Tag: featured

Autumn is in the Air in Markleeville – Here’s a Beary Good Update!

AHH, the sweet, cool wind. Those regularly scheduled afternoon breezes…The robins are here. It feels almost like normal here in the heart of the California Alps. After weeks of fires, and fire related ca-ca, it’s a relief. That’s not to say it’s over. We know fire-season isn’t, yet it feels good so we’ll take it.

AND what perfect timing…It’s Fall!

ONE of our fall traditions here in Alpine County is a good old-fashioned clean-up day.

AND so it was that last Saturday a bunch of us Markleevillians, and Woodsfordsians, some Mesaites; and even some Gardnervillians, too, found ourselves banding together, whacking, pulling and pleading with various bushes, trees, and weedings. I know, weedings is a bit of a stretch, but work with me, k?

WE hit up Markleeville, Hope Valley, Hwy. 88 and Hwy. 89 (litter pick-up on these highways some of us have adopted), picked up piles of pallets and gobs of glass. Old can dumps, and loads of biomass (mostly pine needles), along with what seemed at times like entire pieces of automobiles, were collected too.

MO Loden, former (sad 😭 that you’re leaving but congrats on the new gig, Mo!) Watershed Coordinator for the Alpine Watershed Group herded all of the cats and organized our big ol’ event. Click here, by the way, to see a more recent pic of the gang, and learn a little more about Mo, and AWG.

AFTERWARDS it was lunch at the Library Park (courtesy of Outwest Cafe – thank you Buzz, Jamie and Joey!). Was a nice group, many of whom stayed to visit. Unfortunately for me, like I said, fall is in the air. And that means…

CHORES around the house. Things like covering holes recently made by some electrical panel work, raking pine needles, and clearing dirt and debris from around the generator so we can be ready for the Public Safety Power Shutoff (that fortunately never came). But, those winds sure did. In fact, earlier that day, when out on Hwy. 89 doing the Adopt-a-Highway schtick, I looked back toward town and saw the topsoil blowing from the forest floor (no more vegetation post-fire) and it was insane. With the howling winds, blackened bushes and trees with no tops, it felt and looked apocalyptic.

GAWD, I hope we haven’t turned the corner. I don’t want to be a dinosaur.

Image courtesy of space.com.

SERIOUSLY, Mark? This post is going to the dark side, man. Let’s move on. Fall isn’t a bummer. It’s a beautiful time of year here in the Sierra. Sure, some of the forest is gone but a lot of it is intact. Take, for example, this photo, which I took last night.

SUNDAY we saw a bit more of what’s to come while having a nice lunch at Wylder Resort in Hope Valley. Sitting on the deck (it was a little windy) in the aspens, with our friends, one of whom we hadn’t seen since Christmas of ’19, felt so good.

THE food was great. Even with the 7000′ foot tax and the various service fauxpas. “No I ordered the tuna on ciabatta and the potato salad, not the tuna on greens with potato salad.” “She ordered the ham and onion quiche, not the veggie quiche.” “Sorry, we’re out of the ham & onion.” It was almost comical yet we laughed and continued to reminisce.

STILL, the staff did an admirable job. The two free glasses of wine and extra potato salad helped smooth things over. As did the Bloody Mary’s prior.

WE forgot about the pandemic (even though we talked about it) and the fires (ditto); and we just reveled in the day, and each other, and our friendship. It was a special afternoon, indeed.

Speaking of Special Afternoons

THERE’S one coming up this Saturday, the 25th. The Candy Dance is happening in Genoa (and we’ve gone every year), but we’ve got our own little “Aspen Day with Friends of Hope Valley” thing going on, so we’ll be hanging there instead. Candy Dance Sunday maybe.

THERE’S a famous comedian, Mark Lundholm, making the trek to town the same night. Woo, hoo, big shit happening here in Alpine County let me tell you. There’s more to come too. Click here to check out the Chamber’s events calendar.

