JANUARY was wild and wooly here in the heart of the California Alps. Many of us residents of Alpine Co. – certainly everyone I know – were a bit “snow-shocked” from those nine (9) dances with water we had here in the Golden State. Blowing snow, shoveling snow, chipping away ice, trying to get propane; and dealing with roof leaks caused by the enormous quantity and type of snow (sierra cement for the most part – heavy and wet) combined with the freekingly freezing temperatures kept yours truly, and our neighbors, especially busy.
HERE’S what we awoke to on New Year’s Day!
IT didn’t end there. Just about a week later we made the network news as the next storm made its way through the Sierra.
AND just a couple days later…
JUST a week after that it was still dumping that wonderful white stuff. I can say that now, “wonderful” that is, but admittedly I was big-time whining. I’m smiling here because I was thankful I had such an awesome snowblower, and I was listening to some good tunes, and I was getting closer to being done for the day.
FINALLY. We got a bit of a break and I was able to get outside for a couple rides. More importantly, I was able to give my VERY SORE hands, wrists and shoulders a break and send my friend Arthur Itis home for a few days. Still, even with all the “snow-work” I was able to ride 387 miles last month. All but 37 of those miles were inside as it turns out. I finally ordered the rim strips and stems I needed, though, to get my fatbike ready for some snow. Hoping to get Farley set up soon so I can partake in some of that POW all my cycling friends are enjoying.
HERE are Roscoe and I on one of those two (2) outside rides. This one from HQ here in Markleeville, up to, and just past Monitor Junction.
THEN it was Blue’s turn. A bluebird day (and not too cold – high 30’s) reward for our Diamond Valley Loop ride.
WHILE I’m happy to be back on the bike in earnest, and stoked to see my fitness trending up, I must admit that I’m jealous of my cycling friends who are having some of the best skiing of their lives up here in the Sierra, at least that’s what they’re “saying” on Strava.
I need to learn how to ski. Thinking nordic, not alpine. But hey, maybe I should first get my backside outside on those snowshoes.
IT’S just so easy to jump on the trainer, and it’s warmer. Am I getting a bit soft in my old(er) age? Not sure but I can tell you that I, and my neighbors, are definitely looking forward to spring!
NEXT week…Some updates on our advocacy efforts, some deathride news, and some headlines from the community.
SURE, there are other things you can do to augment your cycling training besides hitting the trainer. In the long-term, it’s definitely NOT just about the bike.
I have a goal, though, damn it (5000 miles for the year – and I’ve significantly curtailed that from what it was at the beginning of the year) and I’m going to hit it, or I’m going to hurl trying. Maybe…
MY quandary is that I need to chillax a bit (and I’m a firm believer in that being a big part of the fitness regimen – see this post from May). I’ve got 131.8 miles to go; I’m in dire need of a rest day; the snow keeps falling (which means it has to be moved) and we’ve got family coming for the New Year’s weekend.
REST may win. I am sore from head to toe, okay more like from calves to shoulders. And a little neck. Head, good. Toes, okay.
Here’s How I Got Here
MONDAY the 20th
TUESDAY the 21st
Fulgaz – Brugge Oostende
TSS = 108
Worked in 5 miles of Sweet Spot Training (SST) and 3 sets of HIIT (Tabatas).
WEDNESDAY the 22nd
Zwift – London
TSS = 74
Mostly Tempo and a PR up Box Hill!
THURSDAY the 23rd
Fulgaz – Creede Highway 149
TSS = 62
An easy and fast spin (85 RPM avg.) on a mostly downhill course.
FRIDAY the 24th
Fulgaz – Hidden Valley RT; Golden Gate Cooldown; Pacific Coast Highway Cruise
TSS = 76
Did these three (3) different rides I had never done, mostly to get some miles in.
SATURDAY the 25th (Merry Christmas!)
Zwift – Yorkshire; Duchy Estate Sprints
TSS = 68
Short course (~2.5 miles) with a sprint (total of 8) on each lap
Felt it today. As hard as a tried I could not get the HR up to what I normally can. Tired legs and body…
SUNDAY the 26th (boxing it up)
Fulgaz – Brugge Oostende again
TSS = 79
Mostly about the miles today and I knew there were several hours of moving snow to come.
