I can't remember who, but someone recently asked me how I spent my 31st birthday. I had the day off, and maybe they imagined I went to the spa, shopping, or for a fanciful dinner out. I assume they would have approved of some more glamorous activity, because when I said I went for a bicycle ride in Marin, they kind of rolled their eyes in a sort of "figures" gesture. I was a bit taken aback--should I have done something more "relaxing", more typical? Well, little did they know I tried that for the big 3-0 last year, and it was a mediocre (my forte'!) at best. Okay massage, messy mani/pedi, PAINFUL facial, disappointing dinner. Well, this year, I decided to keep it simple--and it was simply marvelous. I don't know how many times in the course of the ride that I exclaimed "this is so incredible! Oh my gosh how beautiful! I'm having such a great time!"--a little cliched, but I fall back on cliches' when I'm at a loss for words (see?!). Afterwards, artisan beer, fries, wings, a few vegetables, more beer--and homemade organic ice cream. It was well beyond my expectations, and a most memorable day.
Route: Start in Fairfax, center of town. Head toward the west on Sir Francis Drake. Just outside of Lagunitas, as you enter Samuel P. Taylor State Park, begin to look on the right for a small wooden bridge that marks the entrance to the Cross Marin Bike Trail. Trail winds through the park along the river, partially unpaved. At the end of the trail, veer right, then left onto Platform Bridge Road. Best views of Elephant Mountain. At the stop sign, turn left on Point Reyes/Petaluma Road. A bit of traffic, not too bad. At the stop, turn left to head down the hill into Point Reyes Station. Bovine Bakery, Toby's, Cowgirl Creamery--a venerable foodie paradise. Take Hwy One south toward Olema. In Olema, turn left back onto Sir Francis Drake and climb to the top of the hill. Look for the Bolinas Ridge Trail entrance on the right. Trail is 11 miles long, at times steep, rocky, muddy, but mostly exhilarating. The views are unparalleled--stop to take lots of photos (the one at the top is in the forested part of the trail, in the Mt. Tam watershed). Trail ends onto Fairfax/Bolinas Road. Turn left for a well-deserved downhill to the resevoir. Go over the bridge, and turn right to climb back up to a mini-pass. Once at the top, it's all downhill to the center of Fairfax--I recommend a beeline toward Iron Springs! 48 miles, 4 1/2 hours.