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!

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. 😉

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

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

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

But the so-called California Alps, which border stunning Hope Valley south of Lake Tahoe, are just as stupendous, and you won’t break the bank getting there, either. With just two people per square mile, and with 96 percent of the land set aside for public use, Alpine County has bragging rights to secluded lakes, killer peaks, grassy valleys and hiking amid steep canyons and through lush forests.

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

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

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

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

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

Numero Uno – Advocate and Represent

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

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

Numero Dos – Support Local/Area Infrastructure

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

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

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

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

Numero Tres – Join Local Cycling Clubs or Coalitions

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

Numero Quatro – Partake In Local Rides

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

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

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

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

Numero Cinco – Buy From Clubs and Non-Profits

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

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

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

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

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

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

So There You Have It

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

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

It’s a write-off you know. 😉

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

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

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

First Lessons, Grasshopper

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

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

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

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

What I Wore

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

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

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

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

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

Biggest Takeaways?

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

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

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

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

BE safe, stay healthy and have a great week!

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

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

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

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

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

Signs of things past; and things to come…

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

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

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

THOSE passes are calling, after all.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Snow Outside Means Tweaking Your Training – Here’s What I Did Last Week

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
    • Rest Day
  • TUESDAY the 21st
    • Fulgaz – Brugge Oostende
    • 29 miles
    • 1:25:42
    • TSS = 108
    • Worked in 5 miles of Sweet Spot Training (SST) and 3 sets of HIIT (Tabatas).
  • WEDNESDAY the 22nd
    • Zwift – London
    • 21.1 miles
    • 1:07:21
    • TSS = 74
    • Mostly Tempo and a PR up Box Hill!
  • THURSDAY the 23rd
    • Fulgaz – Creede Highway 149
    • 21.9 miles
    • 1:04:14
    • 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
    • 22.9 miles
    • 1:12:31
    • 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
    • 18.2 miles
    • 1:00:03
    • 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
    • 29 miles
    • 1:26:53
    • 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)
      • 2:36:38
      • 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.

Today’s Adventure?

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 Year filled 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.

Snowfall in the California Alps – A Welcome Sight

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.

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

BE CAREFUL.

I’D like you to be able to keep reading my posts, k?

Geologic History of the California Alps – A Primer

BACK in October, as I made my way home from a So. Ca. business trip, I stopped in Lone Pine for a nature break. It was there, at the Eastern Sierra Visitor Center, that I came across the “Geology of the Sierra Nevada,” a Caifornia Natural History Guide, by Mary Hill.

BEING a knowledge junkie, especially about my favorite mountains, I had to pick up the book. Unlike some other guides in my library this one is a good read, made all the more so by some of the nuggets I’ve picked up about the area in and around Markleeville.

BY no means is this an authoritative list, and I’ve just now gotten to chapter 4, yet I thought I’d share what I’ve learned so far about my adopted home. By the way, the image at the top of this post (taken just before last weekend’s tree lighting ceremony) has some geologic significance itself, or better writ, the buidling upon which everyone is standing does.

IT’S made from volcanic ash and tuff (remants of a nuée ardente) and as it turns out, so is the Markleeville library.

Ebbetts Pass

EBBETTS Pass, the north/eastern side of which is my favorite climb in the area, has some interesting history too.

JEDEDIAH Strong Smith, a mountain man and trapper, who was 27 at the time (1826) was the first non-Native American to cross the Sierra, and interestingly, he and his party did it from west to east, contrary to what I had always believed, that the Sierra was first crossed by white folks from east to west.

“ON May 20th,” Ms. Hill writes, “Smith tried to cross the mountains again, this time taking two men, seven horses and two mules. It took them eight days, but they made it, probably at Ebbetts Pass, losing only two horses and one mule. It was the first crossing of the great Sierra Nevada by non-Indians, and it was done from west to east.”

SILVER Mountain City on Hwy. 4 between Ebbetts Pass and Monitor Junction (remnants of the old jail can be seen behind Chris) wasn’t even there yet! It too was made of the same material as the courthouse and the library.

A few other data points, if you will:

  • Markleeville Peak, Alpine County (an andesite dome)
  • Silver Peak, Ebbetts Pass (carved from rhyolite dome)
  • Highland Peak, Ebbetts Pass (rhyolite dome; cinder cone on one side)

Carson Pass

IN 1844 it was John Charles Fremont’s (per Ms. Hill called by his admirers “The Pathfinder”) turn to be lucky. Ignoring the map given to him by the local Native Americans (yup, even then – probably since the beginning of time – men ignored directions) he became lost “but did not admit it, and to keep his company’s spirits up, he attempted to cross the range at what today is called Carson Pass. It was February 1844 and the crossing was a very foolhardy thing to do. The party made it by eating half of their horses and mules and on March 6th arrived at Sutter’s Fort.”

THANK goodness for good BBQ, eh? Okay, likely not the best smoked meats (certainly not as good as ‘Toph’s deep pit meat) but I couldn’t resist. 😉

That’s me on Carson Pass, headed towards Markleeville, on my first visit (July of 2016).

SOME other data that matta:

  • Carson Spur, State Hwy. 88 (Lahar – Volcanic Mud Flow)
  • Thimble Peak, State Hwy. 88 (Lahar)
  • Coincidentally there is a nice lahar just north of Markleeville too. Hwy. 89 cut rights through it.

Snowshoe Thompson

JOHN A. “Snowshoe” Thompson was an immigrant, “pioneer Sierran skier. For 20 years, beginning in 1856, Thompson carried the mail across the Sierra Nevada from Placerville, CA to Genoa, NV (then called Morman Station) using long skis (then called snowshoes) of his own making.”

THIS guy was a stud to say the least. Ms. Hill writes that “he carried no blankets and ate lightly. No blizzard ever lost him. He never had an accident and was rarely paid.”

HE did that for twenty years? Holy snow, Batman!

Looking northwest over Diamond Valley, from the Snowshoe Thompson markers.

LUCKY me, I get to say hi to “‘Shoe” as I call him, often, when riding one of my favorite loops out to Diamond Valley from Markleeville. He lived and died at this site.

That’s a wrap!

LIKE I wrote…a primer this post is.

STILL, I hope it gets your lava flowing a bit. What I’ve learned from this book, as well as other sources, since I’ve lived here makes me appreciate the region even more. And to be able to see a lot of these features, and travel some of the same roads and trails as these early explorers and indigenous peoples, is such a privilege.

COME on up, down, or over and experience some of it yourself. It’s an awesome place geologically and hey, there’s some good beer and grub, and soon, SOME SNOW here too.

YOU coming 🙂 ?