Moving snow afterwards (see pic below)
Avg. HR = 103 (max 135)
TSS = 103
Editors note: Did another 2+ hours Monday the 27th, this time recording the distance; about 3/4 of a mile walked.
Moving snow, I’ve learned, is a great workout too – especially for the core, back and shoulders. Combined with, or as a follow up to a ride, it makes for a great day of training! The blower does a lot of the work certainly, but a shovel is still needed for those hard to blow places.
And there is something else that can be done with that snow…
Zwift and Fulgaz – a Great Combination
FOR me, having the ability to ride both in an animated and in a “real virtual” format via Zwift and Fulgaz makes all of this inside riding much more bearable. Add some good tunes, and focus on those (get through the song, then check the stats), or the scenery, depending, and plowing through those miles indoors can be fun, or at least do-able.
I’VE done several posts on the Zwift and Fulgaz dynamic over the last several years so if you’re interested in learning more just search for either term and you can meditate over those missives.
What About the Results?
AS it turns out I took another day off yesterday (somewhat forced due to the day job and some chores that needed doing (did those over the “lunch break”), and today, voila, a 96% recovery and Whoop tells me I’m primed for strain.
I’M not quite sure yet but I think it’s going to be a Zwift workout: Matt Hayman’s Paris-Roubaix. I have yet to complete it; it’s a challenging all around effort that is best done after a rest day (or two). Maybe today’s the day I’ll actually finish the entire thing.
IT doesn’t look good for that 5000 mile goal (132 miles to go with only 3 days left).
REST did win out and I still received the reward – my CTL (Chronic Training Load) score is trending up and so is time in the tub!
HERE’S hoping that my recap gets your juices flowing and gives you some ideas as to how you can mix things up a bit.
WE hope you had a very Merry Christmas and we wish you a joyful New Yearfilled with exciting experiences and fantastic fitness. Let’s Kick Some Passes’ Asses! next year, or even this year.
IF you have skies or snowshoes, that is. It’s starting to snow again.
WELL, it finally happened; a good snowfall that is, and among other things it helped make the unsightly remnants of the Tamarack Fire a bit more sightly. Those blackened trees look much better with a coating of snow.
MORE importantly, the white gift from above is a good start (albeit one that is a bit later than we’d prefer) to what (fingers crossed) could be a decent winter season.
SINCE moving to Markleeville in the summer of 2016 we’ve experienced two (2) good winters: 2016-2017 and 2018-2019. We had only one serious dumping of snowflakes last year and we feared we were going to have another dry winter this year. While it’s certainly too early to prognosticate, we’re cautiously optimistic that this year will be different.
MARSHAWN, our two-stage snowblower purchased last year, is finally getting to do some beast-mode blowing this year. My neighbors suspected it was that purchase that canned last year’s snowy season. While I wish I was that powerful, however, I’m not. Marshawn is, though, and he moved these recent snowdrifts with ease. No choking on the Sierra cement, and that dude can throw it let me tell ya!
SNOWBLOWERS were something I had only heard of, or seen on post-east coast blizzard highlights on the news, before we moved here. Initially I figured I’d just shovel the white-stuff. It would be a good work out I told myself. Well, after about two (2) weeks of that, and the sore shoulders and back that came with it, I made a call to Sears and picked up our first snowblower. A one-stager it was but it did the trick.
UNTIL last year that is when the snow got so heavy and deep that we realized it was time to upgrade. That’s where Marshawn came in and it was the wife who named him. If fact, he’s such a beast that he took out (Honey, it wasn’t me, it was Marshawn!) one of our deck pickets and also cut out a nice chunk of one of the 4×4 posts. I definitely need some more practice managing Mr. Beastmode. Let’s hope I get plenty in the days and weeks to come.
That’s Marshawn and me cutting a rug just yesterday.
