Ogre’s Goodbye California Tour

The wheels are finally in motion. Sometime in the next 18 months, we are going to pack up and move to Oregon. This is a big deal for us, we’ve been in the same place for nearly 30 years now.

Northern California is a pretty awesome place, but we’re ready to move on… but before I do, I want to say goodbye to a few places which I think are awesome. So from now until I move, I’m going to be trying my damnedest to ride as many of the great trails I’ve ridden in NorCal. This is a pretty tall order, there are a LOT of really amazing places to ride in Northern California so it’s going to be really tough trying to cram as many of these places in while we’re simultaneously moving to Oregon, and I’m working a full time job.

I’ll be posting my progress and lots of photos here on my blog, but here’s a preview of my checklist. I’ve If you know some really great trails that I’ve missed, please let me know!

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Another Quick Between the Storms Flower Ride

Not a lot of commentary today, just a few images from Lake Hogan before the storm rolls back in.

Fording the Atmospheric River

It was supposed to rain all weekend, so I’d planned to spend most of Sunday indoors, but I got lucky and there was a 5-6 hour “window” of rain free day, so I tossed the single speed on the back of the car and boogied down to one of my favorite wet/ rain friendly trails, Red Hills and was rewarded with a spectacular (if a bit wet) day of riding with great views and amazing trails.

Enjoy the wildflower explosion at the bottom of the climb to UFO.
Enjoy the wildflower explosion at the bottom of the climb to UFO.

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Back on the Single Again

A few months ago I got a new Niner Jet 9 RDO, and I absolutely love that bike… but that’s not what I’m posting about today. While I love my geared bike, it’s winter time, the time of super-sloppy/ wet trails and the time to build up strength for the spring/ summer riding. So I’m back on my single speed and raring to go. I’ve rebuilt my Kona Kula 2-9 with new tires, a new bottom bracket, and a new chain and she’s… as good as you’d expect an 8 year old bike with a blown fork to be, but still pretty damned fun to ride so I’ve been pounding out a lot of short steep muddy rides on her and having a blast.

Lost a few pounds over the past year, working on strength and speed right now.
Lost a few pounds over the past year, working on strength and speed right now.

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The Differences between Yoga and Mountain Biking

Yoga is great cross training for mountain biking, it helps build core strength and increases rider flexibility, focus, and endurance. After a tough ride, practicing yoga also helps stretch out tight muscles and stimulates healing. But there are some fairly significant differences between any mountain biker should keep in mind when learning yoga, keeping this in mind will help you avoid frustration or embarrassment.

  • In yoga they don’t call it an endo, it’s called downward facing dog, and it usually hurts a lot less.
  • If you hit a rock or tree during yoga… something is seriously wrong.
  • It’s extremely uncommon to share a beer in the parking lot when you finish yoga so leave the cooler at home.
  • Changing in the parking lot before and after yoga is definitely frowned on, change at home, use the bathroom or changing room at the studio.
  • In most studios, shouting “Fuck Yeah!” when you finally master a position is alsoYfrowned upon.
  • No one has ever said “Best yoga ever” after practicing yoga.
  • When you finish yoga, there are no mysterious cuts, scrapes, or bruises you don’t remember getting, but you are likely to discover entire classes of muscles you never knew you could strain.
  • It doesn’t matter how long your yoga session is, you’ll never need chamois butter.

Henry Coe Park Weekender

And who's this hansom guy!
And who’s this hansom guy!

I have a sort of like-hate relationship with Henry Coe park. It’s a huge park with many miles of great trails, but most of them are connected by hellish forest roads, and many trails are way too steep and poorly engineered for mountain bikes. On top of challenging terrain, Henry Coe Park is just far enough inland that there is no relief from the blistering sun and the cool ocean breezes you get at Skeggs or Saratoga Gap just a handful of miles away are sorely missed. During the summer, 90-100 degree days are common and potable water is scarce.

All of which paints a somewhat unfair picture of Henry Coe park. It is a massive park with tens of miles of great trails and many, many miles of decent trails. There are over 100 miles of trails which can be connected in endless ways and every year the park changes and evolves as the park service improves trails or trails are closed due to conditions or simply get too overgrown from getting under-used.

