Markleeville Rising – Or…What’s Here And What’s Not

HAPPILY there’s much more of the “what’s here” than the “what’s not” but based on what we’ve heard anecdotally, there are some who think there’s more of “the not” and that’s just not the case. Sure, parts of Alpine Co., especially those hit hardest by the Tamarack Fire, are still grieving, but there’s NO WALLOWING here in the heart of the California Alps.

CERTAINLY, we lost many trees, that’s true. Many of them have been removed, mulched; or repositioned to mitigate erosion. Some of them still stand.

IT’S important to note though, that in terms of what’s visible from the highways, the damage is primarily isolated to areas of Hwy. 88, east of Hope Valley, and the section of Hwy. 4 between Woodfords and Monitor Junction. And as Mrs. CA Alps has so optimistically noted, in some places the views are indeed better.

Markleeville is still here! So is Bear Valley and so is Kirkwood. Blue Lakes Road was spared and Luther Pass took minimal damage (on the El Dorado Co. side). We are not a blackened county!

BUT, you can get some of that at the Cutthroat Brewing Company. Fish, that is. And beer, and the best burgers for miles. One of today’s specials (salivating) was stuffed poblanos, and I’m talking with elk sausage and jalapeno cheddar.

THERE’S pickleball, tennis, paddleboarding and more courtesy of Bear Valley Adventure Company.

OUR friends at Outwest Cafe have opened a weekend (all summer long) pop-up taco stand (Tres Amiga Locas) next to the Toll Station – which is again open on weekends (for beverages only) and soon will be for meals I’ve heard – so you can grind on some outrageous tacos and wash them down with some uber-cold cerveza. Ahhh.

WHAT about Kirkwood, you ask. Good to go there, too. Discwood is open and the stargazing has been amazing.

AND Wylder (formerly Sorensen’s) in Hope Valley? No worries. Still throwing some good hash out of the cafe and hosting live music regularly. Did I mention their cabins? They’re cool, keen, phat and plush.

Ed. Note: For a comprehensive list of upcoming Alpine County events, look no further than the Chamber’s events page and click here to download a copy of our Visitor’s Guide.

West Fork of the Carson near Blue Lakes Road on the western side of Hope Valley.

WILDFLOWERS and grasses are beginning to carpet the forest floors that were once just ash; and the rivers, creeks and lakes are flowing and there’s some good fishing to be had. Catch ’em if you can! 🤓

Why Am I Telling You All of This?

WELL, last week several of my colleagues at the Alpine County Chamber of Commerce and I were theorizing (“commiserating” works, too) as to why the registration numbers for the Deathride – The Tour of the California Alps were lower than expected, especially compared to the usual count just under two months out from the big day.

PANDEMIC related “recurring-cancelations-of-events-fatigue” perhaps? Yeah, there’s some of that. Many of us can personally speak to that dynamic: postponing registration, or not registering at all, for events that we would have in the past, for fear of them being cancelled yet again.

CONCERN over riding in potentially smoke-filled air, with yet another fire season looming? Another valid reason. And you’re right, climate change has made it so there’s almost no fire season anymore.

‘TWAS you, oh adventurer that caused me to tell this tale.

YOU let it slip that you thought we were a burned-out shell of our former self so I thought I’d try and set the record straight.

There is still a great atmosphere here – day and night.

Ed. Note: Captured this sunbow yesterday afternoon.

Safety note: I used selfie mode; the sun was the subject and I cropped out the part of my forehead that tried to photobomb Ol’ Sol.

The Challenge, And The Plea

SO, register for the Deathride. Don’t waffle. Tick that bad boy off your list. You know you have it in you.

OUR community needs you now more than ever (the ride provides the majority of our operating expenses by far). We’ve earned the good karma (we all have, right?) and as I wrote last fall, and as we all know so well, THE THIRD TIME’S THE CHARM.

WE’RE not as big as Emporia and our ride doesn’t get quite as many riders as that big ol’ gravel race they just had, but we’re just as friendly and welcoming and we have a little something extra.

Blue skies like you don’t often see, riding on some of the most iconic routes in the country; and mountains. Lots and lots of mountains.

COME on up and Be Alpine with us. Drown some powerbait. Get your paddleboard groove going on one of our many alpine lakes. Do some birding.

