Riding in Marin County, immediately north of San Francisco, you get to ride through one of the country's premier cycling spots.
The Alpine Dam and Seven Sisters route is one of my favorite weekend rides that takes you through the Mount Tamalpais Watershed and the ridgeline of Mount Tam State Park - boasting fantastic views, hard climbs, and technical descents.
Starting in the city, you bike across the Golden Gate Bridge, down into Sausalito, and pass through a series of small, quaint towns. Before the big climb begins, you can stop at Fairfax Coffee Roastery for a morning pastry and cup of joe. Make sure to load up on snacks and water before continuing on since the next pit stop to grab nutrition is 25 miles. Before hitting the first major landmark, you climb for several miles before hitting a series of downhill turns to reach Alpine Dam. This is the perfect spot to eat a small snack and take a couple pictures before the next major climb.
The next section of the route gets steep; this is where your granny gear becomes your best friend. I typically take a breather and several large gulps of water at the intersection between Fairfax-Bolinas Road and W Ridgecrest Blvd. before continuing onto the Seven Sisters Segment. You emerge from a forest-filled road surrounded by evergreens to an exposed ridgeline that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. You climb through a series of seven rolling hills, rightly named the Seven Sisters, before descending back down into Mill Valley. Be forewarned, these siblings pack a punch!
After all the climbing is done, there are a series of hairpin turns as you descend back into civilization. It's a tough route, but well worth the views! Reward yourself with a treat from any of the restaurants or ice cream shops in Sausalito before heading back into San Francisco. The route is all on tarmac, which is perfect for road cycling. There are several sections with no shoulder, but those areas are less trafficked by cars and trucks. Always exercise caution and make sure you are comfortable with bike handling and descents with sharp turns.
-Anthony Venida PEARL iZUMi Crew
It's a tough route, but well worth the views! Reward yourself with a treat from any of the restaurants or ice cream shops in Sausalito before heading back into San Francisco.