Wednesday, December 27, 2006


OK, first it was frost. Now it is the endless days of rain. You see, I knew this was coming. It comes every year, "it" being the long spell of cold rain days that keep me off the trails until I become annoyed and restless. This year it seems particularly frustrating, as I have been very focused on achieving a high level of fitness.

Sure, I could use a trainer or go to the gym. But those things are B-O-R-I-N-G. One of the wonderful things about mountain biking is that it is so much fun that I don't notice how hard I work while I am on the bike. It gets me in shape without forcing me to think about the pain. In the gym or on the trainer, that is all I think about.

But in case my complaining is getting you down, think about how nice it is not to deal with dust on the trails :-/

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Rebel Ridge

Today, Shannon and I rode Bullard's Bar and had a chance to see first hand the work that Joe Chavez of the USFS did on the Rebel Ridge trail. Great stuff. The rolling climbs and re-routes he worked on are built very well and look like they will be very stable once they settle in.

Bullard's is a funny place. It offers great trails, but the trails inevitably are hammered each year by the winter. Trees fall, water crossings wash away culverts and erosion takes out entire portions of the trail. Part of the problem seem to involve the size and density of the trees there and the slope of the terrain. I wonder if the soil composition is to blame as well.

Having said that, Bullard's was great today. Very few trees (maybe 4?) were down and even after recent rain, it was rather dry. I suggest heading out there now before Mother Nature takes her annual toll on this system.

Of course BONC and SBTS will be out there on February 18th to do our part. Come out and join us.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Frosty Trails

Am I the only one who has been amazed at the amount of snow and ice are on our local trails these days? In the last few days, I rode at Empire Mine and Round Mountain and felt like I was sledding much of the time.

I theorize that all of this is because of recent weather patterns. We received a lot of rain, followed by unusually cold evenings. Thus, each night the water in the ground freezes and never has a chance to evaporate until very late in the day.

Even here in Bay Area, we're seeing a lot of frost. I rode this morning at El Corte de Madera and there was a lot of white stuff on Highway 35 near La Honda.

I don't have any specific technique for riding on ice; I pretty much point the front wheel straight and pray.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Bullard's Bonanza

Sunday, 2/18 is BONC's annual Bullard's Bar Trail Day! Please join in as we help improve this trail system with the Forest Service. We'll have some swag for participants, food, drink and precious, precious beer. Please bring your bike, as you'll need it to access the area where we will concentrate our trail efforts. I am sure some of us will ride afterwards.

Meet @ 10AM at the Camptonville FS Ranger Station or meet at 9AM @ the downtown Grass Valley Flour Garden to carpool with anyone who is interested in sharing a ride. If bad weather occurs, please call 530-274-DIRT after 8AM on 2/18 to determine if the event will be rescheduled.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Beginner and Intermediate Mountain Bike Rides

Just starting out riding a mountain bike? Darwin Leek has begun leading rides out of Grass Valley. According to Darwin:

"Most Saturdays, Empire Mine State Park. Meet at Chiropractic + 605 South Auburn Street, Ste: D Corner of Empire & South Auburn Streets /Front parking lot Empire Professional Building. Rain Cancels. Call 530-273-8082 (press 6 to leave message) day prior, or early morning of to see if ride is on for that day. Need H20, proper clothing for temps, bike, replacement tube, helmet, good attitude."

Join the BONC list to learn more about other riding and trailwork events.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Bullards Improvements

Joe Chavez of the USFS tells me that over the weekend, he re-worked some of the switchbacks on Rebel Ridge Trail at Bullards. He asked that we stay off the old alignment and allow the area to re-vegetate. Hopefully, BONC will be able to get out there in the coming months to do some trailwork of our own. I am hoing for a February 17th date.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Building Trails on Rattlesnake

Bill Haire of the Nevada County Land Trust writes:

"Do you want to get out and do some trail work Saturday morning (12/2)?

I will be helping the Rattlesnake Road residents with some trail construction this Saturday, and they can use some help. The trails they are constructing are in some of the open space in a subdivision off Rattlesnake Road, public trail easements were made a part of the subdivision process, so now some work is required to make the trails a reality.

If you are interested in helping, just show up at 9:00 a.m., Saturday morning at 14676 Highland Drive (Highland loops around with both ends connecting to Rattlesnake Rd.)

I will bring the Land Trust tools, so just show up to work 2-3 hours."

Monday, November 27, 2006

Listening for More Trails

According to the USFS: "The Forest Service and IMBA California are co-hosting a series of public listening sessions to help shape new riding opportunities in the state's 18 National Forests. These sessions, held throughout the state, will result in improved mountain biking in California National Forests, including the possibility for new trails and better management."