AS for riding, I’ve got a plan there as well. Farley (read this post for more info. on him) and I are looking forward to our first fatbike foray out on the trails. Fingers crossed we can get out there this weekend, if not sooner.
WHILE it’s an agreeable alternative to riding outside, the pain cave isn’t quite the same. It is, however a must-have here in Markleeville, and other snowy regions I suspect. I also find that for the most part I can do a better job at structured workouts on Zwift or FulGaz; it’s challenging to do sprints, intervals, HIIT and such when you’re climbing as soon as you leave the house.
Avalanche warnings are coming fast and furious lately, too. This recent snow on a weak snowpack is cause for concern and yesterday we received some advice to stay out of the backcountry for a few days. Good advice indeed. An avalanche is NOT a good thing to experience (stating the obvious I suspect), especially when you’re not trained in what to do or don’t have the right equipment, or both. This weekend, Mrs. CA Alps Cycling and I will be attending our first avalanche course. It’s not the full blown outside experience but it’s a start and we’re looking forward to learning more about snowslides.
RIDING a road bike in snowy and icy conditions can be a kick, though, as long as the roads are plowed. If the gates are closed at Monitor Junction it can be a sublime experience with no cars to worry about. On the other hand extraction can be an issue so you really need to be comfortable in those conditions, have the necessary emergency gear and make sure “your people” know exactly where you’re going and when you’ll be back.
A few photos to whet your appetite…
I’LL follow up with a post-ride post on my fatbike experience once I’m brave enough to take the plunge.
IN the meantime, if you do decide to confront the crystally conditions yourself, whether it be on a bike, snowmobile, snowshoes, skis or what have you, please be prepared and most importantly
I’D like you to be able to keep reading my posts, k?
Fulgaz is an option, too. Perhaps a Wahoo or Garmin workout instead? I dunno. I do know this, though: the chance of moving lots of snow today (blowing, shoveling, etc.) is extremely high!
FOR now, since I’ve finished moving some of those flakes (so I could get the images for this post), I’m content to just blog away, watch the snow fall and revel in the fact that we finally have a shit-ton of that white stuff. About a foot or so since last night, with a lot more expected. Hallelujah!
AS a professional cyclist — written with tongue firmly planted in cheek — I have the luxury of not being too hasty in my decision making this morning (or any morning for that matter). “Professional cyclist,” at least in my case, is code for unemployed. My most excellent friend, Mr. Keno, gave me that moniker, around the summer of 2020 I think it was, because I was able to spend an extraordinary amount of time (and still am) training.
ALAS, I wish the situation was different. I do need to earn more ducats than I am currently but am appreciative of the EDD help and oh so cognizant that there are people far worse off than I.
Indeed, I continually wonder how I held down a full-time job, got those many homestead chores done, stayed involved in the community, and trained.
I did it, but as my wife points out, I was a lot more stressed. And admittedly I didn’t spend quite as much time working out then as I do now. That’s something that will change at some point; either I’ll be back into the corporate grind or working at the California Alps Cycling shop, or both, in the near future.
IN the meantime, I wish you a happy hump day and hope that you too got the weather you needed or wanted.
I’m off to the pain cave.
I’LL leave the icicles alone for now.
MAYBE later, when I’m doing some serious snow-moving, I’ll pull a few of ’em down and start my ‘cicle garden.
Finally. Some snow. So good to see the white stuff coming down this past weekend. It wasn’t a piddly amount either – we received about 8” here at California Alps Cycling HQ and so we had to break out the snowblower!
Riding Behind Those Gates
CalTrans closed the gates at Monitor Junction last Friday in anticipation of the coming storm and so access to Monitor Pass and Ebbetts Pass, and as it turns out, Sonora Pass, was restricted.
The above image, at Hwy. 4 and Wolf Creek Road, was taken earlier this year and I post it up here to point out the difference between the simple “Road Closed” signs and the extra “Pedestrians, Bicycles, Motor-Driven Cycles Prohibited” signage. The former is what we cyclists, hikers, fisherpersons like – it means no cars to worry about and so it’s generally safe to do your thing. When that extra sign is posted though, it’s an indicator that there is heavy equipment, road repairs, snowblowing, etc. going on and it’s NOT SAFE to go behind the gates. This I learned in speaking with CalTrans.
