Month: January 2022

How Can You Support Cycling in the California Alps? – Here Are Five Ways!

THE California Alps comprise the chunk of the Sierra Nevada from Mammoth to So. Lake Tahoe, at least that’s what I remember reading early on in our “tenure” here in Markleeville. However, in my Google search just today I found instead at least two (2) articles that pinpoint it more specifically to our headquarters here in Alpine County.

ELIZABETH Zach, of Sacramento Magazine wrote this in March of 2018:

But the so-called California Alps, which border stunning Hope Valley south of Lake Tahoe, are just as stupendous, and you wonโ€™t break the bank getting there, either. With just two people per square mile, and with 96 percent of the land set aside for public use, Alpine County has bragging rights to secluded lakes, killer peaks, grassy valleys and hiking amid steep canyons and through lush forests.

THAT’S definitely true, that “secluded lakes, killer peaks, etc.” part. What Ms. Zach neglects to mention though, is the world-class riding to be had amidst these dramatic settings.

That’s me next to one of those secluded lakes (Kinney Reservoir) which was still frozen over, as you can see, in the spring of 2020.

ALPINE County earned its moniker, per Wikipedia, “due to its resemblance to the Swiss Alps.” Let’s keep in mind though, that the Washoe People were here thousands of years before white settlers did that naming.

WHILE “Cycling” is our last name, we’re not just about road cycling. We’re about anything bike related, and as you may have noticed from of our previous posts, we’re also about hiking, birding, snowshoeing and more.

FOR the purposes of this post then I’ll focus primarly on our stomping grounds in and around Markleeville, yet in my mind the following suggestions translate well to other communities, other non-profits (and “profits” if you will) and other sports, too.

Numero Uno – Advocate and Represent

BE a part of the community. Represent bike riders and bike riding. Respect nature and your neighbors. Our mission speaks to our mission yet if I may be so bold, these principles apply worldwide.

  • Spread the gospel of cycling (all types of cycling).
  • Advocate for cycling and the outdoors.
  • Help the communities in which we live, work and ride.
  • Kick ass on the bike. Let me clarify…I’m talking riding with passion while honoring the sport of cycling, not riding like a knucklehead, breaking the law or being an aggressive a’hole.
  • Have fun off the bike. Yeah, have fun on the bike, too.
  • Provide helpful, timely and valuable information about where to ride, eat, sleep and adventure.
  • Be kind, compassionate and environmentally friendly. ALWAYS.

Numero Dos – Support Local/Area Infrastructure

SPEND your money at local establishments (that ol’ shop local) when you’re in the area. Stop by that general store – sadly, ours is still closed due to repairs and re-stocking problems because of the Tamarack Fire and pandemic related supply chain issues, but should open soon – eat at that local pub or sandwich shop or grab an espresso at the local cafe.

We “own” and clean a three-mile stretch of Highway 89 between Turtle Rock Park and Camp Markleeville, and have for several years now.

Coincidentally, Alta Alpina Cycling Club “owns” one of the other sections on the highway, right next to ours.

How about you? Do you participate in local clean-ups, Earth Days and the like? If so, big kudos. If you don’t, or haven’t yet, please consider doing so!

Numero Tres – Join Local Cycling Clubs or Coalitions

MOTHERLODE Bicycle Coalition is one such option. Alta Alpina, link above, is another. We too, have a membership component. Dues/fees are usually very low (ours are only $40.00 annually) and those ducats help support not only the the club or organization, but also the communities around them. Most of the dues money we collect goes to the Alpine County Friends of the Library, Friends of Hope Valley, Alpine Watershed Group and others. Cycling clubs, at least those that I’m familiar with, as you may have guessed, aren’t in it for the dinero. We’re certainly not. It’s much more about “the mission.”

Numero Quatro – Partake In Local Rides

WEEKLY rides, memorial rides, organized rides; you name it. The Deathride, Mr. Frogs Wild Ride, The Mammoth Gran Fondo and America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride are some examples of BIG, organized rides. Big Daddy’s in Gardnerville, NV, a major supporter of bike riding in and around the area, has a weekly ride. Alta Alpina also hosts regular rides.

HERE at California Alps Cycling we have yet to start any sort of regular ride. No doubt we need to, and it’s on my list. Stay tuned. I’m thinking I’ll get my act together this spring.

ARE there local rides that you can participate in; not just by riding, but by volunteering, perhaps? And if you already do partake of local pedaling, consider bringing snacks or coffee to your next ride. Maybe donate some socks, or neck-thingys, or what have you.

