A Little Community Service Goes a Long Way

AND no, not the type of community service that a judge orders, the other type. The willing type.

PART of our mission here at California Alps Cycling is, after all, to help the communities in which we live, work and ride, and this past weekend presented us with some opportunities to do just that.

A Little Town Decorating

SATURDAY was about decorating our little town. Club-wife, Patricia, had a grand idea to place wine barrels about town and fill them with poinsettias for the holidays. The Markleeville Enhancement Club (formed a few years back by yours truly and our good friend Mary Rawson) donated the funds (which were donated in turn by members of the community) for the barrels and the blooms.

WE prepped and then placed a dozen 1/2 barrels about town. It added a nice bit of color, don’t you think?

We also put a few more decorations about our little hamlet. Club-mother, January, and Mary, even received help from an unsuspecting, but very friendly traveler, who had the necessary height they needed to get those last few decorations up.

Sunday, it was the Watershed’s Turn

THE Markleeville Water Company, which supplies water to our town, and for which I’m the webmaster (that’s a scary thought but I do what I can) and a volunteer board member, began its post-Tamarack Fire recovery in earnest this past weekend.

THAT work started last Friday, and went through Sunday. I helped out with some manual labor on Sunday, and my Mom and wife (January and Patricia) helped out Saturday and Sunday by checking in volunteers and getting waivers signed.

I worked with a gentleman named Jim Dickens, from Reno, who came down to help because he heard about the event while attending a Trout Unlimited webinar in which Kimra McAfee, Exec. Director of the Alpine Watershed Group, was speaking.

Members of Sunday’s squad doing some seeding and some chinking. Click on the link below for more on that.

DIANE and Steve from Carson City joined on Sunday because they ride their bikes in this area (Steve is a Deathrider) and wanted to give a little something back.

THERE were more volunteers like Jim and Diane and Steve, and locals too. Members of CalFire and the California Conservation Corps helped immensely by felling trees and providing support.

IT was just so Markleeville…all of these people, from different areas, different walks of life, old and young alike, all volunteering their time to help us.

WHAT an awesome feeling! What utterly cool people! It validated my continued faith in my fellow humans.

IF you’d like to learn more about the restoration, by the way, and check out a little video about chinking, here’s a link to that MWC post.

WHAT about you? Did you do, or will you be doing, some giving back of your own? Please share if you did or will be. 😉

IN the meantime…

RIDE well, be safe and stay healthy.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING to you and yours from all of us here at California Alps Cycling!

The Tour of the California Alps – Third Time’s the Charm?

YEAH, you’re right, there have been thirty-nine (39) charms really since the Deathride began. It’s those last two (2) attempts that have been problematic. Perhaps then we should say then that it’s the 3rd attempt for the 40th Annual Ride that’s the charm?

OF course, we haven’t had the ride yet so fingers crossed this tertiary try will be that trinket.

THE Alpine County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors (full disclosure: I’m a member of the board), along with our Executive Director, Becky Hanson, met last week to discuss, among other things, the 2022 Deathride.

HERE’S what you should know:

  1. The ride will take place on Saturday, July 16th, 2022
  2. The course will be the same as last year’s; no Carson Pass but instead Pacific Grade x 2
  3. Early registration price = $139.00
  4. Registration will open in January!

BECKY has been hard at work dealing with the aftermath of this year’s evacuations (I still can’t believe we had to cancel the day before the ride), swag bag distributions and most recently, insurance claims.

ON that note, here’s a partial excerpt from her email to our Deathride Family, sent yesterday…

While it has been a lengthy process to iron out, we are pleased to inform you that the riders who stuck with us through the 2020 postponement, and to date have not cancelled their registration, will receive a partial refund of registration fees from imATHLETE. 

We do not know the exact date that refunds will go out, but we do know that it will be a credit to the card used to register. In the situation where that card is no longer active, an electronic check will be issued (again, by imATHLETE). It is not a full refund, but we were very pleased to finally get to a resolution and hope this helps you, our loyal riders.

DEATHRIDERS are a special lot, no doubt. I’ve only attempted the ride three (3) times, and completed it once, so I’m really just a rookie. Many of you riders, including my bruddah, Scott Keno (that’s him there with bib no. 1619), have completed it every time they’ve attempted it and have done so many, many times. Scotty has done 8 or 9, I can’t remember. I’m sure there are some of you out there who’ve got even more impressive stats.

IT’S not just the physical feat itself that makes me have so much respect for you TOTCA riders, though. It’s your fortitude. Your friendliness. Your patience. Your support. Your attitude.

LIKE you I suspect, I’ve done many fondos, many centuries; a shitload of organized rides. Yet this one is special. It’s different.

