Category: advocacy

RAC ‘Em Up For The New Year! California Alps Forests Projects That Is

THE Alpine County Resource Advisory Committee held its first meeting in November. The “RAC” as it’s referred to, was convened by the Carson Ranger District and it consists of individuals who represent specific interests in the Alpine County area of the California Alps region of the Sierra Nevada.

THOSE specific interests, and those reps when appointed (after being recommended by local USFS personnel) are placed into certain categories, e.g., commercial recreational activities; commercial or recreational fishing groups; regionally or locally recogonized enviromental organizations; Native American tribes, etc., in order to bring broad ranging backgrounds, perspectives and abilities to the Committee.

CATEGORY A includes “Developed Outdoor Recreation, Off-Highway Vehicle Users, or Commercial Recreation Activities” and that’s where I, and hopefully you too, come in.

REPRESENTING hikers, bikers, OHVers and other recreaters — not re-creators 😉 — (ref. Cat. A lingo above) is now my privilege, I’m happy to write, as I am one of the thirteen (13) appointed public members of the RAC. Thanks, Secretary Vilsack!

 The purpose of each RAC is to improve collaborative relationships among the people that use and care for the National Forests and to provide advice and recommendations to the Forest Service concerning projects and funding consistent with Title II of the SRS Act. 

 Excerpted from United States Forest Service, Secure Rural Schools Advisory Committees, CHARTER 

From The Title II Guide…

THE funds may be used for projects that have broad-based support and with objectives that include:

  • road, trail, and infrastructure maintenance or obliteration
  • soil productivity improvement
  • forest ecosystem health improvements
  • watershed restoration and maintenance
  • wildlife and fish habitat restoration, maintenance, and improvement
  • noxious and exotic weeds control
  • native species re-establishment
Forest health in the California Alps can benefit from the Alpine Co. RAC.

OUR RAC advises on, and recommends for, projects in Alpine County, in the Eldorado, Stanislaus and Toiyabe National Forests, so it’s a wonderful opportunity to obtain some funding for various projects that benefit these forests within our little county.

Per David Griffith, of the Alpine Biomass Collaborative: “possible project ideas could include such things as trail and trailhead improvements, toilets, campgrounds and campground improvements, new or improved signage etc.”

CURRENTLY there is approximately $200,000.00 available with an possiblity of $15-30k per year after that. Projects must be submitted by February 1, 2023 at 4:30 p.m. in order to be considered for this round, which ends in June of 2023 (FY 2022-2023).

Benefitting More Than Just U.S. Forest Service Land

Matt Dickinson, Sierra Zone GIS Specialist for the Carson District, explains it this way: “In the language of the actual law, there is no indication that it is only Forest Service lands. So, [the RAC] should be able to approve projects if they show a benefit to any federal land.”

Criteria for projects in the California Alps related to the Alpine County Resource Advisory Committee.

OUR goal is to get as oodles and oodles of projects submitted so that we have a robust, perpetual list on which to vote. Since the initiative is ongoing projects that don’t get chosen initially can be considered in future years, so why not have as many in our back pockets as we can, right?

Projects Approved How?

HERE’S Matt again…

  • There has to be a quorum of members in order to recommend projects.
  • To move a project forward there would have to be a majority vote of yes within each of the three membership categories.  If any one of the three groups votes no then the project does not move forward, as required by the committee charter.
  • Funding would need to be decided by a simple majority of members.  The options for funding include – fully fund the project; fund only a portion of the project; fund only a portion of the project now, but recommend the remaining funds be approved if additional funding becomes available; or recommend a project for funding above the amount requested if the project has the capacity.
  • Finally, by a majority vote, projects would need to be ranked in order to determine the priority of which projects get funding with the current funds available and which ones would be funded first when more money becomes available.   

OUR next meeting is February 28, 2023 and it’s at that meeting that we will begin the vetting process and vote on projects that have been submitted to date.

HERE are links to the forms you’ll need:

For more information or to submit a project idea contact Brian Peters (RAC Chairperson), bwpeters1@gmail.com, or Matt Dickinson, Matthew.Dickinson@usda.gov, or 775-884-8154. 

SO, spread the word! Share a link to this post on your social media. Part of an organization that could benefit from a project or projects? Let your leadership know. Know someone or some group that fits the bill? Give ’em a heads up.

THANKS and have a great 2023! Let’s start it off with a big bang for our CA Alps forests.

Submit your project ideas today!

Siloing in the Sierra. Or, Trying to Reach Enlightenment. Or, Hey, Can We Have a Convo?

THINKING differently? Re-focusing our energy holistically? Integrating? Teaming up? How do we harmonize our efforts and what would the focus of those efforts be? Here at California Alps Cycling I sometimes forget that part of our mission is to “advocate for cycling AND the outdoors.” That “and” is the important part, and over the last several months some of the organizations for which I volunteer have started working towards that end. Many of us have begun (ok, some like ESSRP got there long ago) to realize that we all have one thing in common: the Sierra. There’s that focal-point.

