Thursday, November 06, 2014

Third Stop: Downieville, Califoria

On somewhat of a last minute trip planning whim we penciled in Downieville, California. It was a logical stop between Oak Ridge, OR and South Lake Tahoe, CA our next planned ridding destination. After our great ride near Waldo Lake up to Twin Peaks we packed the van for the next leg, a seven or so hour drive into the mountains to a town that was not on any maps. I knew we were in for a treat.

The weather has been great with clear skies, warm air and vibrant fall foliage. The driving has been beautiful, I hardly spend any time with the normal distractions of phones and fidgeting, afraid I will miss out sights that fly by in furry. We also are trying not to do much driving at night and taking scenic by ways. Stella is happy at 55 mph, much more is asking a lot of her. So the less time we spend on interstates the happier we all are.

We climbed up highway 49, over Yuba pass, through lovely Sierra City and down into Downieville, California. Downieville, an active and once very prosperous mining location, is now a tourist destination, pretty typical "buy some shit in a pretty place" sort of feel to the area. We tried not to hit a tourist as we tried to get out of the town as fast as we could. There is a pretty epic race, The Downieville Classic, held here every year which puts this town on the radar for many mountain bikers. We pulled into town, over a one lane bridge and went straight to Downieville Outfiters where Greg was warm to show us the trails, epic camping and the low down on the town (and lack there of) and sign us up for a shuttle for the morning.

We high tailed it out a forest service road where we set up camp on a river and had instant access to trail. I can't believe the camping that we had. Right on the trail, next to a river and gorgeous forest all around. We spent the early afternoon playing (bathing) in the river and gearing up for a spontainous and inspired pedal right from the camp site. Our ride that afternoon was up second divide and down third divide. I was skeptical at first, the trail was skirting along a steep side hill with a lethal plunge to the right. It was loose and had lots of punchy steep rocky climbs, not my cup of tea. The riding was unlike anything I had done and far exceeded my comfort levels for the afternoon, I was ready to turn back with the dog (whos water bowl we forgot and Lucy is scared of drinking from the trickle that our hydration pack spits out). a few miles into it the trail. As soon as I wanted to turn around the trail wound back into enourmous pine forests, through valid mining camps, and followed a river. The riding was interesting and fast, the climbs were "engaging."

I rode up at John one point in the second divide trail where he had waited for me to show me this epic pine tree that had to be at least 10 feet in diameter. The pine cones were probably 18 inches long. We see lots of big ceder trees but we had never seen a pine tree this big. Second divide trail tied into third divide and proved to be a wild fun good time. A rare dynamic, John followed me down the entire trail which turned out to be really fun for me. The trail ended right at our van, down by the river.

The next day we rolled out of camp right on to the start of first divide trail which was quick 30 minute rip into Downieville where we hopped a shuttle at Downieville Outfitters. The shuttle took us to the top of Packers Saddle and we were able to ride some epic downhill for 12 miles. The shuttle was amazing, fast, technical in spots, chunder fest in others and epic in length. I would highly recommend it.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

I may know

I don't know how we witnessed  a man filling up his boat's gas tank with a lit cigarette hanging out of his mouth who was precariously close to the nozzle watching the gasoline flow and not blowing up.
I know that when we were in Flagstaff for lunch one afternoon we were walking down the street and all of the sudden it felt like home, the smell. It was a smell I hadn't came across since leaving. John pointed out that we just passed a woman with dreads in overalls playing a banjo on the corner.
I know that two beers after a huge day of mountain biking is just right.

I know that I am one lucky lady.

I know that time may disappear while driving in a Westfalia. Just straight up vanish.
I know that is completely acceptable during a mountain biking trip for us to walk into pizzeria and order two large pizzas and they are consumed with ease within two meals.
I know that showering everyday is not an option, nor every other day, try like on in five days. Rest days are just about as scarce. Life is short, the trip even shorter and the future unpredictable. Get after it. I know that my best days of riding were on the days after rest days.
I know that the Grand Canyon is rather grand.
 I still don't know if there is increased energy in the vortexs of Sedona. I know that I may never know and I find pleasure in the mystery.

I know that a hard days work is incredibly satisfying.

I know that 50+ miles in two days is too much for a dog, no matter how excited she is to be on a ride.

I now know that pine trees to grow to be bigger than I ever thought possible. I know that riding through old growth forests is a very special experience and why I never want to leave the three states that make up the west coast.
I know that if I am angry I am just hungry. If I am hungry it is too late.
I know that the owners of bike shops work really really hard. I have seen it over and over, town to town. I thank you, we thank you.

I know that first hand information about anything is always the best. Trails, food, beer, local swimming holes and camping spots.

I know that it is always good to slow down. I know that watching the sun come up is an exercise in slowing down.

