Catch the Marin Photo Essay here
It seems San Francisco has been having a “Bad Weather” summer, at least until last Friday. I had the weekend to myself with my bike and planned a few days riding on some of my favorite roads on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge. I woke on Saturday morning at 6.3o am, one of the benefits of west coast jet lag, and peered out the window to see a typical grey but breaking morning. I layered up expecting a cold but completely rideable day (minus sun block). By the time I had reached the top of Bay Street I had already removed one layer. This was my first day out in the Elcyclista arm warmers, and the first impression is that they are definitely built for the autumn/winter and colder spring morning conditions. My arms were hot. By the time I dropped down into Sausalito the clouds had broken and blue sky had set in for the rest of the day. I stopped in Fairfax for a coffee and got layered properly before I headed up towards Mt Tam and Alpine Lake. The climb up to the lake is a steady and beautiful climb, and you crest the top to see the lake and reservoir down to your left. A swift and well-paved descent takes you down to the water and over the top of the dam. The climb out the other side to Mt Tam is at first steep but evens out towards the top. I am glad I went this way round, as the surface on this side would be a little sketchy for a descent, having seen one rider bail on one of the corners and completely over cook it onto a grass verge. Enter third weather system of the day. Mt Tam was shrouded in cloud rolling up from the Pacific, which made for a spectacular but chilly ride along the “Seven Sisters“. It was at this point one of two things started to happen. Either my knees had decided it was all over, or someone had dropped gravel in my bottom bracket at the coffee shop. Luckily it was mostly a downhill ride all the way to Mill Valley where the guys at Above Category managed to get me back on the road with a new Chris King BB installed. I headed back over the bridge and stopped at Blue Bottle thinking of one of the best days you could have on a bike. The shots of the ride are here.
Used in the old Tour De Trump the Devils Kitchen, or Platte Clove Road, is famous for reducing a number of Pro’s who didn’t have the benefit of compact cranks to get off their bikes and walk. It doesn’t take long to see how that would be. Unlike on the Bergs of the spring classics where the road gets so narrow there is no where to go to keep your momentum, there is ample room here to fall when you come to a complete standstill. These numbers are kind of demoralizing, 1100ft of vertical gain in 2 miles. If you start further down (below Burnett Road) you actually gain about 1400ft. Averaging 12% for the 2 miles and pitching up to a calf busting 22% in sections. The nice thing about climbing in general is that there is usually something spectacular to look at that helps divert your mind from the many things going wrong with your body. Not so in the Devils Kitchen. The trees are so dense you are just riding in a very dark tunnel most of the way up, with just the grey uneven grade of the road to look at. A constantly pitching grade makes it hard to get any sort of rhythm, but it does eventually end, and you peak out at the top onto a beautifully winding road along the top of the escarpment, marked by a sign with gunshots on it. I have no idea how it got the name Devils Kitchen, but pain is definitely involved, and it is evil.
See the full photo essay here
We are again lucky enough to be able to publish the great work of the photographer Michael Crook. This is an essay she shot from inside the Fly V team at the recent Tour Of California. The full essay has a great range of on the road, behind the scenes, pre and post race. The team continues to be impressive wherever and whenever they race, even if some of them are taking a little battering. Get the full set of images here.
Walking around a flea market in Switzerland I stumbled across an old guy who had a stand full of sports memorabilia. It took awhile for him to get past my Irish-tainted pigeon French, but when he realized I was asking him if he had anything to do with cycling, he broke into a wonderful smile. He reached to the back of his table and presented me with two things of beauty. The first is this feature, a Jacques Anquetil Souvenir Magazine published by Miroir De Cyclisme in Paris in 1987. It captures the absolute essence of one of the most stylish riders to ever grace the roads of Europe, in victory, and the pain of defeat. One of the few riders to ever wear the Tour’s yellow jersey all the way from day one to Paris. Click on for the feature.