IT’S a different way of thinking for me and it comes from my experiences (some of you have had similar ones I suspect) during the last fifteen years or so of my professional life. Working in silos, or trying not too, is one of the corporate world’s most vexing problems. And one day it hit me. We’re doing that here too in some ways. I hear what you’re thinking. DUH, it’s not just a corporate problem, Mark.

TRAILS associations focusing on trails built just for hiking, for example. Bike coalitions slightly missing the mark about OHVers, groups that often have more political clout, and have shared goals with their two-wheel brethren. Mountain bikers and gravel riders perhaps not contemplating that rock climbers, and cowboys (cow-persons? Too woke? Tee, hee.) use the same trails they do, and so by building to “their specs” in addition to “bike specs” we end up preserving, and serving (stewardship…yeah, baby) that same common ground with one common voice, for similar needs.

THE needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Or the one, right?

RECENTLY, I caught myself missing the mark. Forgive the self-gratifying pun. During the last couple of District 10 Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (D-10 BPAC) meetings I was championing an idea of Becky DeForest’s, former director of the Alpine Co. Chamber of Commerce. She suggested the committee consider opening the gates on Hwy. 4 and Hwy. 89 (Ebbett’s and Monitor, respectively) for cyclists and pedestrians AFTER the snow has been cleared but BEFORE the gates were opened to vehicles. We’ve had, and continue to have, some great back & forth on this subject and we’re not done quite yet. My point, though, is about snowmobiling on those same roads and my thougthlessness in first seeking to understand before being understood. Said I during one meeting, “They get to use the roads when the gates are closed but we don’t. Isn’t that a double standard?”

Road closed sign and open gate showing snowmobile tracks on highway 4 in alpine county. ebbetts pass. markleeville

TURNS out ‘bilers have to get permits. So maybe the answer, I realized, is a permit process for bikes and peds too? We’ve got more in common than we don’t, and in many instances we cyclists, hikers, snowshoers and walkers share those same roads. How can we work together to further our common goals rather than work in those dang silos? That should have been my question and it took one of Caltran’s operations gurus to make me see the error of my ways.

NONE of this is malicious. In fact, just the opposite. Most volunteer groups are just so uber-focused on their missions. Their visions. For any of these groups that build and maintain trails and gravel it’s even more important to have that global view. Read this post, by the way, for some insight on that.

monk holding a prayer beads while looking afar

ENJOYING the outdoors isn’t partisan either is it? Being good stewards of the land isn’t blue or red, right?

NOW, we’re not there yet. Un-siloing that is, but I feel a bit of a shift. At least in the organizations in which I volunteer.

In order to further that endeavor, 😉 I did a bit of googling and came across this handy list of ways to “conquer silo mentality,” courtesy of engagebay:

  • Nurture a Unified Vision
  • Use Collaboration Tools
  • Improve Socializing and Cooperation in the Workplace
  • Encourage Remote Work
  • Define Shared Accountabilities
  • Set Common Goals
  • Create Cross-Functional Teams

IS it just me or could we apply some of these principles not only to our volunteer work but also to, oh I don’t know, our interactions with our neighbors? Could we make some progress in Congress if we embraced some of these principles?

C’mon, man, this isn’t The Twighlight Zone.

ACTUALLY, it is. We’ve lost the art, definitely so in the political arena, of civil discourse. I’m seeing and hearing some of that locally, too, on an issue that’s on the ballot next week. It’s getting personal and it shouldn’t be. Disagreement shouldn’t mean disassociation. We’d make a lot more progress if we all left some of our own personal baggage out of the conversation.

FIRST, though, we need to have that conversation. On so many fronts and on so many different levels. Honestly, I’m not quite sure why I wrote this post and admittedly it is a bit of a rambler. Some self-serving cathartics I guess. One of the benefits of having a blog. You can technicolor yawn your feelings onto the page if you’re so inclined.

AS I think about it, it is from a bit of reflection (and drug-induced haze?) on my recent prostate surgery. Bam, just thought I’d slip that in there. Last Wednesday it was and as I write this post I’m still dealing with the post-op fun, and I know there’s more to follow. Yet I can’t help but be grateful for the fact that in the end it was, among other things, a unified vision between my doctors to address my issue (BPH), collobaration between different offices to get to the RIGHT OUTCOME (aquablation), and cross-functional teams (surgeons, doctors, nurses, dieticians, etc.) that helped me, and will continue to help me, heal. I’ll follow up on my progess, and if you are also a BPH-suffering-cyclist, maybe a future post, or this past one, will add some value.

OKAY, I hope all of this resonates with you in some way and I do thank you for indulging me. If it does strike a chord with your fine self then there’s some common ground RIGHT THERE that WE can pay forward. And if it doesn’t that’s okay too.

HAVE a gnarly, super-excellent, scary day tomorrow and…

HOW about let’s throw some ideas in the air with some friends (old ones, or new)? Something spooky-good may come down?

man holiday love people

Advocacy. Bikes. Community. Our New Tagline and a Renewed Purpose

WHEN we formed California Alps Cycling in 2017 the reason for doing so was a simple one: how do we share the beauty, diversity and amazing outdoor opportunities this area has to offer?

