Full spectrum Adventure

A couple of weeks before the event the e-mail read: “Hey Gang - Eric (Eric Sayetta) and I want to ride next Sunday, and I want to keep it close to home, literally, starting at my home. Just wanted to give you all an early invite. If it is foggy though, I would prefer to seek out the sun, and might adjust the starting locale to other sunnier parts of Marin.
Will be in touch next week with further details.”

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Cowboy fine tunes the Ellworth

Jim and I (A.D.) decided early on that this would be a great opportunity for a ride in new territory and in cooler climes than our inland, hot spots. We were in. We didn’t care about fog, heck that would be a welcome change. As we drove towards Marin Co. we could see fog near the coast. It was still a guess as to how the day would play out. We totally misjudged the time enroute and arrived an hour early at Lisa’s place. Shortly after our arrival, Cowboy, aka Fuzzy Dudes, appeared. Also early, he would need a little extra time to fine tune the front forks on the Ellsworth. Eric Sayetta (Eric) appeared and Heidi rounded out the half dozen riders who would take the day to cover the entire spectrum of the Mt. Bikin’ experience.

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The adventure begins

The ride started in Lisa’s drive. A steep climb lead the group across several driveways then onto a paved road. The road snaked up the tall coastal hills that separate the Pacific ocean from Tamales bay. Fears of fog were dispersed as the July sun was bright and clear in the sky. Lisa lead the troops through a series of turns and drives. This area is her playground and she knows the terrain well. The first stop on the adventure tour was one of the coolest, funkiest dwellings to exist anywhere. Sandy’s pad consisted of beautifully creative architecture utilizing unique methods of construction. There are no square corners to be found on his buildings and each part of the spread had a feeling of utility and beauty suited appropriately to the space which looked out across the Marin hills much like an eagle’s aerie.

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Sandy's glorious pad

The ride eventually exited the roads and onto single track. Some more climbing put the contingent high on the ridge. From this vantage one could see the west to the fog that stopped at the ocean’s edge and to the east all the way to Mt. Diablo and fifty miles northeast to Mt. St. Helena, Jim and A.D.’s stomping grounds. The Mt. Vision trail continued along the spine of the coastal mountains eventually yielding views of Tamales Bay and points north.

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Mt. St. Helena far in the distance

“Let’s ride up to Ground Zero and take a break.” Lisa said.

“What’s Ground Zero?” A.D. asked.

“It’s the place where the devastating fire started in 1991, set by some young campers. Sandy’s house was the first to be consumed.” Lisa said.

The spot was at the very top of the terrain. It was obvious why someone would want to camp there. The view was spectacular. After a short stop the crew continued north. A fun single track lead though the new trees and brush. The riding was fun. It eventually exited into a parking lot along the narrow, paved park road. From that point Lisa lead the adventure into oblivion. She warned; “Be careful for the foundation that exists just ahead!” Eric was leading the way. He carefully picked his way through the overgrown, rarely traveled path. The foundation appeared. The concrete feature was easy to see on the trail. What wasn’t easy to see was the ‘sucker’ section of foundation that was inconveniently hidden in the tall grass. Eric made the difficult technical move to clean the first part, then experienced the dreaded front wheel stall on the second part while his body eagerly tried to continue forward without the bike. Undamaged he collected his bike and continued.

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Heidi shreds the trail

The trail became less obvious. The wildflowers became strikingly more obvious. They abounded in a wide palette of delightful colors. The only thing that could come close to such a visual offering was the presence of the Fuzzy Duds . Lisa continued along the ridge, eventually following a trail that resembled a bunny path. It turns out, it was. The ‘real’ trail was elsewhere. For several minutes the group searched the heavily covered, grass and bushy hillside for the trail. Lisa’s instincts lead in a questionable direction. Yet, she was right on. Eventually the virtually invisible trail was recovered and the contingent continued towards the bay.

The trail came to the park road. A parking spot with a bench provided a rest stop with a commanding view of the entire Point Reyes seashore. From this point the group rode for a short distance on the pavement. The road descended modestly downhill. It was a chance to rip at high speed. Five riders successfully jetted around the last left hand turn before the dirt road turnoff. With Cowboy riding last in the group, no one actually saw what happened, but everyone heard a very strange, prolonged skidding sound unlike anything in the normal range of the mountain biking experience. What the crew didn’t see was Cowboy completely crossed up, flat track style, broad sliding around the corner while his rear tire peeled off the rim. Amazingly he didn’t go down, but rode the bike to a stop. The rear tube had popped out of the tire and wrapped itself around the frame, around the hub and impaled itself onto the brake pads. The ‘Kenda cat’s cradle’ had created a very interesting work of kinetic art.

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Cowboy's kinetic art work

Dazzled, but undaunted, Cowboy fixed the tire and the ride proceeded down the dirt road. A lot of altitude fell away as the group descended closer to Tamales Bay. After a short stint on pavement, Lisa directed the bikers into a seemingly “going-no where” path in the woods. Some hike-a-bike ensued. A.D. and Jim were skeptical. Their fears soon dashed when a delightful, smooth single track came into view. This lovely path would descend for a long while, taking the energized bikers through the most lovely forest of Redwoods, cedars, oaks and coastal pines. The air was pungent with the freshness of this wild setting. The path paralleled a babbling brook, occasionally turning muddy. Several wood bridges injected the descent with some mild technical offering.

The long descent eventually dumped out onto Pebble Beach, a sweet setting beside the bay. The group took the opportunity to veg for an extended period of time. A.D. went swimming in the warm, shallow water. Sailboats plied the bay in the light breeze of the afternoon. Others hung-out on the beach, taking the Sunday to do nothing.

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Semi thrashed bikers enjoy Tamales Bay

The bikers eventually gathered themselves and proceeded to an adjacent camping area to replenish water stores. Then it was time to begin the long climb back to the tops of the coastal mountains. Again the trail through the lower part of the park was delightful. It was steep, granny gear material, but the trail was smooth and accommodating. Once out of the woods, the group rode briefly on the pavement. At the bottom of the dirt road there was a chance to take a short cut back to Inverness. All agreed to stay together, including Heidi who hinted earlier she might bail. Not only did she not bail, she powered the rest of the ride, always smiling, always there. What a lady!

The route was basically retraced with the exception of the areas of tall grass and thicket. This gave the riders a chance to process the climb with technical ease on the pavement. It gave an outstanding chance to look around at the scintillating scenery. Fog remained just at the coast. The lower slopes of the Pt. Reyes seashore undulated across a myriad of inlets and small bays. At the top of Mt. Vision the group again contacted the single track and now the final, grand downhill began. Only a few short ‘bumps’ had to be processed. Slightly before the bikers would have contacted the driveways and roads to civilization, Lisa sprung one last bikin’ gift on the dazzled riders. She lead the group into the most seductive trail on the ride. This awesome path was hollowed out of very thick overgrowth. The trail was, for the most part, smooth and easy to ride. Only a couple of steps appeared to keep the cyclist honest. The rest of it was a happy rip, the sort of which leaves a weary biker thinking; “It doesn’t get much better than this!”

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A top contender for the coolest trail known to fat tires

All too soon civilization reappeared and the rest was history. The group assembled at Lisa’s pad to swill electrolyte replacement beverages, eat wonderful food and revel in the intense camaraderie provided by the confluence of all the diverse and dynamic people involved. What could have been a simple Sunday ride blossomed into an epic. It covered so much bikin’ and human territory it was truly a full spectrum, mt. bikin’ event.

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A festive repast for the blissed out bikers