IT’S the location, the elements (you know what they say…If you don’t like the weather here in the Sierra, just wait five (5) minutes), the climbing and the volunteers; but mostly it’s the comraderie.

It’s just a such a special gig.

ALTA Alpina Cycling Club is arranging a training series, cleverly called the “Brush with Death,” for the spring time, so be on the lookout for that announcement.

WE – I’m a member but have no skin in this training series game; the club leadership gets credit for that – tried to do so last year but the pandemic put the kibosh on those plans.

MAYHAPS we’ll do the same here at California Alps Cycling. A few early jaunts over Ebbett’s Pass, Monitor Pass and Pacific Grade couldn’t hurt, right? Okay you’re right, it will hurt but in a good way. If nothing else, we’ll know what level of pain to expect. 😉

SO we’re going to keep at it, and hopefully we’ll actually have the ride next summer, and we’ll see you all again at the Expo.

THIS time though let’s kick some passes’ asses sans those pyrocumulus clouds that are in the pic. at the top of this post, k? I took that photo, by the way, from Carson Pass (that’s Red Lake) the day the ride was supposed to happen.

RIDE on. Be safe. Stay healthy and we’ll see you next year!

Fat Tire Fun, Some Mug Shots and a Special Sighting

WHILE we were hoping that the storm of a couple weeks ago was going to open that storm door, alas that has yet to happen. We’ve gotten a drizzle here and there (a whopping .01 inches of rain yesterday) and some snivelings of snow, but the “big white” has yet to materialize.

THERE is, however, a glimmer of hope. We’ve got a system coming in tomorrow, and last week, on one of my usual rides – the cattle guard just below the 7000′ mark – there was still a bit of snow on Highway 4. The gate at Wolf Creek Road was closed (and Ebbett’s Pass remains closed as well).

A few of us, including a silver-haired stud-muffin who was coming up as I was headed down, took advantage though, and enjoyed that car-free zone.

Fat Tire Fun on the Middle Fork

FARLEY was a happy camper, as was his rider, during our little jaunt up to Grover Hot Springs State Park and requisite trek back towards the village, this time though via the banks of Hot Springs Creek. Formerly known, at least that’s the local lore – I’ve got to look that up – as the middle-fork of the Carson River, it’s a sweet little burbling brook of a stream.

Nice ride, that fire-tire bike… So forgiving on just about anything. Trek isn’t kidding IMO about it being the mountain bikers fat-bike. Very nimble. Light action, too, and as for mud…What mud?

WHAT I think would have been an issue, certainly on the gravel bike and perhaps even on the MTB, (see this “peanut butter post”) was nuffin’ for those puffy tires on Farley.

I can’t wait to get him out on the snow. Perhaps you’d like to join me? Hit me up and let’s make a plan!

Markleeville Mug Shots

WE pulled these just today from the wildlife camera behind the chalet.

THIS hambone we’ve named “Little Blackie” (after the heroine’s horse in True Grit – either version); that image in the left frame helps me cast my mind back to that Louis Gossett, Jr. line in “An Officer and a Gentleman.”

Stop eyeballing me, bear!

A Special Sighting

OUR resilient river (or creek, depending…) never stops surprising us. We get special sightings almost every day. A Great-Blue Heron cruises us regularly, a Belted-Kingfisher, too. And just last week it appeared to be more of a boiling caldron of black goo. Okay, maybe a little hyperbole but not too far off, really.

OTTERS, though? That one I wasn’t expecting. Okay, full disclosure…only one otter, but still, it really was a river otter! Right there. On our river. Of course I didn’t have a camera, or a phone, and it was too far away to get captured on the wildlife cam.

otter drifting on log on river
Photo by David Selbert on Pexels.com

THAT’s not my picture, no. Was definitely one of those, though. No, it was not a beaver, Mom. I can say so without any qualm.

SHE’S such a skeptic.

IT was a wild week indeed, here in the California Alps.

Here’s hoping you had a wild one too (in a good way), and that the coming week brings you many pleasant surprises.

It’s Been Awhile Since We’ve Seen Such Spooky Amounts of Water

LAST weekend’s storm dumped about six (6) inches here at HQ in a 36-hour period! Reminiscent of the first winter (that drought buster) we spent here in the California Alps (2016-2017), this storm was a hair-raising reminder of that particular season of rain and snow that seemed to never end. Let’s hope the pattern continues.

Images of Hot Springs Creek (fka the Middle Fork of the Carson). Clockwise from top left: From this year’s recent storm – swollen and blackened (from the ash); after the storm with detritus dropped at the high-water mark; a raging, chocolately version from the winter of 2016-17; from the winter of 2016, before the storm-door opened.

THERE was a definite difference this time, however: this storm came post-Tamarack Fire. That difference was apparent in several ways.