I had always enjoyed writing. I’ve practiced it since elementary school, thanks to Mom; and got another dose of “scrivinerspiration” a bit later in life, in junior high, thanks to Mrs. Giacomazzi. Working in the legal field my entire adult life also helped stoke the bug. I still chuckle today at the memory of one particular teacher at Lincoln Law School (I only did a year), Judge James Ware, who in our first class together urged us to write like normal people, without too many heretofores and whereafters. LOL.

SO that monkey had been on my back for awhile, and I had been wanting to start a blog, so the idea of this blog came to mind.

clear light bulb on black surface

THAT idea further coalesced when my wife and I had a conversation on our way to Gardnerville (Nevada) for a doctor’s appointment.

While she was in that appointment I took the first step and reserved the California Alps Cycling URL.

SINCE then I’ve ridden thousands of miles here in our beloved Alpine county and written thousands of words here in the CAC blog.

WE’VE done many days of adoptin‘ and many weekend clean-ups. I’ve spent many weeknights and weekends volunteering (and the associated off-line hours that comes with that) on various boards and committees while at the same time not really understanding the direction I was truly headed.

I guess you could say I was conflicted, or rudderless perhaps is a better description. Not seeing the sign(s), maybe, not paying attention to what the universe was trying to tell me; thinking at one point that I might open a shop, or run tours. Wait, still willing to do that. Now or when I retire. 😉

photo of pathway surrounded by fir trees

EARLY on I also had dreams of perhaps making a living selling really cool, Alps-branded gear. I still sell the gear but I’ve come to realize it’s about the brand, it’s been about the brand, and not necessarly the CAC brand, but the alps brand, the alpine brand, the Sierra Nevada brand, the giving-back-to-the-community-and-surrounds brand.

I’M fortunate enough to have a great employer that among other things, promotes work-life balance. It’s because of my job, I often remind myself, that I can continue to give back to this place that has such a special aura.

LIKE I wrote in my last post, this place needs our help and that help comes from many sources.

Looking west towards Poor Boy Road from Hwy. 89. cleared and many burned ones still standing. Photo taken this past spring.

BTW, when I write “this place” I’m referring to the Sierra Nevada, and not just to the east slope of the Sierra, but the west slope too. And the foothills, which run for hundreds of miles on that west slope, the portion of which just west of us here coincidentally, is known as the “Motherlode.”

Motherlode Bicycle Coaltion

IT was my recent interactions with Rob Williams, Ben Cook and Todd Berg, board members of MLBC, that truly got those turbines to turn, if you will. Rob (Motherlode’s founder) and I have worked together on the District 10 Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) this past year and we’ve had many conversations around events like the Deathride, Mr. Frog’s Wilde Ride and the Ride & Walk 4 Art. Riding bikes, grandkids (his), cats (mine), Markleeville, e-Bikes, gravel riding, and other subjects have been bantied about, too.

AND so it was I found myself talking to Ben and Todd a couple weeks ago while I was in San Jose on a business trip. “Rob said you may be interested in joining our board”, said Ben. That took me a bit by surprise because I had told Rob I’d be willing to get involved. But hey, when you raise your hand and volunteer…

WE three (Ben, Todd and I) hit it off, though, and an invite to Motherlode’s Vision Session would be forthcoming. They held that “vision quest”, as I called it, just last Tuesday. I’d just come from another community meeting, after an arduous workday, and was a bit worn out. I joined virtually, as did a few others, but the majority of the group went to Carl’s house in Columbia. It didn’t take long for the energy in the room to consume me, and the rest of the group.

PART of the meeting outcome was the concept of combining forces, as it were, by bringing Alpine County and the central Sierra into what Motherlode had already begun. Joining the “foothill fold” made so much sense and I was stoked to be able to be a part of something that we all hoped would have some serious legs.

NOW it’s not quite that simple. IT never is. It’s going to take some work (including my assigned homework). It always does.

IN my mind, though, I just saw THE SIGN.

WE (California Alps Cycling) needed to focus our energy differently. We needed to be, not just act like, a coalition. We needed to continue to build on what we had started even though until then we didn’t realize what that was. We needed to be that advocacy-focused, community-oriented, education-friendly organization that our Prana was telling us to be.

SO, as we continue to navigate away from that original retail model to something more like (maybe exactly like) a non-profit model, we’ll be changing things around a bit. A new look for our website, edits to some of our pages; an updated mission. All of these I suspect, and more.

MAYBE even a – gasp! – board of directors.

WHAT started as a getting-to-know-each-other conversation between my wife and I, at the home of two skeptical individuals who both later became friends, Fritz and Nancy Thornburg, has years later come into laser-focus. Now it’s up to us to execute.

WE’LL look to you dear readers, and local riders, and upstanding friends, and friendly advisors, and especially you conscientious contributers, to remind us of that from time to time.

Ps.