It’s also important to keep in mind that there is no vehicular extraction if you have a mechanical once you’ve gone over to the other side. I personally have done a bit of walking over the last several years, once when I had a chain break and once when I double flatted and so I learned this lesson the hard way.
Curt Prater, one of our FB followers, gets credit for this part of our update by the way. He and I struck up a conversation after he saw our post on the closure. He loves riding behind those gates and he reminded me that I do too.
Just be prepared and be safe about it, okay? It does come with some risk.
Some Sobering News…
Unfortunatley, there’s been a Covid-19 outbreak here in Alpine County. As of this morning the total number of cases is 26, with one (1) hospitalization and thankfully, no deaths. Up until last month we only had three (3) but we, like many other counties in CA, are now ticking up. It’s an important reminder that even though we’re all growing tired of the virus, it is not growing tired of us.On the contrary, I fear it’s taking advantage of that fatigue. With the holidays approaching it’s up to all of us to keep up the good fight. Please wear a mask and stay safe.
Let’s talk about food and suds for a minute. One of my colleagues on the Chamber Board is Patrick Sarni, owner of the 7800 Bar & Grill in Kirkwood. He’s opening on December 1st in anticipation of the December 4th opening of Kirkwood. Patrick, like most small business owners, especially those in the food service industry, has put everything he has into his business so let’s help him, and others like him, have a successful opening, and season, safely!
Ditto for the Out West Cafe here in Markleeville. Joey and Danelle Daly, who also own DollFace Cheesecakes, have recently opened in the former Alps Haus Cafe location. I overheard a patron raving about the cheesecake and will be ordering one for Thanksgiving.
The Mad Dog Cafe at Woodfords Station also has good grub (and cerveza) and I heard from a reliable source (Jennifer Quillici, owner) yesterday that they will be the ONLY snow-park permit vendor in Alpine County this season. She said they should have the permits in about a week.
While it’s not about food and suds, it’s also worth noting that The Bear Valley Adventure Company has posted on its website a projected XC Ski and Snowshoe opening of November 27th! We’re looking forward to some ‘shoe’n and I’m hoping to get in some cross-country skiing, too. First, I need some lessons though. 😉
Should be an interesting season with Covid-19 in play but as long as we all keep up with those best practices we can make it a safe one. As it turns out I just saw an email from our County Health Officer, Rick Johnson, in which he advises to BOLO for an update next week after the state releases its tier assignment. Like I said, interesting season…
Some New FulGaz Rides are in the Works
I’ve noticed quite a few riders tackling some of the rides I filmed earlier this year. Yesterday I did the Ebbetts South Ascent, the shortest of the Deathride climbs, as a quick warm-up for some core work, and saw that 52 riders have ridden it since it went live. Cool!
What’s even better is this email I received from a FulGaz subscriber last week. Froylan wrote: “I wanted to thank you for the wonderful job you did to film the climbs of the Deathride. I have participated in that event for a number of years and of course I miss not riding the event this year, but thanks to you and Fulgaz (love the app for rides) I can re-live the event at home.” He made my day and also asked about Kingsbury Grade, which is on my list, but not yet filmed.
I have, however, recently filmed three (3) rides around Big Blue (aka Lake Tahoe) as well as one from Hope Valley to Lower Blue Lake (with some fall colors). I’m processing them now and should get the files to FulGaz by the end of the week for their processing. Stay tuned as you’ll soon have a chance to partake on those rides too, along with Froylan!
Closing Things Out With a Couple Nature Videos
And on this Veteran’s Day I would certainly be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to all the veterans (including my Grandpa who served in WWII), their families and those currently serving. Thank you SO MUCH for your service and sacrifice!
Stay safe, be well and let’s kick some passes’ asses! Whether that be by bike, snowshoe, ski or snowmobile.
