MAAP Field Trip:
Few things break the ice between strangers like a bike and the open road do. Spend an hour shoulder to shoulder with someone on the front of the bunch into a headwind or heaving rain, and you’ll know them better than their spouse. With a wide-ranging MAAP family, every now and then we need to bring them together for some proper bonding time, and what better way than an epic ride to Sonoma County?
Our US crew travelled from every corner of the country, coming together in San Francisco to ride for the next two days, to share laughter, pain, and memories. Despite a weather forecast that was wet enough to make your phone screen malfunction, we set off, determined to let nothing get in between us and two days of riding.
“It was nice to have some locals along with some fellow LA and east coasters all sharing stories not just about cycling but the places they live and what they do beyond the sport."
- Jimmy Phillips
Mention SF to anyone and their visual thoughts drift to steep hills, tram cars, the iconic red bridge and a busy city. What lay before us as we headed northwards towards Marin and Sonoma Counties couldn’t have been more different.
We headed north out of Sausalito on the Bridgeway which looks out over Richardson Bay, populated by houseboat enclaves also known as the rich arm of San Francisco Bay. Continuing on to downtown Mill Valley the road quickly changed to majestic redwoods in the creekside Old Mill Park.
The elevation became immediately apparent as we climbed up through the thick fog that had suddenly engulfed Muir Woods Park. Flowing along the rollers of Panoramic Hwy we crested the final ridge looking forward to the descent down towards Stinson Beach. The group split as local hero Shelby lead the girls with her hometown knowledge of the roads was an apparent advantage. The narrow roads were covered in slippery foliage, but everyone managed to keep it rubber side down.
“The moment we rounded the corner and saw the fog covered view from Ballou Point, that literally stopped us all in our tracks."
- Matthew Frazier
Stocked with woodfired pizza and craft beer, Café Reyes greeted us with a warm embrace. It was a break that was equally good for the body and the soul. We must have just beaten the lunch crowd as it wasn’t long before the joint was buzzing, and as we headed back onto the road, we had a slight buzz from the local brew too!
More fast flats and rolling hills provoked half-hearted attacks before a quick break at the Tomales US Post Office. Heading west towards Dillon Beach the banter in the group kept spirits high despite the continuous downpour. A truce was finally called as we approached our destination. That allowed the group to come back together, take a breath, and begin to collectively reflect.
Rolling towards Bodega Bay had me thinking of Hitchcock's ‘63 cult classic thriller ‘The Birds’, which centered around the township. Hopefully we’d survive the night, unlike many of the characters in the film. There was a feeling of ‘are we there yet’ amongst the group, but the lazy sheep meadows and clapboard cattle ranchers took our minds off those last few pinches before the fast descent into Bodega Bay.
A sharp left turn took us into ‘The Links at Bodega Harbour’, perched along the coast, we could start to smell the salt of the ocean, now only minutes away from leftover pizza and warm showers and perhaps a couple of cold beers. I think it's everyone's favourite time, sharing stories, embellishing every pedal stroke, swapping photos, further strengthening our new forged friendships. Let's do it all again tomorrow.
Though we rose early, the day was looking to be anything but bright. It rained on and off through Valley Ford and Fallon, rooster tails were painting their way across faces and kits, a quick glance back and it was still all smiles and no complaints. A sudden break in the rain, the sun came out over picturesque Petaluma, vino anyone?
Today's formation was tight thanks to a much needed morning talk from team captain Shelby, no more attacks, just synchronized efforts all the way home to SF.
We powered up the tough climb of Wilson’s Hill, powered by the morning’s double breakfast burritos, the road took us to a majestic outlook over the vineyards in Petaluma, I'm betting everyone will remember this spot, those views will be imprinted for a while. A fast descent took us along Hicks Valley Road before a dogleg right heading into Nicasio nestled in the Lucas Valley, this really is spectacular countryside, it was hard to take it all in.
With The Red Woods of San Geronimo just up ahead we stopped in for a quick break to warm up and recharge the batteries. There might have been a few sips of Bulleit Bourbon, just enough to warm the belly and unite the bunch. San Anselmo & Larkspur pass by in a flash and before we know it we're back in Marin Valley, a short climb up Corte Madera but it's a gentle flowing climb with a really fun descent.
“Sometimes roads you've ridden on hundreds of times feel brand new."
- Raylyn Nuss
The sun is out and the jackets are unzipped, the bike path guides us all the way back to Above Category, before a final salute to the Golden Gate Bridge. When can we do it all again?
From local trips to global adventures, MAAP Field Trips bring committed crews of people from across the globe together to take on imposing routes and terrain that often gets overlooked or ignored, share in common experiences, and create new stories with others passionate about progressing the art and sport of cycling.