Climbing Mt. Tam was a lofty/unrealistic goal Billy and I set for ourselves back in 2012 when we first started riding bikes more seriously together. That year we ventured to do a few slightly less leisurely rides like climbing up to Skyline and riding the American River Trail from Sacramento to Fair Oaks to visit my parents.
We have hyped Mt. Tam FOR-EH-VOR. We watched youtube videos. Discussed getting our brakes changed. Went back and forth about tentative dates. And thoroughly psyched ourselves out completely about this 12 mile climb until finally Billy got it out of his system the day after Thanksgiving 2013. I remember him skype-recapping this experience with mixed emotions (smiling and swearing and smiling again...).
Since returning from France I've invested even more time in the saddle alongside Billy and dreamed of making the Mt. Tam trek... to the point where it seemed like every time I crossed over the Park Street bridge I heard Mt. Tam whispering my name in the wind... "Amy! Amy! Come ride me!" Ha! Maybe I built it up a little too much??? Well you can imagine my surprise when an impromtu Saturday morning ride with a friend who races for Dolce Vita turned into a group ride up to the *tippy* top of Mt. f#$^*ing Tam! OMG
So....... I get off BART at 16th & Mission Street to meet my new *fast* female friend who I had been emailing with all week about doing a long-ish endurance ride (3 hours/50 miles-ish, but I was thinking easy, maybe Tiburon loop or something like that). Uhhhh.... First thing she says to me is "Did you get my email?!" I was like "I'm sorry I didn't" thinking to myself "Well, *that's* because you were in bed like a granny at 8pm last night," so..... She was like, "Well, Mei - [Ding! Bright orange synapses fired full-speed strava signals to my pleasure center like I'm about to meet a celebrity... ALL HAIL! Mei, queen of San Francisco segments!] - invited us to join her on the Bespoke ride, but they are taking off from Pac Heights in fifteen minutes." Well, ignoring every alert my body was sending to go ahead and abort this mission I jumped on her wheel and we jammed up the wiggle to meet the group.
When I squeaked up on my ten-year-old death-metal-bumper-stickered Specialized tank to 20 geared-out astronauts in their fancy pants kits straddling some of the nicest bikes I've ever seen I looked like such a newb and - I tell ya - the oops-I-pooped-my-pants smell coming from my worn out spandex didn't help much. About ten seconds after we arrived, Justin, the apparent leader of the pack started to explain the route. He never actually said "Mt. Tam". Oh no. While he dropped names like "Pantoll" and "East Hills" and "wait - did he just say Alpe d'Huez - what?!?" I focused most of my attention on keeping my breakfast down...
We took off and, oh you know, just that feeling when you are all the sudden on a group ride and you have to quietly ask your friend if he was talking about GOING UP TO THE TOP OF MT. TAM!?!?!
Once we started climbing we didn't stop. The road just kept going up. For an hour. Between expletives I managed to cough questions at cyclists passing me by about how much further it was to Pantoll. They just laughed or told me to not worry about it or pedaled faster to clear the stench. I couldn't even believe it when I arrived at the top, though - I gotto say - can't beat the view!
While the rest of the group rode down to Stinson Beach and back, I climbed at a conversation pace the rest of the way from Pantoll with a few other ladies who agreed that tacking another .5 miles of vertical climbing was insane (but not Mei - no way!). Haha! The three of us split up about half way down the hill and my new friend (who turns out is the sweetest woman in the world - and she speaks French!) picked up lunch and a coffee together in SF. I didn't get home until after 4pm! What a beautiful ride though. Oh man. Though I was overwhelmed and beat, I actually don't think I've ever felt better.