  • Alpine Co. Unified Command cautioned all of us to have three (3) days worth of supplies in case we were “locked-in” and also warned us to be prepared to evacuate.
  • The Sheriff’s office staged a trailer of quad runners at the fire station across the street just in case debris or mudslides blocked access to Hot Springs Road. Forward thinking as usual…Thankfully though those “runners” weren’t busted out.
  • The sandbag station at the fire station was re-supplied and frequently visited. Not by us as it turns out; since it was across the street we decided not to load up bags unless we absolutely needed them.
  • The water was black (instead of the usual chocolate milk to which we have become accustomed) from all the ash being washed downstream.
That old black water making its way downstream…The creek was a bit menacing, and an unearthly color, due to the ash from the Tamarack Fire.

WELL, as you might imagine, we weathered the storm and all has returned to some semblance of normal here in Markleeville (and beyond). Hope the same holds true for you.

The Clean-Up Has Begun!

NORMAL these days frequently includes the sounds of chainsaws, log-haulers, bob-tails and other heavy equipment rolling up and down Hot Springs Road and Highway 89 between Woodfords and Markleeville. It’s a good thing (albeit somewhat sad and depressing at the same time); dead trees being removed, batting and such being laid down…Stuff like that.

MANY organizations and community leaders have met, and are continuing to meet, including tomorrow night and Tuesday. We continue to work hard to bring the area back to what it should be. It will take some time, and some of us may not see it, but the process has begun.

Fishing, Peeping and Riding

THE Carson is back to its clear, swiftly moving self and there have been more fishermen (and women) casting their lines recently. Haven’t heard of, nor seen, any whales being taken out, but hey, any day fishing, right? The weather has been glorious since the storm. We’ve even had a couple high-60 days!

FALL colors abound and they seem especially florescent this year. The leaves are dropping but there’s still a few leaf-peeping opportunities here and about. There are patches of red, orange and yellow on Monitor, Ebbetts, Blue Lakes and today I heard that the Walker, Coleville area (Walker River fishing! Oh, boy!) was glowing.

MONITOR is open so you can come here and do some riding in Alpine Co. and Mono Co.

FYI, as of Friday, Highway 4 heading from Markleeville to Ebbetts Pass was closed at Centerville Flat. That’s the campground at Wolf Creek Road. I did ride past the gate several miles to Scossa cow camp – there are NEVER any cows camping there, though -and there is snow on the road. Not sure when (if) they’ll open that gate but fingers crossed we’ll not get too many more chances to try and make the pass this year.

WE need that snow, you know!?

WE’RE off to the annual Halloween parade here in town. Trick or treating is a bit challenging in our little mountainous area so the sheriff’s office closes the road into town, the fire department volunteers fire up the trucks, the kids put on their costumes; and they all parade into town from the library where we greet them with cheers, and gobs of candy.

I’LL have to bring an adult beverage or two to wash down that chocolate.

STAY safe, ride on and let’s kick some spirits’ asses. HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

A Bike By Any Other Name…

I don’t remember naming my bikes when I was a kid. I remember the bike types, colors, and perhaps even a specific adventure, or jump, or modification, but names, nope. Nada. Zipparoony.

ROSCOE therefore, must be my first. In which case it was only six (6) years ago, then, that I must have begun this “tagging habit.” Funny. Roscoe (the first, I might add) is, and was (keep reading) a Trek Domane. Original frame red and white. Current frame, stealth black. That’s him there on the left, and in that other “snowbank shot” above.

AFTER I moved up here to Markleeville the shop discovered a crack in the frame and Trek being Trek, replaced it. Because it was two (2) years later they no longer had the red and white color scheme and so Roscoe II was born. That’s him there on the right.

ANYWAY, I’m not really sure why then, or for what reason, I gave him a name, but I do remember why I chose the name Roscoe. Roscoe Fanucci, actually. I was in the surgical center (maintenance) and the nurse called out “Roscoe. “Roscoe Fanucci.” And this dapper Italian gent (even in a gown in a surgi-center bed he looked distinguished), I’d say in his 80’s, responded in the affirmative.

I said to my wife. “That’s a cool name.” I’m going to name the Domane that. After all, he (the Domane) thinks he’s italian. Okay, my Mom had this Walter MItty thing with her first VW bug. I can’t explain it but obviously the apple didn’t stray too far from the tree.

ROSCOE does think he’s Italian.

BULLITT was an easier one. In a roundabout way. There I was at our corporate offices in Novato (former job) and I had brought my new Trek Fuel up for a mountain bike ride in China Camp. I’m showing the bike to Matt, our engineer and business analyst, and he says “Wow, cool colors. Those are the same colors (the Gulf Oil/Heritage livery I’ve since learned) that Ford used in some of their racing cars back in the day, including on the same model that Steve McQueen drove in Bullitt.