LIKE the image at the top of this post suggests…PARK IT (the car) AND RIDE IT (le’ bike)!

AND do us one more favor…Two actually.

Join our Strava Club, and tell your friends

that Alpine County is still here and

that they need to beat feet.

Raccoon feet photo undisputed proof that it was a local

Rocky hitting the hummingbird feeder. Remedied that…

The feeder comes in at night, like we know it should. 😬

Can Stronger Shoulders Make You a Better Rider? – Here’s What I’ve Learned

SHORT answer = YES! Powerful shoulders, and while we’re at it, a strong core, and good flexibility, are all beneficial when it comes to riding bikes.

AS you can imagine, there are other advantages to having “jacked scaps,” a concrete core and malleable muscles, some of which include:

  • Better bike handling
  • Fewer injuries
  • Less soreness
  • Faster recovery
  • Higher FTP
  • Greater endurance.

ESPECIALLY when standing and pedaling! We probably don’t give it much thought but that rocking motion when “dancing on the pedals” takes a good bit of upper body strength, and if you’re riding a course (like Stetina’s Paydirt – 9 days and counting!) that requires a lot of humping up (and flying down, too) rocky hills, it calls for even more muscle.

Chris says: “Yup, strong shoulders are helpful out here in the Pinenuts!”

THIS brings me to me. 😉 You may remember this post about shoulder pain that I published in February. Well, I’m happy (ecstatic, really) to tell you that my “shoulder-life” is much, much better nowadays.

THAT’S not to say it was easy, nor am I done; the work and focus must continue, as it should, especially for us older riders. After twenty-one sessions of physical therapy, though, and because I’ve put in the work, I’m pretty much pain-free.

THE biggest benefit(s)? Stronger shoulders and core; less fatigue in the upper body during, and post-ride; and better control of my mountain and gravel steeds. And some ROI realized on the road bike, too.

WHAT exactly, can you do, you ask. Here’s a few suggestions (tested by yours truly on a regular basis):

  • Regular (at least three times a week) shoulder and core work. The Crossover Symmetry bands are fantastic and give me a great all-around workout.
  • Fitball, Bosu ball and medicine ball exercises.
  • Stretching. So often neglected by many athletes…at their peril. Trust me, this is one of THE MOST important things you can do. There is no doubt in my mind that if I wasn’t as flexible as I am I would have been seriously injured many times over the years. Just look at professional athletes…
  • Don’t neglect the hammies and lower back. Squats, btw, work wonders for these often over-looked muscle groups.
  • Sprint intervals. Yesterday, for example, I hit Zwift Yorkshire and did about 10 laps of the Duchy Estate course. One ~20″ sprint on each lap produced a nice, all-around soreness today.
  • REST. It’s in CAPS for a reason and admittedly it’s something I still have trouble doing. Easier to just ride and hammer, you know? Today, though, no exercise at all. Read this post for some specific insight on that rest ‘thang.

BE sure to get input from your coach, personal trainer, doctor, what have you, though, k? Every body is different.

I’D hate it if you injured yourself trying to get stronger or more flexible.

I hope this article was helpful. Feel free to pass on any tips you might have, too. We’d love to share ’em.

TAKE care, be safe and go kick those shoulders’ asses!

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!

An Ode to Mrs. California Alps Cycling – On Her Birthday

MY wife Patricia has been my greatest supporter, my rock-steady soigneur, since we first got together over 30 years ago.

WHETHER it be helping out at the Ride & Walk 4 Art just last month, or at the Deathride, or at the myriad other events I’ve attended, she’s always there with a word of encouragement, a bit of decorating advice or just a smooch.

MY girl doesn’t miss a beat, nor does she fall asleep, when I regale her with my V02 max or power numbers.

SHE doesn’t mind either, hosting a big ol’ party for a bunch of California Alps Cycling members, and listening to our watt woes, and hearing about our hill-climbing prowess (or not).

Neither does she turn a deaf ear when we loudly articulate every inch of our death-defying (kinda) descents.

She’s always willing, too, to cheerfully drink Bloody Mary’s with me; even on a freezing-ass cold, super-windy, Monterey Bay day. You can’t see ’em but there must have been five (5) heaters around our table that day.

She puts up with my goofiness and boy-child behavior, and even giggles (sometimes) when I guffaw at my gas-passing.