I know never to pass judgment-ever. Period. I also know to try and get to know the people you are surrounded by. People have interesting stories and usually want to talk about them. 
I know that my husband is the most patient person I have ever met. I know he waits hours for me on big rides and then is happy when I finally make it to him. I now know he gets this trait from his father.
I know that the fastest people on bikes will never tell you.
I know that in Burley, Idaho there is not a single coffee shop or stand. It is a larger town. This blows me away and makes me really sad at 6 am. Someone save those folks or at least the travelers passing through and open a decent coffee stand.
I know that riding at 9,500 feet will make me queasy, riding at 11,000 feet makes me want to barf while gasping for air as my body tries like hell to get the oxygen it needs.
I know not to order cocktails in the state of Utah.
 I know why people are spiritual in Sedona and artists go to the Southwest.
I don't know if aliens landed at area 51, if they did I am glad they choose the middle of Nevada and not the Pacfic Northwest.
I know that I need to be reminded not to take myself too seriously.
I know that our dog will eat all the garbage if she can and then be really embarrassed and know it was wrong.
 I know that any ride could be my last. Life is real like that. We happened to pull up to a swimming hole in Sedona the same time this big crew of riders were. We went swimming they took their terminally ill friend for his first and last ride on red rock. I know that life is precious folks. 

I know that we rode almost 400 miles of trail, climbed almost 50,000 feet of trail in 6 states and 12 locations. I know that Galbraith is a special place, Squamish has the best trails and they are both moments from our house.

I know that coming home is bittersweet. It is great to be home but hard to adjust.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Las Vegas, Red Rocks

The drive into Vegas, the towns on the outskirts of Vegas took me by surprise. There is some shady activity going on out there. Mix the dry desolation of the desert with poverty and legal prostitution and people will make a way to get by. I might be making assumptions from the comfort of my car driving by on the interstate, but the area seemed really rough and I had no desire to lurk around the area.

We pulled into Las Vegas mid morning after a good two huge days of riding in Tahoe that were stacked on four days of riding before that. I felt my bits and pieces wearing down and even though the timing was perfect, we parked it in the trail head parking lot, I put my foot down and insisted that we take rest day.  It was turning out to be a scoarcher of a day and riding in the heat of the day isn’t the funnest way to spend time. John used a few hours to disassemble the back of the van to charge the AC and the extra love that a 25 year old German van needs which appently includes replacing fuel lines in the parking lot. John waned about the size of a tool box to pack, and after much consideration he packed a pretty hefty repertoire, including extra fuel lines that came in very handy. I love the Westy but I don't think I would feel as comfortable traveling in it without John and his mechanical savy. After cleaning up the yard sale we drove into the Red Rocks National Park.
Lucy loves the nomadic lifestyle

Neither of us had been into the park even though combined we have been to Vegas more than a dozen times. We enjoyed jumping out and snapping some pictures, saw a wild burro and looked for the alleged wild tortoises. Red Rocks is a major climbing destination (we have yet to climb there). It was fun to watch people gear up in the parking lots, knowing that this is what we must look like.

There didn’t seem to be much free camping in the vicinity so we camped in the one designated camping spot near the park. I think we hit them at a bad time but it felt like an incredible waste of money. There was no running water in the whole spread, it was under construction ( lets hope it was to bring water in) and a mess, no showers, no shade. The place was packed to boot, it would have been great to have been able to find a spot in the the main area and strike up a conversation with most likely other climbers but the place was at capacity. There was a spur for Rvs and we ended up finding a spot there and parked it for the night. It took all the will power we had to fight the urge to indulge in the city. Seriously. We were inches away. I made us a salad, John cracked another beer and we embraced being dirt bags. We invited a Swiss couple to share our site with us. They flew into LA and rented a cargo van and were hitting all the climbing spots in the south west.

The next morning we beat the heat and went for one of our shortest and fastest rides (for me) at Cottonwood and rode up to black velvet canyon. It was nice to be able to pedal hard for 90 minutes after being at elevation. The riding was fun enough but nothing to be blown away by.
I insisted on going to an In and Out burger in down town Vegas. I eat about one hamburger a year and for some reason I thought that today needed to be the day and I was under the impression that I was missing something by never have partaken in the chain. John tells me that I usually like the idea of something more than actually doing it. He knows me too well.  

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Second Stop: Crater Lake, Oregon

I am going to call this a stop because of the sheer grandness. Not far from Oakridge and on our way south to Downieville I begged John (which took little effort) to detour for a few hours to see Crater Lake. We had both never seen it and knew that it was a must do since we were so close. So worth the afternoon.

That is Wizzard Island in the middle of the lake.

There is  narrow road that circumnavigates the lake with countless pull offs. The whole experience is rather breath taking. We opted for a shorter route that ran along one side of the lake. We have friends that rode biked around the lake earlier this year, seems like a great idea.