First and foremost, all of us here at California Alps Cycling hope this post finds you and yours doing as well as possible in this new “pandemic-age.” Yup, we’ve had ’em before and we’ll have ’em again. So “says” a recent article in the San Jose Mercury News. Full disclosure: I’m from San Hoser – born and raised – so I still get “the Merc.,” the digital version of course. My wife and I came up to the Sierra in October of 2016. In any case, the article was good reminder – been there, survived that. At the same time I realize some haven’t. Or, won’t. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them. And their families.
Speaking of the pandemic – Gawd, I sound like one of those characters on that Don Henley song “Dirty Laundry” – Alpine County was just added to the tally; we’ve had our first Covid-19 case here in the county. It was determined that the the disease was picked up in a distant location, not via community transmission, so that’s good. What’s MUCH better is that the patient is recovering well and did a good job of self-quarantining (and the family did too).
There is Snow in Them-thar Hills
On a lighter, weather-related note, we had some good snow up here the first couple weeks of the month – helped with the snowpack. I heard we were up to ~70% of normal. Not bad considering it was closer to 45% at the end of February. Ironic, certainly, that the ski resorts were (and still are) closed due to Covid-19. My wife, Mom and I went for a great hike last weekend (and the weekend before) at Grover Hot Springs State Park (see photos below). Note: The park is closed but hiking is still allowed, although our Sheriff’s office is recently told us all that DOES NOT MEAN BACKPACKING or other backcountry endeavors. He doesn’t want to potentially strain resources on rescues and the like. I’m definitely going to get a bit of snowshoeing in soon, though, before what’s here melts. Not sure what the lay of the land is in Carson Pass and the trails up there. I suspect they are open. Highway 4 (Ebbett’s Pass) is closed just south of Silver Mountain City (and the snowmobilers are happy) and Monitor Pass is closed (and has been, for the winter). Pssst…I heard Monitor was going to open soon but I have yet to get confirmation from Clinton the CalTrans guy.
Cycling, Hiking, Skiing or Snowshoeing and Social Distancing
Had to point it out, if for no other reason than to get the phrase in there so the search engines pick it up and rank me higher. In all seriousness though, I’ve seen some folks up here riding their bikes, enjoying the views by car, snowshoeing, hiking and snowmobiling. Great time to get outdoors, more like a necessity nowadays but I’ve been picking up mixed signals about that and so I thought I’d reach out to our County Health Officer, Dr. Richard Johnson, with a few questions.
Dr. Johnson Says…
Is it okay to hike as long as we keep our distance? Absolutely!
We’re not backpacking or anything like that – just day hikes, if not hour hikes. Go for it!
I am a cyclist and just yesterday went out to Diamond Valley and Emigrant Trail – I live here in Markleeville. Was about a 2 hour ride. Perfect.
I’ve been furloughed (indeed – the courts, how I earn my living, are hurting) and so am planning on doing some longer rides here in the next few weeks. Is that cool? OK to sweat!
I also do a cycling blog so anything you’d like me to share about cycling, mountain biking, etc. here in Alpine Co. would be great.
Should I tell folks to stay away? Yes.
Partake but be safe? No.
The issue we are having is visitors coming to recreate, buying up gas supplies and groceries, pooping in public because restrooms are closed. We also do not have emergency services capability to handle accidents. Therefore, we are discouraging all visitors – not residents – from coming to Alpine County for recreation. That also violates the Governor’s order to stay at home.
So, there you have it. A bit of green light, red light. Another irony, unfortunately. We like visitors. Visitors like us. There’s no one around and even less traffic than usual. Sadly, it’s just not a good idea right now and we’re all suffering for it. I’m planning on re-doubling my efforts to help with that damn curve. Flatten baby, flatten! Save lives, stay home. Or perhaps: Save lives, stay away (works both ways as far as I’m concerned – We Markleevillians, and Bear Vallians, and Woodfordsians, need to stay the heck away from you too! Hey, I’ve seen this one before…How about: Save lives, ride a bike.
I like this one best: Stay Away – BUT just for little while; looking forward to seeing you one day soon!