YOU don’t have to be on the bike to give back to biking.

Numero Cinco – Buy From Clubs and Non-Profits

including ours! Admittedly, I’ve had a hard time moving my merch and based on what I’ve seen and heard from other organizations, I’m not the only one. The profit-margin on tees, jerseys, bibs and the like is low and pricing sometimes reflects that (a little higher than non-branded stuff) and so I think that scares some people off.

WE didn’t do our kits and tees to make money; it was/is about brand recognition and area awareness/advocacy. I started CAC for that reason: to make people aware of the beauty, diversity and all around great riding in the area. I’m definitely not in it for the money. Still, my accountant regulary reminds me that I don’t need to take a loss every year either. So far, however, that’s been my modus operandi. No profit here.

Maybe after I retire from that day job I can fulfill my BHAG (big hairy audacious goal) of making money by riding, perhaps by providing tours and such.

IN the meantime, if you have some disposable income, we’d love it if you’d give us some. It’s a win-win.

WE can continue to give back to our alpine community and you can get some cool gear.

THERE’S a link to our online store in our menu above or you can just click here and head right on in!

So There You Have It

FIVE (5) suggestions as to how to give back to the places where you live, work and ride.

Comment on this post with your thoughts, and if you are already doing something towards this end, tell us and we’ll send you a tee!

It’s a write-off you know. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Sightseeing From Your Pain Cave – And a Shared Experience

RECENTLY, Mrs. California Alps Cycling has taken a shine to my KICKR and the Fulgaz account connected thereto, and has been doing some sightseeing in preparation for this year’s Tour de France.

WHILE she’s been jumping on the trainer here and there for a few weeks, it hasn’t been until recently that she has really become aware of a benefit of riding in the pain cave she hadn’t paid attention to before: sightseeing!

SURE we get to see some amazing scenery here where we ride (as I suspect you do too), as witnessed by the image at the top of this post, but to be able to ride inside and not just watch sports, or cooking shows, or your avatar, or all of those avatars in front of you for that matter, is a game-changer.

INSTEAD, you get some fascinating glimpses of other parts of the world, and the people in them going about their daily lives.

Rode this one the other day as a cool down. After a harder, longer ride on Zwift.
Later that day, at my recommendation, Mrs. CAC road part of it.

FOR my wife, it’s been an almost transcendent experience.

SHE now looks forward to getting on the bike and checking out a new locale. It also has given her renewed motivation; some days she saves the ride for later and then resumes it the next day so she can get farther into the course or conquer that little roller that she didn’t have the poop to conquer the previous day.

FOR me, though, it’s always been about the workouts. As you know, I’ve spent countless hours on the trainer, in that pain-cave, either on Zwift or Fulgaz, getting my groove on.

Icicles outside? Riding inside!

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed the scenery, whether it be real or virtual, and the air guitar sessions are pretty righteous, but until until my wife started sharing her perspective (e.g. the interesting buidlings, the pretty flowers, the people walking nearby), I’d never thought of it as a way to sightsee.

THAT shared experience is perhaps that best ROI, though. We’ve been enjoying recounting our adventures with each other. She doesn’t glaze over quite so easily when I start talking watts and rollers and I have a renewed sense of appreciation of my surroundings, albeit virtual ones, and even find myself craning my neck to see things on the screen I wouldn’t normally notice.

I’VE even caught myself waving to the locals and other cyclists!

Next Steps?

WE’RE going to get my “other-half” and fellow tourist her own Fulgaz account and she’s already talking about budgeting for her own trainer so we don’t have to switch bikes so often.

EVEN better, we’ll be able to ride some of the routes together! Fulgaz does have a group ride option!

Kudos for us at the end of that Pingvallavatn ride.

SO, if someone you know needs a little incentive, or you just want to share more of what you love, maybe you need to show them some love and go on a little day trip together somewhere in France, or Africa, or Australia.

YOU choose!

Thinking of a FatBike Foray in the California Alps? – Here’s What I Learned

LET’S put this on the table right away…I am a fatike neophyte so definitely take what I’m about to tell you in that context. Please. Still, I do know a bit about the local conditions so a little of what I learned during last week’s adventure was somewhat of a surprise.

T’WAS a crisp and clear morning last Monday as I provided the plan to Mrs. California Alps (always have a plan, including return time and such) and then headed out to Monitor Junction on Farley the Faithful. It was about 30 degrees fahrenheit at departure.