WATCHING every day and every hour of the Tour de France with me? Yup, she does that. Replays of cross races on Flobikes? She’s there! Stealing my issues of Velonews and Bicycling? Totally.

TOLERATING my incessant, and admittedly irritating, coaching when she’s on the bike in the paincave and just wanting to watch Pachinko? That’s my uber-patient wife.

HANGOUT with me while I race, and cheer me on at the finish? Yup.

BE my support crew while I film rides for Fulgaz? You betcha! Editors note: On the Carson Pass ascent (east side) her leapfrogging me was particularly welcome, and at one point there’s a special pic. of her as she closely examines some plant life with PictureThis, a very cool plant identifider app.

She too can be a bit whacky and frankly I think she rocks the goggles.

AND she also warms my cockles. Easy now, I hear your snickers.

THE best part? She’s mine and I’m hers.


IT’S your day today, my wonderful wife, so feel free to peruse every aisle of Costco without me cracking the whip or complaining about how slowly people sometimes move.

GO ahead, stop at Jack in the Box for that fish sandwich. I won’t give you a hard time about the fat or sodium content. Cross my heart.

THANK you for being you, my sweet.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CUPCAKE!

chocolate cupcake with white and red toppings
Photo by Jess Bailey Designs on Pexels.com

An Inspirational Deathride Video – and Other Alpine County News

101 days and counting until the Tour of the California Alps, menacingly, yet lovingly referred to as the Deathride. When you’re on the course, especially on climbs 5 or 6 – this year there are six of those bad boys – you might feel like you are close to death, but thankfully no one has ever died on the Deathride.

The tertiary try is the charm we hope! 2020 was canceled due to the pandemic. 2021 “flamed out” because of the Tamarack Fire. Let’s go 2022!

THE Alpine County Chamber of Commerce has just issued a press release and an amazing and inspirational (we think) promotional video. We’ve never done anything like this before (at least that I’m aware of) regarding our beloved “DR” so it’s yet another first from the Deathride team.

HUGE kudos to Becky DeForest, Exec. Director of the Chamber, for herding the necessary cats to get it done.

GET’S me fired up when I watch it and I’m certainly honored that several California Alps Cycling members, including yours truly, are in it!

LET me know what you think. If you were waffling, did it change your mind? If you had never considered riding it, are you now? Will you perhaps share it on your social media channels to get others excited?

Some Tree Planting and a Community Clean-up

THE above images are courtesy of the Markleeville Water Company. They show some members of CalFire and the California Conservation Corps doing the “seedling shuffle.” 😉

READ their post for some more information on this planting, which took place just over two (2) weeks ago. It also has some links to register for the tree plantings that will take place on April 9th (this Saturday) and May 1st, so if any of you have some spare time and would like to help us with our restoration efforts please do sign up. We’ve love to have you!

MARKLEEVILLE’S Enhancement Club (MEC) has scheduled its Spring Clean-up for Saturday, May 14th. This all-volunteer beautification committee will be doing some work in and around town, picking up trash and biomass, trimming trees and bushes, picking up litter on two (2) Adopt-a-Highways stretches of Highway 89 (California Alps Cycling’s section from Turtle Rock Park to Camp Markleeville and Alpine Watershed Group’s section from Camp Markleeville to Monitor Junction), and doing a bit of landscaping and such at Al’s Got Gas (our local fuel depot).

RIDE here? Hike here? Boulder here? Here’s yet another chance to give back. Email me if you’re interested and I’ll add you to the list.

Other Upcoming Events

WE’VE got a few other things in the works this year, on both the East Slope (east of the Sierra crest – Hope Valley, Markleeville, Woodfords) and the West Slope (west of the Sierra crest – Bear Valley, Kirkwood).

HERE are some ideas:

  • Live Music at Cutthroat Brewing Company – Fridays 6 – 8 p.m., Markleeville
  • Women’s Fly Fishing Retreat – May 13th -> 15th at Wylder Hope Valley
  • High Sierra Archery Shoot – June 11th -> 12th at Bear Valley Resort
  • Ebbetts Fest – June 12th – Benefiting the Ebbett Pass Scenic Byway Asssocation
  • Music in the Park – Starting June 25th, Alpine Co. Library, Markleeville
  • Bear Valley Music Festival – July 22nd, Bear Valley
  • Stargazing – August 27th, Alpine Co. Airport, Markleeville

FOR specific details on these events, and to peruse other options, go to the Events Page of the Alpine County Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Center.

