This year, Valentine’s Day conveniently fell during a long weekend. And though I don’t typically subscribe to the Hallmark Holiday, it was a legit excuse to
force implore the boyfriend to plan an epic biking adventure. Climate Ride is fast approaching and I need to start training. Also, let’s be real: I wanted to see what he’s capable of. Spoiler alert: He didn’t disappoint. [See Nick’s color commentary in italic within brackets. Thanks for contributing!]
We took off late Sunday morning on our road bikes, mine with a medium-sized saddle bag and Nick’s War Machine fully loaded:
I didn’t know the specifics of the trip – only that we’d be staying at Point Reyes Hostel on our first night and somewhere in Occidental on our second night. Oh yeah, and that we’d be covering anywhere from 140 to 200 miles in three days of riding. You’d think my Type A personality couldn’t handle the mystery, but deep down inside I just want someone to take charge and let me follow.
Sunday’s ride up the coast was beautiful and familiar since I’ve ridden most of that route on multiple occasions. Considering it’s an el niño winter, we lucked out with the weather. All three days were warm and mostly sunny, and the nights were clear and not too chilly. We made our way north, stopping for lunch in Fairfax and again in Point Reyes Station to load up on food and beer for our night at the hostel. We hit our first significant climb at Limantour Road, with grades ranging from 6-12%. About halfway up we took a photo and beer break:
We powered up the remainder of the climb to reach the hostel before sunset and timed it perfectly; pastel pinks stretched across the sky as we pedaled toward the hostel. By the time we checked into the hostel and got settled, we only had a couple of hours to enjoy the property and interesting company, including a woman who was obsessed with the rules and a guitar-playing father. Monday morning we were up with the sun. After a quick cup of coffee (Nick roasts coffee at home), we set off for Occidental, having to scale that 17% grade right off the bat. And we threw in a short 10-mile detour to see Drake’s shipwreck, which I’d been dead set on finding:
Monday’s route took us north along Tomales Bay, surrounded by wildflower-covered rolling hills:
And you can’t ride through Marshall without stopping for oysters at Hog Island Oyster Co. I grabbed two dozen (hey, we were hungry), and Nick carried them and a bag of ice with us a couple more miles north until we found the perfect shady spot alongside the road to enjoy the salty deliciousness and some Pinot Grigio Hard Apple Cider and Michelada splashed with oyster juice goodness.
We then turned inland toward Occidental, sliding through Tomales and Valley Ford. Before hitting the Airbnb, we took a slight detour to Wild Flour Bakery, where we got a cinnamon roll the size of Nick’s head and a rose/date/something scone. Though we wanted to save the cinnamon roll for Tuesday morning, we couldn’t resist tasting the freshly baked pastry. My mouth may have climaxed, it was so delicious.
Our final ascent to the Airbnb was a slog, albeit a gorgeous one with goats, [longhorn cattle] and donkeys to boot. After our arrival I informed Nick that there was no way I’d be heading back down into Occidental for dinner (see the bottom right of below photo for the elevation profile):
To my utter relief, Nick offered to ride back down into town and get liquid provisions for the evening. And our excellent host Mary offered to bring us back pizza since she would be dining in town anyway. While Nick was away, I showered and then chilled in one of the hammocks on the property: [Two acres at the end of a long lane nestled in the hills above the town.]
Before long, Nick returned and we enjoyed an epic and fiery sunset, along with interesting conversation with our host (and we devoured that pizza – well, Nick did). I’m grateful we had some time to chill at the Airbnb, because Mary’s home and property were absolutely charming and far removed from civilization.
Tuesday morning came quickly. Nick made some coffee and we snacked on the cinnamon roll and some bread (from Wild Flour!) and homemade applesauce that Mary offered us. By 8:30, we were saying our goodbyes and were out the door. But first we had to stop and say hi to our new friends the goats and donkeys:
The landscape on Tuesday’s ride south was breathtaking. We took Coleman Valley Road from Occidental to the Pacific Coast Highway. Though the climbing was intense, the views were worth the work. I highly recommend you check out the route:
And upon reaching the coast, we were rewarded with a cool sea breeze tailwind. We wound our way back along the coast and Tomales bay, stopping again for oysters, because oysters. [As we relaxed next to a cemetery along Highway 1 Nick, overcome by oysters and doughnuts, decided to take a short nap]. A few miles before we hit Stinson, Nick opted to take an alternate route that would keep car traffic to a minimum. He was right. Though the climb was relentless (see Strava image below), we pretty much had the road to ourselves. After approximately five miles of climbing, we hit familiar territory: Seven Sisters! [For reference, Seven Sisters is the road that leads to Pantoll between Stinson beach and the 101 corridor.]
I felt conflicted. Reaching Seven Sisters meant we were almost home. But it also meant our epic adventure was coming to an end, and it would be back to civilization and reality. I cast those feelings aside to take in the sunset over Stinson and the sweet smell of freedom (or maybe that was Nick’s shirt after three days of sweating). The moment was fleeting – we wanted to get into Mill Valley before dark. Descending Mt. Tam after sundown can be slightly daunting.
It was almost 8 p.m. by the time we reached my place, exhausted, dirty and sweaty. The glorious exhaustion one can only feel after biking over 200 miles in three days!
Two days later and I’m still reeling from the trip, in a good way. I’m grateful to Nick for pulling off such a magnificent weekend. The route was fabulous, but the company was even better. I’m proud of myself for finishing off a three-day bike ride strong with a 93-mile and 8k’ day. I feel ready for Climate Ride, and I still have over two months to train. BRING IT!