As this point, the Deathride – Tour of the California Alps, is a GO! As many of you know, tons of cycling events, including UCI races, have been canceled or postponed. I was going to ride the Wildflower Century in April in Chico, CA but it was canceled. The Truckee Dirt Fondo, on the other hand, scheduled for June 13th, emailed me to say it was a go. I suspect, based on the recent extension of the social distancing guidelines, that it might not fly, however. It’s hard to say at this point if “the DR” is going to go for sure but we here in Alpine Co. sure hope so. It’s our mainstay event and keeps our little Chamber solvent and more importantly it puts TONS OF DUCATS into our local economy, which relies primarily on tourism. Fingers crossed; the eternal optimist…We will of course be having that conversation soon and any updates will be forthcoming. In the meantime…
Please be well and do stay healthy and let’s all kick some viruses asses!
Lots of things to talk about in this post: The Christmas Faire is coming; Grover Hot Springs has a new boardwalk; we’ve got some serious birding energy here including a first-time sighting; an amazing sushi bar in South Lake Tahoe; a patriotic visit with Snowshoe Thompson; a little bit of snow earlier in the week and a Deathride resurgence. Let’s get to it!
The Magical Markleeville Christmas Faire is this weekend!
A yearly tradition here in Markleeville but with an added twist this year: the Faire will be in the County Administration building so we all don’t freeze our hineys off like we have in the past. Things start with a pancake breakfast and there’ll be crafters, cookie decorating for the kids and Santa will be making an appearance too. Check out the Faire’s Facebook page for more information.
Grover Hot Spring’s New Boardwalk
I got out for a hike last week and did part of the Charity Valley Trail (from Hot Springs Road to Grover Hot Springs State Park), trekked around the park’s meadow and then took the boardwalk back the way I came. The park is always a great place to visit, especially the hot springs and now with the new boardwalk there’s one more thing to check out!
Birds, birds and more birds
It all started with the sighting of a rare bird in these parts – the Yellow Browed Warbler. Our little town of Markleeville was invaded by birders from throughout the state – they were hoping to add the bird to their lists. The Record Courier (Minden, Gardnerville and Carson City, NV) did a little write up. Click here to take a look.
A few weeks ago, we spotted an Osprey here at HQ (click here to read that post) and there have been visits from other birds since, including the Evening Grosbeak. Having been here three (3) years this was the first time we had seen these happy birds – a flock of about 20-30 tweeted their way across the meadow, perhaps enjoying the morning sun. And our regular herd of turkeys is back, too.
It’s not [always] about the beer
That’s not to say I didn’t have any when my wife and I visited The Naked Fish in South Lake but the beer definitely WAS NOT the highlight of the meal. Yes, beer can be a meal but I often like it as an accompaniment to food – food. In this case, some of the best, most unique sushi we’ve had. The hamachi was glorious (so buttery) and the uni was briny, kelpy, rich-flavored goodness. And that poke bowl…I’m salivating now as I recall how good that was! The way they prepare the sushi, though, is perhaps the real highlight – works of art that you almost don’t want to eat.
Flags (er, flag) flying at the ‘Shoe’s place
As many of you loyal readers and Strava followers know, Diamond Valley is one of my favorite places to ride. I did what I call the Diamond Valley Ewes (not the sheep, no, but two half-loops – but how does one write two yous, as in the letter?) which took me past Snowshoe’s place twice. The second time around I stopped to visit, as I usually do.
First snow (kinda…we had a little in Sept) of the season
It wasn’t much but it was enough to close Ebbett’s, Monitor, Sonora and Tioga Passes here in the California Alps. According to the CalTrans QuickMap app just now, they are all still closed with the exception of Monitor. It’s pretty darn cold here so it appears winter is on the way. We’d appreciate it, though, Ma Nature, if you’d give us a break or two before the big snow starts.
The ride is under new management! The Alpine Co. Chamber of Commerce owns the ride (as it has for years) but this year we’ve (I am a board member) decided to take it to a new (different) level. We’re hiring a professional ride director and are exploring things like alternate route options, or additions. We’re also looking at making it more of a Fondo and adding a bit of a retro vibe. We’re still working out some of the details so stay tuned for more information about our Ruby Anniversary Edition. It’s going to be a blast!