Last But Not Least – Our Local Passes

MONITOR Pass is open!

Ebbett’s Pass should be soon based on the Caltrans activity I noticed on a lunchtime ride yesterday; a beauty day here in the California Alps. That’s me in front of Raymond Meadow Creek (RMC), at the 7000′ mark of Highway 4, just below Silver Creek Campground, on the Ebbett’s Pass Highway.

I chatted for a few minutes with a trio of mountain athletes from Sacramento before I turned around and headed back down the mountain. These dudes had just come back from behind the “7000′ gate” and were hanging out basking in the glory of their day’s adventures. They told me the road was just plowed but they didn’t get all the way to the top so not sure how far up the snow was removed. It was cool to see some skis, a mountain bike and a gravel bike nearby. Talk about being Alpine!

COME and get some! And remember to check our local weather and air conditions page for current weather and air quality before you head up, down, in or over.

SEE you soon!

Training for the Deathride? Here’s the Number One Thing You Should Do

CLIMB! And, climb some more. And when you think you’ve done enough climbing, do even more. Here in the California Alps climbing is pretty much par for the course; head out the door and you’re on some sort of incline (or decline).

Yesterday, I had the pleasure (and pain) of riding up the west side of Monitor Pass (this view is from just above Heenan Lake) and was reminded that there is no subsitute for climbing if you’re training for a ride with lots of elevation gain.

SURE, I’ve been training hard, with lots of paincave sessions, including HIIT, V02 max, and more, and some of those sessions focus on things such as building endurance, “rocking the rollers” and sweet-spot training (SST); yet I realized while “out on course” that even though my strain is up significantly from the previous week, I’m just not climbing enough.

THIS past week, including yesterday’s adventure, I rode about 116 miles with almost 11,000 feet of elevation gain.

THE DeathrideTour of the California Alps does that in one day, though, and while yesterday’s ride was 36 miles with over 4000 of climbing, I asked myself could I do that three or four more times.

The short answer = NO. At least not yesterday. 🙁

As you can see by my happy, yet very sweaty mug, that first big pitch was hard.

MONITOR east, Ebbetts north and south (or west and east depending on your preference), and Pacific Grade (twice) would still be yet to come on July 17th. Yowza, there is work to be done!

THANKFULLY, we’ve all got more time. IMHO, and based on previous experience, right about now (3-4 mos. out) is when you should start ramping 😉 up your training. And it’s not just about the climbing… Your secondary focus should be on time spent in the saddle.

IF you are going to tackle the entire ride, you’re looking at a full day on your steed.

BACK in 2017, when I finished all of the climbs, I was on the bike for about ten (10) hours and my elapsed time was twelve (12) hours!

VENTURING on a velocipede for that amount of time takes a serious toll on the bod., and takes some getting used to, so don’t skimp. And, if you’re not already thinking about it, be sure to address your future nutrition needs by practicing what, and how much, you eat and drink.

EXPERIMENTING with new bars, gels or drink mixes the day of is a recipe for disaster!

So Now What?

WELL, for me that means heeding my own advice and hitting those hills and mountains more often, and taking on longer rides. I would guess that applies to you as well.

ANOTHER aspect of training that I’m working on is the gear. You may have noticed that I was wearing an USWE hydration pack. Amazing piece of equipment by the way – pretty darn comfy and it DOES NOT move. I am not planning on wearing it for the Deathride but I am going to have it on for May’s Paydirt here in the Pine Nuts. And, yes, sharp-eyed reader, Roscoe is a gravel bike. So it was a double-duty deed, if you will, yesterday – got some climbing in and did it on the bike I’ll be riding in May, with the gear and grub I’ll be hauling.

I’m thinking a 50-60 mile ride on dirt will be a similar experience to a century on the road and so I see some benefits to training for Pete Stetina’s ride now, while also keeping that next big day in July, in mind.

NEED some other ideas? Search “climbing” on this blog for myriad posts on the subject. If you’re a neophyte I’d especially call your attention to this post as well as this one.

The snow is melting and the rivers and creeks are rising and getting chocolately. This is the East Fork of the Carson near Monitor Junction.

AFTER all, spring has sprung so it’s time to get cracking!

WE’RE looking forward to riding with you in July (or sooner perhaps), and the community is getting ready for your visit.

BE sure to make those reservations early, by the way. There are fewer resources around due to last year’s Tamarack Fire.

RIDE on, be safe, and climb, climb, climb!

What? I Can’t Just Ride My Bike?

I’VE been wrenching on my own bikes for years and am comfortable doing the basic, and some higher-level repairs and maintenance myself. Those more difficult repairs…Different story.

I’M hesitant to mess with the Di2 on the Emonda so I leave that to Wizard Jay at Big Daddy’s. Hydraulic brakes? Haven’t tackled those either but I’ve got the bleed kit now. Sheepish grin. Read on…

New cables and housing on the bikes with internal cable routing? Nope, not yet.

AS Toph would say, though, it’s all on YouTube, Mark, so check for videos before you do anything. He’s gifted, though. Me, I got a “C” in wood shop.

STILL, with patience and deliberation over the years, and lots of practice, I’ve done a lot of things that others might have to pay for. And I know that if I get to the point where I’m stuck, or if I screw anything up, I’ve always got Jay.

RECENTLY, though, I’ve gotten a couple of wake up calls and so I thought I’d share in the hopes that you don’t do what I do (uh, did), and just ride your bike.

Yup, Maintenance is Required

Got some sweet new bottle cages for Blue for Christmas (thanks to my nephew, Bret) and thought one morning before a ride that I’d just switch out those cages really quick so I can flaunt the bling-bling.

WHOA, that bolt came off way to easily. Sure enough, just the bolt-head came off; the rest of the f*$%#n bolt was still in the frame. There was some sticking out, though, so I grabbed some needle-nose pliers. No dice. Not enough gription.

OKAY, you’re up Mr. Dremel. I cut a nice slot in the top of the bolt but no dice with that either. That bolt was just too corroded; it wouldn’t budge. Eventually, the edges of the slot I had cut “stripped away” and there was no more bite to be had by the ‘driver.

GRABBED a different bike for that ride and took Blue into Jay. He drilled it out. Not something I know how to do and not sure I would have done it anyway on that frame. Better left for the pro…

NOTE to self (and good advice for you as well, mayhaps): grease and check those bottle cage bolts regularly, especially if you ride in weather or post-weather, if you will. Spray from snowy, slushy roads was the culprit in my case I theorized since I don’t ride much in the rain or snow itself.

So, I’m Reading the Recent Issue of Bicycling

AND there’s this great side-column, “Maintenance Minute – Presented by ParkTool” and a nice list of basic things to look for when inspecting your bike. Some of the items on this list include:

  • Chains – Check wear with every lubrication. Use a chain-checker regularly, says Jay.
  • Brake Pads – Disc: Replace at <1mm pad thickness. Rim: Replace when worn to wear line.
  • Hydraulic Brake Fluid – Replace every ~5K miles.
  • Cassettes – Typically replace with every third chain.

I do a good job keeping my eye on my chain nowadays. This since Jay gave me ca-ca when I took the bike in for excess chain noise. Have you checked your chain lately? No, Jay, I just ride my bike. It was way past worn, as it turns out. I hung my head in shame.

BRAKE pads? I can honestly say I’m good at that one. Ride discs and have pads handy, and have done quite a few pad swaps over the years. But…I never really did think about a specific thickness at which they should be changed. I just went by feel, you know? Not the best plan though so I took off the wheels and removed the pads and measured them. 2mm all around. Thank you bike gods. That can wait.

BRAKE fluid? Well like I wrote at the beginning of this post – it’s on my list. And honestly I bought the kit before I read the article. Still, Blue has ten-thousand on him so I need to get on that obviously.

CASSETTES – I’ve never really paid attention to those. Mostly, in my defense, because up until the last few years I haven’t ridden enough miles to make it an issue. I eventually got around to it. So, cringe, let me check the cassettes on the KICKR and Blue.

HOLY chain wear Batman! Not good. I’ve never seen such ridges.

THIS pic from Blue’s rear wheel. The cassette on the trainer was a bit worse.

THANKFULLY, I had a cassette handy so I was able to change out the one on the KICKR. It wasn’t the right size for the Emonda. I ordered one of those though, and I will soon change out that cassette (and the chain). I checked, Jay, it’s at about 75% wear.

I’M experiencing better shifting on the trainer. No surprise. And, I’m looking forward to that “new drivetrain experience” on Blue very soon.

HOW about you? Any funny maintenance stories?

ARE you going to check your chain, cassette or brake pads now? No worries, that’s what I did. If it wasn’t for someone at Bicycling having the presence of mind to slap that little sidebar in there I probably would have gone awhile and could possible have experienced some mechanical issues. Likely in the worst possible place, too, like eight (8) miles behind the gate on Monitor Pass or something. Wait…is there a good place for a mechanical?

IN any case, don’t be like me, okay? Ask yourself, “What would Jay do?”

BY the way, we hope to see you at the Ride & Walk 4 Art next weekend!

COME on by & say hi, and if you show me your new cassette, chain or brake pads, I’ll give you a tee!

Some Ride-Related News From Markleeville – And Other Goings On

WE’VE gotten some small amounts of snow here in the California Alps over the last few days; certainly not as much as we’d have liked but it’s something. Better news on that front from the higher climes, however.

SOME backcountry (and other skiing) was to be had over this weekend, said Justin, my trusty physical therapist and backcountry skiing fanatic, last Friday.

bluebird with ornamental plumage resting on twig

I’M sure he was hitting it yesterday and I’d imagine he’s out there today, as any self-respecting mountain athlete (or any snow lover for that matter) would be on this bluebird of a day. 🙂

BULLITT the mountain bike is asking me to take him out for a spin today and I think I’ll oblige. Going to be some mud-slingin’ for sure!

That Ride-Related News

THE road cycling lately has been glorious, notwithstanding the slush, and plow-pellet induced sludge, and therefore requisite cleaning and lubing (whine, snivel). I was able to get outside early in the week and on one ride it felt downright balmy! Only a base tee under the jersey and no arm-warmers!

SINCE then we’ve had a couple light snow events, as I mentioned at the start of this post, so I’ve been partaking of the paincave lately. Segue…

SPEAKING of inside…I was able to test ride the “Fatbiking in the Snow” ride recently and I’m happy to say you Fulgaz subscribers will soon be able to particpate.

BE on the lookout for the “Pick n’ Mix” release tentatively scheduled for March, said Peter the Engineer.

MONITOR and Ebbetts remain closed (Monitor at the junction and Ebbetts just past Silver Mountain City) but once we get a bit of melt of yesterday’s dusting the riding on Monitor should be pretty good. Ebbetts, being much less exposed, will remain slushy in some of the shadier areas for awhile and I suspect we won’t get much plowing done any farther up towards the pass until April.

Those Other Goings On

COMMUNITY meetings continue on several fronts as we continue to recover from the Tamarack Fire. Trails continue to be a big part of the discussion and their rebuilding in time for the spring and summer season are a priority. We’re looking holistically at trail usage and focusing on hiking, riding and equestrian in our planning. Things are certainly going to look different out there as the forest starts its long return to health, yet it’s still the Sierra and a lot of it wasn’t burned.

THE images above are certainly heart-breaking. I remind folks though, that a lot of the area wasn’t torched and once you get past Monitor Junction to the south, or Pickett’s Junction, to the west, you won’t see a lot of fire-related damage. The forest is nothing if not resiliant.

MRS. CA Alps points out in a “making lemonade out of lemons” kinda way that the vistas are more expansive without so many trees. She’s right and it helps to look at it that way; still so very sad to see. And lets be honest, the density of the forest was, and still is, part of the problem. Thousands of years of native americans weren’t (and aren’t) wrong, you know?

OUR rivers, streams and lakes are looking good, though, and many of the latter, like Silver and Caples, are still frozen over. We’re working hard on repairing infrastructure like Turtle Rock Park and Grover Hot Springs State Park. Plans for the “fishing opener” are in the works, we’ve got a new addition to our local Fish & Game Commission, and we’re starting to think more about native fisheries and how we can restore them. Segue…😉

SPEAKING of restoration, the county has been awarded a grant of approximately $1.8 million that will be used to help private landowners here in Alpine Co. with their recovery efforts. Work on that front continues on a fast pace.

AS does tree-clearing…

BY the way, if you haven’t checked out the Alpine Chamber’s website recently, please take a gander. Lots of great information about things afoot here in Alpine County including summer events like Music in the Park, the Bear Valley Music Festival and Hermit Fest.

