Before Moab and Colorado’s world-renowned trails became synonymous with mountain biking in the U.S., there was Fairfax. California’s well known cocktail of chill vibes and adrenaline sparked the genius of the Marin County crew back in the 1970s, and lo and behold, MTB was born.
They rode clunky, DIY bikes whose balloon tires left their marks on these now legendary trails. The early riders modified their rides with thumbshift-operated derailleurs and knobby B.F. Goodrich tires, essentially inventing the modern mountain bike. With new equipment come new possibilities, and naturally the first race down Mt. Tamalpais, in 1976. This local hobby soon gained recognition and became the sport we know and love.
Fairfax rides continue to inspire
Today, the town that sits in the shadow of Mount Tamalpais is home to the official MTB Hall of Fame, and some pretty far out trails. Totally rugged, rough and riveting, the fire roads above town truly capture the essence of MTB. Even though the tracks have been softened by time—and the tires of riders who have come to pay reverence over the years—the downhills will still humble you. Plummeting down MTB’s ancestral home should be on every mountain biker’s bucket list.
Ride through history on Repack Road
A group of guys in the seventies didn’t see a regular fire road. They saw steep slopes and rocks the size of their head and thought, flying over that would be pretty neat. And so they did. The same dust the OG Klunker’s kicked up can cling to your tires too. How many people get to say they’ve ripped down the course where the first MTB race took place?
The trail is a winding doubletrack that starts on the streets of Fairfax and ends with a legendary 1,300 ft descent. Ride up the trail or drive via Pine Mountain Road until you reach a clearing. That’s where the iconic downhill starts. Get ready for switchbacks, blind, sharp turns, steep drops, and pine vistas that transport you to the mountain bike trails in Sedona. Think you can beat the record time? (4:16 at the time of this writing). Go out and show what you’re made of!
Camp Tamarancho is one of the first classics
Intermediate and advanced riders, listen up! Tamo or the Ranch, as locals know it, is easily the crown jewel of Marin County. The private singletrack trail network has plenty of routes to keep you busy, but the reason riders swarm here is for the famous Tamarancho loop.
The 9 miles circuit starts on Iron Springs Road and will take you from two to three hours to complete. Although it’s rated as moderate, prepare for rock gardens, twitchy switchbacks and iconic redwood trees standing in your way. You’re looking at 1,700 feet of uphill riding but it pays off—the thrill always delivers!