Monday, December 15, 2014

Rice's Crossing Trail Project

The Bear Yuba Land Trust is hard at work creating a new trail opportunity near Bullard's Bar on the Rice's Crossing property. Currently, the project involves a ~1.5 mile trail that will start on the other side of the Bullard's dam and head south on the property along a ridge with great views.

The trail may extend further in the future, but this is an important start. There is a lot of brushwork required and conditions are challenging. See a map of planned trail below:

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Hole-in-the-Ground and MTB Tahoe 2013

Over the weekend, some of NorCal's finest mountain bike clubs convened for days of excellent volunteer trailwork and fantastic riding as part of MTB Tahoe 2013. Our trailwork effort focused on Hole-in-the-Ground Trail near Truckee, CA. We implemented features near Andesite Peak to improve water runoff and sustainability for this popular trail.

Participating groups included Tahoe National Forest, Truckee Donner Land Trust, FATRAC, ROMP, MORCA, BONC, MCBC, BTCEB, and San Jose Meet Up.

A big thank you to Deschutes Brewery (beer donation), REI, Tahoe Daves and Olympic Bikes.

See more pictures.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Hirschmans Trail Volunteer Effort

We had a fun, super efficient trail volunteer event on the Hirschman's Trail Saturday.  About 25 of us worked to rock armor and place gravel upon the Woods Ravine spur. This section has clay soil that becomes a mess after rain. We laid down gravel over 1/4 mile of the trail so it should hold up quite well to traffic and weather in the future.

Thank you to all our great volunteers, especially the wonderful kids who pitched in and made us smile. Kudos to Bill Haire and the Bear Yuba Land Trust for letting us improve a another part of the very popular trail.

See some pictures.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Singlespeeding: One Year In

About this time last year, I wrote a blog post about my then new singlepseed. One year later, I find myself drawn more than ever to this bike. Out of my collection of rigs, it is certainly my favorite.

How did this happen? How did a bike which delivers one gear, exponentially more pain on climbs, and zero rear suspension become my first choice for fun?

There are a number of reasons, some of which are easier to understand for those who already attend the Church of One True Cog:

SIMPLICITY: The shifting system of modern bikes is precise. It is also heavy, complex, expensive and prone to misfire and even self destruction in mud and weather. I choose to ride this bike frequently in the colder months partly because of its simplicity. After a ride, just hose it off, wipe it down and hang it up.

CHALLENGE: This is the part that non-singlespeeders find most confusing. They shake their heads as they see us standing up, grunting away at climbs on which they can gear down and ascend with relative ease. But here is the thing: I don't want "relative ease". Twenty years into this mountain bike thing, I look for different experiences, including hard ones that test my stamina and determination. I already know that my uber plush bike can zip down rock gardens with ease. Question is: how can I perform without all this technology?

WEIGHT: This point is easiest to understand: the bike is six pounds lighter than my full suspension pig.

TRAINING: When I compare my times on my usual local loops, the singlespeed almost always bring me in faster. Why? Because you have to go faster/work harder on climbs, there is no choice. See aforementioned Challenge section.

My singlespeed does not work well for all rides, I would never take it to Grouse Ridge, nor would I choose it for rides with exceptionally steep, prolonged climbs. But this bike has found a place on my local trails. And in my heart.

See article from last year.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Starting in on Cyclocross

Yesterday, I participated in my first cyclocross race, right here in Grass Valley. I went into this event with a wide open mind and low expectations of myself, which allowed me to thoroughly enjoy the experience.

The Condon course has a reputation of being very challenging and technical as far as x courses go. The dry weather and late start time for my category left the trail very beat and loose. Sections were like the moon surface, allowing those skinny cross tires to kick up dust and blanket the faces and lungs of racers.

After the start, I quickly settled into a too-fast pace that I could only maintain for two laps. It took some time to acquaint myself with the intensity and speed of everything. I fouled up my first obstacle crossing (too many distracting cowbells) and was too conservative attacking some of the tight turns. But it is OK: I get to be a rookie!

I placed rather poorly (18/24 in B45+), but that I am OK with this. I'd like to blame my time on crashes/handling/mishaps, but honestly, my fitness is not yet up to the standards of my crazy fast SERT/SHOAIR teammates. I am amazed at how you racers can redline it lap after lap!

I have a long term plan to become fast enough to be competitive and it was good to check in and see where I currently stand. I hope to race additional venues in the Sacramento Cross series soon.

THANK YOU: My daughters (who screamed encouragement on every lap), Duane Strawser (who put in many hours making this terrific event happen), volunteers and everyone who cheered me on.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Improved Bridges on the Tribute Trail

Recently, Eric Newman and the NU miners mountain bike ream worked with BONC to improve a bridge on the Deer Creek Tribute Trail in Nevada City.

Because of original restrictions on design, the bridges are tough to navigate for cyclists and trail users with strollers. Under Eric's direction, the volunteers worked to widen the entrances of the first bridge. Soon, they will continue to do the same for the remaining two wooden bridges on this popular trail.

Eric Newman is an excellent contractor, in addition to coaching the NU team and being an all around great guy. A big shout out to him and Terry Hundermer of BONC who coordinated to make this happen.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

MTB Specific Trails - Better as the Exception, Not the Rule

There is a movement in mountain biking to build MTB-specific trails. As with other fashions I've seen come and go (remember the freeride craze of 2001-2003), I'm not especially excited by this trend. Instead I feel that mtb-specific trails should be the exception, not the rule. The North Umpqua Trail (NUT) makes my case perfectly.

The NUT is arguably one of the best trails in the Western United States. It snakes along the North Umpqua River in dense forests of Douglas fir in central Oregon for over 60 miles. It is a mountain biker's dream: challenging climbs, technical sections alternating with fast flowing ones, incredible scenery and switchbacks that are ridable. All with great camping and swimming nearby.

Here is the thing: the NUT is great for ALL kinds of non-motorized users. Hikers, equestrians and cyclists alike can enjoy its entire length without having sections segregated by either trail design or closure. No one is excluded by the demands or preferences of another group.

Rather than mountain bike specific trails, it often makes more sense to advocate for trails that are mtb friendly. This means trails which include features enjoyable to mountain bikers, but not at the expense of other trail users. These features include berms which are not crazy off-camber, navigable switchbacks, grades which exceed 10% for only short periods, turns with open sight lines where possible and choke points that calm speed before a blind corner.

I've seen many trails which follow these conventions that are MUCH more fun to ride than certain mtb-specific trails, which are often over-built with mechanized equipment that make them ride like pavement. Having said this, I have ridden and enjoyed well built mtb-specific trails. The Fruita and Grand Junction area offers such trails, including Holy Cross and Freeride. Note that these particular trails rely more on existing terrain and onsite building materials to make them special, not an earth-leveling dozer.

Don't get me wrong: a properly built mtb-specific trail can offer a fun experience. I just don't think it should be the default ask of mountain bikers. Put the shoe on the other foot: what if you were a cyclist interested in an exciting new trail but local equestrians demanded it be designed with only horses in mind (wider trails, extended steep grades, perhaps gravel surfaces, etc.) it might come off as a bit selfish.

It takes a large volume of support from a community to build legal trails, often more than the local bike contingent can deliver. Many people need to unite to make it happen and only a few people are needed to derail it. Rather than pitching for a trail geared for only one user group, it is a more attractive offer to build a trail that works well for everyone, including cyclists. With this approach, we can get more trails on the ground and more options for cyclists to ride in the local trail inventory. Which is the best possible outcome of advocacy.