I had ridden this bike for a couple rides prior and it was cool. It glided over things. It floated. It looked GOOD. It thinks it’s Steve McQueen. Bam, Bullitt it is. Thanks Matt!

Me and Bullitt at Grover Hot Springs State Park on our first ride up there in the Spring of ’17.

BLUE, the Wild Mustang of Markleeville, as you might imagine, thinks he’s a mustang roaming the California Alps. He’s a Trek Project One Emonda and is named after Blue, the leader of the Pine Nut herd of wild mustangs living not too far away from here. Mustangs – resilient, strong, willful, good going uphill or down. Seemed like a good fit. The paint scheme, with the the blue lettering also worked.

LAST but not least, my newest addition to the fleet: a fatbike named Farley Schlanger. It’s a TREK Farley 7 so as you’ve guessed, the Farley part was easy. Although I was thinking about naming it Beast. I had just sold Beast (a Trek Rail 5) to a friend of mine and so I was contemplating Beast II. But then my wife, knowing my weird fascination with cool names, told me about a reference in a book I’m reading (The Athlete’s Gut) and there were two names. One was Schlanger. And Farley Schlanger was so named.

I mean look at him. Is that a Farley Schlanger or what?

And what a fun ride. Ordered him in November of 2020 by the way, and just picked it up last Saturday. Supply chain issues, you know?

CAN’T wait for snow. Before that, some Pine Nut sand should be fun. Can you say “slide over the silica?”

MY wife does the naming thing, too, and so I have to give her her due in this here post. So I’ll close with Daisy and Bessie. No reason for those names she said, other than “they look like that to me.”

SOMETIMES it’s just that simple.

HOW about you? Bike names? Stories? Hit me!

Autumn is in the Air in Markleeville – Here’s a Beary Good Update!

AHH, the sweet, cool wind. Those regularly scheduled afternoon breezes…The robins are here. It feels almost like normal here in the heart of the California Alps. After weeks of fires, and fire related ca-ca, it’s a relief. That’s not to say it’s over. We know fire-season isn’t, yet it feels good so we’ll take it.

AND what perfect timing…It’s Fall!

ONE of our fall traditions here in Alpine County is a good old-fashioned clean-up day.

AND so it was that last Saturday a bunch of us Markleevillians, and Woodsfordsians, some Mesaites; and even some Gardnervillians, too, found ourselves banding together, whacking, pulling and pleading with various bushes, trees, and weedings. I know, weedings is a bit of a stretch, but work with me, k?

WE hit up Markleeville, Hope Valley, Hwy. 88 and Hwy. 89 (litter pick-up on these highways some of us have adopted), picked up piles of pallets and gobs of glass. Old can dumps, and loads of biomass (mostly pine needles), along with what seemed at times like entire pieces of automobiles, were collected too.

MO Loden, former (sad 😭 that you’re leaving but congrats on the new gig, Mo!) Watershed Coordinator for the Alpine Watershed Group herded all of the cats and organized our big ol’ event. Click here, by the way, to see a more recent pic of the gang, and learn a little more about Mo, and AWG.

AFTERWARDS it was lunch at the Library Park (courtesy of Outwest Cafe – thank you Buzz, Jamie and Joey!). Was a nice group, many of whom stayed to visit. Unfortunately for me, like I said, fall is in the air. And that means…

CHORES around the house. Things like covering holes recently made by some electrical panel work, raking pine needles, and clearing dirt and debris from around the generator so we can be ready for the Public Safety Power Shutoff (that fortunately never came). But, those winds sure did. In fact, earlier that day, when out on Hwy. 89 doing the Adopt-a-Highway schtick, I looked back toward town and saw the topsoil blowing from the forest floor (no more vegetation post-fire) and it was insane. With the howling winds, blackened bushes and trees with no tops, it felt and looked apocalyptic.

GAWD, I hope we haven’t turned the corner. I don’t want to be a dinosaur.

Image courtesy of space.com.

SERIOUSLY, Mark? This post is going to the dark side, man. Let’s move on. Fall isn’t a bummer. It’s a beautiful time of year here in the Sierra. Sure, some of the forest is gone but a lot of it is intact. Take, for example, this photo, which I took last night.

SUNDAY we saw a bit more of what’s to come while having a nice lunch at Wylder Resort in Hope Valley. Sitting on the deck (it was a little windy) in the aspens, with our friends, one of whom we hadn’t seen since Christmas of ’19, felt so good.

THE food was great. Even with the 7000′ foot tax and the various service fauxpas. “No I ordered the tuna on ciabatta and the potato salad, not the tuna on greens with potato salad.” “She ordered the ham and onion quiche, not the veggie quiche.” “Sorry, we’re out of the ham & onion.” It was almost comical yet we laughed and continued to reminisce.

