Long-Distance Cycling Hijinks

I like to combine business with pleasure, which is why I started planning a cycling route down to Loomis/Rocklin immediately after signing up for the Sierra College Community Education BasicRider course for new and aspiring motorcyclists. (Or is that combining pleasure with pleasure? I am not sure.) I had a full day on Friday to get from Truckee to Rocklin, and I figured the net elevation loss was a good way to balance the high miles. It’s still a long day though.

From Truckee to my overnight destination at Rattlesnake Bar in Folsom State Rec Area (near Newcastle), it was 80 miles. Climbing Donner Pass Road from the start is nice because you know that if you make, you can do the rest of the ride. (Corollary: If you cannot make it to Sugar Bowl, you definitely can’t do it.) As they say, “It’s all downhill from here.” By the way, they are almost lying when they say that. It’s a rule for life.

I had a couple of hiccups on the way down. First, Google Maps for Bikes gave me the notion that I could ride a bicycle on I-80 from Cisco Grove to Magra Rd. in Gold Run. As a friendly CHP officer let me know, cyclists should exit WB 80 at Baxter and take Baxter Rd. to Alta Bonnynook to Ridge Rd. Those roads are much nicer than 80 anyway. Not that 80 is dangerous or anything. The shoulder is huge and most people are on their best behavior. Narrow country roads worry me more because the shoulders are non-existent and blind turns are common. However, they don’t typically have much traffic except for a very few locals.

Later when I passed Rollins Lake and went up Norton-Grade, the directions sent me “towards” Narrow Gauge Rd. The access was down into a pretty steep ravine and really suited for a strong mountain biker, not a fully weighted touring cyclist. It’s a good thing to keep in mind for future trips though. If Google is telling you to go towards something without actually giving a road name for the right of way to that something, it’s a red flag.

After pushing hard up the hill I was seriously in need of some calories, preferably hot calories. I landed in historic Colfax at Main St. Pizza and ordered the large plate of penne pesto. When they came back to refill my water after 15 minutes, I paid the bill, told them thanks, and left immediately. It was a priceless moment. The inability to chill somewhere and take in the scene for more than a few minutes is the cost of seeing so much in one day.

The rest of the ride was really fun. The temps were getting cooler as I dropped in elevation. The last stretch of the ride on Auburn-Folsom Road is the first part with real agricultural activity that I could see. Plus, there is a really nice 500′ drop in the last mile of Auburn-Folsom Rd. before Shirland Tract/Rattlesnake Rd.

Although I was seriously considering a climb back up to Truckee, probably spread over Sunday evening and Monday, I got a little bit discouraged after looking at the return ride as I rode down. I got a ride from a Zimride member for just $20. That might be the cost of peanut butter and jelly supplies for the ride back up so I am not complaining. The map down is linked below. If you have never tried touring, it’s the way to go!

Finally, I am leaving the Far West Farm Team and the Tahoe area. It’s been a really fun 2 1/2 years and I really hope to come back soon. It’s incredible that I spent 19 years in Southern California without ever realizing that there is such a great community here. And my family was a recreational Nordic family too! We went to Yosemite and the Mammoth area when I was growing up, but never Tahoe. With a little good fortune, I can stay on the west coast and visit and/or race occasionally. I want to thank Far West Nordic for this great opportunity. The Farm Team has traveled far and wide in it’s first few years and it has a promising future.

Bicycle map from Truckee to Rattlesnake Bar:

http://g.co/maps/je3zu

Some electronic music from Mophono:

Billy Dutton Uphill

Yesterday, as I gazed up at the daunting wall in front of me on the start line of the Billy Dutton Uphill at Squaw Valley, Sugar Bowl Academy coach Jeff Schloss reassured me there was only one climb. He wasn’t kidding: one climb, two thousand feet, and 5k from the base lodge to High Camp.

Ouch. That one hurt. But that was one of the most rewarding races I’ve ever done. The views at the top were incredible, and simply realizing  what you just climbed gives you an incredible sense of accomplishment.  It was also great to see so many people out there on all sorts of climbing contraptions, like home-made skins, snow-shoes, and rubber cramp-ons, in addition to all the basic skate skis, running shoes, and snow shoes.