WELL, it’s off to wash Blue. I promised him he’d get a bath before I took his bro out for a ride. It’s 41; starting to warm up to today’s high of 42. Won’t be just a base layer and jersey today, I guess.

STILL, it could be worse.

ENJOY your Sunday and have a fantastic week!

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.

Shoulder Pain on the Bike? Me Too! Here Are My Three Takeaways

RIDING bikes can be hard on the arms and shoulders. I just finished a twelve-visit physical therapy stint for my bum left shoulder and while I would have preferred to not have the pain and mobility issues that caused me to finally go to the doctor I’m grateful in some weird way, that it did.

Physical Therapy

THANKS to my chiropractor, I got hooked up with Jason and Justin, and staff, at PT Revolution in So. Lake Tahoe. Having been to a few physical therapists in my life I found their focus on mountain athletes to be unique. They are also the only group where I received deep-tisssue work as part of the therapy. That was a bit painful (less so as I progressed through the visits) yet it was necessary to open up the muscles and tendons of the Rotator cuff to help expedite the healing process.

THAT was my first big takeaway…Massage, deep-tissue work, call it what you will, it’s a big part of rehabbing those shoulders.

Shoulder Work

COMBINE that with some exercises, most of which used the Crossover Symmetry system, and I’m on the road to recovery, with perhaps a caveat. As Justin said early on: “I think you may have some pathology going on in there…” So, an MRI is likely in my future. Still, the progress I’ve made has been surprising in that I didn’t think deep tissue massage and exercises would help at all; I was in so much pain. I couldn’t sleep on my left side, and doing household chores like shoveling snow and splitting wood wasn’t pretty.

SECOND takeaway, and I think Crossover Symmetry says it best: “Research shows that self-rehab helps to fix shoulder pain in several ways. First, movement optimizes your body’s natural healing process. Secondly, it builds a support structure around injuries that cannot heal, often restoring them back to full capacity. Lastly, by correcting the underlying movement issues it prevents the injury from progressing.”

Pain While on the Bike

THAT’S what motivated me to finally go see the doctor. I had been ignoring the problem since last summer, but once I started getting some twinges while riding, mostly when transitioning from seated to standing, I had finally had enough. After all, it is getting serious…the Deathride is coming this summer and I don’t have time for pain.

THAT will come in July!

Skeptic No More

IT’S been about two (2) months or so since I started this little adventure and I am definitely progressing. I was going to PT twice a week, and doing the exercises they gave me while there (after the deep-tissue work) and daily, on my own. Not only were my shoulders and arms getting stronger, so was my core; some of the exercises, while focused on the shoulder and arms, called for good engagement of the lower back, glutes and abs.

I’VE gotten authorization for six (6) more visits, which Jason and I thought we’d spread out over six (6) weeks, mostly so I can get that hands-on help that I think has been crucial to the healing process.

IN the meantime I’ve gotten my own Crossover Symmetry bundle (they’ve got a hip & core package too) and Mrs. California Alps Cycling and I installed the set up in our pain-cave.

THE system comes with some sweet add-ons including charts that are actually comprehendable and an online “Training Zone” with courses, a mobile app. and additional resources.

ACTIVATION is now a part of my pre-ride routine. It “prepares the muscles for activity by increasing blood flow” and it takes only minutes. When I do it I’ve noticed a difference in my pain level while riding. Yesterday I had no pain while riding at all!

RECOVERY post-ride is something I’ve also starting doing and it too has helped loosen up the shoulders and arms after they’ve been bearing the weight of my substantial upper-body. As you’ve likely noticed in the images above, pro cyclist arms and torso I do not have.

STRENGTH and mobility come next but I’ll wait until I’m cleared before I take on those aspects of the program.

THAT brings me to my third, final and most important takeaway, and yes oh clairvoyant one, you’ve guessed it already.

Strengthening those shoulders, and keeping them that way, as well as increasing flexibility, is vital to maintaining the three (3) areas of the shoulder: the scapula, clavicle and upper humerus, and the muscles and tendons that surround and support them.

SO with that said, or written in this case, I’ll sign off and see you out on the road.

YOU’LL know me as I’ll be the rider with the happy shoulders. 😉