Which is why I’m really glad I took Fast Eddy up on his offer to come out this weekend. Being able to pedal 17 miles in to Pacheco Camp in the middle of the park, enjoy a day of riding in some of the more remote regions, and then pedal back out is perhaps the best way to appreciate the epic scale of this amazing park. For bike packers or adventurous riders who like long miles of exploring, Henry Coe is a truly epic destination….

… but I still hate those nasty super steep downhills, hundred degree heat, thistle…

A Spring Footnote

Just a friendly reminder, there is no better time to be out on the trails enjoying the trails!

The Sierra Foothills and the coastal range are amazing right now so get out there and enjoy the beautiful green and flowers while it lasts. Here’s a sample of what you’re missing if you’re spending your day on the couch!

Strawberry to Columbia

I’ve been eyeballing doing some big cross country trips in the Sierra Nevada for some time, and this weekend I was able to preview a big section of one of my longer route ideas. We started out our day off of 108 in Strawberry and pedaled 40+ miles to the town of Columbia. The ride was almost all dirt, with about 25 miles of single track & ATV trails, including some teeth rattling single track above Lyon’s reservoir called Pinball, about 10 miles of dirt roads, and just a little bit of road riding near the edge of Twain Harte and down Big Hill road on the way down to Columbia.

Our day started with some truly epic condiditions, we had 2″ of fresh powder on Sugar Pine trail (we call it Ewok trail), which was just deep enough to crunch nicely under the tires without slowing us down too much. This first part of the ride is probably the most memorable and my favorite of the day. The snow on the ground and the twisty single track were amazing, it makes me jealous of the fat bike guys riding up in Tahoe. The Ewok trail single track used to be a RR grade, but it’s been over 50 years since the tracks were there and it’s slowly reverting back to nature. While the overall grade is still 2% or so down, it’s filled with trees and there are sections where there used to be trestles where you have to go up and around. Overall, it’s an a+ section of trail and a spectacular start to the day.

After about 6-7 miles of that, we hopped on the road briefly before climbing up to a ditch trail which parallels Spring Gap road. If you are following this route, I suggest staying on the road for a bit before climbing to the ditch trail, as the first section after Frazier Flat will have many riders on and off the bike. The ditch trail lasts for about 4 miles before giving out to forest roads for a few miles to the Crandall Peak OHV staging area. From there we took some ATV trails and a bit more forest road to get to the beginning of Pinball Trail.

Pinball trail is rough, and the first half mile or so is mostly hike-a-bike, but there are some amazing sections on it where you are riding across lava flows and through some alien looking terrain. Though it is mostly downhill, the trail here is so rough it’s a serious workout getting through it. Jason and Kevin were champions through here, humbling the Ogre again and again.

Near the end of Pinball, we turned down into the Deer Creek watershed where there are a lot of ATV trails, this made for a fun, often fast descent down a mix of rough ATV trails. Some of the sections were armored with bricks or plastic grids designed to prevent erosion from the bikes. For us it was a bit like riding down a steep but skinny paved trail through the woods… tons of fun. To make things a bit more interested, it started raining while we were descending through the technical moto-trails.

At the end of Deer Creek trail, we popped onto Italian Bar road where we decided based on time and the rain that we should take the fastest/ easiest route back to Columbia which meant a brutal 5+ mile climb up towards Twain Harte where we found the ditch trail that goes most of the way between Twain Harte and Columbia. We spent the next 8 miles or so riding a slight downhill along a windy water ditch. Though the grade was in our favor, we were all pretty sore at this time (the Ogre whined a lot and slowed everyone down).

The ditch trail isn’t as adventurous as the alternative route, but it turned out to be the perfect choice because we finished up the ride just before Sunset and enjoyed some spectacular views coming down Big Hill road as we descended the final few miles to Columbia. Everyone had huge grins on their face when they saw Fiona waiting with the truck near the bottom of Big Hill road. Both because we wouldn’t have to pedal the last few miles of little rolling hills into Columbia proper, and because it was a truly amazing ride.

Enough chatter…. here’s some pictures!