Go IMBA! What a great project. These meetings are very important and represent a great opportunity to improve mountain biking opportunities on USFS land in places such as Downieville, Tahoe and elsewhere. Please consider attending.

Learn about meeting times and locations for sessions you can attend.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Ghost Train Project Needs You

The Forest Service could use your help as they re-work the switch backs on the newest section of the Ghost Train Trail. This project is specifically intended to make this climb more ridable for mountain bikers, so it would be great if you could volunteer. We need to show the USFS and others that we stand behind their efforts to improve riding conditions for mountain bikers.

Meet at the Chalk Bluff staging area @ 9AM on this Sunday, 11/26. Bring plenty of water, gloves and long pants.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Ghost Train Redux

Kudos to the Tahoe National Forest and the Nevada County Woods Riders who put in a hard day of work improving the Ghost Train (Excelsior) trail near Burlington Ridge on Saturday. According to Joe Chavez of the USFS, they achieved the following:
  • Created rolling dips along the entire switchback section for long-term drainage.
  • Debermed portions of the switchback hill section, for drainage.
  • Rerouted a 150' overly steep section.
  • Enlarged and flattened (a little) 2 of the 19 switchbacks.
If the area is not under snow this Sunday, volunteers plan to work out there again. Want to help out? Show up at the Chalk Bluff staging area at 9:00 AM. We need some mountain bikers to show up and contribute!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Hallelujah Trail Extension Complete

Thanks to GCTC, BONC and the USFS, the Hallelujah Trail extension project is complete. Yes, this means you can ride or walk this non-motorized singletrack trail as of now!

The trail now extends from its current west terminus all the way to Skillman Campground (see image of older map).

Many thanks to the dedicated souls who ignored the impulse to ride on Saturday (a gorgeous day) and put in significant effort to get this done.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Yet Another Study: Bikes Do No More Damage Than Hikers or Horses

Once again, a study intended to measure the relative impacts of different trail users has concluded that "certain impacts to mountain bike trails, especially width, are comparable or less than hiking or multiple-use trails, and significantly less than impacts to equestrian or off-highway vehicle trails."

Opponents of multiple use trails are quick to assert that bikes destroy the environment and natural terrain. But again and again, this is refuted by studies on the matter. In fact, such assertions on the evils of bicycles in the forest are just myths perpetuated by folks who cannot stand the idea of sharing trails with other user groups. I think these people would be happier if they just formed an exclusive country club with private trails on private land.

Fortunately, here in Nevada County, we have a great community ethic when it comes to trails. Cyclists work hand in hand with the equestrian community to build, share and enhance trail riding opportunities. And the vast majority of our trail inventory is designated as multiple use.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Scotts Flat Recap

BONC had another great effort on the Scott's Flat Trail last Sunday. BONC joined forces with the Nevada Onions team to clear this badly overgrown trail. Lots of lopping and trimming as two power hedgetrimmers blazed along. We cleared the section from the boat launch heading west to the dam.

This spring, we can do some additional work to repair the muddy sections on this trail. In the meantime, it would be useful you could bring handheld clippers on our rides down there and trim back the trail east of the boat launch just a bit at a time.

Thank you to all participants! It is great we showed NID that we can successfully work on projects like this. It bodes well for other NID trail projects.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Extending Hallelujah Trail

The fine folks at the Gold Country Trails Council and the Tahoe National Forest plan to work on the Hallelujah Trail on Saturday, November 4th starting @ 9AM. Please join us!

Meet at Skillman Campground and be sure to bring gloves, long pants, water and snacks. Map of approximate meeting location.

Once the Hallelujah extension is complete, it will add a great non-motorized, all-singletrack loop to the local trail inventory. View a map of trails in this area.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Other Norcal Trail Trails

My job brings me down to the Bay Area frequently. I like to bring one of my bikes with me and get in some quality rides while I am there. The picture here is of me riding Saratoga Gap near San Jose, CA.

Riding there is definitely different than Nevada County. The trails see a lot more traffic. Generally speaking, they are less technical and definitely less rocky. And there are less trails in the first place. But they do take you to some beautiful vistas and locations.

As I used to live in this area, I know these trails pretty well. I like to ride Skeggs (El Corte de Madera), Saratoga Gap, Soquel and UCSC/Henry Cowell. It is definitely hardtail friendly terrain. Soquel is really fun because it offers a lots of jumps and drops, which I am always fond of.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Trail on the Flat Lake

On Sunday, October 15, BONC will hook up with the Nevada Onions mountain bike team to improve the trail that contours around the northwest corner of Scott's Flat Lake. This trail is part of a popular route from Nevada City and Highway 20.