STILL, the staff did an admirable job. The two free glasses of wine and extra potato salad helped smooth things over. As did the Bloody Mary’s prior.

WE forgot about the pandemic (even though we talked about it) and the fires (ditto); and we just reveled in the day, and each other, and our friendship. It was a special afternoon, indeed.

Speaking of Special Afternoons

THERE’S one coming up this Saturday, the 25th. The Candy Dance is happening in Genoa (and we’ve gone every year), but we’ve got our own little “Aspen Day with Friends of Hope Valley” thing going on, so we’ll be hanging there instead. Candy Dance Sunday maybe.

THERE’S a famous comedian, Mark Lundholm, making the trek to town the same night. Woo, hoo, big shit happening here in Alpine County let me tell you. There’s more to come too. Click here to check out the Chamber’s events calendar.

Riding?

Riding, you say. Yeah done some of that. There seems to be a little less wind most days and the air has been clear – although last night we saw some 150’s again, this time from the fires to the south, in the Sequoia Nat’l Forest. Will it end?

THERE I go again. Dark side. Back to cycling…

Alta Alpina members were wowed with a windless night at last Thursday’s Diamond Valley Road Race. I didn’t get to see it or race it, though, dang it 🙁 ).

I haven’t been quite so lucky but the riding has been good nonetheless. Check out last week’s post if you haven’t seen it. Great day on pebbles (and sand, and rocks and Pinenut dirt). As for here… Not too many cars and fall temps (32 yesterday a.m.) make for some great riding.

SOME charred forest awaits you but none after Monitor Junction if you want to take a ride up to Ebbetts Pass (my fav).

Fall colors starting to show on Hwy. 89 (looking south towards Monitor Junction).

BEER also awaits you (at the Cutthroat)! And some leaf-peaping. And some grinding (food or gravel). Speaking of grinding (the edible kind), did I tell you that the Salettis, from Gardnerville, bought Stonefly? Our landmark eatery is soon to go Italian. I’m already salivating. The locals who had been to their restaurant in G’Ville are talking them up big time! Can’t wait for some wood-fired lasagna, or that famous coconut cake! Oh boy.

SO, onward we go Alpine County, and you too, I hope. It’s a new season and a new day and this shitty stuff? It shall be displaced by the good vibes, laughter, color and light, of fall.

COME on up for a visit! That’s kinda the whole point of this post, after all. And be sure to let us know you’re coming. We’ll join you for a ride. Or hoist a beer with you. Or just say hi.

HAPPY AUTUMNAL EQUINOX!

What’s Happening Here in Markleeville Since the Tamarack Fire? Here’s Some News

IT’S Monday night, August 30th, and I’m thinking about what’s happening here in the California Alps, which includes one of the jewels of the world, Lake Tahoe. These fires…it’s surreal and they’re taking on an almost human quality. Or should I say a demon quality?

I’M a firm believer in balance and so I understand, and welcome in the right circumstances, fire. And water (thinking of you New Orleans). I also believe that we are reaping what we have sewn. Not going to go there – down that “climate change is here, damnit” path – that is. Oh wait…

SO, as I was saying. Life around here since July 16th has been strange. Scary, anxiety-ridden, angry, sad, happy, fulfilling, disappointing, unhappy, pissed-off, irritated, STRANGE. I don’t recall ever feeling such a range of emotions over such a short period of time.

NONETHELESS, life goes on. And we go on and try to be normal as best we can. Since Sunday, we’ve had these little windows of fresh air in the middle of this smoke-filled firestorm that has seemingly targeted the area.

GREEN AQI all day today, for example. It’s eery…Just a few miles away, to our northwest, is a nasty looking smoke plume from the Caldor Fire. I took the pic at the top of this post yesterday (Sunday), on my way home from a ride up Hwy. 4. There was a “good-air window” and I took it. I cut the ride short, though, as the smoke seemed to be pushing in. That is what I saw from Monitor Junction on my way back to HQ.

This is what I saw this morning, looking north towards Lake Tahoe from Hwy 4. at Raymond Meadow Creek.

If you look closely you can see the smoky haze in the distance.

OH shit. That doesn’t look good, I said to myself. Been saying that a lot lately…Also been attending a lot of live fire-briefing events on Facebook.

AND constantly checking Twitter or other sources for the latest intel while trying to separate the wheat from the chaff as I go.

NEVERENDING. And last night, Mrs. California Alps Cycling and I began thinking about yet another evacuation. Just 6 miles away, in the Mesa Vista area of Alpine Co., they’re on an evacuation warning. The fire has reached Christmas Valley and has made its way into South Lake Tahoe so the way things are going, we figure, we could be under evacuation warnings sometime soon ourselves. Hopefully not but we are getting good at it. Something I hoped I’d never say.

