Last weekend, on the spur of the moment, I decided to take my Labor Day holiday and Buddy and I went to Downieville for my second time this season and his first time EVER with a big group of friends. We camped, rode, laughed and drank for three days and it was absolute heaven. We rode a new trail there: the Mills Peak Trail. It is hands down my new favorite Downieville Trail! 9 miles of ripping awesome pumpy flowy downhill singletrack – what’s not to love? You can see all the photos from the weekend here, but these are a few of my faves.
One of the things I volunteer for/participate with in my community is the Tahoe Area Mountain Biking Association. I like to say that I do it for work, but honestly, I would probably do it even if I didn’t have a cycling apparel store in town. I would probably just grumble about it a lot more.
One of the things were working on is building a community bike park. It’s going to be pretty amazing: a pump track, mountain bike skills park and the relocation of our existing BMX track all in the same place. I don’t have a lot of time in the summer to participate in trail days, mostly because I’m usually working in my store on weekends. Because of this, I try to make sure I lend a hand where ever I can. We need about $40,000 to build the park from start to finish and we immediately needed a few thousand to pay our killer design firm Alpine Bike Parks out of Whistler, BC. This I could help with: I’m a big fan of parties, as we all know, so I threw a party for the bike park.
I called in some favors from local businesses, community members and buddies in the Outdoor Retail Industry for silent auction and raffle prizes. I convinced my friends who are in bands to donate their time. HUGE thanks to both Dad’s LPs and 4 Piece Puzzle who very generously donated their time and music to the cause.
We had Tahoe’s new delectable food truck, The Yum Truck set up outside to serve food and Briana helped me run a photobooth. (Party ain’t a party without photobooth! Holla!)
After all was said and done, we raised about $1700 for the bike park, which is pretty awesome. I wish more people had come out for the event (there were about 50) but I’m proud of what we did and excited to start spreading the word about Bijou Bike Park.
These are my favorites from the evening, but you can see all of them here.
Our third and final day at MBO was nothing short of amazing. Bill, Megs and I registered for a special shuttle to a trail called Moon Point – nine miles of downhill on a trail that was eerily similar to Tahoe Mountain. I was flipping out a bit on most of the descent because I’d demoed a Felt Edict Pro from Karl with a K, an industry legend who now works for one of my favorite bike companies. While I’m fairly certain that my next road bike will most definitely be a Felt, the Edict Pro is not only way out of my price range but wouldn’t work as my only bike in Tahoe.
Riding the Edict Pro is a little bit like driving a Lamborghini. It was SO light, SO fast, SO responsive, SO nimble that I felt like I was going to launch off a feature on the descent, sprout wings and fly. I spent all nine miles trying to ease into how the bike handled.
At the end of Moon Point you get to join up with a long cross country trail called The Middle Fork that ebbs and flows along the edge of the river. It was on this trail that the Edict Pro and I really found our groove. We HAULED. It was SO fun to get in a big pace group with a bunch of other riders and fly around tight corners. The Edict Pro is an amazing cross country bike and totally meant for trails like the Middle Fork. I felt totally molded to the trail on that bike. If you have an infinite budget for bikes and want a supremely fast and responsive race bike, the Edict Pro is the way to go. Just make sure you get one of those sweet X-Fusion seat posts to go along with it.
Megs and I had originally planned to head to Bend on Sunday afternoon to ride some trails there and kick it with friends but we were both feeling a little biked out and altered our plans to kick it at camp one more night with Bill, Leslie and Jill. It was a really nice way to spend an afternoon: drinking beer on the river!
Camp really clears out on Sunday afternoon and it was a total ghost town. We hung out until the sun started to depart and then headed into Oakridge to drink and eat at the Brewers Union Local 180 which had an awesome vegetarian friendly menu full of delicious options and great micro-brews. We managed to get super sauced and I managed to start a fight with a group sitting next to us that included a woman with fake boobs who had pranced around in heels all weekend at the event. But, that’s another story all together.
On the way home Monday, Megs and I stopped to check out an insanely huge waterfall. It was the biggest waterfall I’ve ever seen and this photo does it’s enormity no justice.
Interested in attending Mountain Bike Oregon 2013? I recommend the August event over the July event, where it’s usually considerably colder, misty and often raining. Registration is already open for next year. If you are an intermediate to advanced mountain biker that is fond of climbing AND fast descents, I highly recommend attending. If you like good beer, are super social or shopping for a new mountain bike and want to demo bikes on real trails, I recommend attending. If you are a beginning mountain biker used to wide flat trails, do not register for this event.