We’ll try not to be patronizing or preachy, and if we already have, for that we apologize. We also promise to continue writing about the groovy things that happen around here (and the not so groovy), as well as things to do, see and hear while you’re here, because without you we’d run out of volunteers. 😉

Lastly, just because “cycling” is in our name, that doesn’t mean we’re only about bikes. We promise to advocate for all responsible outdoor recreationists, especially you friendly OHVers who often look at Chris and me in confusion, yet frequently ask if we need anything, when you see us riding our gravel bikes where you drive your toys. Drive on, drivers!

Forest Health Here in the California Alps Is Scary – What Can We Do About It?

JUST last week Blue and I went on of our favorite rides – up to Raymond Meadow Creek, or more aptly where Raymond Meadow Creek crosses under Hwy. 4 (on the north side of Ebbetts Pass). We also hit up Wolf Creek Road (and got a 9th place cup on Strava!), another of our favorites.

I’VE ridden the first long segment of this particular ride somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 times. Similarly, I’ve ridden much of the area’s segments (thanks Strava for capturing that data) dozens and also in some cases, hundreds of times.

  • Ebbett’s north, nineteen (19) times.
  • Kingsbury Grade, nine (9) times.
  • Luther Pass, only four (4) times (on my bike). In the car I’ve done it hundreds of times – it’s the primary route to S. Lake Tahoe.
Before and after…pre-Tamarack Fire (when Roscoe was a road bike) on the left; post-Tamarack Fire on the right.
It’s important to note, too, the apparent healthy forest on the left, really isn’t. Too much understory and too crowded (among other things). Two big reasons that many of our forests, as well as so many others around the globe, have burned with the ferocity and intensity they have.

MRS. California Alps and I have been here almost six (6) years – October 28th is our six-year anniversary. We’ve seen much of the area over many different seasons, as you can imagine. Editors note: I must give a shout out to Mama (mine) California Alps – who’s been here since the summer of 2018.

My Point?

WELL, you’re probably with me already…Our forests are in trouble. We’ve known this for a long-time I suppose but these last couple of years it’s been even more apparent, or more aptly put (at least for us) it’s become outright scary.

The year before we came here it was the Washington Fire. That’s Colorado Hill, near Monitor Junction. It was burned in that fire and seven years later it still looks like this.

LAST year it was the Tamarack and the Caldor. And I’m only talking about the local fires. We’ve all seen it. It’s happening all over the world.

Climate Change Certainly Hasn’t Helped, Either

NOW I’m no academic. Some college but definitely no forestry-related education. I can’t talk to the trees. Okay I do but they don’t talk back. I do hug them, though. The rub here however, is that there are fewer of them to hug. Or in some rare instances, too many of them to hug.

The forests are not happy.
I have thousands of miles of riding around and in them to know it.
To feel it. To see it.
It’s changing.

AND so I found myself, after reading the NY Times guest essay “Yvon Chouinard Is the Founder of Patagonia. He’s Also My ‘Dirtbag’ Friend” thinking that Yvon Chouinard was way more than a mountain-stud, he was a gift to humanity for putting those buckets of Patagonia ducats where his boca is, as he has done for most of his life. When he announced that he was donating Patagonia’s ownership to a trust with profits earmarked to address climate change, I was touched. That, I thought, will make a difference.

HERE at California Alps Cycling we’re not quite as flush as Patagonia but we do what we can. I asked my myself could we do more though? We’ve given many a dollar to local non-profits, Calbike, USA Cycling, the California State Parks Foundation, and others. I suspect you’ve done much the same. Thank you, by the way.

LET’S be clear, however, “not quite as flush” means we make slightly more than zippo from our CAC Shop. It’s a labor of love and a way to spread the gospel of cycling and of the CA Alps. I still need, and truly love, my day job. Made even more special because I get to do it from here. It’s that job and Mrs. California Alp’s part-timer that sustains our Chalet.

HENCE my argument to Mrs. California Alps:

“This cause is a righteous one honey and since we really don’t make enough money from CAC to make a huge difference in our day-to-day, why not donate what we do make to the forest?”

MY biggest supporter, pictured above doing her turn at the booth earlier this year, agreed.

And so forests are going to be our cause.
Our local forests.
The H-T (Humboldt-Toiyabe); the Stanislaus, the El Dorado.
And perhaps others.

WE’VE set up a new page for that reason: Contribute to the Cause. You may have seen it on our navigation menu at the top of our website. Editor’s note: Stripe, the payment processor we use to take donations, is putting a percentage of their dough to climate change, so just a little more goes a little further.

TAKE a peak and if you can help, please do. Please spread the word, too, if you don’t mind. Whether it’s this cause or another, or perhaps a good article or book, or just to inform a friend or colleague.

SWEAT equity will remain a big part of what we’re about. Cleaning highways, building trails, volunteering our riding time for various causes and boards…Giving back to the communities where we live, work and ride. We’ll keep doing those things.

AND from now on, with your help, we’ll also spread a little more green to organizations and individuals that help that green.

STAY tuned for more information, and future reports on our efforts.

