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Old 03-22-10, 04:53 PM   #1
c0lnago
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Mt. Tam...unsafe?

I'm not trying to start a raging debate with the title...I'm honestly curious as I know folks are always recommending Tam as a route. I moved here about a year ago and been riding mostly in the city and the Walnut Creek/Diablo area. Done Hamilton a few times as well. Yesterday I drove to Tam for a hike and it was a gorgeous day...lots of bikes/etc. It was the first time I've been to that park. I didn't see any accidents...a few impatient cars passing when they could've/should've waited the extra 5 secs (although I did see one bike drafting on a big pickup for about 2 miles...literally 2 feet off his bumper...I hope he knew the guy because he was a brake tap from splat) however what I am missing? There seems to be pretty small lanes, zero room/shoulder for road riding and it was LOADED with traffic. I'm not exactly enamored with Walnut Creek but I love Diablo and I'm used to fighting for my lines in the city (born/raised in NYC) but when I try to "get away" for a nice relaxing ride with good/hard climbing this didn't fit my bill. Confused in Potrero.
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Old 03-22-10, 05:24 PM   #2
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The climb from Fairfax/Bolinas, down to the dam, and up the 7 sisters (or down to 1 if you turn right) are all relatively light traffic.

There's traffic descending the south side of Tam, but the road is such that we often just take the lane and keep up with the cars.

I feel more unsafe on my 6 mi morning commute, and have about 10x as many "close" calls/per mileage ridden commuting than I have up there, so I don't consider it to be really unsafe.

Definitely Diablo, Umunhum, and Hamilton have less traffic though. Tam is still great, especially in the summer when the others can be really hot.
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Old 03-22-10, 05:24 PM   #3
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The few times I have ridden Tam were on BF rides organized by Taxi777/Pete. I found the routes gorgeous. The first time was up from Fairfax and Alpine Lake, the second was from Pt. Reyes down highway 1 and up the mountain from a small road just north of Bolinas Lagoon. The ride along Ridgecrest Highway is to die for. For me it rates as one of the most beautiful bike rides. If you are there on a clear morning with a fog bank low along the coast you are in bike heaven.
The only traffic that could be a trouble would have been going down along Panoramic back to Mill Valley. I guess the key is too climb on the small roads where traffic is low and descend on Panoramic.
Treat yourself, give it a try.
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Old 03-22-10, 05:36 PM   #4
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Highway 1 from Sausalito to the Panoramic Hw right turn off is not pleasant when there are a lot of cars. After the sharp left turn at Loring ave it's particularly miserable. Panoramic hw to Pan Toll road is a bit better but there are some narrow sections too to look out for. There will always be more cars on the roads for Mt. Tam since there are beach destinations along the route. Diablo leads to Diablo and 130 leads to the Observatory. Those don't command the same amount of traffic as Stinson Beach. You can't beat the view of the ocean though on a clear day while climbing Ridgecrest Blvd.
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Old 03-22-10, 05:40 PM   #5
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That's all good to know...thanks. Guess I'm spoiled by Diablo. I'll have to give this a whirl to Ridgecrest and maybe on a weekday...
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Old 03-22-10, 06:02 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by gpelpel View Post
The few times I have ridden Tam were on BF rides organized by Taxi777/Pete. I found the routes gorgeous. The first time was up from Fairfax and Alpine Lake, the second was from Pt. Reyes down highway 1 and up the mountain from a small road just north of Bolinas Lagoon. The ride along Ridgecrest Highway is to die for. For me it rates as one of the most beautiful bike rides. If you are there on a clear morning with a fog bank low along the coast you are in bike heaven.
The only traffic that could be a trouble would have been going down along Panoramic back to Mill Valley. I guess the key is too climb on the small roads where traffic is low and descend on Panoramic.
Treat yourself, give it a try.
That sounds like opposite ends of Bolinas/Fairfax Road. Both ways are beautiful, remote and low traffic and lead up to Ridgecrest (aka the 7 *****es). Going from Fairfax I'm always amazed at how you're not even out of town and you're already on a fairly big climb. I've only climbed up Panoramic once and did not enjoy it.

JB
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Old 03-22-10, 11:22 PM   #7
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It was really nice and uncrowded on a weekday...except for the deer that nearly took me out on my descent.
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Old 03-22-10, 11:38 PM   #8
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Another great route is to ride out to Mill Valley, go up Gravity Train, and take the road back down.
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Old 03-22-10, 11:44 PM   #9
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I've never been on a weekend, but I'll second the weekday recommendation. Other than the sections on Highway 1 and Panoramic Highway, I doubt I saw five cars all day.
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Old 03-23-10, 08:26 PM   #10
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I did fairfax to alpine dam a decent amount last summer, really really love that part especially the descent to the dam. I don't remember traffic over there being very heavy at all, but like others have said once you get over by the highway 1 part to come back down in sausalito/mill valley traffic sucks.
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Old 03-24-10, 12:44 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Bostic View Post
Highway 1 from Sausalito to the Panoramic Hw right turn off is not pleasant when there are a lot of cars. After the sharp left turn at Loring ave it's particularly miserable. Panoramic hw to Pan Toll road is a bit better but there are some narrow sections too to look out for. There will always be more cars on the roads for Mt. Tam since there are beach destinations along the route. Diablo leads to Diablo and 130 leads to the Observatory. Those don't command the same amount of traffic as Stinson Beach. You can't beat the view of the ocean though on a clear day while climbing Ridgecrest Blvd.

That's my route to Tam. It's not terrible. I usually park under the Richardson Bay OC and ride over the GG bridge and back to warm up. Then along 1 to Pano Hwy. I usually go on weekends, and though there is some traffic, it's usually tolerable. But yeah, there is really no shoulder in a lot of spots, and it's quite windy (wYndy), especially near the bottom. Once you make the turn onto Pan Toll, it lightens up considerably, and the people there are usually more courteous, since most of them are outdoor enthusiasts going for a hike or something...not the crazy commuter or local trying to get somewhere.

It's no different than riding any back country road with little shoulder, and there are plenty of those around these parts.
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Old 03-24-10, 12:49 PM   #12
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That's all good to know...thanks. Guess I'm spoiled by Diablo. I'll have to give this a whirl to Ridgecrest and maybe on a weekday...
Don't take that road too lightly. I ride that road at least twice a week, and more than a few times you get these idiot drivers cutting corners and unable to stay in their lane. Never fun when you are coming down at 30+ going around a blind curve and seeing an SUV halfway into your lane. Weekends on Diablo are almost unrideable for me now, especially with the better weather. I'm so glad for the extra hour of light after work now...don't have to go on that road on weekends if I don't want to.
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