If you want to head to Oakrdige on your own, I recommend the following:
EAT and DRINK – The Brewers Union Local 180
STAY – Oakridge Hostel and Guest House
SHUTTLE – Oregon Adventures
RIDE – Alpine/Tire Mountain/Clover Patch (ATC); Lawler/Hardesty; Moonpoint/Middle Fork; Alpine
Our 2nd day at MBO, the Tahoe crew all registered for the Lawler/Hardesty Double Shuttle for 20 combined miles of very little climbing and super fast descending. I was happy to be on a Yeti SB 66 that day. While it didn’t climb as nimbly and responsively as the Ibis Mojo, it was an aggressive descender and I felt comfortable on it. I would go so far as to say that I felt super strong descending for the 2nd day in a row: confident, calm, in control and fast. It’s amazing what a change in geometry does for my mountain biking skills.
On the 2nd night of MBO the entertainment is always pixie races. Meghan managed to win her heat (against Jill!) but failed to win the semi-final round.
I was really hoping to snag a supreme crash but wasn’t ever in the right place at the right time. I did manage to get this sweet photo of the Aussie that won the event. This was right before he clipped my knee with his pedal yet managed to still stay upright AND win the race.
More on MBO 2012 tomorrow!
Last year, I attended Mountain Bike Oregon for the first time and had an absolute BLAST. The premise is pretty simple: get hundreds of mountain bikers to camp in a city park and set up an adult summer camp. The weekend is essentially all-inclusive and the price (a little under $400) includes all your meals, all the beer you can drink and shuttles to amazing Oregon single-track.
After learning the hard way about arriving late the year before, Megs and I got there with time to spare Thursday afternoon, securing spots for our whole crew on my favorite ride from the year before: Alpine – Tire Mountain – Clover Patch (ATC). ATC offers amazing hard packed single-track under an old growth forest filled with thrilling descents and gorgeous wood bridges. You feel like a velociraptor is going to jump out and attack at any moment. It was every bit as awesome as I remembered.
The number one value in MBO’s sticker price is the ability to get free demos from about 16 different bike companies for the rides each day. On ATC I was lucky to snag an Ibis Mojo SL to ride and I fell even more in love with it than the bike I thought I wanted, the Santa Cruz Blur. Santa Cruz Bikes has recently been an epic fail in my department regarding customer service to my employees and I have to say, I’m not to jazzed on the company anymore because of it. My goal for next summer now is to raise enough extra cash to buy the Ibis. It climbed like a dream, descended like a monster. I loved every thing about it, especially the X Fusion remotely triggered seat post.
Every night in the beer garden you get to drink free beer from awesome craft and micro brewery’s like Hopworks and there is entertainment. I attempted the bike toss, as did Jill and Meghan, but none of us can claim winner to our list of accomplishments.
One of the best things about MBO is being surrounded by TONS of super social cyclists. A really amazing community springs up for a short time and everyone talks to their neighbors and makes new friends. It’s inspiring!
More on MBO next week!
Every year, a friend of mine plans an annual Ladies-Only Trip to Downieville, a small town in the canyons of Northern CA that features some of the most epic mountain biking around. While I was unfortunately unable to attend last year, I had last participated on the trip in 2010 and had an absolute blast so you can imagine how thrilled I was to return for 2012.
Downieville is a really wonderful place. First of all, it’s in a prime location, with huge mountains towering over an idyllic and lush canyon cut away by the Yuba River. In prior years, the trip had only been two days but it was extended for three days of camping, swimming and biking fun.
I arrived late on Monday night, missing that day’s ride down Butcher Ranch, but was excited to learn everyone wanted to return for the same iconic downhill the next day.
Butcher Ranch is the most famous trail in Downieville and it, combined with the efforts of their amazing trail organization, the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship have made Downieville the amazing place it is now. The iconic Butcher Ranch trail is famous for it’s ridiculously amazing descent: 5,000 vertical feet in 17 miles. If you are lucky like us girls, you have a really super cool pregnant friend on the trip to run your shuttle, dropping you off at the top and meeting you at the bottom in the heart of Downieville!
Being more of an uphiller than a downhiller, I found the bottom of the Butcher Ranch descent, the rolling singletrack of the Third and First Divide Trails to be more my speed. They are 3 miles of shaded gorgeous climbs and descents with some technical features but overall, simply solid fast trail. And while you’re at it – no bike ride into the heart of Downieville is complete without post ride beers and a dip in the river!