Riding?

Riding, you say. Yeah done some of that. There seems to be a little less wind most days and the air has been clear – although last night we saw some 150’s again, this time from the fires to the south, in the Sequoia Nat’l Forest. Will it end?

THERE I go again. Dark side. Back to cycling…

Alta Alpina members were wowed with a windless night at last Thursday’s Diamond Valley Road Race. I didn’t get to see it or race it, though, dang it 🙁 ).

I haven’t been quite so lucky but the riding has been good nonetheless. Check out last week’s post if you haven’t seen it. Great day on pebbles (and sand, and rocks and Pinenut dirt). As for here… Not too many cars and fall temps (32 yesterday a.m.) make for some great riding.

SOME charred forest awaits you but none after Monitor Junction if you want to take a ride up to Ebbetts Pass (my fav).

Fall colors starting to show on Hwy. 89 (looking south towards Monitor Junction).

BEER also awaits you (at the Cutthroat)! And some leaf-peaping. And some grinding (food or gravel). Speaking of grinding (the edible kind), did I tell you that the Salettis, from Gardnerville, bought Stonefly? Our landmark eatery is soon to go Italian. I’m already salivating. The locals who had been to their restaurant in G’Ville are talking them up big time! Can’t wait for some wood-fired lasagna, or that famous coconut cake! Oh boy.

SO, onward we go Alpine County, and you too, I hope. It’s a new season and a new day and this shitty stuff? It shall be displaced by the good vibes, laughter, color and light, of fall.

COME on up for a visit! That’s kinda the whole point of this post, after all. And be sure to let us know you’re coming. We’ll join you for a ride. Or hoist a beer with you. Or just say hi.

HAPPY AUTUMNAL EQUINOX!

Thinking About a Gravel Ride in the Pinenuts? Here’s What You Should Know

OR perhaps more appropriately entitled: Here are some lessons I just learned. Yesterday, in fact. Since Stetina’s Paydirt was postponed, and Chris and I had planned on riding it, we decided to do some of the course.

WE left open the possibility we would do the entire route (~63 miles and 4700 feet of climbing) but it turned out that bite was more than we could chew. We did, however, get in 42 miles and about 2800 feet of climbing.

GRAVEL riding is hard. Not that we didn’t know that. Still, the experience is enlightening; you never know what you’re going to get. Or what’s going to get thrown at you.

The Weather Was Amazing!

IT had been so long since we had experienced clean air and average temps. A light breeze, about 65 degrees at the start (8:30 a.m.) and nice clouds and light winds all day long. It did get hot towards the end of the ride but the breeze kept it bearable.

Lesson #1 – Leave early and beat the heat!

HAD we been out on the course for much longer it would have been a different story.

Running Out of Water Made It Even More Epic!

Easy to say when you end up getting lucky and finding a spigot with 8 miles or so to go. We had just come off Sunrise Pass Road when my Camelback put forth no more liquid. Well, I thought, it’s only another 30 minutes or so and we’re on the pavement so…And there it was. The red handled goddess of H2O. So lucky.

Lesson #2 – Bring more water than you think you’ll need.

I had a frame-pack and could have carried another bottle at least but I figured 3 liters (~100 ounces) would be enough. It wasn’t. We were out there almost four (4) hours afterall and on the road I would certainly have needed more; and riding on gravel is more taxing. Duh!

Speed Is Your Friend

MOST of the time. We had put in a good chunk of time climbing out of Brunswick Canyon so when we hit Sunrise Pass Road we opened it up and flew down some of those long sweeping downhills.

Lesson #3 – Gravel and rocks are not tire friendly.

NOT that we didn’t know that but when I saw that Stan’s geyser shooting out of Chris’ rear wheel I knew a stop was eminent. It was pretty frickin’ cool though; watching and hearing that thing go.

Okay, I’ll just put this back on the bike and we can get out of this sun!

