Friday, July 27, 2012

Return of our ride leader

Tuesday's ride was great.  RG and Lady Captain met Beans, Councilman and me at the lot for a proper send off.  We were amazed by RG's Di2 set up and Lady Captain's 29er.  Xterric shuttled Nocar up and the shuttled riders were all startled to see our ride leader, Lars at the knott lot with Gold wing, local unknown, Squish (handle not officially given) ready to ride bringing the total to 9!

Lars took the group up qualifier, dropped chopping block to the canal trail, up Hazel creek to a loop around (see maps above on top right area).  Local unknown got a rear flat and I stayed back to make sure everything was safe.  With a quick repair, Local unknown and I met up with the group.  A decision was made to long ride.  Local unknown headed down barnes back towards home while the 8 others headed off to Cappys crossing (is that right?).  We crossed MET headed downhill when all of the sudden, Councilman when down from a rut in the trail.  Councilman's knee and forearm took a beating.  After Cappy's crossing, Lars took us back to MET to drop the left lip.  The ramp on the left lip decent is now completely un-rideable.   At the bottom we headed clockwise around the lake and Lars decided to wrestle with a tree by heading straight in to it but got more hurt than the tree.  We skipped Palins, took a brief swim and headed off to tacos. 

GPS says: 23.5 miles, 3hr 12 minutes, 6k ft of climbing

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Critical (M)ass

With a timely departure from the Squito lot, 2 cars rushed up to enjoy an otherwise splendid evening in the woods of Pollystan. Newbie, B, Council, RG, Cappy, and Safety rolled up to a largely full Knott lot, as well as THTH, Bambi, and Unknown Local kitting up for the night's event. Xterric made us 10 strong and our own critical mass leaving the lot. Cappy offered his RL services, and none objected. We immediately went through the backdoor to Sly Park Rd, down to the FS station and B's chin. From there we climbed back up to MET, and then onto a CCW tour of Fleming. Ever-clever, Cap'n pulled a last second turn onto 8B, and it was a dusty free-for-all down to the bottom. After a more than "3 min" feed stop at the bottom, we climbed out.  RG, Newbie, Cappy and others pushed a quick clip and we  soon regrouped at trail 8. From there we popped up to the proper Fleming parking lot, and, surprise, a handful of unexpected riders. Despite our efforts to swell our ranks to that of 15, our friends were part of a group camp experience, and were looking for the rest of the loop and the route back to their comrades. We offered lights and promised good times, but they parted ways just the same. 

We soon climbed Redneck Rising and topped out at MET. Cappy, sensing some fatigue, or perhaps grumbling from Peter, offered either a detour to his namesake Cache, or a shorter route home.  Few seemed interested in the former, and once the vote favored beers and food, it was decided we would drop the L lip, then ride some of the upper horsetrail, plunge Palin's and climb out from some "dam play". Turns out, we lost a couple riders at the junction to the horse trail (which we skipped), and then again at the turn off from Palin's to the bottom of the dam (skipped that too), so we ended up with a bit of backtracking, group separation, and finally the much loved sighting of lights on lower Palin's. 

In true RL form, with all riders accounted for, Cappy suggested a much needed swim for the rest of us. As our waning riders rolled up onto the second dam and down towards the marina, we gave them a signal from the dock. By the time the other half rolled up, they were treated to what can only be called a critical (m)ass of swimmers. By the light of many moons, they made their way into the water, swap laps, and eventually headed for tacos. 

The earlier activity had died down at the Knott, but, AGAIN, we were treated to a fresh tray of chicken bake and chips. I'm not sure who paid what and when, but this is the second time in as many visits for me. Our hors-oeuvres were quickly demolished, followed by a number of 6 taco orders and myriad PBRs. In a first for this politician and connoisseur of hot foods, I was forced to abandon 2 of my pre-sauced tacos. Latent stomach issues prevailed and I left the table with Knotts in my stomach and my head held in shame. 

Discussions included more details on the weekend's Downieville Classic, nick handles for Newbie, and future installments of LRP. With a field of 10, a good pace, no mechanicals, and minimal lost ridership for a group that size, this can be counted as one of the more successful FT3 events, and reminiscent of years past. I know B has photos and perhaps video of the peloton in action. 

