Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Paradise Plus

It's Tuesday, and I'm coming off two days of contrast: an excellent ride, and excellent run. On Sunday, for the first time in awhile, I rode the Paradise Loop. There's a variety of options on the loop: my personal favorite is to head over Camino Alto, always a great little climb and descent, then turn right onto Tamalpais, cross 101, right on Paradise Drive, ride along the coast with its curiously scenic views of San Quentin State Prison, left at the intersection with Trestle Glen to stay on Paradise, then left in Tiburon proper onto Main Street. Then it's through super-exclusive Tiburon to the traffic circle of even more exclusive Belvedere.

Henry Kingman's excellent San Francisco riding guide
From here, almost every group ride I've done has born right onto San Rafael Ave, the shortest way back. But dull, dull, dull! Henry Kingman,in his excellent book,
Short Bike Rides of San Francisco, describes a far more scenic route, one which, being the navigationally challenged rider I am, was at one time reluctant to try. But I happened across one day a group riding from Endurance Training Center in Mill Valley and I followed them... Stay on the traffic circle to Ocean, and you launch into one of the most scenic residential roads anywhere. It's a spectular one-lane-wide (yet two way) ribbon of pavement which snakes up the side of the hill, luxurious houses precariously perched on the adjacent hillside. When there, I'm 75% soaking up the view over the water to the left, 25% hoping there's no on-coming vehicular traffic. It has the feel not of San Francisco, but more of San Remo, raging over the Poggio at the end of the Prima Vera. Okay, not as fast as that :).

As the climb levels out, Ocean becoming Belvedere Ave, you reach a fork in the road, and again two options... The road more traveled: bear left, stay on Belvedere Ave, and descend. I like to climb, however, so instead make the sharp right onto Pine Street, then bear left onto the false flat of Golden Gate Ave. Then I go with the flow until a descent, somewhat spoiled by stop signs, to the intersection back with Belvedere. Continue downward, back onto San Rafael. Continue left, turning onto the bike path. Kids on mini-bikes, roller-bladers, oblivious dog-walkers... It's all good.

I'm sure nobody has read this far. But if you have, I found a MotionBased route which describes it. That page, though describes an intriguing alternate, one I've not yet tried.

We each continue along the bike path by Blackie's Pasture (named after a the local dead horse), along Greenwood Beach which parallels Tiburon Ave with its curiously large traffic volume, then eventually empty out onto Tiburon Ave. I've always ridden Tiburon back over 101 to return to the bike path. But this MotionBased route follows Strawberry Drive to Seminary Drive, following a frontage road south to cross 101, returns north on the opposing frontage road, then takes Hamilton Drive and Roque Moraes Drive. I hope I can remember that... I've seen riders turning onto Strawberry, and always suspected I was missing something. Next time I'll find what that is!

This is all too complex for words. If I tried to describe the rest of my Paradise Loop ride, I'd never finish this thing. The best way is to follow someone else. It's worth the effort: an excellent, scenic route so close to San Francisco, one in which the car drivers seem uncharacteristically patient, the air especially clean, the climbs especially invigorating. Even if it has the scent of the elite about it.

Oh, yeah... the run. The next day I ran my longest run, ever: 12.8 miles in San Francisco. I'll have to put off describing that, though. This has gone on too long already, and I barely made a dent in describing the Sunday ride!

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