This is an interesting project for a number of reasons. First, this trail is on NID property. For years, NID was not exactly the most trail friendly organization around. But this has all changed. After many years, NID staff and management have embraced community efforts to create and improve trails in Nevada County. The perfect symbol of this is that the Nevada County Land Trust holds its Trails Committee meeting at NID headquarters. This is big departure from years past. Yeah NID! I am hoping this project is the first of many with NID cooperation.

Secondly, this project involves the Nevada Onions high school team. It excites me to think of these kids learning how rewarding it can be to build and improve a trail and perhaps going off to become expert trail builders themselves. In the very least, these kids will learn to appreciate how trails come to be and thus respect them.

As for the trailwork itself, we will be trimming overgrowth that is kinda ruining this trail in spots, as well as repairing some sections that have become wet, muddy or badly eroded.

Hope you can join us. Bring long pants, gloves, water and loppers if you have them. Meet at 10AM on 10/15 at the first Scott's Flat Lake gate as you head down Scott's Flat Road.

By the way, is it necessary to call this lake "flat"? Is there such thing as a hilly lake?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Tahoe Trail Extravaganza

See the full event report here.

Last weekend, NorCal mountain bikers convened for a weekend of camping, eating, drinking, riding and trailwork on the Tahoe Rim Trail. Last year I organized this event under the auspices of NorCAMBA as a means of giving back to the Tahoe Rim Trail Association , which has built one of the most incredible multiple use trails in the United States.

We had a fantastic time. Thanks again to Fox Racing, NorCAMBA, Patty Ciesla and the Tahoe Rim Trail Association. I can't wait until next year!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Tahoe Rim Trail Epic

Last year's NORCAMBA TRT Epic was amazing. We did some exceptional rides, garnered huge amounts of swag and improved the incomparable TRT. This year's event promises more of the same great times. And guess what: it is free (including camping)!

As for riding, there will be group rides Friday, Saturday and Sunday. You can view Sunday's advanced ride route in Google Earth. Or in Google Maps if you prefer. Additionally, we will build 500 feet of causeway and add drainages to lift the trail out of a wet area near Brockway Summit.

Free registration is required. Come up and ride primo Sierra singletrack with us!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Creating a Future Great Ride

Trailwork days are not all created equal. Some are laborious and sweaty. And some are laborious, sweaty and incredibly rewarding. The latter aptly describes Saturday's trail building on the Donner Lake Rim Trail. After riding Hole-in-the-Ground Saturday and camping, we worked away on a delicious piece of Sierra singletrack from near Hole-in-the-Ground towards Summit Lake. We worked a multi-use section that will end up creating the next great local high country ride.

Our efforts involved some very interesting rock work, which is always exhausting but absolutely fascinating. For folks like me who dig a technical trail, this is your chance to make a section as fun and challenging as you want. You can lay out the trail exactly as you see fit given the available layout and collection of rocks. It combines the high of Legos with the satisfaction of building something that will make you shout "yeeehaaaw".

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Hole-in-the-Ground and Snow

An annual frustration is trying to determine how much snow is still left on a higher elevation trail before I try to ride it. This was particularly important this week as I have planned a group BONC/FATRAC ride for Hole-in-the-Ground Trail near Donner Summit. I heard so many conflicting reports that I decided, screw it... I would go see for myself. So I did a very fun solo ride on HITG on Tuesday 7/18.

The verdict? I found some small patches of snow, but 99% of the trail completely rideable. In fact, it is primo right now, as the hordes have not yet beaten it to a dusty, rutted mess. So I hope you can join us for this event.

FYI, I try to keep track of snow conditions on the BONC trail guide webpage.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Donner Lake Rim Trail in Google Maps

As you may know, I work for Google on the Google Earth product. Recently, Google enable new technology which allows you to view the same geographic information (KML files) in both Google Earth and Google Maps.

This is where my job becomes cool. I get to use my professional expertise to promote outstanding trail projects like the Donner Lake Rim Trail. So I created an online map of this new trail that you can view in both Earth and Maps:

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Making New Trail Experiences

This time of year, I begin to obsessess about higher elevation trails. I wonder what is yet clear of snow and what Sierra adventures I'll experience this year before the snow takes it all away again. Even after seven years of living in Nevada County, every year, I learn about new high country trails in our area that are fantastically fun to ride.