Well, there you have it! I told you there was lots going on here in the heart of the California Alps. Here at California Alps Cycling we count our blessings every day. Living, working and riding in such an awesome place is a privilege that we don’t take for granted. We hope to see you here for a visit soon. In the meantime, let’s kick some passes’ asses! Assuming they’re still rideable.
It’s been over two (2) years since I’ve been able to ride near the ocean so when I had an opportunity to head to Petaluma for a company BBQ last Friday I brought my bike so I could go for a pedal the next day. I’m lucky enough to work from home but I do make the pilgrimage to our corporate offices several times a year. In this case, not for a board room style meeting, or meetings, but instead for some fresh (and BBQed) oysters, burgers, good beer and great conversation. What a deal!
The next morning it was off to the little town of Marshall, including a trip down memory lane and up the iconic Marshall Wall.
Back in 1998 I did the “Aids Ride”, now called the Aids/LifeCycle, and rode from San Francisco to Los Angeles over the course of a week. I raised some ducats for the cause as well. While training for that event I was introduced to this area north of The City (that’s what natives call San Francisco – don’t call it Frisco, k?). I’ve done a few rides in the area since but it had been quite awhile so I was pretty excited to ride “the wall” (that’s it in the profile above – at the 20 mile mark), and sniff Tomales Bay. The kelp, the sea (er, bay), the oyster farms…All combine for a wonderfully briny sensory experience. Add some fog to the start of the ride and I was in heaven. What a great morning on the bike! Made it back to the hotel in time to pack up, take a quick shower and get out of dodge so I could get home for cocktail time! Below are some images of that first adventure of the weekend, and here’s a little video to check out (including a few more pix) .
Some good grub and conversation awaited me at the Chalet (as we call it – hey we’re in the Alps after all!) thanks to my Mom and wife, and after an evening of story telling it was off to bed so I could get some rest before the next day’s adventure.
This time (no offense coastal hills) I was off to do a “real mountain” and I was curious to see what kind of shape the road was in.
I decided to milk it a little and went for a late morning start so I could let it warm up a bit. We’d been getting some thunderstorms recently (and still are) so I didn’t want to get caught on the pass too late in the day, though. Based on the weather forecast I thought I could squeak in my ride after the temps rose but before any chippy weather showed up. It didn’t quite work out the way I had planned, though. Read on.
From Markleeville to the start of the pass is fairly passe’ (ooh, like that pun). The real climbing starts at about mile 11 (from Markleeville, not Monitor Junction), with a pitch of about 10-12% just before Raymond Meadow Creek and the 7000′ mark. I had a great view looking south and could see some fairly ominous clouds forming. I kept telling myself that I could just bail if things got too hairy but I really wanted to get up the pass; it had just opened and I felt it was my duty!
I was excited to see Kinney Reservoir (images 6, 7 and 9 above) but when I came up over the rise, expecting to see a blue alpine lake and the reflection of the surrounding mountains and sky, I was instead greeted by an ice-rink! WTF? The lake was still frozen?! Now the temp had dropped significantly since I started but it was still a very manageable 55 degrees, and so I was surprised yet again, this time by the amount of snow still on the pass. Notice the snowbanks? Many of them were still covering signage and trailheads. In fact, because of that snowy obscurement I arrived at the top faster than I thought I would – I didn’t have those visual cues that I was used to.
I quickly ate a snack at the pass because it appeared that the weather was indeed coming in. Had I blown it and left too late? Would I be caught in a deluge, or worse yet see some lightning? So after an expeditious message to the wife (thanks to my Garmin inReach Mini, a bad-ass piece of equipment, btw) I headed back down the mountain. There was still some gravel and other detritus on the road so I was cautious on the descent and for the first few miles I got lucky – no rain. That changed though as I got to about the 7500′ mark. Down it came. At those speeds, raindrops sting! Thankfully it did let up so I wasn’t too spongy when I got to the homestead.