IN the meantime, if you want to learn more, please check out our friends at the Alpine Biomass Collaborative. They do more to educate us locals about forest health than anyone else, and their recent presentation by Dr. Malcolm North was another catalyst of the cause. They will be one of the new beneficiaries of our ours.

HOW about you? Ready to follow Yvon’s lead?

Markleeville Musings – Here and There on Hump Day

BLUE and I were on a ride just last week where I took this image of him goofing off a bit near Monitor Junction. ‘Twas a beautiful spring day and the excitement of getting outside took over so he made the leap up and hung out for a bit. 😉

A Bit Of Easter Anyone?

IT was wonderful to get together with family over the Easter holiday. First time the crew has made it up here to the heart of the California Alps since that virus reared its ugly head.

Exact opposite of ugly…

Our two Grand Nieces post-egg hunt. Was an awesome weekend of eats, walks, laughs and eggs. Hope you and yours had loads of bunny-fun, too!

Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC)

The goals of the D10 BPAC align with Caltrans’ core values: Engagement, Equity, Innovation, Integrity, and Pride, as well as Caltrans’ three foundational principles: Safety, Equity and Climate Action.

Bob Highfill – Public Information Officer, Caltrans District 10

CALTRANS District 10 hosted the second meeting of this groundbreaking committee on April 13th and yours truly did a presentation for the group about the Tamarack and Caldor Fires recovery efforts happening here in Alpine County.

BASED on comments in the chat (yup, was a virtual meeting), the presentation was an eye-opener for those who had not seen the damage, and was well received. Lots to do still, but lots has been done already, including some tree planting, seeding and of course dead tree 🙁 removal.

SPEAKING of tree planting…I’ll be joining a bunch of other volunteers this Sunday, May 1st, for another round of seedling sowing.

CONGRATS by the way to Charles Carroll, Associate Transportation Planner at District 10, on being elected Chair of the committee. Applause as well to Rob Williams, of the Motherlode Bicycle Coaltion, on being elected Vice-Chair.

CALTRANS’ Carson Transportation Management Systems Project

Speaking of Caltrans…It held a virual public meeting last week about this project, which “proposes to install traffic management systems and roadside safety improvements in and around the Kirkwood and Carson Pass area at 13 various locations in Amador, El Dorado, and Alpine Counties on State Routes 88, 89, and 4. The scope of work includes changeable message signs, streetlights, vehicle detection systems, closed-circuit television camera systems, roadway weather information systems, highway advisory radios, extinguishable message signs, and maintenance vehicle pullouts.”

SPEAKING of eye-opening…PUBLIC comment was vociferous, especially regarding the signage and the impact those signs would have on areas such as Hope Valley and Markleeville.

COMMENTS are due by May 2nd so if you have something to say about it, let Caltrans know.

Ebbetts And Monitor Passes

ON my ride last week (the same one that I snagged those pix of Blue playing hangbike) the gates were closed at Monitor Junction so no cars could make their way over the passes. Bikes on the other hand…

LET’S just say that I can understand why Hwy. 4 is still closed.

Levels of sediment and rocks showing on Hwy. 4, likely from the Carson as it cut its way through thousands of years ago. Rocks and boulders have come down and can be seen along the side of the highway.

Quite a bit of rockfall (the boulder detritus on the road is just out of frame in the pic. above) and some trees down on the road as well. Since we received some weather here recently I’m guessing there is still some snow up there to be cleared, too.

MRS. California Alps just got back from S. Lake Tahoe and she let me know that signage there indicates Monitor Pass is open. My bet is that Ebbetts will also open soon, perhaps this weekend.

Speaking Of Weather

I caught these quail sheltering from the snow last week. Can you say “hunkered down?”

Last But Not Least

IN yet another sign of spring we spotted this bruin heading towards town on Monday.

Looking pretty porky so early in the season I must say, but hey, that’s how I felt after Easter. Burp.

MY uncle and I spotted this violet springing forth from the ash while on a hike Easter Sunday near HQ.

Happy hump day to you! Have a great backslide into the weekend, and an even better weekend!

The 2022 Deathride is On! And Other Exciting News

LAST Thursday night, the Alpine County Planning Commission officially approved the permit for the 2022 Deathride – Tour of the California Alps!

WHILE it is somewhat of a formality, it’s a necessary and important step to keep things moving forward towards the big day on July 16th. It’s during this meeting that letters of support from various agencies and entities are provided, traffic plans are perused and various other milestones are addressed. The Commission also takes into consideration any public comments, good or bad, in its decision.

SOME public comment was received and it was constructive and positive – warning of the lay of the land (er…road) in and around the Chickaree turnaround (just east of Lake Alpine – where riders will flip a uey and head back up Pacific Grade and then over Ebbett’s Pass for the second time 😳) and suggesting among other things ample warning signage, yet fully supporting the new route. Our ride and event directors were on hand to hear the comments and there is a plan in place to address the concern.

THANKS to the uber-preparation by the Alpine County staff and the Alpine Co. Chamber’s Executive Director, the meeting went smoothly and the Commission had no issues with approving the permit.

