Sunday, November 24, 2013

No Gloves No Problem

Luckily the only thing I forgot were my gloves yesterday. I always worry about forgetting something important when I head out for a ride. Usually I'm driving about an hour or two to get to the start point, so really, if I forgot something important, i'm out of luck. Plus, our rides usually start earlier than the local bike shops open so I can't just run and buy a new item to replace that what I have forgotten.

Anywho, yesterday I headed back down to Sausalito/Marin City to meet up with the group for another ALC Marin Newbie ride. There was a few people that I recognized from last week (mainly the TRLs). The ride was 28 miles long and took us from Mike's Bikes in Sausalito to the Northgate Mall in San Rafael.

I actually added in about 4 miles but didn't factor it in since I wasn't going to start up my strava for a quick ride to and from the public restrooms up the path. I snapped this shot as I was beaded back to the meet-up point. It was a beautiful day out; just perfect for a ride (especially since only a few days ago we had rain and high winds).

The first two miles were pretty flat as we headed north on the Mill Valley - Sausalito path. After that little warm up we headed up Camino Alto, which was our big climb of the day. It was a 300 ft gain at an average of 4.1% (not an incredibly difficult climb, but a good quad strengthener). I was pretty happy with myself because I was able to keep an average pace of about 7.6 mph going up this hill. Usually when I hit hills I drop way down in speed and maybe average about 4 mph. So I felt like that was a big accomplishment. 

After any good climb, there is usually a nice downhill. The decent down Corte Madera Avenue was amazing since the road was freshly paved (all nice and smooth). I hit a max speed of about 30 mph with the help of a little counter steering and apexing the turns. I still held back a little, applying the breaks at times. With more practice I may eventually break the 40 mph barrier. For now, I'll stick with the lower to mid thirties. 

We passed through Corte Madera and headed over to the Larkspur Ferry Terminals. I love riding by the water. We took the Marin County Bicycle Route 20. Once we got to the Larkspur Ferry Terminal we cut through some parking lots and got onto the Cal Park Hill Pathway. This is a really cool pathway because there is this awesome tunnel you get to bike through. Apparently it was a pretty big deal when it opened up in 2010. (

Sorry the photo isn't the best, I took it while I was riding 
(which actually goes against ALC rules, shhhhhhh!)

When the pathway ended we were in Industrial San Rafael. We headed up into downtown and road right past one of my favorite restaurants in the area.... Sol Food!! ( The food there is AMAZING! I really need to go there again some time soon. 

Enough about that, our destination was Panera Bread at the Northgate mall. We got to the mall by taking the bike path that parallels 101. I've seen the path while driving on the highway before, and I always wondered where it lead. Guess now I know. Once we finally made it to Panera we parked our bikes against the railing. 

One of the TRL's showed me the 'helmet bike lock'. As you can see, it is not really all that effective. But nonetheless, we weren't the only ones using the technique that day. Granted, it would be one more step someone would have to take if they wanted to steal our bikes. 

I stayed outside while some of the group went in to Panera to get something to eat. I can't eat a sandwich in the middle of a 28 mile ride. I usually don't really feel hungry unless it is a long ride. I probably should have at least eaten a Cliff bar or something, but oh well. I made it to the end of the ride and back home without keeling over.

After resting for a while, we all headed back pretty  much the same way we came. The one nice thing about out and back rides are your really only don't know where you are going for half the ride. The second half should at least look somewhat familiar (that is if you pay attention to where you are going and didn't get lost along the way).

The only thing I worried about a little on the way back was that large hill we climbed and then descended earlier. I wasn't too worried about the climb. I knew that I was going to be a little tired and would take the hill a little slower than before. I got to a point where I almost thought that I needed to stop and take a short breather, but a cyclist came up behind me and said 'you are almost there'. Upon hearing those words, I knew I could keep going. It's crazy how the words of a stranger can be so motivating. I'm glad he said that, because I made it to the top, without stopping. Unfortunately, next came the part I wasn't looking forward to, the downhill. As I mentioned earlier, I've been getting better with the downhill and have gained confidence. However, the Camino Alto side of the hill wasn't as smooth as the Corte Madera side. I am not a fan of cruising downhill at 30+ mph when there are potholes, cracks, bumps, etc. I was doing pretty good, until I came upon a turn that I couldn't slow down for and didn't want to venture out into the rough road to apex the turn. I ended up taking the turn wide, causing me to do a little off-roading. The side of the road was covered in leaves, dirt, etc., not ideal for a road bike. But thanks to the skills I learned in the Bike Skills 101 class as well as the Hillz and Skillz classes I took, I was able to stay calm, keep my bike moving and upright and made it safely back on to the road. I could have easily had a big crash, but those skills saved me. In that moment, I never felt more thankful and realized that that was money well spent for that class. I highly recommend anyone interested in cycling, or any sport that could cause potential injury to yourself, take a lesson or safety course!!! You never know when it will come in handy, and you never want to be in a position to regret not taking them.

The remainder of the ride was smoother and a lot more safe. I cruised on down the bike path and made it to the car. It was a great ride through some new territory for me. I'm happy to learn some new places to ride that aren't too far from home.

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