
Avg grade: 3%
Max grade: 13%
Weather: GREAT! Mostly cloudy with overcast skies and intermittent sun. Cool temps ranged from the low 40’s to the mid 50’s with SSW winds.
The cow is of the bovine ilk; One end is moo, the other, milk.
Follow this route for today’s ride: