It's not too often that I throw the bike in the car to drive to the start of a ride, but on Monday, that's exactly what went down. A friend was in town and wanted to get out on a long ride to initiate his new Clément MSO tires. Mike Cherney is a long time fixture in the North Bay riding scene. Knows everyone and loves to ride long distances on fat-tired road/cross bikes. He was staying in Bolinas so I put together a loop that included pavement, multiple varieties of dirt, and lunch that started and ended in Bolinas.
We hit the road at about 10:30 and pedaled up the pavement on Bo-Fax Road and then across Ridgecrest to Laurel Dell trail where we would get into the dirt. This post also doubles as a ride report on the Clément MSO tires so there will be interjections on their performance. Up the road with a touch over 40psi, the tires were super smooth and pedaled seemingly as easy as any road tire.
We hit Laurel Dell and were treated to a bit of a descent through the big trees before the trail started rolling. It's interesting that the Laurel Del Trail ends at Rock Springs-Lagunitas trail at a higher elevation than at it's beginning. It's a deceiving section of trail, but throws a bunch of variety to test the tires - from buff fire road dirt to chunky rock beds. Echoing my feeling about how well the tires rolled over the rocks, Chern exclaimed that they just floated over the rocky sections.
From Laurel Dell, we headed over to the descent down steep Rocky Ridge to the dam between Bon Tempe and Alpine Lakes. This is a really steep, loose, rocky descent and the tires were a bit skittery. A bit less air pressure would have helped, but a bit of caution against pinch flats won out over stopping to let air out. At least for me. Chern let a bit out and was more comfortable on the descent.
We made our way over to Shaver Grade and then into Fairfax where we lunched on brats with sauerkraut and beer at Gestalt Häus. Loaded up with protein and carbs, we headed back up Shaver Grade to Eldridge Grade. It was our plan to take Eldridge up to Mt. Tam. At the start of the trail by the school, we came across a couple of other riders on cross bikes. I recognized one as John, who is a regular at Black Mountain Cycles. Well, actually, I recognized his bike because he was on his orange Black Mountain Cycles cross bike with Panaracer Firecross 45 tires. We rode and chatted a bit until we got to 5 corners. From there we beared left to get to Eldridge Grade and they continued up Shaver.
A bit further up Eldridge we were in the process of being overtaken by a rider when the rider called out "Hey Cherney!" Two friends who hadn't seen each other for a while with a chance meeting on the trail. One from Berkeley and one from up in Trinity County. I'd heard of Emile through local rider and all-around good guy, George Hope. He'd heard of me through George as well so we finally got a chance to meet. We rode with Emile for a while and discovered it was his birthday and was out for a solo birthday ride. What a great day for a ride.
Up the last stretches, we played cat and mouse with a couple of young guys hiking up the grade. As we stopped to take pictures or pee, they would catch us. We were pedaling at a steady pace and the upper sections of Eldridge are pretty rocky and technical for cross bikes. At the top of the grade, we stopped to refuel and slip arm warmers back on. The hikers caught us and asked Chern "how old are you?" They were pleasantly amazed when he answered "65." The kid who asked was 20. Chern imparted some pearls of wisdom on what it takes to get to 65 and still be in great shape and off we went down Railroad Grade.
Railroad is a fast, somewhat smooth descent. However smooth it may be, there are still sharp rocks that sneak up on you. Remember back when Chern let a bit of air out of his tires? Yep, pinch flat. A quick 5 minute tube change and we were back on the trail down to West Point Inn and then down Old Stage Fire Road to the Pantoll ranger station. We opted to climb Pantoll Rd. back to Ridgecrest which put us back on Bo-Fax Road and a 10 minute descent back to Bolinas. On the descent, we came across a couple of friends and customers - Ward from Bolinas and Anthony from Una Pizza on his Pegoretti.
Seven and a half hours later we were back in Bolinas where Cherney's brother treated us to a super tasty home-made pasta dinner. Thanks for the great ride, Chern!
On Rocky Ridge above Bon Tempe (top) and Alpine Lakes.
Taking pictures of the picture taker.
That Willits is one of the first 28ers. You can thank that bike for your 29er.
Looking out towards San Francisco from Eldridge Grade.
Back to Bolinas down Ridgecrest.
(What's playing: Elvis Costello There's a Story in Your Voice)