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The many back roads of West Marin County offer up almost limitless route choices and accommodate all types of riding preferences. On this ride you’ll have a chance to ride over and along the two largest ridges that define Marin’s western geography, with each straddling a side of the famous San Andreas earthquake fault. The ride combines a fairly easy, rolling hill beginning with a couple of classic Marin climbs for a challenging ending. You’ll get outstanding views of the Pt. Reyes National Seashore and the Golden Gate Nation Recreation Areas.
Our ride begins with an hour ambling through the back streets of various Ross Valley towns, and then a short climb up White’s Hill (a local classic) brings us to the San Geronimo Valley where we first encounter the rural parts of Marin County and a chance to get into some serious pace-lining. At the golf course turn right for another short climb that leads down to scenic Nicasio and another opportunity to dial in some fast inline riding as we go around the large reservoir. At the stop sign make a left onto the Pt. Reyes - Petaluma road. Hour two ends with our arrival in Pt. Reyes Station, a favorite stopping point for cyclists in need of some serious refueling.Stop in at the Bovine Bakery or any number of other local eateries, deli’s and espresso bars that are also are to be found here in the largest town in the area (700).
Next we’ll head south out of town on Hwy. 1 and make a right at the bridge, continuing about a half mile before taking a left onto the Bear Valley Rd. A short distance brings us to the Limantour Rd. and the first climb, moderate 900’ footer up a wide road, originally cut for access to a planned beach subdivision. There’s a false summit at Sky Trail, another half mile brings the crest and the opportunity to take in some superb views of Pt. Reyes headlands and the Estero lagoon. The descent is fast, as the grade steepens (a preview of coming attractions for the return) and we continue to the end of the road at the Pacific Ocean. Note the roads leading off to the left and right – remnants of the former subdivision.
The climb back out is one of the steeper ones in Marin, with a good quarter mile section at 15-18%, and many other sections a steady 10-12%. The descent back is fast and you might slow down in few sections to admire the views to the east, especially of Black Mountain (above, left) which we traveled around as we came into Pt. Reyes Station. Back at the Bear Valley Road turn right and head towards Olema, where we rejoin Hwy. 1 and again head south down the valley, astride the San Andreas fault. A quarter mile past the foot of the last sweeping descent (through a eucalyptus grove) we’ll turn left on the Bolinas-Fairfax Rd. for a classic Marin climb. The turn is not well marked; if you come to the lagoon you’ve gone too far. The road is narrow, with no centerline, so watch for the few cars that may be on this road. After approximately 1500’ you’ll come to the intersection with Ridgecrest , where you’ll turn right, leaving the redwood forest for amazing open ridgeline views in all directions as you climb a series of rolling ascents, know locally as the Seven Sisters. On a clear day you may see the Farollon islands far offshore.
At the next intersection, Rock Spring, turn right for the return descent to Mill Valley (go left to reach the summit of Mt. Tamalpais for an additional 1000 feet). Again the views south towards San Francisco are breathtaking, At the intersection with the Panoramic Hwy. at Pantoll (bathrooms and water here at the Ranger Station) turn left and begin a sweet descent down to the Mountain Home Inn and then down to Four Corners where you’ll cross the intersection for a short climb that then leads back to Hwy. 1 and the last few mile back to Studio Velo.