In Other News…

OUR internet is working again and that’s making life much more liveable. I remember when internet was a nice-to-have (yes, I’m old…er) but today it’s a must have, IMHO. Yet so many people less fortunate than I don’t have it. We learned through this experience that good internet (and cell service) is as necessary as power and water. Eye-opening for sure.

THE Markleeville General Store is still closed. 🙁 Sad but true. Repairs and such post-fire.

OUTWEST Cafe, as well as the Toll Station, and the Cutthroat, are open.

FISHING is pretty much non-existent. There have been no plants since before the fire and there is hardly any camping here since our national forests are closed, but the Carson River Resort is open and based on what I’ve heard, pretty booked up.

AIR quality? you ask. We feel guilty. Honestly. The air here has been great this entire week. What I saw Sunday never made it any farther south and I got out for a ride this morning. It was so pretty I almost forgot what was happening in South Lake.

RED flag warnings there (and here too), but the wind that is making the Caldor Fire do what it’s doing is pushing the smoke to our north and east.

This was a/o 2:45 p.m. today.

WATER is an issue, too. Since our watershed was hammered pretty hard, and we have limited resources, at this point we’re on water restrictions with limited outside watering. Thankfully that recently changed. Up until about ten (10) days ago landscape watering was not allowed at all. Small (yet big) victory.

WE’VE been invaded by bears! Well that’s not really true. They were here first. Nevertheless they are more prevalent and getting a bit more brave. Earlier this week my neighbor’s car was torn up pretty well. First time since we’ve lived here that I’ve seen that.

THEY, like other fauna, are hungry and since so much of the surrounding forest was torched, animals and birds are coming to any oases they can find. Lucky us (kinda), we’ve got one. The wild-turkeys, with their youngins, are especially welcome.

With That Said…

WE’RE thinking about our friends and neighbors here in Alpine Co. (some of the county are on evac. warnings due to the Caldor Fire) and everyone else who has been effected by “our fire” as well as the Caldor Fire, and other fires raging, mostly in the west.

LIFE will get back to normal at some point. The new-normal I guess. Whatever that is.

Been Waiting for California Alps Cycling Merch? It’s Finally Here!

YOU’VE seen it at the Deathride. You’ve seen it on our blog. Maybe you noticed it in our photo gallery and you’ve asked yourself: “How do I get me some of that?”

WELL, the wait is over! You can now purchase your California Alps Cycling gear from our new online store!

CASTELLI jerseys, bibs and windvests are available (with some supplies limited) as are our new decals.

AND we’ve got tees, too. No, not those kind of tees! The kind you wear. The kind that are soft and comfy and are perfect for showing off your passion for cycling in the mountains; pre-ride, post-ride or just ‘cuz.

THE gear has been tested extensively, especially the bibs, jerseys and vests. In the cold. In the heat. In the wind. On century rides (including the Deathride). We’ve worn it and in some cases worn it out – in a good way. Cycling clothing does wear out and IMHO good gear wears out before it rips, tears or frays. That’s certainly been my experience.

ADMITTEDLY, our store has been a long time coming. Too long, in fact. Nonetheless I’ve finally gotten off my backside and gotten ‘er done.

NOW it’s your turn.

IDEALLY buy some stuff (you can find the store link on the top right corner) and help us continue to support the cycling cause here in Markleeville.

I’D also like your feedback since I am kinda new at this online store thing. Do you have any suggestions as to how to improve the store? Are the prices right? Is the shipping reasonable? Etc., etc.

Would love to know that you think!

LASTLY, we need to make room for the new Pedal Mafia kits that should be here next month.

AS you may have read in our Deathride Dreaming post in June, we are changing tacks and going with the P.M. kits. They too have been tested. In fact, I just wore one yesterday and they are oh so comfortable.

And we’ll have caps and jackets to go along with the bibs, jerseys and vests!

LOOKING forward to seeing those colors on you! Order away and I promise I’ll get them shipped out to you as fast as possible; more easily done now that our humble little Markleeville Post Office is again open.

THANKS in advance.

Ride on, be safe, stay healthy and to quote Lester Holt: “Take care of yourself, and each other.”

Riding in the Mountains? Can I Give You A Few Unsolicited Bits of Advice?

THESE nuggets of wisdom are of the mechanical kind, as opposed to weather, clothing, climbing and other such tidbits I’ve blogged about in the past. When riding in the mountains or hills, really anywhere for that matter, these are the additional things that I focus on since there is nothing worse than listening to your own, or someone elses, noisy velocipede, especially on long climbs and descents.

