Friday, May 17, 2013

The Loomis-Colfax-Iowa Hill-Foresthill loop.

At the Iowa Hill General Store

It's getting to be the time of year to put in some longer days in the saddle. I'm also preparing to climb Mt. Shasta, so I need to be in shape. The best type of riding for that preparation is climbing, and this ride has a lot of that! And this ride is a tough one, starting from my home in Loomis, following Placer Hills Road along I-80 through Auburn and Meadow Vista on into Colfax. That alone is a respectable ride, but for this trip, it's just a warmup. From Colfax, I turn onto Iowa Hill Road, down to the North Fork of the American. From that point you begin an amazing climb to the small village of Iowa Hill. Some references report grades of up to 15% this part of the climb. It is intense!

A quick descent from Colfax to the North Fork of the American River 
A brief rest stop before...
...the monster begins!

The picture above shows the start of the serious climbing from the American River. There are some very steep sections here, and the road becomes fairly narrow. From the rest stop where this picture was taken, I strapped my helmet to my saddle as I knew I wasn't going to be moving very fast for the next couple of hours, and I needed the ventilation! Fortunately, it wasn't very hot this day, and there was a reasonable amount of shade on this side of the canyon. sometimes bugs flying around your face can be annoying on this stretch, but there didn't seem to be too many this year. 

 One of many hairpins!
 Iowa Hill's general store is a good place for a break.

Iowa Hill is an interesting place. They just got phone service a couple of years ago. There is no electrical utilities here, just solar panels and generators. The general store has two ancient propane powered refridgerators, but those must be for special items like milk and beer, gatorade doesn't rate. It is in an ice cooler. The day of my ride, a Tuesday, there was no ice, so the Gatorade was around room temperature. It still tasted pretty good to me!

After Iowa hill, you still have a little work ahead of you! There is still a bit of climbing to Sugar Pine Reservior, including a stiff climb along the dam, and a more gradual climb all the way to Foresthill Road. It surprises me that it takes almost 2 hours, (1:50 to be exact), to ride from Iowa Hill to Foresthill Road! 

From that point you have a wonderful 10 mile descent to Foresthill, a really welcome break from the hours of climbing!

 It takes a surprisingly long time to reach Foresthill road.
Another break at Worton's in Foresthill to replenish fluids. 

At Foresthill I stopped at Worton's to buy some Gatorade, chocolate milk and water. It's nice to get off the bike for a few moments and take in the view. There was a really massive thunderstorm off to the East.

Pulled in at home just short of 8 1/2 hours, phew!

As the photo above shows, my final time including stops was almost 8 1/2 hours. It's a long day, but a really great ride. I don't have an exact distance figured out, but I estimate it's about 75 to 80 miles. 

I rode the new Mercian with a compact double gearing of 46/30, (V-O Gran Cru 50.4 BCD crank) in front and 11/28 in back, and this proved more than adequate, even for the grades I encountered on this ride. On the steep descent from Colfax to the American, the Tektro 720 brakes performed beautifully. I'm quite happy with the ergo's on this bike now, though  I do intend a few more tweaks.

I have been having pain in the balls of my feet on long rides, this time I removed my shoes and massaged my feet during my short beaks. This seems to have helped and I had no problems until near the end of the ride when I didn't take any breaks after Foresthill. I carried three bottles of water, one in the cage and the others stowed in my Pendle Saddlebag until needed. That way the water in them stayed cool.