What a fantastic way to cap off my week! Here’s a few stats from the weekend:
Miles ridden: 90.6 Feet climbed: 7169 Hours on the bike: ~6
I’m hoping you’ve had, or will have, similar weekends of wonder. If you have, or do, and would like to share them by posting up your own adventure on our blog, let me know!
Ride safe and let’s kick some passes’ asses! this summer!
Just this a.m. I spoke with CalTrans about the current conditions on Monitor Pass (Hwy. 89) and Ebbett’s Pass (Hwy 4). Here’s the latest:
CalTrans is hoping to open it by this Thursday. There’s about 6″ of snow up there now and with this a.m.’s snow (yup, more of the white stuff fell just this morning) it’s not likely it will be open before then.
With the water on the road from the recent rains and snow melt, sheets of ice have formed making it a bit more time consuming to get the equipment up to where it needs to be. In some cases, the crews need to wait until later in the a.m. to begin their work.
There is also a lot of sand, rock and mud on the road, and between Hermit Valley and Lake Alpine, there’s still about 6′ to 8′ of snow, including a bit of Sierra cement, and ice, in places. The CalTrans crew based in Woodfords has made it through to Hermit Valley and the crew on the other side is making its way there now with the hope that the two crews will meet in the very-near future.
The initial plan was to have Ebbett’s open by Memorial Day but that’s now up in the air. You can get up to the 7000′ mark (Raymond Meadow Creek) currently, though. There’s a couple nice pitches just north of the RMC bridge so don’t worry, you can push some watts and get that heart rate up.
Stay off the passes when the roads are closed
A reminder from CalTrans that those road closures are there for everyone’s safety. There are crews and heavy equipment up there and they’re not looking for cyclists or hikers, so it’s a bit dicey to go behind those gates. It also may get you a ticket if the CHP catches you – and it would be a moving violation too, meaning traffic school or points.
Be cautious – they’ll open eventually
There will be time for us all to get up there and enjoy these, and other passes in the California Alps, so please be patient. For me that means a bit more trainer time. I’m taking advantage and doing some HIIT and steady-state intervals to build my strength and stamina for what’s to come. I wish you well on your training and remind you to ride safely.
We’ll be able to kick some passes’ asses soon enough.
Last Tuesday, April 2nd, I attended the Alpine Co. Board of Supervisors meeting here in Markleeville and one of the presenters was Dan McElhinney, CalTrans’ Acting Director for District 10.
Among other things, Dan brought us up to speed on CalTrans’ plans to clear snow from three (3) major Sierra passes: Monitor, Ebbett’s and Sonora.
They are planning on starting on Monitor next week and expect that it will take about 10-14 days to clear the many feet of snow that have accumulated. They’ll begin work on Ebbett’s and Sonora soon thereafter, or perhaps simultaneously, depending on resources. Apparently there is about 20′ of snow, with the associated ice that comes with months of freezing temperatures, on Ebbett’s and so, of the three (3), it will likely take the longest.
CalTrans assured the Board, and the public in attendance, that it will work VERY HARD to have all three (3) passes cleared by Memorial Day. Mr. McElhinney, and Clinton Neeley, the Maintenance Supervisor for District 10 (he’s based in Woodfords and was also at the meeting), both understand the importance of the work that needs to be done. With fishing season fast approaching, and the Deathride coming in July, clearing these passes, and clearing them ASAP, is vital. Monitor Pass, as the Board Chairman, David Griffith reminded us, is especially important since it is a vital connection between Hwy. 395 and Hwy. 89 – when it’s open, travelers can take the shorter route into Markleeville and then into Tahoe. When it’s closed our little town becomes a cul-de-sac and since much of our income is derived from tourism, that impacts our local businesses.
Here at California Alps Cycling, we’ve developed a nice relationship with Clinton and his crew; we work closely with them on our Adopt-a-Highway program. We’re so appreciative of the tough, sometimes dangerous work that they do. I personally make sure to tell them that whenever I see the crews working on roads I’m riding and I always salute them when I see their trucks or plows passing by.
So, when you see the crews out there, please let them know how much you appreciate the work they do. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be able to kick those passes’ asses!