Looking ahead (brought to you by LRP):

B is rallying for a high elevation route on Thursday afternoon.  

The XP remains in season and open for a future assault. 

Newbie and others are gearing up for KWalification. 

The FLL rides are under discussion, with what will surely include a solid tour of South Lake summits. 

It's summer, and it's time to get your ride on. Until the next round….

Your Councilman

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What trail are YOU on anyway?

The Downieville edition of FT3 LRP was a success. We arranged a camp in the high country at the foot of the Sierra Buttes on the shuttle route to Packer Saddle.  Myself (RG), Jersey Designer and critters (Ruby and Opal) were joined first by Car Owner, then No-Car and B and Booker; the animals are formally mentioned as they became integral to all camp activities.  I did a brief scout of the area and discovered my semi-retirement dream occupation - new owner of the Packer Lake Lodge; it’s a gem of a location, walking distance from our camp which had close access to MTB, OHV, bird watching, fishing and a myriad of other activities, with all sporting participants mingling harmoniously.
Since Friday arrival times were not confirmed before leaving the grid, our brief ride-long ride plan changed to one long ride with members on location.  After requisite repairs and fueling we were rolling up the Packer Saddle Road for the classic Lavazolla Creek ride.  We allotted 5 hours with a leisurely pace.  On the steep road section to the saddle we ran into a full kitted BMC rider who turned out to be Gavin Chilcott, business manager for the team and close friend of one of my college racing buddies.  Once on the ridge we headed north on the OHV trail toward Deer Lake, either mystic forces of trail riders past or willing confusion soon had us riding some of the best single track the west has to offer.  The perfect temperatures were complimented by a nice strong breeze all along the ridge.  We were treated to views of the Sierra Buttes, Gold Lakes and Downieville drainage basin at every turn.  We came across a few each, friendly, stone faced, and mildly vocal hikers on this awesome trail and said out loud, "this can’t be wrong, it would be a crime not to ride this trail."  This logic relieved any lingering guilt and we continued our low impact pace on this stellar single track.
Once we arrived at the A-Tree spring for a well deserved break, rebel ride leader angst was exchanged out for some serious focus to tackle the rocky OHV descent. We gathered at the first creek crossing with one minor scrape (mine).  A couple more creek crossings and fun two track brought us to several miles of sweet Lavazolla Creek trail; perched over the creek on our left, a few small rollers rewarded us with several miles of perfectly pitched single track.  Thirty minutes later we emerged from the woods to take a break and reflect on the fine terrain.  One more short section of single track dropped us on to some super fast two track with nice rounded water bars, air time optional.  The fire road then led us past a couple of  mountain ranches, both off the grid and heli-pad equipped. More downhill fire road and an obscure right turn dropped us onto the final leg of well traveled First Divide single track.
Our on time arrival in town brought several welcome sites, our shuttle drivers Jersey Designer and Booker, a cold river, store with cold beer, and both of our expected Friday arrivals, Network Peddler from Santa Cruz and our new Placerville residents Newbie and Olive Oil (you know Popeye’s SO) and four legged companion Jackson.
After our shuttle we all settled into camp and attempted to co-mingle our critters, but the skinny one, fast twitch Opal was not comfortable with a longer legged canine camp dweller, Jackson, so we partitioned them to separate camps. B started prepping his 4 course warrior approved MRE, while Debbie prepared her trail warrior a 3-star feast.  The requisite beer drinking and camp fire banter ran well into the evening.
Saturday’s route selection required some creative thinking and exploration.  Several folks, rightfully, did not want to push a weekend rebel ride. So we broke out the maps and charted a combo single track/OHV route that led us back up the ridge with several options, near and far, back down the Downieville drainage basin.  The Deer Lake Trail started right out of camp.  Its steep pitches and various sized broken granite proved to be quite a challenge, a qualifier on steroids to say the least.  After 1/4 mile Network Peddler chose a b-line route to the ridge while B, Newbie, and No-Car and I tackled rocky pitch after rocky pitch, each of us hitting and sustaining red-line until fail or complete exhaustion.  Newbie made some minor adjustments to his pre-ride bacon consumption as we leap frogged up this knarly trail.  We reached the Connect Trail for the final sprint up to the ridge.  After checking our respected electronic devices for mileage and time we all agreed it was the hardest 3 miles of riding any of us had ridden, so far.  
We did not find Network Peddler at the designated trail/OHV junction and assumed he continued on.  B, No-Car, Newbie and I then rolled the first section of 4-WD trail, it was a hoot, two sets of lines with many trial features made for a rollicking decent.  A few steep pitches and encounters with some amazed and over accommodating 4-wheelers brought us back to a 2nd set of trail junctions.  We all agreed that a left turn toward Snake and Hawley Lakes with an A-Tree mid-point destination was the chosen route.  A quick scout in the opposite direction to determine the hiking trail/OHV junction led us to Network Peddler and two hikers trying to determine their own location.  After a group consultation and map viewing, we continued on our designated routes, NP stuck to the ridge trail with the remainder of us determined to tackle the 4-WD route. Things got interesting rather quickly as the trail pitch steepened and the soil to rock ratio decreased.  Newbie impressed us all with his off the back fully committed attack of this hardest ever decent attempt;  ‘Taint Scraper’ or ‘Talus King’ are two permanent Taco Handles that came to mind, although the first might not be appropriate since his junk was actually planted on a fully locked rear wheel and technically not ‘scraping’.  Not to be out done we all made attempts to duplicate Newbie’s heroics, unfortunately mine ended in a half clipped fail and roll down the rocks; lightly scathed but writhing in pain, I commenced into a fully animated ‘Rocking God’ prayer, searching for a return of large boulder two wheeled karma.  Evidently the 4-wheelers assembled at the bottom of the trail mistook the prayer for violent involuntary convulsions and started contemplating medical assistance options.  After the flesh wound blood coagulated and we briefly inquired about beers from the wheeler crew, we carried on our scouting journey.  A few more steep rocky rollers led us to a junction point at Hawley Lake, B’s GPS assisted evaluation directed us to the low road, I insisted high road, after a quick decent and lake drainage creek crossing, I back tracked on locked in on my designated route, not waiting for my three riding partners; you can see where this is going.  I rode on at a steady pace with the map route seared in my memory.  The next junction looked familiar via a memory check and I continued descending, 1/2 mile later the 4-WD track ended and the cross country trail skirted around the wrong lake; the Spencer Lakes were no where in sight so I opted for the ride of shame back up to the last trail junction.  With an extra mile of Type II trail under the belt I was glad to see my riding partners just starting the same route in search of their wayward rider.  With fatigue setting in we continued to ride/push back the ridge.  In fairly short order the two track had us back on the ridge at the trail/OHV junction; we were at a familiar spot but were all perplexed at where we missed the intended mapped route.  I was tanked and could already taste the A-tree spring and opted for the known single track route, the three remaining trail warriors stuck to the OHV route along the ridge.  

