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Outdoor adventures, mostly gravel rides, but not always

Marin County All-Road

Two routes, two separate riding partners, and one great day of all-road riding in beautiful Marin County

By the Numbers

Pyramid
The main climb was up the fire road on Mt Tam, otherwise a bit punchy
Distance
66 miles
Elevation
5215 feet
Moving Time
5h0m
Nutrition
Food options in the towns, water fountains at some of the parks
External

I had long wanted to ride in Marin, birthplace of mountain biking and constant location of adventures in my Strava feed.

I had the good fortune of having two friends ready to ride, so I tackled two separate routes, with two separate riding companions with very different profiles.

Massive trees along the Cross Marin Trail
Massive trees along the Cross Marin Trail

The ride started from beautiful Fairfax, nestled in the shadow of the hills, with Point Reyes Station as the final destination. The ride included a nice section on the Cross Marin Trail through the Samuel P. Taylor State Park among the massive redwoods.

Tomales Bay State Park
Tomales Bay State Park
Old barn at Tomales Bay State Park
Old barn at Tomales Bay State Park

Leaving the trail system, we made our along quiet roads, finally arriving at Tomales Bay State Park. I was told by L. during a high tide the surf would reach nearly where we were standing; while we there the tide was clearly out. In town we stopped at Brickmaiden Breads, scoring a delicious ginger scone for me and a sandwich for L. The area had a very familiar feel for me, simultaneously reminding me of home while also making me envious of the coastal towns. After a quick tour of the town it was time for me to depart for route #2.

I rode back more or less the way I came, essentially a long lollipop, with another opportunity to marvel at the trees and enjoy the scenery. It was getting warm at this point and I was in TT mode (at least for me) so while there wasn’t a lot of climbing I definitely felt the effort under the sun.

Fire road on Mt Tam
Fire road on Mt Tam
Chunky gravel
Chunky gravel
More rough stuff
More rough stuff
Fire road
Fire road

I met up with E. in Fairfax and we rode together towards Mt Tam, eventually leaving the paved road for the fire road and its chunky gravel climb to the top. What an effort! The Mt Tam climb easily makes the list of one of my favorite gravel roads. I enjoyed the challenge of finding a smooth line on 38mm slicks and the great views off to Oakland and SF. I was thankful the long stretches under the canopy because when fully exposed to the sun it was hot!

View out to Stinson Beach
View out to Stinson Beach
E. on the descent
E. on the descent
Switchbacks on Fairfax-Bolinas Road
Switchbacks on Fairfax-Bolinas Road

We finally arrived at the summit, refilled bottles at a drinking fountain, and made our way down the mountain, along the lakes, and back to Fairfax.

It was an exceptional ride, with two great riding partners, and a perfect taste of the all-road possibilities in Marin County. I am excited for a return trip.

Route

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