Dirt Ride Recap: Over The Hills

David Millard, the ride leader for the Feb. 27 Marin Headlands ride, submitted the following ride recap. Enjoy!

Seven of us met at Duboce Park Cafe for the first DSSF dirt ride of 2022. It was warm and sunny—thank goodness!—and the ride through the city was enjoyable as we dropped off pavement whenever we had the chance. In the Presidio Roger led us by the mansion of the Commanding General of the Ninth Coast Artillery District (I looked it up). So much lawn!! Joan peeled off in the Presidio to have a more mellow ride. The rest of us did a quick pedal over the bridge, took off some layers, and began the charge up Hawk Hill, some of us charging faster than others. At the roundabout and the beginning of Coastal trail, several of us aired down our tires for better handling on the dirt roads to come.

The descent down Coastal was as breathtaking as ever. It’s always a struggle to pay attention to the trail with such amazing views. We were stopping pretty frequently to make sure everyone got the turns since there are no street signs and Google maps isn’t perfect in the Headlands. But we loosened up a bit climbing up the Bobcat trail and descending down Marincello to the Tennesee Valley parking lot. When we regrouped we were short one rider. Michaelangelo had pressed on up Old Springs trail and thanks to the wonders of cellular technology we raised him and found out he’d gone ahead.

Old Springs trail is the only single track on this route. We couldn’t enjoy a crazy descent but huffing and puffing up the trail, dodging ruts, and climbing steps is its own form of fun (I guess, maybe?). Regardless the views are great, there were wildflowers, and the old spring is still burbling in spite of the drought.

We caught Michaelangelo (more precisely, he waited for us) at the junction of Old Springs and Miwok and we set off down towards Rodeo Valley. Miwok can be a handful. The grade and the loose stuff on hard pack don’t leave much margin for error. Unfortunately Duncan got a bit crossed up midway down and took a spill. Fortunately he’s tough. He dusted himself off, slapped a couple of bandages on his off-road rash and kept on going to our snack stop at Rodeo Beach.

Rodeo Beach is the only place in the southern headlands (that I know of, at least) where there is fresh water. We took advantage of that and the shelter provided by the little bluffs right by the beach to consume our snacks, supplemented with foraged greenery courtesy of Eric, and to watch the breakers and happy dogs cavorting.

Moderately rested we made reasonably quick work of our return up the valley and Coastal trail. At the roundabout we took a final group picture before each of us headed back to the city (or our car) at our own pace.

Now travel-tour-brochure-style, here’s what people are saying about our ride:
Duncan: “I really enjoyed riding with everyone! It was such friendly group and I had a lot of fun exploring a bunch of dirt trails that were new to me on a gorgeous day.”
Eric: “Beautiful scenery, a good mix of challenging and comfortable terrain, and the bonus of sampling sour oxalis at the beach. Looking forward to the next ride.”
Michaelangelo: “Beautiful ride! We had gorgeous views of canyons and the ocean the whole day. I’m not a very experienced gravel rider, but the trails were well groomed [ed. Except for that nasty rutted section of Miwok.] and were a good match for my bike and skill level.”
Me: “I had a great day, and I’m grateful to everyone who came out and helped make it so much fun!”

—David Millard