Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Peninsula to Point Reyes - Part III

Sorry for the confusion: there have not yet been parts I and II of this bike ride. This was supposed to be a leg # 2 of my long planned one-way bicycle trip from mid-peninsula (Belmont) to Olema, at the foot of Point Reyes. The distance (estimated >100mi) and the fact that I am planning on riding as many trails along the way as possible, requires a long day.
St. Stephen's day (December 26) is definitely not a long daylight time of the year, but the recent dry and sunny weather here prompted me to plan and ride which was supposed to be a second half of the planned long ride, starting at the Golden Gate bridge and finishing in Olema.
Due to a late start (OK, I arrived at the GG bridge and realized there were no bike shoes nor helmet in the trunk, I swear, that has never happened before!!!), the plan was changed to start at the Muir Beach overlook on Highway 1, just north of Muir beach.

The weather looked great, despite a dense fog down on the peninsula, as well as some fog in the distance up north. The overlook is a convenient place to start a ride, or take a break (water, toilets), with a great view of the coastline.

I entered the Cost View trail and started the climb towards Pantoll. The trail was a singletrack! I did not know there were any left at Mt. Tam. The trail is steep, rocky and rutted by horse hooves, so not a nice singletrack  by any means, but OK. The views of the coast and Hwy 1 got nicer:

and my via point - Mount Tamalpais ahead:

The track widened before the Pantoll station, where I did not stop, crossed the Panoramic highway and continued onto Stagecoach fire road, which is even paved for the first part. Here, the trail is a wide, smooth surfaced double track, so one can put the hammer down and enjoy the views.
It seemed like the West Point Inn came too soon, and another push along the Old Railroad Grade rd. took me to the visitors center just below the East Peak of Mt. Tam.

From here, I descended on Eastridge road and turned right (north) onto West Ridge Blvd, a.k.a. "Seven Sisters". Just after the second sister (or sixth?, depends from where you count...), the road disappeared in a fog bank.

I reached the Bolinas Ridge trail head shortly after, entering redwoods forest here.

This was about half way through this ride, with 11 miles to go to Sir Francis Drake Blvd near Olema. This trail is known to be muddy in the winter, mainly due to the redwood trees collecting the moisture, but since we did not get a drop this December, the surface was great, cushioned by redwood needles. The trail follows the Bolinas ridge, but it is by no means flat. It is a roller-coaster ride with redwood sections alternating with steep, rocky, chaparral covered climbs, where one can look both towards the coast as well as inland.
For this part of Bolinas ridge, I was in the woods completely alone, the only sound was my tires cracking some fallen branches, this could have been the Enchanted Forest.

With about five miles to go, the trail leaves the woods and enters cattle pastures, grass covered hills, and becomes badly rutted, I assume by the cows eroding the area when it gets muddy. At this point, the temperature dropped to mid forties under overcast skies and I was getting tired by getting bounced on those sods which seemed to be placed in a perfect checker board pattern.

But I could see Tomales Bay from here and knew there would be a warm room, fire in the fireplace, hot shower, beer and some local raw oysters awaiting me couple of miles ahead. That all turned out to be the case at the Point Reyes Seashore Lodge.

So the Leg number 3 was just 26.5 miles in 2:45 hrs, but enough on this beautiful winter (!) day. Leg one is Belmont to San Francisco, leg two Golden Gate bridge to Muir beach over the Marin headlands. I hope this whole trip will come together next year.  Garmin track here.

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