The party continued that evening at the Far West team Banquet at ASC. There was great food and it was a perfect capstone to a great season. As always, it was neat to see how much support and friendships the nordic community provides for its athletes. Congrats to all the graduating seniors and good luck if you continue skiing in college! I would like to thank the all parents, volunteers, juniors, and especially the coaches for their their support and involvement with the Far West team this season. Can’t wait till next year!

Tahoe Rim Tour!

Today was the amazing rescheduled Tahoe Rim Tour Race!  Surprisingly the striding conditions held up great!  Thank you to all the volunteers who made the event happen.  August finished first, Gud Second, Jordon Third, Me Fourth! We all had the really sticky kick wax on our feet and smiles on our faces. I’m going to wish I put sunscreen on my arms and face cause the sun was high in the sky.  Congratulations to everyone who participated in this great Far West fundraiser!  Next week is the Billy Dutton Uphill that is a Far West Fundraiser as well so show up and support!

 

 

Rim Tour Pre-Ski

It’s been great skiing these past couple of weeks, and my mood reflects it. I’ve been really into it! Typically things in skiing wind down for me at this time of year. I like to transition to other sports like soccer, kayaking, and trail running, but this year has been anything but typical. I think that the dismal beginning to the ski year, and March being the month that it was, has boosted my stoke level for spring skiing.

Today I did the Rim Tour pre-ski. It was another beautiful day in Tahoe, and my skis felt good.  I hope for a day just as beautiful for the race this weekend. I’ll see you all there!

 

-Gus

Redemption at Mammoth Marathon

It has taken me awhile to learn how to ski marathons. Last year, I thought that drinking some HEED from my drinkbelt would give me adequate calories for the 42km distance. Not so much. I was hurting by the time I reached about the 30km mark and I did not even come close to finishing strong. I learned that a bottle of HEED has about 100 calories depending on its strength. I did much better at the Gold Rush a couple weeks later, which was also held in warm spring conditions.

This year, I packed 3 GU packets along with my HEED. I took every feed that I passed by and I did much better. I managed to cram down 3 GUs in one lap which was a little much but I felt good enough to drop my drinkbelt and lose the weight for the last 2 laps. The aggressive feeding worked wonders for me. Even skiing on my own, I was pretty confident through the end, except for the banked S-turns. I could not risk an ugly fall here with my reflexes getting slower and slower.

The conditions were a little bit easier than last year. Although a fresh snow fall slowed the overall times somewhat, the last half of the race did not feature rapid changes from slick cold snow to suctioning warm slush like last year. Hitting the brakes in every warm spot was truly the last straw. If I have a bad race, it’s a great motivator for the next year.

Far West Nordic has two epic point-to-point races in the next weeks. The Tahoe Rim Tour will run from Tahoe XC to Northstar XC this coming Saturday. Find some fishscales or klister and get out for our longest classic race, or hop in the skate or snowshoe division. Anyone with a love for snow travel can do it without competing hard. The local race season concludes at the Village at Squaw Valley. It’s short (3.2 miles) and sweet (uphill). If you haven’t skied corduroy at Squaw High Camp before the alpine skiers arrive, you have not really lived in Tahoe.

Mammoth Marathon

It was a great day in Mammoth. We had sunshine, a new 4-lap course with fun climbs and a crazy s-turn downhill, a fun, low-key atmosphere, great volunteers, tasty post-race grub, and seemingly endless raffle prizes. I had a good one: my coach August Teague and I broke away from the field in the first lap and traded off leads until about half way through the last lap, when I made a move on the last steep hill. It was an awesome workout too – nothing like hammering at 9000 feet.

The raffle was awesome. I won a pound of fudge at the local chocolate shop. But I don’t eat fudge (ya, I’m trying to watch my figure), so I traded August for his prize, a $10 gift card to the dollar store. I proceeded to go nuts for trinkets and such – bacon bits, sun glasses, hot peppers, super glue, postcard for mom’s b-day.

Nothing like 40 kilometers in the sunshine, the high sierra, and free stuff.