Marshall Wall!

David (Prez) and David (Secy) led this 61-mile long (well, my longest to date anyway) but BEAUTIFUL DAY’s riding as a part of David G’s (Secy) multi-ride training series. We were joined by Frank (bike mechanic extraordinaire and tire-changing contest winner at annual meeting), Roger (car mechanic extraordinaire and dedicated photo chronicler of the lovely scenery along our ride routes), and yours truly, Evan (on his new/first road bike and SO HAPPY to be moving past the heavy hybrid).

We started out at the Marinwood Community Center near 101 and Lucas Valley Road and rode up to the top of that long climb, the Big Rock. This route takes us past (unknown to many) George Lucas’ offices. After much of ILM moved to the presidio, I think his international operations are based there now. Anyone know? Along that road, wherever you see really nice fence and signs saying the land is dedicated to farmland forever, it is likely Lucas’ land that has been left as open agricultural space through the Marin Agricultural Land Trust. We LOVE this because it means open beautiful spaces for us to ride past and enjoy for generations to come!

After pausing at Big Rock, we continued down Lucas Valley to Nicasio Valley Road, past the Nicasio Reservoir (very full thanks to recent rains) to the Point Reyes-Petaluma Road, where we turned right towards the Cheese Factory and La’Alp du Fromage. With high spirits we mounted Le Alp and paused at the Cheese Factory’s little lake for a break. While there, we met up with the intrepid group of riders doing over 100 miles that day led by Joseph C. I think five of them were showing us how it was done by doing the same riding in beautiful West Marin but with a starting point in San Francisco! With water topped off, I made sacrifices to the wind gods asking that we be spared a headwind on the coming Marshall Wall. David G had dramatically warned that, with a headwind, the Marshall Wall is some of the hardest climbing he had ever done.

Frank, who may well be the fastest rider in the group went on ahead of us and “missed” the turn to the Marshall Wall. So he was cheerily waiting for us in Pt. Reyes when we arrived for lunch- looking much better than we were.

Thank the Heavens, we were spared a headwind on what for me was a looong climb – especially because there were so many false summits. Sure, you think “this has got to be the end” and then there is a curve and another hill!! This is where I was grateful to have gone for the road bike and left my hybrid at home. Having a few less pounds to drive up that hill was welcome! One of the best things as you crest the Marshall Wall is the view of some wonderful body of water ahead. It might be the Nicasio Reservoir again—who knows what this is? Speak up. Anyway, it looks cool and lovely in the distance! Set among those rolling hills (and between us we’ve now climbed ALL of them!) that is a real treat.

The decent down the other side after Marshall Wall is a long and rushing pleasant surprise. I’m sure the more aggressive riders must have hit 35 mph. Being new on a road bike, I kept myself slow and safe for what was a new experience on very skinny tires!

Pt Reyes never looked so good to me. After 41 miles before lunch, I was famished. A big lunch and nice social time was had by all.

After nourishment, we took our time on the long gentle climb and rolling hills of Hwy 1 along Tomales Bay. If I need reminding, next time tell me to eat a smaller lunch or save the second half for the first stop! Lesson learned!

Back to the Pt. Reyes Petaluma Road and then up the back side of Lucas Valley Road to Big Rock again. This was, for me, the hardest climb of the day. I relished my granny gears. Thank goodness I didn’t go for a compact double gearing option on my new bike! When I figured out that the roadside numbering system was essentially telling me how far the end of the ride was, I was a happy man. (You know, sign tells you this is mile 6.67 of the roadway.) I’m training for my first century ride in a month so adding on miles is important and so much of this is new—and so welcome (22 pounds lost later!).

Again the descent down Lucas Valley on the East side was a joy. Nice long lovely drop and then a bit a flat riding to finish up the day. The guys were all waiting for me at the end and we traded comments and stories on our day’s achievements. I was especially gratified when the more experienced riders shared which part of the ride had been difficult for them as well. It wasn’t just me!

Thanks to David, David, Frank and Roger –and Joseph’s whole brave crew!- for coming out- and thanks to all of you for showing up on these rides!