TOO much speed can make it harder to see some of those “sharpies.” That’s why, when out in gravel country, you need to carry a bit more gear than you might otherwise.

BETWEEN us we had:

  • Two (2) tires
  • Four (4) tubes
  • Four (4) CO2 cartridges
  • Two (2) pumps
  • Two (2) mini-tools
  • Okay, you get the idea.

HERE’S what I forgot:

  • Sunscreen
  • Stan’s (Chris did have this)
  • Stem remover (Chris had this too)
  • Rag (neither of us had this but I did have some paper towels).

Lesson #4 – Bring what you’ll need for the worst-case scenario!

Paper towels, for example, come in handy, and not just for napkins. They have myriad uses and they are more durable than TP if you get my drift.

AS for sunscreen, we should have brought some for sure. That was a bonehead move. What made it even more bone-headed (on my part) was that I didn’t hose down very well at the start.

DIDN’T even get the legs. Regretting that today. I wore a cap so I didn’t spray the top of my head. So when I wanted to take the cap off…Yeah, it stayed on.

To Pack or Not to Pack?

I went with the frame-pack and the CamelBak yesterday. That was good and bad. Good in that I could carry extra stuff, including the tubes and tire, and a sandwich. Bad in that the frame-pack rubbed on my legs a bit. Another 20-30 miles or so would not have been ideal.

THE CamelBak was especially good because I could drink water much more easily. Most of the gravel sections on this route were pretty technical (at least for me) so not having to pull a bottle to hydrate was groovy. On the bad side…the tube kept coming unseated from its dock. That was a bit irritating.

Lesson #5 – Test and adjust your gear before the big ride.

IT’S not like I didn’t know that. Still, being an experienced roadie, yet a neophyte gravelleur, means I didn’t account for the time that I would spend on the road, er trail.

NOTE to self: About ten (10) miles on hour is your average on gravel. This is not pavement! Got it, Mark? Good!

Sand Can Be Fun

Three hours in and still smiling. What a great day in the Pinenuts!

TO me, that sand is the funnest part of gravel riding. Not so much so at the end of a long day but still…I just love the challenge of staying upright. All that core work comes in handy here let me tell ya!

Lesson #6 – Gear down, pedal, and take as much weight off the bars as you can.

THEN just go with the flow. And remember that driver’s trick and turn into the skid. And did I say pedal, pedal, pedal?

Know Where You’re Going!

ESPECIALLY if you’re directionally challenged like I am. So either load the course on your computer, or have a guide (like I did), or both. Thanks ‘Toph! Old school (like a paper map) works too, by the way.

AND, don’t forget to let your person(s) know what you’re doing, where you’re headed and approximately when you’ll be back.

The Last Two Lessons?

  • Don’t take yourself, or the day, too seriously.
  • Hang on and just enjoy the ride.

THIS ride was really the first time I embraced that gravelleur mantra and so I laughed when in the past I would have whined; and I relaxed and sang along with the music when things looked too hairy or scary.

SO there you have it…Chris & Mark’s most excellent gravel adventure. I hope my takeaways come in handy. As always, though, it’s up to you to do your homework and be prepared.

ONCE you’ve done that, then go ahead, plan that gravel adventure. If you have as much fun as we did then my work is done! 😉

Rest – What a Concept!

ADMITTEDLY it’s been recently forced upon me – rest that is, but nonetheless it appears to be what I needed.

FOR various reasons, since last Saturday’s hike with fellow members of the Alpine Trail’s Association (ATA), I haven’t done any riding, or any strenuous activities for that matter.

SPEAKING of the ATA…Saturday, June 12th is the ATA’s Curtz Lake Trail Day event.

We’d love to see you there!

That Was My Quick Plug. Now Let’s Get Back To Rest

AS I was saying…er, writing, I’ve gotten three (3) full-on rest days since that walkabout (we were doing some fascinating recon – finding missing sections of an old YCC trail) near the Markleeville Airport, and that itself was somewhat restful. We did three (3) miles in the same amount of hours. A nice pace indeed and a nice break from “the usze.” Youze? Yooz?