The Donner Rim Lake Trail could be this year's discovery for me. BONC has a trailwork day planned for July 23rd. What is better yet is that the Truckee Donner Land Trust (the great organization building this trail) has asked us for input on creating fun mountain bike features for this trail. I plan to fully take advantage of this offer and help make a super fun (but sustainable) trail for us to enjoy.

To fire you up for this trail project on 7/23, I have included some images here of the new trail and the great views it affords.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Wrestling With Manzanita

BONC had another great day of trailwork at Malakoff Diggins creating a new section of singletrack at the top of the Slaughterhouse Trail.

About ten of us (two with chainsaws) worked this trail until we were ready to retire, drink beer and suck on salsa and chips back at the trailhead.

The trailwork was slow going because of the thick, deep manzanita roots that were so difficult to remove. The next time I work on a project like this, I will insist that we route the trail around such old thickets of manzanita. It is just requires too much effort to cut through this stuff; we have had to work this 1/2 mile section on two days and we are still not done yet.

Having said this, the trail looks really nice and it is in a very pretty area of the park. The plan is to return to finish this trail this fall or winter once we see some rainfall. Stay tuned for details.

In the meantime, you can help out by walking or riding the new section to help settle in the trail and prevent the plants from growing over our work. Just watch out for the remaining manzanita stumps :-)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Trail Around Donner Lake?

Yesirreee, thanks to the Truckee Donner Land Trust there soon will be. Imagine riding Hole-in-the-Ground, and then extending your granite slab bike adventure for up to 22 more miles!

And you can help make it happen. Join BONC and FATRAC on July 22-23 to help us complete the latest higher elevation trail in Nevada County. We will help build a section of the forthcoming DLRT, which will be a great local riding option with gorgeous views and some fun technical sections. Details forthcoming about meeting time and place. Please save the dates for now.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Wrapping Up at the Diggins

BONC and friends will finish building some brand new singletrack at the Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park on June 11th. Join them as they wrap up construction of the new section of the Slaughterhouse Trail near where the Rim Trail ends above town.

Note that BONC is very much in need of chainsaw certified volunteers for this effort. More info here.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Help Build the Narrow Gauge Trail

Bill Haire of the Nevada County Land Trust has diligently worked on acquiring trail easements for the long-planned Narrow Gauge Trail. This exciting project would connect Grass Valley to Colfax via a trail that would follow the old NCNG railroad route.

If you are interested in helping out, check out this trailwork day:

Saturday, May 13, 8:00 a.m. and will end at 12:00 noon Trail maintenance on the Narrow Gauge Trail. Bring loppers, pruning saws, pole saws, and weed eaters if you have them. Meeting place: Happy Apple Kitchen, park at the left side, next to the fence.

We will be trimming and removing brush, tree limbs, etc. from the railroad grade on those segments of the rail road where the Land Trust holds a trail easement.

We recently acquired an additional easement on the route and are working on securing several others. We will also be meeting with Cal Trans regarding obtaining an encroachment permit for portions of the railroad grade that fall within the highway easement.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Cutting New Local Singletrack

On May 7th, a bunch of us convened at Malakoff Diggins and roughed in a new 1/2 mile section of singletrack that will serve as the new top of the Slaughterhouse Trail. Way cool because BONC asked State Parks for some additional trail access there years ago and now we see the result of our persistence.

Additional pictures: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Ah... Spring on Our Trails!

What could be better than hiking/riding in the Sierra foothills during warm spring weather. The weather is warm, but not roasting yet. The trails are free of snow, but not dusty. Conditions are optimal, except... except for the HATEFUL leaves that are sprouting everywhere.

I have had a lot of luck with Tecnu over the years. I have also used their new Xtreme product, which is xtremely xfective after infxtion (sorry, I just detest that lame-o "X" abbreviation). The trick is to use these treatments ASAP after contact. And ignore those poison oak myths that Uncle Bob recommends.
Fox Racing Shox to Support Local Trailwork

The cool folks at Fox Racing Shox have kindly donated some swag to this weekend's trail work event at Malakoff Diggins Historic State Park.

Fox has been great with trail advocacy and has always shown to be very generous with such donations. So how can you pick up such fabulous swag? Join BONC at this trail event.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

New Singletrack at the Diggins

BONC and Fox Racing Shox are hosting a trail day at Malakoff Diggins.