THE idea from this post came to me last week when I was riding in South Lake Tahoe with a friend of mine and “that annoying rattle” reared its ugly head again.

Silence Those Rattles

nature animal reptile snake

LOOSE things rattle. Whether they be in your saddle bag, top-tube bag or jersey…Make them stop!

EVEN if you have grown accustomed to them your riding partners may not have.

DO yourself and your fellow riders a favor and quiet that bike where you can.

IN my case, that annoying rattle was my multi-tool in the seat bag. I thought I had fixed it but oh no, on that ride last Friday night it was back, like the Terminator. I had added some padding to the case the tool was in and figured that did it but as it turns out, upon further inspection I found one of the bolts had come loose.

A bit of tightening and ahhh, no more rattle.

CHECK for those unfastened, unattached or unsecured bolts, nuts, etc. and FASTEN, ATTACH and SECURE them.

Rattle and Hum is an astounding album; it’s the hum that should apply to our bikes, though, not the rattle, right?

‘NUF said.

Use Loctite

IN preparing the cockpit for filming I picked up a K-EDGE mount for Blue, one of my faithful steeds. It only took a couple rides of the Diamond Valley Loop to get that thing a rattlin’. Loctite to the rescue.

I’VE ridden hundreds of miles since applying the high strength version (and it’s been in my workbench for YEARS) and that mount has not loosened. At all.

THIS stuff, or some threadlocker like it, is gold.

Prepare for Bad Roads

ROADS here in the Sierra Nevada, as well as many, if not all of the coastal hills in which I’ve ridden, are generally crappy. Water, snow, heat, and those pesky vehicles 😉 all take their toll.

THINK about reducing tire pressure, adding dropper seatposts with suspension, or as my friend Mike did on his gravel bike, augment your trusty steed with a suspension stem.

TIRE size is another consideration. I rode 23mm tires for many years but switched to 25mm rubber rings a couple years back. The ride is more plush.

I could even go bigger.

AND as for tire pressure…higher pressure isn’t always better. I ride Continental Grand Prix 5000s and while the max pressure is listed at 120 PSI (8.5 BAR), the recommended pressure is listed as 95 PSI and 6.5 BAR. I pump up the rear tire to 90 PSI and the front to 80 PSI. And I’m a big boy at 230 lbs (104.55 kg for you metric-geeks)!

Keep Things Clean and Lubed

WHEN you can hear the chain, it’s time to lube it. Or perhaps replace it. Use that chain-checker! I use mine all the time but Jay at Big Daddy’s keeps catching me with bad chains nonetheless. I’ll try to do better, Jay.

I don’t do a good job keeping my bikes clean. I have to do better there as well. So, do what I say, not what I do. Keep it clean, like a Virgo would. You didn’t know that about Virgos? Ask my former roomie.

closeup and selective focus photography of toothbrush with toothpaste

GIVE that guy a bathroom and a toothbrush…Sparkling, let me tell ya!

SERIOUSLY, though, over a long ride, especially during a long ride, those squeaks, squeals, screeches and scrapes can be irritating for you, your riding companions and your bike.

TAKE some time (I’m talking to you, Mark) and lube that shit, will ya?

LUBE? you ask. Keith and Jay (and I) recommend Boeshield T-9. It’s not as neat and tidy as a wax job (Scott reminds me of this often) but it’s a helluva lot easier. Again, if you can hear that chain, it’s time to lube it. If you notice sluggish shifting or your trim just doesn’t seem to trim, it could be time to replace it.

Smiling and ready to race on rattle free, lubed, quiet, clean, bikes! Helmet adjustments needed prior to dust-off, though.

Alrighty, then. I hope you, and your friends and family, found these suggestions helpful, thought-provoking and on-point.

GOT some of your own? Share ’em! Please.

Memory Lane?

Click here for a post about cycling in the sierra and here for yet another, this one about climbing mountain passes.

THANKS for reading.

STAY healthy; if it’s smoky outside, ride inside; be safe, and most importantly enjoy the ride (on a quiet bike).

What’s the Number One Rule of Cycling? It’s Not What You Think

IT’S “If it’s not on Strava it didn’t happen.”

Last week was a week of climbing here in Markleeville. In honor of the Deathride I did three of the five climbs of the legacy DR (i.e. with Carson Pass). Virtually. On Fulgaz. And yes indeedy, I do plan to do the other two this week.

Without high-speed (ahem – even when we have internet here in Markleeville I wouldn’t call it “high-speed”) internet, though. Thanks to a previous hint, courtesy of Fulgaz during its French Tour, I had downloaded all the climbs to my Apple TV (ATV) so I could ride them w/o internet connectivity. Note to self: When our super-fast DSL is back online, download a bunch more rides for future use.

