Back in the day, when I lived in San Francisco and was working on my third comeback to bicycle racing, I used to train on Bolinas-Fairfax Road in Marin. There weren’t a lot of routes to choose from in the Bay Area. From the city, you could go short (Marin Headlands or Paradise Drive), long (Fairfax or Olema), or longer (Pt. Reyes or all the way out to the Lighthouse). At 60 miles, the ride we called “Alpine Dam” was a staple of my training program. Bolinas-Fairfax Road, roughly at the half-way mark, consisted of the long climb up to the golf course, the descent to Alpine Dam, followed by the twisting switchbacks through the redwood forests up to Ridgecrest Road. With a total elevation gain of more than 1800 ft in 10 miles, it would become the grudge match for me and my training partner, Dave.
The full route:
From the city, it was an easy spin over the Golden Gate, through San Anselmo to Fairfax. Bolinas-Fairfax Road started there and ended at Ridgecrest Road. From there, we would climb the Seven Sisters to Pan Toll Road. On the days when the wind whipped out of the south and we had to fight it all the way along the open slopes of Mt. Tam, the staircase climbs were known more accurately as the Seven Bitches. Once on Pan Toll, there was the screaming descent into Mill Valley, then from Sausalito, the final climb up to the bridge and back to the city.