An encouraging statistic

I was looking more closely at the W2W route profile and noticed that the peak elevation is only 600 ft. The first major climb of the route covers 600 ft in about 2.5 miles, which is only a bit more than half the grade of Old La Honda. Assuming the map is even slightly accurate (certainly in question given the fact that it reports 8000 ft of climbing for a route that has been variously quoted by the organizers at 4500-5500 and barely even looks like that much), this is a real relief to me because it means the hill climbing will look more like the kind of thing I do regularly and less like the really hilly rides I’ve done the last few weeks.

I’m really happy I did the coast ride (and the Grizzly Peak ride, which is probably more similar for most of its length to the climbs in the profile, but goes up consistently for a much longer distance) to challenge myself, but looking at the profile it reminds me much more of climbing Edgewood (which certainly is plenty challenging but no longer the bane of my existence — an amazing fact of training). You ascend to 500-600 ft three times (once starting from about 200-300 already), plus lots of other rollers.

But the little flier I received recently misleadingly says “Be sure you are prepared to climb Mt. Tam and the coastal hills of Marin…”

Unless their route is just way off, “climbing Mt. Tam” is a serious exaggeration. Mt. Tam’s peaks are around 2000 ft and it is quite possible to climb up there on a road bike (assuming you don’t bonk/end up with jelly for legs first), and there’s strong evidence from my quick Google that “to climb Mt. Tam” has a very specific meaning, referring to a particular road to a particular point. Our map does not go that direction, which requires going substantially inland. A better description would likely be “the lower slopes of Mt. Tam and the coastal hills of Marin”.

I have to say that this is one thing about the W2W experience so far that hasn’t impressed me. You’re asking people to ride a long, hilly course that may be unfamiliar to many of them and may stretch their capabilities substantially. It behooves you to: make good maps, go out there and ride the course yourself to get a reasonably accurate elevation gain and route profile, and carefully and clearly advertise the route, elevation gain, and profile and what method was used to get them. Don’t give a map that shows 8500 ft gain without a disclaimer when it’s really much less, don’t quote it as 5500 on the website if it’s really 4500, and don’t say “Be sure you are prepared to climb Mt. Tam…” if the route doesn’t. To quote the Princess Bride, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

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