LIKE I wrote back in November, fingers crossed that this third try will fly, and as I suggested in January, it’s time to start training for the big day. I myself just finished a 4-week FTP training plan yesterday and was pleased to see that ol’ FTP trending up (from 290 to 297).

MORE importantly, I realized that the Training Peaks plan that I followed would be a good guide for those final weeks leading up to the Deathride. Ramping up for the first three weeks where that third week was the hardest…Then doing some recovery rides and short V02 max workouts for the final week, but finishing the week with two FTP tests; one last Saturday (8 minute test) and one yesterday (full on 20 minute test).

Replace those FTP tests with the ride is what I’m thinking…

YEAH I hear ya though, “the DR” is a whole lot harder than a one-hour FTP test so maybe just recovery rides that final week, eh?

IN any case, we’re all excited, as I’m sure you are, to get things rolling in terms of cycling events. The first one of the season (in the Sierra at least) takes place on March 20th in Calaveras county.

Cyclists and walkers will enjoy the rolling green hills and rural roads of West Calaveras County during the Calaveras County Arts Council’s Sixth Annual Ride & Walk 4 Art on March 20, 2022. With three bicycle ride choices—30, 45, and 100 miles—or a 4.5 mile walk along the shores of New Hogan Lake—there’s something for everybody.

Mother Lode Bicycle Coalition’s post of January 25th

WE’LL be there! You coming?

That Other Exciting News

Speaking of Mother Lode…Rob Williams, chairman of MLBC, and yours truly (along with other cycling and pedestrian advocates within District 10) have recently become members of Caltrans’ District 10 Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC). We held our kick-off via WebEx on February 9th and there were over forty people in attendance! It was Caltrans’ idea, by the way, to engage with the community and it all started back in 2017.

FROM the BPAC Charter…

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) adopted the Statewide Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan: Toward an Active California in 2017 and the Mode Share Action Plan 2.0 in 2020, demonstrating a deep commitment to plan, design, construct, operate, and maintain walk and bike facilities across the state for people of all ages and abilities. District 10 has identified a need for regular input from diverse members representing walk and bike interests from all ages and abilities to support this work and established the D10 Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (D10 BPAC) for that purpose. 

The D10 BPAC provides strategic input, technical guidance, and process improvement recommendations to support achievement of the walk and bike safety objectives and multimodal network strategies in the 2020-24 Caltrans Strategic Plan. The committee also guides implementation of the Caltrans Statewide Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan: Toward an Active California at the District level, through the lens of the District 10 Caltrans Active Transportation (CAT) Plan. The D10 BPAC goals align with Caltrans core values: Engagement, Equity, Innovation, Integrity, and Pride. 

WHAT a wonderful opportunity to contribute, and one of the main reasons we formed California Alps Cycling; we wanted to (as part of our mission reads) “advocate for cycling and the outdoors.” The next meeting is in April and that’s when the real work will start I suspect.

STAY tuned for more info. and updates, and a BPAC website!

A Closed Roads Preview

I’LL leave you with a couple pix to whet your appetitite because as you know, with the exception of the stretch between Turtle Rock Park and Monitor Junction, the Deathride course will be closed to vehicular traffic.

WE had family in town for the Valentine’s Day weekend (catch up celebrations for Mom’s birthday, Christmas and New Year’s) and took the opportunity to go for a walk on Hwy. 89 from Monitor Junction towards Monitor Pass. The road is closed so lots of folks (walkers, cyclists, mountain bikers) are taking advantage of the scene.

JUST be sure NOT TO PARTAKE if you see signs that read “no bicyclists” or “no pedestrians” hanging on the gate. That means Caltrans has some heavy equipment in there.

AND, as I’ve cautioned many times before in this blog, make sure you have an extraction plan and such in case of emergency. ‘Nuf said.

LOOKING forward to kicking some passes’ asses with you this summer!

Be well, stay safe and ride on.

Siren? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Siren!

NEITHER do the Washoe.

AS I understand it, the siren dates back to the early twentieth century and was erected in order to “tell” the Washoe people that it was time for them to get off the streets of Minden, NV, and surrounds, and go home. It still blares its racist message everyday at 6:00 p.m. if you can believe that!

The first time my wife and I heard it we thought it was some sort of test of an emergency siren.

NOT hardly!

IN a recent article written by Kurt Hildebrand of “The Record-Courier” he references a quote from a letter written by Washoe Tribal Chairman Serrell Smokey on August 6th, 2020 in which Mr. Smokey called on Douglas County and the Town of Minden, to silence the siren.

“This is not a noise complaint but an attempt to bring (resolution) to years of underlying racism and historical trauma and our town,” Smokey said. “The historical trauma of this piece of history has an effect on all generations of Washoe people, including the youth of today. It is a constant reminder of the oppression that was brought upon our ancestors.”

FOR a bit more context (there’s a bill, AB88, pending) click here to read the entire article (see page A4). And, no, we don’t buy the “it’s been re-tasked” argument.

