Alpine Dam and Seven Sisters

There’s a heatwave going on in California, so to beat the heat, I headed up to SF via Caltrain.


I’ve taken Caltrain a number of times with my bike, but normally you take a seat after strapping down your bike, but this group, for some reason, didn’t want to sit.  Maybe it’s culture, but really, it’s OK to sit down.  It actually felt a little creepy.


And then there was this guy who kept standing there in the caboose veering as we approached SF.  It was just weird.

SHIM0056My route is heading up to Golden Gate Bridge, then over to Fairfax, then onto Alpine Dam and onto Seven Sisters.  It’s basically a full day, but I’m going to just soak in the cooler temps, with no hurry to accomplish PRs, so I gladly let others pass me.  I mean, while on the bridge, what’s the hurry?  No need to speed around at breakneck speeds, because you’ll end up having to slow down anyways, for some slower riders along the bridge.

On the way to Fairfax, when I would ride with Pete, we would take “the Wiggle”, a series of zig zag routes to avoid the main highway, and mainly to avoid car traffic. However, there were so many twists and turns, I wound up getting lost. I eventually wound up at the park entrance to Lagunitas Park, and I know that’s not the way. So I had to back track … Google maps to the rescue.

Once I got to Fairfax, I knew the rest of the route. I didn’t check the temp before leaving Fairfax, but I imagine it was in the mid 80s. I wanted to top off my water bottle at the Fairfax police station, but their water fountain didn’t have any water. Luckily, I still had 3/4 bottle full.


The first climb had a great view, plus a slight glimpse of Alpine Lake. I chatted with one guy, who was just at Interbike in Las Vegas, so he was used to this heat. Although not as hot, it was still a sweltering one.

OK onwards to Alpine Dam. I ended meeting 3 riders, who I would see thru the rest of the ride, even though I was not part of their group. Funny how things like that work out.


I got to the dam, and it was hot, sunny, and the glistening water was so gorgeous. However, I was stupid enough to bask in the blazing sun, not realizing a shady spot in the corner. That’s where a couple of other people were hanging out and I could hear them talking, but couldn’t tell where they were coming from. Now that I realize it, it made sense. Get into the shade!

Climbing out of the dam, my friends I was telling you about were conversing with me as I’m climbing, but that didn’t last long, as they went on ahead. They thanked me for coming out to Marin County to ride in the beauty that is Marin County. It’s like, thanks for having me.


Finally reach the intersection of Ridgecrest, and that was a perfect time to stop to eat. Nice shaded areas, covered by Redwoods. This is a great spot.  Check out the photosphere I took at this location, (best viewed from Google Chrome)

Next up is Seven Sisters, out in the open, with no shade … And I mean no shade at all. The temps here got up to 92°F. It was so hot, but there was still some cloud coverage over Stinson Beach.


From here, I headed back to GG Bridge, but I decided to go part way up Marin Headlands to get another awesome view of the GG Bridge. I think it was worth it.


However, this spot was extremely popular, and parking spots for scenic overlook was at a premium. In fact, it was madness


63.8 miles, 6028 ft climbing

Climbed Mt. Tam Finally on a Hot Day


Triumph! First time up to summit of Mt. Tam

I finally climbed Mt. Tam, and it would happen to be on the Hottest Day of the year on the Bay Area.  I mean, it was in the 80s in SF … that’s s rarity.

I’m the past, I would normally do either Alpine Dam and head up to Ridgecrest then do they Seven Sisters (set of 7 rolling hills), and then, get to a junction where we usually have a rest stop, then head down Pan Toll Road, down the hill.  But that would skip Mt. Tam.  At this point we usually already have a lot of miles and climbing in our legs that we have little motivation to go up.  Well the same thing was true on this day, but I decided I’m not doing and I’m just continuing up the road, and climbing Mt. Tam.

It was hot to start off with, even after getting off Caltrain by AT&T Park.  I brought a vest and arm warmers, because you can never tell what the climate is like in the city, but there was no fog at all, and it would remain hot.  This also meant traffic was bad.  Normally when I take the first train in on Saturday, it wouldn’t be too bad, but not today.  Plus, the finals of America’s Cup is going on, so lots of traffic at the Embarcadero.

I made minimal stops on this ride, so this was definitely not a social ride, but it also wasn’t a hammer ride, due to heat and climbing I know I’ll do.  Before making the climb to Alpine Dam, I fueled up at 7-11 … like drinking an entire bottle of Gatorade.  I normally don’t do this, but I needed something to cool my core before the climbing starts.


Huddling in the shade at Alpine Dam

Alpine Dam is the usual regroup spot, and usually people stop at the center of the dam to relax and enjoy.  Not this day.  I huddled over to the shade.

Next up was the next climb up to Ridgecrest.  This was a pretty shady climb, but it was still pretty hot.  I started to get fatigued here, and suddenly I had thoughts of bailing on Mt. Tam again.  I had to fight to wipe these thoughts out of my head, and just make it to the next crest at Ridgecrest.


At Ridgecrest, and start of Seven Sisters

At Ridgecrest, there was another group doing a training ride, and they had a support car, supplying water.  They graciously provided it, even to those not in their training ride.  That’s just awesome.  That’s what I love about cycling, such cameraderie.

Next it’s the Seven Sisters.  This is a set of seven rollies, before you even get to the base of Mt. Tam.   This is tough on a hot day, because it is all exposed, wide open.  Since you know there are seven of them, you can almost pace yourself, but with this heat, it’s still a tough climb.


Overlooking Stinson Beach

There are some really gorgeous views from here.  You get some really nice overlooks of Stinson Beach.

Continuing on Ridgecrest, when you finish the Seven Sisters, there is s parking lot, where most take a rest.  This is where in the past we would head down the hill, but not today.  I’m not doing and continuing on up the hill.


Mt. Tam looking east

Actually the climb up Mt. Tam is not that bad.  It is a little shaded to start, and the summit is all exposed.  I think the climb up to Ridgecrest plus the Seven Sisters usually it’s what does everybody in.  Amazing views from up here.


Caltrain Bike Car was busy

By the time I made it down the hill back to Sausalito, I was tired.  I’m looking forward to just sitting in Caltrain, and resting.  I made it to Caltrain just in time … got there at 3:05, and the train leaves at 3:15.  Sweet!  The bike car was also very busy.

Total stats …62 miles, 5000+ feet climbing

Weekend of Extremes

Saturday and Sunday was two very different types of days.  Saturday continued the warm 90+ degree days in California.  I would have to climb one of the toughest hills in the area that day.

Sunday was very different.  It was cold, windy, foggy, and there were parts where it did sprinkle a little bit.  I was definitely not prepared for that.  I did have a base layer, but only had a vest and arm warmers.  Can they just make up their mind?

Sunday’s ride did start in SF, so maybe that had something to do with it.  This was a ride up Alpine Dam and then seven sisters on Ridgecrest near Mt. Tam.

It was really windy, wet, foggy, and the visibility sucked.  Sure I’m up at elevation, but it was so fogged in, I couldn’t see any views at all.  The only thing I relied on was looking for the double yellow line lane markers, and I didn’t have front blinkers, but I did turn on my rear blinkers …. not sure if that helped at all. 

The wind really kicked us around.  On the descent, it threw us around, and we all relaxed on our speed.  All we wanted to do was to get off that mountain.  That made for s very interesting, and very eventful day.

What a complete contrast the two days was.  From hot and miserable, to cold, damp, and miserable.  That just plays havoc on the body.