My Ride - San Francisco
Things happen earlier here. The alarm rings at 6.30am and I am jolted out of bed. Coffee, food, coffee, prepare the bidons, coffee, pump up the tires. Time to roll out for the ride affectionately known as “The Roasters Ride”, a weekly Saturday morning ride that meets at the Fairfax coffee hut. I down another coffee. A double espresso. Early mornings are not my thing, but I gather this crowd is. It’s 7:45 riders are chatting away in the exited anticipation of the ride. The ride itself sees ebbs and flows throughout the year. Sometimes there are tons of riders out, sometimes it’s just the local masters riders out to rip each others’ legs off. One thing stays true week after week- most riders are out to drop whoever shows up. It’s survival of the fittest.
Marin County, just north of San Francisco is famous for it’s rolling hills. It reminds us a bit of Tuscany, there aren’t any huge climbs apart from Mt. Tamalpais (Mt. Tam for the locals) and even that, at just shy of 8km, isn’t particularly hard or long. But, as the saying goes, it’s the riders who make the race. And so, after one punchy climb after another, I hang in the group, trying to save as much energy as possible, if for nothing else, to enjoy the scenery rather than just staring blankly at the wheel in front of me.
After about 2 hours of very high intsity efforts followed by short lulls in the pace, I realize that I’m right back in Fairfax where we started. Wanting a bit more, I ask one of the guys where I can get in some of the better climbs of the area. “Dam to Seven Sisters to Golf Ball”, he tells me, as if I am meant to know what that means. An English guy, who seems to be one of the regulars and a pretty cool dude tells me not to pay attention to him and gives me instructions on where to go to take in Mt. Tam’s best roads and views.
Rolling out of Fairfax, I start climbing almost immediately. I’ve replaced the chaotic sounds of a group ride with the peace and quiet of my own thoughts and the wind through the pine trees. After a while the road points downward towards where I find the Dam the first guy must’ve been referring to. View of towering pine trees and and massive dam race past onto a short climb marked by almost European style switchbacks.
As I crest the forest clears and I’m out on an open road with the Pacific on my right and the rolling hills of Marin flickering in and out of view on my right. I keep climbing, climbing, but the road is somewhat of a grind, not a proper mountain pass, but challenging nonetheless. I get the distinct feeling that I’d been there before until I realize that I was remembering car commercials and Strava content. Everyone must produce here.
As I keep riding per the Englishman’s directions and to keep going until the road ends, I reach a peak. Below, I can see San Francisco in the distance, framed by the peaks and valleys of Marin County, The San Francisco Bay on the left, and The Pacific Ocean on the right. This is what I came for, this is the California that I had dreamed of. From here, anything is possible.
And so, as I rolled back down the mountain as fast as I dared, I began to think. What else is out there? What else is best discovered on two wheels?
Stay tuned for the next exploration - The hills of Verona.