The Sundown SIren Protest Ride

A friend of mine e-troduced me to Matt Niswonger, the organizer of the Sundown Siren Protest Ride, and Matt was kind enough to provide some more information:

  • This is a fundraiser ride. Everything (100%) donated to the link below goes to Washoe outdoor programs through their juvenile probation program. Donation is not mandatory but here is the link in case anyone wants to: https://www.pledgereg.com/tahoe-siren-fundraiser-ride.
  • The $48 registration fee is to help offset the cost of insurance and the video we are making of the event; as well as the pre-ride meal we are serving the night before at the riders meeting.
  • The ride involves about 5K feet of climbing and 20 miles – all on trails. Mountain bikes are recommended but it might be possible to ride a gravel bike. Matt says this is suitable for expert riders. “It’s a protest ride so we are not racing and will be mostly sticking together.
Map of the Sundown Siren Protest Ride course

WRITES Matt: “I really appreciate you raising awareness about this protest ride. I’m happy to answer any questions anyone has. If anyone wants to register there is still room for a few more. In case anyone has questions about the Minden sundown siren here is a petition I started with some info.”

WE REALLY APPRECIATE people like Matt, and my friend John Dayberry, and so many others, who are champions of what’s right. Matt can be reached, by the way, at matt@adventuresportsjournal.com.

I’LL be out of town next weekend or I’d be there. Editors note: I’m kinda glad; the course looks gnarly. 😉

Still, we’ll be sending in our donation (and signing the petition) and hope you can find some time to ride next Saturday, donate to a good cause, or both.

Coming May 25th! The Interregional Stakeholders Meeting and Workshop

OUR friends at the California Bicycle Coalition are hosting the final Interregional Cycling Tourism Community Outreach Workshop and Stakeholder Meeting at 5:30 p.m. P.T. on May 25th.

WE’LL be there and hope to see you too!

IT’S a fantastic chance to make your opinion known!

AS Rob Williams, CalBike’s Community Outreach Manager, wrote in this recent post, you too can “help shape the future of cycling tourism.”

We need your help to learn as much as we can about these Showcase and Trails. We’re relying on you, an actual cyclist who has ridden the roads, knows the proposed bike trails, and to tell us what needs to change and what that change should look like. We want our proposals to reflect the experience and needs of bicyclists and lead to real progress in making Northern California a premier cycling destination.”

You will join other stakeholders—recreational cyclists, business owners, tourism, civic leaders, and government officials—who all want to encourage cycling for a better local economy, and a healthy resource for residents and visitors alike. We strongly encourage you to participate in this exciting and ground-breaking opportunity to shape the future of cycling recreation in Northern California.

WE, along with other Alpine Co. stakeholders, participated in one of the five initial meetings CalBike held in Caltrans’ District 10 last month. It was well attended and lots of good ideas and information were shared.

WHAT a unique opportunity to contribute to the cycling landscape of the region!

LET’s keep the vibe going!

CLICK HERE TO JOIN THE MEETING on Tuesday the 25th at 5:30 p.m.

SEE you then!

Feel free to download the cycling club flyer or meeting info. in the meantime.

Honey I’ve Sold the Car – And Bought You an eBike

THE look on my wife’s face as she yelled “TURBO” must have been pretty sweet. I can only imagine it, though, since I was her sweep.

SHE has since named her bike “Bessie.” The sister of “Beast,” my eBike. They are both Treks. I’m a loyal “Trek-for-life” fan. There are reasons for that but that’s a story for another time. Or not.

ANYWAY, Bessie and Beast are Class 1 eBikes (thanks REI for the webinar a couple weeks back – I now understand those classes) BUT they are much more than that. A bit of context: I had originally purchased these beefy full-suspension Rail 5 29ers back in November when the bike shop was still a gleam and I had planned on renting them out – alas no more. This too perhaps another story for another time…

BACK to the bikes…Having decided not to rent them but instead keep them for ourselves, we have discovered that

They are MIRTH MACHINES!

I’VE heard what some people say: eBikes are not pure. They’re not “real” bikes. They’re cheating. Okay, on the cheating part. If you’re racing and not telling other racers. Roger that. Oh and there’s the “they tear up the trails” argument. They can, but that’s the rider not the bike doing the tearing. Right?

WHEN I posted that piece last year about the bike shop, I boosted it (i.e. placed an ad) on Facebook and got mostly positive responses. All but one. The detractor wrote something like “any shop that rents eBikes won’t get my business.”

I just don’t understand that.

THE laughter and shrieks of joy that I’ve heard from my spouse has made me laugh and giggle and has been enlightening. I’ve seen other riders, and talked to them too. Riders who either wouldn’t be riding, or if they were riding, they wouldn’t be riding THAT TRAIL, or climb, or…well you get the idea. It would be too hard or too far. But riding eBikes with my wife has really resonated, and it’s what gave me the idea for this post.

WITH eBikes, it’s not too hard or too far, and for older bike riders, or riders who can’t keep up with their riding partners, eBikes are a GAME CHANGER.

