June 26 – July 12
Folsom (Ventana Visit) / Downieville / Tahoe / Mammoth
Folsom / Ventana Visit
Thursday June 26th we did the long drive from LA to Folsom. Original plan was to hit up an afternoon ride with Aaron, Sherwood, and maybe a few others at Granite Bay in Folsom. With all the fires burning in NCal, the sky’s were very smokey and we all thought better of it. Coolest thing was that Aaron showed up with Sherwood, and we all went out for dinner! Ended up not only having dinner, but after, going over to take a tlook at the Folsom BMX track, and then over to old Folsom for a walk around at their weekly night-time farmers market. Really cool to meet Aaron and Sherwood (the owner of Ventana Bikes), and get to hang out.
Friday June 27th, we hooked up with Aaron, and the three of us road the Salmon Falls trail. The smoke was pretty thick, and the temps warm, but we still managed to have a good time.
After the ride we headed over to the Ventana Shop and got the full tour. We met Shewood, Teresa, Paul, and the rest of the guys. Truly amazing what these talented people do. Raw materials come in, and out go some of the most beautiful bikes in the world. Everyone at Ventana was so friendly. Sherwood spent a lot of time with us, demonstrating various stages of the process. From CNC to the welding process, to paint. If you think you loved Ventana before, take a tour and find out about the people and processes behind your ride.
Check out Competitive Cyclists recent visit to Ventana here.
Saturday June 28th we again met up with Aaron at our Hotel. We followed him out to Sly Park / Fleming Meadows. We met up with the whole group! Sherwood was out to do the ride with us too. We road a super fun 20+ mile ride. Almost all single track, through the trees. Amazing. It worked you though. After the ride we rolled back to the campsite that Steve had. BBQ dogs and burgers for everyone. Truly a great day, with great friends.
Tomorrow, on to Downieville.
We headed out of Folsom Sunday, June 29th, driving the 49 towards Downieville. We pulled in about 1pm and headed directly to the Grubstake for lunch. Cool place with good food and a large beer and wine list. Right away we figured that we’d be back for dinner and drinks, but this was not to be. The Grubstake isn’t open Mon, Tues, or Wed. Downieville is a very small town, and the sidewalks roll up very early. For the rest of our stay we really only had two choices for food, the pizza place, or the deli counter inside of the small market. Both of these places close by 7pm! There is a bar, and we did head in there each night for a drink. The bartender was cool, and we got to see bit of the “local color”.
After lunch at the Grubstake restaurant we checked into our room at the Riverside Inn. The Inn is a cute place with small rooms and a view of the Yuba River. Later that afternoon we stopped by Yuba Expeditions and got ourselves booked on the 9am shuttle for the next morning.
That evening we had dinner with Myke of Velo City Bikes. I know him from the MTBR.com boards. He and two of his buddies were up for the day to ride.
Monday we got ready, hopped on the bikes and rolled over to the Yuba guys. By about 9:15 we were loaded with a full van of other riders and headed for the Packer Saddle trailhead about 30 minutes away. Once at the top everyone geared up and started to head out. There are a few choices at the top. Lori and I did the “classic” Downieville Downhill. This is a 17mi ride that is almost completely downhill. It’s got some tough sections, and we did walk a few of the short, more technical bits. The surrounding forest is beautiful. You follow or cross several creeks as you descend.
Tuesday we decided to try riding down along the North Yuba Trail from Dowineville. We had read that there was a section that wasn’t quite finished. We found this to be true. I’d say right now this is more of a hiking trail. We turned back and then climbed Lavezzola fire road to top of the second half of the First Divide (the last part of the downhill we road on Monday). We road this single track back to town.
Wednesday morning we loaded up and headed out. Next stop, Northstar at Tahoe.
NorthStar – Tahoe
Wednesday July 2nd we pulled into the NorthStar ski area and checked in. We’ve got a sweet condo right under the main gondola lift. We can watch the gondolas and bikes go up the mountain from our living room window. We got our junk moved in and then wandered down the short path to the NorthStar mall area. We managed to get a bite to eat. Here like Downieville, things close up pretty early.
