Sunday, August 21, 2011

My ride up to Grass Valley 7/10/2011

On Camp Far West Road

July is the time of year for one of my long rides. The one I always try to do takes me from Loomis, west through Lincoln, up Dowd Rd. to Sheridan, to Camp Far West, up to Grass Valley, then down Dog Bar to Placer Hills, through Meadow Vista and Auburn, then back to Loomis. It's usually an 8-9 hour ride for me. If it's not a hundred miles, then it's darned close

I always try to make this ride around my birthday every year. This gives me time to condition myself for it. This year, I did a lot of hill work early in the Spring, (for Mt. Shasta), so I felt pretty good early on. I decided to do this ride a little early this year. The weather was good, as usual, this year. Even more importantly, the temperatures were running a cooler than normal. 

The ride through Lincoln and Sheridan were uneventful. I made it to Camp Far West fairly early. Camp Far West Road, (CFWR) is pretty gnarly. At the campground turnoff, the road pitches incredibly steeply, and the road surface becomes very rough. After two very steep, short hills, the pavement ends, the next few miles are gravel.
 One of the better stretches this year!

This year, the condition of CFWR was not so great. There was a fair amount of washboard. I came near bouncing off the road one time. In other words, a typical ride on CFWR!

 The Surly on CFWR.
As you can see, I took the Pacer this year. It handled the rough stuff just fine. You will notice that I've only mounted one bottle cage. There were three reasons for this:

1.) Every year I have, or nearly have, lost the bottle from the seat tube cage on this ride. I needed to secure that bottle better.
2.) By the time I get to a second bottle on a hot day, the water in said bottle is luke warm to hot! Not very refreshing.
3.) I wanted to mount the Zefal pump vertically. Mounting it horizontally under the top tube always results in maddening rattling as the pump bounces off the top tube.

I had been considering these things recently, then started to think about some notes written by Jobst Brandt a while back, about one of his cycling trips through the Sierra Nevada. He had described how he stuck a can of soda in his saddlebag and enjoyed a cool drink after a long stretch. I also noticed that his bike never had multiple water bottles on it, just the one on the down tube. (These are the kinds of things I think about on long rides I guess!)

Anyway...I decide to use a small saddlebag, my Carradice Junior for this ride. This is probably one of Carradice's least know bags. It was the very first on I bought because it was the cheapest! Into the bag went my tool kit, a few snacks, camera, and my warm ups as I shed them. Inside also was my second water bottle.

This method worked brilliantly! By the time I got to the second bottle, it was still cool and fresh. I resupplied at Grass Valley and  refilled both with cold water. Also, that pump was wonderfully silent the entire trip!

Okay, back to the ride. CFWR comes to a road junction with Woody Road. Here I turn left. At the junction is this sign for the Spenceville Wildlife Area. I've got to say though, I've never seen an overabundance of wildlife here, outside a couple of deer and squirrels.

 At the Junction of CFWR and Woody Road.

Woody Bridge, looking south, (The bike is turned around to lean on the rail, I'm riding north.)

That bridge is always a hoot to ride over with skinny tires. Past the bridge, you go over a few rollers, still graveled with ample washboard.  Soon you hear gunfire, and you know you're almost at the end of the dirt! There is a small firing range to the right, I think it's probably set up for folks from nearby Beale AFB. Looks popular, almost always someone there.

Back on pavement!

You return to the pavement at the corner of Woody and Chuck Yeager Road, (which leads to the northeast gate of Beale, if you go left). I'm going right, eventually to Highway 20. Highway 20 has actually improved mightily over the last few years as a viable bicycle route. It used to be quite narrow and heavily traveled. It's still busy, of course, but there are more lanes and broad shoulders now. Not bad at all, except for the climbing part. It's still a long grind to Grass Valley.

But I made it there in fine condition. Last year, I already started to cramp coming into Grass Valley, this year, no problems! In fact, this year I suffered from no cramping at all! It was wonderful. I attribute it to two factors: the hill training I already mentioned, and, this is probably the real factor, very mild temperatures. I started very early, about 6:00 am this year, and the afternoon temperatures probably didn't go over 90 this year. (Grass Valley's high was a reported 85!).

 On Dog Bar Road

I was in Grass Valley by 11 o'clock. I stopped at the Raley's and got a bunch of food and drink. Mostly drink. Just a few snacks and some Cliff Bars for the road. I didn't stay long and was soon on Dog Bar Road, heading south now. This is a great road, very rural, but also hot and dry and hilly! You eventually drop down to cross the Bear River, then a steep climb back up the other side, then a short drop to Placer Hills Road. 

Following Placer hills road, through Meadow Vista, Clipper Gap and Christian Valley eventually to Auburn, you are challenged by a series of short but intense little climbs. this sign is posted at the top of one of the last ones, just before Bell Road!

I pushed through Auburn and rolled back into Loomis by 2:00 pm. eight hours, which is about normal for me, but, like I said earlier, without any cramps!! They didn't start until I was home resting in bed. YEOW!!

Pretty view from Auburn.