First Lessons, Grasshopper

Fatbikes are kinda slow. Sorry Farley. But they (you) are. Having done that ride out to Monitor Junction hundreds of times prior on a much faster roadbike, it was a bit agonizing. We didn’t want a shuttle out there, though; after all, it was a weekday and we wanted to take advantage of the fact there was no traffic – not hardly a car, and not one snowmobile, to be seen.

I was surprised by how hard it was to peddle over the washboardy snow. And it was a bit like riding in sand in some parts, too. Traction was an issue; fishtailing and pedaling at high-revs for almost the entire time, though, I was able to stay upright. For the most part. ๐Ÿ˜‰

CHECK out this one-minute video for a visual glimpse, and auditory gander…

Heading north, back towards Markleeville, on Hwy. 4, about 2 miles from Monitor Junction.

What I Wore

I decided to go with the same gear I would use in frigid weather on the road bike. Here’s my list:

  • Castelli NanoFlex cold weather tights – not sure of the exact model
  • DeFeet Woolie Boolie socks (plus an additional hiking sock)
  • Castelli Rosso Corso cold weather long sleeve jersey – again, not sure of the model but it had those wetsuit/waffle-like panels in front (see image below)
  • Pearl Izumi Gloves – thick suckers they were, and plenty warm
  • Neck thingy – Yeah, Castelli
  • Craft skull cap with Gore windstopper panels
  • Giro helmet with visor
  • Camelback Mule (no, the water in the exposed hose did not freeze)

Specific boots, however, I did not have. My Lowa hiking boots – waterproofed of course (the same boots I wear snowshoeing) – however, did the trick. You definitely need boots for those times you have to get off the bike, which for me, notwithstanding a couple nature-breaks, was due to some deep patches of snow and one or two gawking-stops.

Me and Farley at the turnaround, at the bridge on the East Fork of the Carson River.

THE night before the ride I picked up some good tips, at it turns out, from fat-bike.com. I think I’ll put some of those Lake MXZ400 boots on my wish list. If I can find a pair of 50’s, that is.
Editors note: I ride Lake shoes on the road bike and just love their fit, comfort and Speedplay compatibility.

Biggest Takeaways?

  • Riding in the snow is not as easy at it looks
  • Snowshoeing gear, cold weather cycling gear, etc., works well (hey, east coast, midwest friends, I know you’ve got advice. Lay it on us!)
  • The ROI is well worth it. On a bike, in the snow, on a day like that…Priceless!

IF you’re a Fulgaz subscriber, by the way, be on the lookout!

I filmed the entire ride, from Monitor Junction to the bridge and back, and then back to Markleeville. About 10 miles (not all in the snow, but lots of “snow views”).

WE leave you with these parting shots and the promise that we’ll continue to hone our skills with the hopes that we can provide more fatbiking adventure stories in the white stuff in the near future.

BE safe, stay healthy and have a great week!

Begin the New Year With a Bang – Start Your Training For This Summer’s Deathride

REGISTRATION for the 2022 Deathride – Tour of the California Alps has opened! I’m already registered (first thing yesterday morning) and today begins the start of my training; primarily for this “Grandaddy of Them All,” but also for Stetina’s Paydirt (May 21st), and later in the year, the Mammoth Gran Fondo (September 10th).

Challenge yourself to the premier cycling event in California. ย The route offers over 14,000′ of climbing, ย 103 miles, and up to six (6) HC Alpine climbs. ย This ride is sure to challenge you, inspire you, and leave you wanting more.

I penned a post in November about what we at the Alpine County Chamber of Commerce hope will be a successful third try at the 40th Annual Tour so if you are perhaps looking for more inspiration, or a bit of addtional information, give it a look-see.

FOR me personally it’s time to shed some of those winter layers of lard, or at least start the rendering process. I took a rest day yesterday, somewhat forced due to the overnindulgence of the night before, and so today begins the work.

Signs of things past; and things to come…

IT was a travesty of epic proportions, last year’s cancellation, yet we have weathered the storm (figuratively and literally) here in Alpine Co. That’s not to say the drama is done by any means, what with Omicron raging, winter fires in Colorado and so much more angst, and anger, throughout our world.

STILL, our Alpine Co. communities have risen to the challenge, as have so many more, and have refused to give in or give up. We continue to bang our heads against the wall, if you will, but we, like you I suspect, have hard heads.

SO let’s get to it and approach the day, the training, and the year, as Coach Harbaugh would say, with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind.

THOSE passes are calling, after all.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!