The economy of Fairfax in Marin County is blessed by the local geography, which attracts cyclists of all disciplines. On a typical summer Sunday the town of 8,000 sees several thousand cyclists, mountain bikers and road riders, many of whom stop in town for refreshment, coffee and pastries before the ride and later beer and lunch from the Iron Springs Brewery or the Gestalt Haus. The line is out the door at The Scoop, the shop that makes its own cones along with the best ice cream in California.
A few years ago the Marin County Bicycle Coalition started the Biketoberfest
, a fall celebration for bicyclists and showcase for local breweries.
I participated today. The event has exploded. From the original car park of the first few years, it has doubled in size into another across the street. One of the "attractions" was a mountain bike ride led by Joe Breeze and myself.
I was dreading the ride. Joe had mapped out a hardcore ride of about fifteen miles and 3800 feet of climbing. On a ride like that there are always a bunch of riders who want to push the pace, and "leading" the group is sometimes a challenge.
Fortunately, of the fifty or so people who turned out to ride with us, a lot were either older or slower than me. If Joe wanted to ride the front, I could ride the back and keep all the stragglers together. I found out that the stragglers are also very nice people who appreciate all out of proportion my courtesy in waiting for them.
As we passed a local school on our way to the ride, a cyclocross event was taking place.
Joe's route to Repack included a side trip of nine miles of Tamarancho singletrack. This is a challenging trail, and it would take a long time to move the back end of that group around it. We offered our group the option of continuing up a steep but otherwise unchallenging route to Repack, still a pretty good ride for some of our group. I took fifteen the short way, and Joe took a much bigger crowd on singletrack. I was grateful not to be part of a group that big on that tiny trail.
My group moved slowly but steadily up the hill, with breaks at every trail junction to regroup. When we got to Repack I gave them the standard lecture, told them not to try to set the record on the first ride, and rode slowly in front to get them all through the most dangerous turn.
There are other people who ride Repack better than I do, but the closest one was not in our group, he was on singletrack in Tamarancho. Once I had them past the danger one I smoked everyone, and at the bottom threw down the bike, grabbed the water bottle and was relaxing fifty feet from the machine when Maurice Tierney, publisher of Dirt Rag, showed up. After that another minute or so, and the rest finished, exhilarated, over a period of five minutes.
Another ten minutes run into town, and we were back at the party. A row of booths offered samples of beer from fifteen different small breweries. I was comped, but others paid far too much for the six ounce glass and the wristband that allowed unlimited refills. Another row of booths sold a dozen different types of food, and then there were dozens of bicycle related booths and demo trucks spread across the two car parks. A band played on a stage in one corner. Valet bike parking offered secure storage, and filled hundreds of feet of bike racks with parked bikes. Jerry Heidenreich and Alan Bonds displayed a collection of flawless '70s style "klunkers." The crowd was so thick it was sometimes hard to even make my way through, and of course a hundred or so of my closest friends were there.
The final event is a screening of "Klunkerz," to be shown outside in the same park where some of the original '70s film footage was shot.