Thursday we got geared up and rolled down the hill, like 100 yards, to the lift area. We did two runs from the lower half of the mountain. For “blue square” / intermediate runs, they were pretty techy. Our next two runs we did from the top of the mountain. We kept things pretty much to the intermediate level runs. Not many pictures. At NorthStar the majority of riders are running DH bikes and full face helmets. Serious stuff here. That night we drove up to Truckee for dinner and drinks. Truckee is really going on.
Friday July 4th we decided to explore around a bit. We drove back up towards Truckee and then west over the Donner Pass. We were looking for some photo ops, but between the hazy skies (fires in N. Cal) and just lack of finding anything interesting, we crapped out.
Saturday July 5th we woke up to fairly clear skies. We loaded up and drove the 30 minutes or so over to the start of Hole-In-The-Ground in Soda Springs. The start of the ride has you cranking down the Donner Pass road for a couple of miles looking for the USDA Snow Lab. Well, some how we rolled by this and ended up at the over look of Donner Lake. Not a bad thing to have to look at.
Anyway, we turned back and put in another couple of miles back down the road before we came to the “Snow Lab”. From here you climb a bit of fire road before crossing under Hwy 80. Shortly you come to the start of the Hole-In-The-Ground (HITG) Trail. Start by climbing for a bit to a beautiful over look.
The trail continues, occasionally crossing a small trickle and often tackling a semi-technical rock section. This is a great trail, but be ready, it takes some time, and will work you. (We discovered that we don’t tend to take photographs of the more difficult sections for some reason).
We had heard that there might still be some snow to cross. We could only find some in the most shaded areas, and had to pose to get in shots of it!
We took the short detours to both Sand Ridge Lake and Lower Lola Montez Lake.
As we moved into the last 1/3 of the ride, the smoke started to come back into the picture. We were tired and happy to be back at the car after about 24 miles (a few extra due to our over-shoot at the start).
Sunday the 6th we did the famous Flume Trail in Tahoe! It was a welcome cruise after yesterday’s beautiful, but tough workout. We took the shuttle from Spooner Lake up to Mt. Rose. The ride starts out smooth from the meadow. It swoops and flows a little up, a little down for most of the 20 miles. This trail is awesome and fun! The views are amazing! There are four miles that run right along the cliffs that overlook Lake Tahoe. The trail winds down past Marlette Lake, which is truly gorgeous with all of it surrounding foliage. The last four miles are downhill on a fire road lined with trees.
On Wednesday, July 9th, we got lift passes to take the gondola to the top of Mammoth Mountain. It was a little hazy with smoke from all of the fires, but not bad. It was almost chilly at 11,000 feet. We did two long runs and two shorter ones, mostly sticking to intermediate trails. We had ridden our bikes from our motel room, which on the way up was hot and unpleasant. But it sure made for a long, sweet cruise through the trees all the way back Downtown Trail at the end of our day. Those swoopy curves are a blast!
Thursday we headed out for a photo safari. We packed a lunch and drove to Bodie (the historic ghost town from gold mining days). We spent the entire afternoon exploring and recording the abandoned buildings, the rusted machinery, and the beautiful scenery. It’s hard to believe that it was once a bustling town!
Friday was our last day of vacation. I (Lori) woke up with a weird stiff neck that I could hardly move. So, I did a little shopping while Todd did a small bike ride on Uptown/Downtown Trails. Our day was pretty mellow. Our evening got interesting when we inadvertently joined the Jazz Jubilee crowd at the Mammoth Brewery. There was a live band and the place was packed. It was kind of fun, and funny.
Saturday we had to head home. The smoke was pretty bad all down the state. We could hardly see the mountains through the white haze. We listened to local radio stations as they shared their announcements of things for sale, rooms for rent, and jobs available. Finally we resorted to the trusty iPod to save us. We made pretty good time driving, with no problems. We were eager to look again at all of our photos in order to relive the best moments of our trip. :)