BEAST allows me to cast my mind back, too. It’s so very reminiscent of those feelings from the days of my youth, jumping dirt berms and homemade ramps on my yellow, sissy-bar equipped, Schwinn 5-speed.

IT’S impossible not to smile when riding an eBike. I’m talking bugs-on-your-teeth smiling. I just love zipping around on Beast. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a Moped. There is some work involved. I’ve yet to really run Beast through his paces but that will come. Right now it’s a way for me to enjoy a rest day and ride with “the wifey.” And since she’s a novice, or more appropriately put, out of practice, I can do the sweep thing and be her wingman.

That’s me and Beast on one of our first rides together. Mud splatter on glasses, bugs on teeth and just a whole bunch of fun!

Hey! Just thought of this: as she gets more comfy I’m thinking I’ll grab the road bike every once in awhile and have her motopace me. Yet another plus!

Then There’s That Environmental STUFF

AS I alluded too earlier in this post, REI held a great webinar a couple weeks back. My wingwoman and I attended. We learned a lot. It also got me thinking…I don’t drive that much anymore. Sometimes Clara, my Outback — hey, what can I say, I like to name shit, okay? — sits in the garage for days. In this case she’s named after our realtor. Clara, our realtor, not the car, had our backs – you can read more about her here if you’re so inclined but suffice it to say “Clara” was an obvious name for the car.

MOVING on. My Mom needs a new car. I don’t need a car. I have an eBike that I can use to go to town for the mail and such and I can also ride it on trails. And my wife has a 4WD Colorado so really, we’re good. Oh, and Mom lives on the property so I’ll still be able to visit Clara. She’s a cool car. I’m going to miss those paddle shifters let me tell you. But Mom says she’ll let me drive her if I get to jonesin’ for those paddles.

WHAT we’re doing, though, is reducing our three-car family to a two-car family. And that’s pretty sweet. I know that means they’ll be days when one of us could be left alone at home without a car. Not a big deal necessarily but in the mountains, especially during fire season, something we’ll have to plan for/consider.

AND, we’ll save on various expenses, including fuel, insurance and maintenance. As it turns out, CalBike agrees.

IN a recent post about its E-Bike Affordability Bill, AB117, there’s a good quote: “E-bikes are one of the best ways to replace car trips with clean, green transportation.” I guess I knew that but I’ve been focused on eCars not bikes. Tesla and BMW and Toyota and others have been getting all the press. Especially Tesla.

BUT eBikes…That’s an apple I like. And so I’m all in. Well, mostly in. It’s not like I have a cargo eBike.

Wait…Honey!?

A Bike Shop in Markleeville? Tell Us What You Think!

It’s always been my dream to own a bike shop. When we started California Alps Cycling back in 2017 we thought that perhaps it could someday morph into a brick & mortar business and come spring of 2021 it just might!

And that’s where you come in…we’d like to know what you think about the concept.

  • What would you like to see in the shop?
  • Do you think we should rent bikes?
  • Should we offer tours?
  • Would you frequent such a business?

First, Some Background

For those of you who’ve visited Markleeville in the last couple of years you may recall our little gas station: “Al’s Got Gas, Bait and Tackle.”

This is Al’s, in its early stages, before it had signage and such.

The station has been open 24/7 for awhile now but the convenience store (right side) and the retail shop (left side) have not been open for the past year, for the most part because the owners have been too busy with their day jobs. They have reached out to us and suggested we take over Al’s and put in some sort of shop as well.

So we’ve been talking about doing something along the lines of what our friends at Bear Valley Adventure Company do, e.g. rent bikes, repair bikes, sell souveneirs, sell basic outdoor gear – and not just cycling gear – and host the town’s gas station.

Side note: BVAC is light years ahead of where we would be when we opened but our hope is that we too could eventually offer some winter sport activities as well.

In case you weren’t aware, 95% of Alpine Co. is public land and there are TONS OF THINGS TO DO HERE IN THE WINTER but no real organized events. Coincidentally, the Alpine Co. Chamber of Commerce has formed a working group to try and remedy that and yours truly is a member of that group.

But, I digress.

Participants lined up at the starting line at last year’s Earth Day Kid’s Bike Race.

Making a Difference

The image above says it all, at least from our perspective. Yours truly, and fellow CAC member Chris Schull, wrenched on the kid’s bikes in the a.m. so they could race ’em in the afternoon. To see those furiously peddling legs…Those smiles…What a day it was!

We believe we’ve already made a small difference in our community but we’d like to do more.

  • We want to help people with their bikes.
  • We want to educate.
  • We want to advocate.
  • We want to host group rides.
  • We want to sponsor events.
  • We want to help our community continue to grow (but keep our small town, alternative to South Lake Tahoe, vibe).
  • Oh, I should mention that while we’d like to sell bikes that’s likely not possible due to several factors but hey, you never know…

What do you think?

Can you help us reach the finish line?

We’d like to hear from you, our loyal readers, our members, our customers and perhaps you, our future customers.

Tell us what you think.

Don’t hold back.

We really want to know!

Honest.