I had to chuckle after ride number 2. Changed kits for the next one and this thought, with the associated Tom Hanks voice, came into my head: “There’s no coasting in (on?) Fulgaz.” Just like there’s no crying in baseball. Well I guess I could have done some coasting on those downsides of the rollers but I was too busy building up speed for the upcoming upsides!

Bad Air = Ride Inside

WITH all the smoke about from the wildfires I’m not really too excited about riding outside. I was able to get a couple rides in the week before last, in the blue-mountain air, but sadly, not so this week.

Not quite as pretty as it usually is at El Dorado Beach (South Lake Tahoe) That wildfire smoke is having a regional impact.

OKAY, so anyway…Friday was Carson Pass with its just over 3000′ of climbing, pain cave fans, and portable A/C, a blazin’! Was a hard ride; I pushed it. Sunday last I did two (2) more. Ebbett’s South (from Hermit Valley up to the pass) and after a short break, Ebbett’s North from Monitor Junction to the top. Those bad boys gave me another 4700′ of climbing.

AND earlier in the week I did one easy ride on Fulgaz, but it did give me another 719 feet of climbing. Hey, it all counts damn it!

Why Am I Telling You This?

I’LL get to the point. After we realized we wouldn’t have our bad-ass internet for awhile we went out and bought our fine-selves a cell-signal booster. Works pretty well. Went from two bars to three, or four. Smart guy here…Just keep reading…Tethered my cell iPad to the computer. Functional. Irritating, especially at certain times of the day, but functional.

I could blog. As long as I didn’t upload photos. That I had to do up at Whorehouse Flats. Yes, you read that correctly. ‘Twas apparently named thusly because there was a house of ill repute located there back in the day. In any case, it has a direct line of sight to Hawkins Peak, where the (only) Verizon cell tower is located, and so there I can upload images. Even though I have the same number of bars as I do at home with the so-called boosted signal.

SIDE NOTE: WHY, pray tell, does it seem to not boost when it’s really, really, supposed to frickin’ boost? Huh? Riddle me that, Batman!

ANYWAY, I’m telling you this to explain the constraints we’re under here without reliable internet. How the hell am I supposed to function without it? How am I supposed to sync my photos; upload my recent cycling quests to Strava; update Fitness Pal with the day’s caloric intake and hydration? C’mon man! It’s impossible and it’s just not fair.

The Gauntlet has Been Thrown Down

SO, here I was, a new member of Chris’s recent Sparks Cycling Challenge Group on Strava, of which the goal is 30000 feet by the end of the month, and I was sucking wind (or more appropriately writ perhaps, sucking elevation), but only because I hadn’t uploaded the past week’s rides! A ha! I had an idea.

I’LL just change my network settings and connect my ATV to my super-boosted iPad (now you’ll understand what I meant earlier about smart guy…) and upload them. Nope. Apple TV won’t recognize a cell hotspot. Makes sense I guess; too much bandwidth needed.

WAIT, I’ll upload them from my FulGaz app. on my iPad. Uh, no, I didn’t download them there. Smart guy downloaded them to the ATV.

WHAT’S next? This week I’m going to take the ATV into South Lake (Tahoe, that is) where I got a really sweet deal at Cowork Tahoe and rented a desk for a month (it’s a pretty cool place as it turns out) so I could do those parts of my job that require FAST internet (meetings, video-conferences, important ca-ca like that…).

I should be able to connect it to the WiFi there, and upload my rides to Strava so I can prove myself worthy. Key word = should. Another should…I should (would) be in 3rd place a/o today had my big week of climbing last week been included.

BUT you know what? If it’s not on Strava it didn’t happen!

WE’RE supposed to have our super fast Markleeville internet back sometime before the end of the month. Until then it’s gadget hell. No Netflix. No Apple Plus. No Zwift workouts. No Fulgaz real-time rides. And most put-offingly, no Strava.

I guess if nothing else I can manually enter those rides but that feels like the easy way out, so I shall continue my quest. Maybe. I’m wearing myself out and perhaps I should instead save that energy for the bike.

For Related Musings…

Click here to read a previous post that, now that I look back, was a bit of foreshadowing to my latest travails.

Click here to read more about the Tour of the California Alps (aka the Deathride) climbs and other routes I filmed for Fulgaz.

Click here for a trip down memory lane and a post with some riding and hiking options here in Alpine Co., once the perverbial smoke clears that is – no parking or camping allowed on the local highways currently due to the ongoing Tamarack Fire.

AND a not so related musing but I wanted to share it nonetheless. In last week’s post I wrote briefly about the animal oasis here in the middle of the charred forest. Here’s more evidence of that:

STAY safe, watch out for bears, be good to yourself and others, and let’s kick some passes’ asses! Preferrably the non-smoky ones.