The idea is to cut a new section of trail at the top of the Slaughterhouse Trail and open the entire trail to multiple use for the first time! Fox has donated a bunch of swag that partipants can fight over ;-)

Meet @ 10AM at the Rim Trail trailhead above town or meet at 9AM @ the downtown Grass Valley Flour Garden to carpool. If bad weather occurs, please call 530-274-DIRT after 8AM on 5/7 to determine if the event will be rescheduled. More information here.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Bike Skills Park in Grass Valley

On Monday, the Grass Valley Parks and Recreation Commission will hear about a preliminary proposal to build a bike skills area at Condon Park or elsewhere on City property. Please attend to show your support for such a facility. The more people we get, the better!

WHERE/WHEN: Council Chambers at City Hall, 123 East Main St. Grass Valley. Monday, April 17th at 3PM

This facility could include trials/freeride obstacle and structures that allow users from beginners to experts to improve their skills. These might include teeter totters, ladders, logs, drop offs, etc. Additionally, the area could include dirt jumps both big and small. So this would be our skatpark in a sense. In fact, I hope we can build it next to the park. Learn more about successful bike skill areas.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Wolf Creek Parkway Gains Crucial Support

By a 5-0 vote, the Grass Valley city council approved the Wolf Creek Parkway Alignment Study and Conceptual Master Plan. This fantastic proposal would result in a non-motorized urban trail through the heart of Grass Valley along Wolf Creek.

Once funding is secured, much of the building of this parkway will occur in stages, so we need to be patient. Other such amenities such at the Steven's Creek Trail in Mountain View, CA are terrfic assets to local citizens and provide a quite, beauttiful alternative corridor of transportation right in the middle of town.

(Photo by Rick Sanger of Wolf Creek Alliance)

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Empire Mine May Grow By 30%

There is a movement afoot for the acquisition of parcels on Osborne Hill by Empire Mine Historic State Park. The map to the left show the current park boundaries. This acquisition is fantastic news, as there are a lot of fun, twisty trails in this area.
How legitimate is this effort?:
  • The property owner is signing a willingness-to-sell letter
  • State Parks is signing a letter expressing their interest in theses parcels
  • The Rural Quality Foundation is submitting a grant proposal for funds for the purchase(s)
  • The Nevada County BOS is expected to sign a letter of support this week.
Learn more about this here (PDF file).

How can you help? Attend the BOS hearing and speak up in support of this project! The hearing is on April 11 at 2:30PM at the Rood Center in Nevada City.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Oroville Trails Need Your Support

Few things disappoint me more than seeing trail users fighting each other or trying to hoard trails to themselves. Yet that is exactly what is happening in Oroville. A loud minority of equestrians would like to keep these PUBLIC trails for their own use. Fortunately, many other equestrians, hikers and cyclists would like to share these trails.

I never know why folks like this see publicly owned land as some sort of country club. If you don't want to share a trail, go buy some land, put up some fences and build your own. I can only imagine how many new trails could have been created for everyone in recent years if these folks had concentrated their efforts on cooperation instead of acrimony and accusations.

But you can help and here is how.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Snow Takes Our Fun Away

I suppose this is not true if you are a snowboarder or skier. But our local trails have seen enough snow cover for this winter if you ask me. So when will spring arrive? 2007?

Check out this picture I took from a Sunday ride in Auburn. Calling this a ride is a bit of a stretch. I think "bike sledding" is more like it.

But things could be worse, like for this guy in the Cool mtb race :-o

Monday, February 20, 2006

Osborne Hill Trails Threatened

Trails at Osborne Hill near Empire Mine have been ridden by the public for many years. The area features outstanding singletrack. A proposed high end development would eliminate most of these trails. Read this article to learn more.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Join BONC at Bullard's

NOTE: This event was re-scheduled because of weather. Date TBA.

Sunday, 3/26 is BONC's annual Bullard's Bar Trail Day! Please join in as we help improve this trail with the Forest Service. We'll have some swag for particpants, food, drink and precious, precious beer. Please bring your bike, as you'll need it to access the area where we will concentrate our trail efforts. I am sure some of us will ride afterwards.

Meet @ 10AM at the Camptonville FS Ranger Station or meet at 9AM @ the downtown Grass Valley Flour Garden to carpool. If bad weather occurs, please call 530-274-DIRT after 8AM on 3/26 to determine if the event will be rescheduled.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Bullards in Need of Love

Word is that the trails at Bullards Bar suffer from many downed trees and landslides.

Check back here soon for an announcement about upcoming BONC trailwork. I hope you can join us; this annual event is always fun.

BONC has maintained Bullards Bar trails for many years. You can see some of the group's fine efforts here. Bullards Bar offers a terrific winter trail experience, as it is lower in elevation than other local areas. However, it invariably sees many downed trees during the winter months. The USFS works with BONC and other groups to keep these trails in shape.