WELL since then, and as I alluded to earlier, due to work, life, and such, I haven’t been able to put in any serious athletically-oriented time. The benefit? Real rest. And, real recovery.

NOW I realize that this isn’t the best way to gain fitness. On the contrary, my fitness, and the corresponding “scores” are declining. Not for long. But that’s not my point. My point is that I’m REALLY seeing the impact long-term rest is having on my performance. In my mind it’s validating that focus on rest and sleep is as important as focus on HIIT, TTs, endurance and tempo. See this earlier post for more on that if you’re so inclined.

HRV up.

RHR down.

THAT’S the long and short of this little missive.

I don’t share this data out of hubris, no; it’s just that since I’ve been in denial for most of the weekend-warrior part of my life I figured that you too might not be as steeped in those sleep and rest habits as you could be either.

KNOWING these little details has helped me better understand how my body reacts to stress, both chronic and acute, and so I can more easily know when things are off and more importantly, when things are on.

MY genuine desire is that what I’ve learned, and am continuing to learn, will help you in some way.

I’d love to know either way so do comment on this post, will ya?

IN the meantime let’s all relax, have a cerveza, and get ready for the Deathride!

FINGERS-CROSSED, my new, more restful outlook will help come July.

REST ON!

Looking for Balance on the Bike? Think Yin & Yang

“IN Ancient Chinese philosophyyin and yang (/jɪn/ and /jɑːŋ, jæŋ/Chinese yīnyáng, lit. “dark-bright”, “negative-positive”) is a concept of dualism, describing how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.” — Wikipedia.

AS a martial arts practitioner from a dojo that focused on this give and take in its teachings I may be more comfortable than most with this somewhat abstract idea. In fact, I often remind myself, my friends, my colleages, my family, and anyone that will listen to my nuggets of wisdom (IMHO) that “it’s all about balance.”

Yin/Yang can be simply described in day to day concepts that we’re all familiar with: e.g. good v. evil, black v. white, day v. night, etc. yet it can also be described more intricately, as it is here in this image from Yinspired Yoga.

But How Does That Apply to Cycling?

IN many, many ways Grasshopper. 😉

FOR this post, however, let me speak to something that struck me while I was on the trainer this morning doing some sweet spot training. I was focused on maintaining that power at a certain level (the sweet spot), watching my cadence, paying attention to my heart rate and contemplating my breathing. In other words, I was locked in on the data. The Yang.

LAST Friday, though, I wasn’t. Instead I took Beast (a Trek Rail eMTB) out (or it took me out, you pick) for an OaB to Diamond Valley, one of my favorite rides here in Alpine County.

MY legs were sore from the previous week’s training but I wanted (needed) to ride and so I thought an eBike ride would be just the ticket; I’m still pedaling but the bike is helping so much that I can make it a recovery ride.

  • I rode without a power meter.
  • I didn’t focus on my heart rate.
  • I cared not one iota about my pedaling circles.
  • It was wonderful!

I just enjoyed the time, and the scenery. It felt like it did when I used to ride as a kid. And when I got back on the trainer the next day I felt more symmetry. I was more joyful and I was grateful that I had taken the time the day before to just have fun; to just be a dude riding a bike.

NOW this was my balance exercise. It doesn’t have to be yours. Hell, maybe you don’t even have an e-Bike. Maybe you’re a purist and would never ride one, let alone own one. No worries! You could also do an easy walk after a hard ride. A mountain bike ride after a walk with the kids. A yoga session one day instead of hammering like you did the day before. You get the idea.

THE point isn’t that you should do this or that or shouldn’t do that or this.

INSTEAD, we might all spend some time practicing getting out of our own way (i.e. not being so focused on what should or shouldn’t be) and just enjoying the moment!