We reached A-Tree and a well rested Network Peddler at nearly the same time. Re-grouped and re-fueled we then re-traced the previous day’s route; however, two days and nine hours of trail miles made this version of the descent a bit more challenging.  We encountered a group of motorcyclists making their way up trail, about 5 riders back one, then another rider stopped to greet us, it was none other than infamous Oakland Moto-Bros and fellow dual sport riders Jim and Craig.  It turns out they have the inside track on the private Hawley Lake retreat we passed during our 4-WD track trail scout.  We were all anxious to reach the river, beer and waiting shuttle driver Olive Oil, a no fuss descent down First Divide had us cross paths with the only riders we encountered all day.  Six hours of hard core trail time, had me reflecting it as the hardest ride in recent memory.  A well deserved river refresh for all found us witnessing low key No-Car’s near hooking by some dim witted fisherman which seemed to be his closest brush with disaster all day.  We bolstered the local economy with consumption of liquid and solid calories and eventually got around to our shuttle trip.
Everyone got settled into camp for recovering and refueling, preparing for a camp fire that turned out as outrageous as the trail day.  I was anxious try out dinner at our local lodge and restore the DTI in the process, it was well worth the wait as we were treated to a fine meal and spectacular views. Sunday morning we all returned to the lodge for a nice reasonably priced brunch; that is if you exclude the $8 bloody mary.

Saturday's Ride Stats

The late night fire activities and Sunday trail report will be left to the HCF as I wound down early for both.  Looking forward to FT3 LRP 3 2012.