By Wednesday, most of the girls had taken off so my friend Heidi and I went and re-rode the N Yuba River Trail, a sometimes brutally steep 15 miles of singletrack with 3,381 feet of elevation gain that parallels the Yuba River from Downieville to Indian Valley Campground. The trail is tough and although it took our motley crew of 15 or so girls five hours to do it the first year because of differences in pace and climbing speed, Heidi and I mashed it in 2 and a half hours. We felt awesome afterwards!
Every time I visit Downieville I lament that I am not there more often. It’s less than two and a half hours from Tahoe, super easy to get to and offers world class mountain biking in an adorably quaint town. What’s not to love? I must go back this summer!
SLEEP: Wild Plum Camground #1 is absolutely one of the most gorgeous campsites I’ve ever stayed in.
SUPPORT: Support the trail stewardship of the Sierra Buttes either by joining or purchasing items in their non-profit shop dedicated to furthering their mission. They also provide bike shop services/labor and daily shuttle service in the summer to the top of Butcher Ranch.
You can see all the photos here.
I am on the board of directors for our local mountain biking club, the Tahoe Area Mountain Biking Association (TAMBA). TAMBA is, for all intensive purposes, still in it’s infancy. Once upon a time, it was a thriving non-profit and out of lost interest and lost time, the group fell apart. It was revitalized last year and although we set lofty goals, we accomplished many of them.
TAMBA is dedicated to the stewardship of sustainable, multiple-use trails and to preserving access for mountain bikers through advocacy, education and promotion of responsible trail use. One of our first goals for 2011 was to be actively involved in current planning processes for a community bike park and plans are in motion! By working with another local non-profit, SLT BMX, we are hoping to relocate South Lake Tahoe’s current BMX park to the more centralized Bijou Park, home to Tahoe’s skate and disc golf parks. The BMX track will be expanded and surrounded by a pump track, flow track, and eventually kids and adult mountain bike skills parks. We are currently still in the designing and permitting process but in great need of support and money to help fund the project.
Our nearby community of Truckee, CA managed to build a very similar park very quickly and they have certainly inspired us. From start to finish, the Truckee Pump Track was created from concept to final project in just one year. I represented my store and TAMBA at the grand opening, which was conveniently held on the same day and in the same park as the Girls on the Run 5k.
After seeing how many children and families were out enjoying the park together on opening day, it is even more clear to me why this project needs to be funded and built quickly. It was kids on bikes chaos and I loved it! There were hundreds of people of all ages there enjoying the new park. I was astounded.
These are a few of my favorite photos from the afternoon and you can see the whole set here. I am so inspired by all these kids on bikes! I love bikes and I love to see other people enjoy them as well. Especially kids. Because, really, what better is there than the freedom of your own volition on two wheels?
One of my groups of friends take a vacation together each year to mountain bike in Moab. I wasn’t able to tag along this May because a little beach vacation to Puerto Rico got in the way. They had a dinner party last week to allow everyone to see all the combined photos from the trip and invited me over to join them.
One of the guests recently took a trip to Mexico and came home loaded with yellowfin that he’d caught. He was kind enough to grill some up for us: what a treat!
The night included some spoken word poetry, a birthday cake loaded with bike reflectors, great food, lots of laughs, and for some, a bit too much tequila. Oh, and burgers sandwiched between huge slices of my jalapeno cheddar bread.
You can see all the photos here, or just skip it and try to contain your jealousy of the awesome food we ate.
In early 2011, a group of mountain bikers came together with the idea to revitalize the Tahoe Area Mountain Biking Association (TAMBA), our long dormant local group dedicated to the creation and preservation of mountain biking trails in the Tahoe Basin. As the manager of a local business that depends on cycling tourism for survival, it is in my best interest to support and aide in the development of cycling advocacy, education and trails as much as possible. I hold a board position (secretary) on both TAMBA and our other local cycling club, Alta Alpina.
Last night, TAMBA hosted our end of the season bash and screened a bike documentary, Pedal Driven. We had a huge raffle (I didn’t win anything!) and a really good turn-out.
Aligning the wants of local mountain bikers with the wants of the USFS is a seriously difficult task. At TAMBA, we’ve spent the year trying to build a foundation for advocacy, education, activism and trail building that will help make the relationship between forest service and local mountain biker a positive one. I’m really excited with what we’ve been able to accomplish at TAMBA in less than a year: four successful 20 person trail days, 250 members, and a lot of momentum for future projects with the USFS. You can read more about TAMBA at our website.
You can see all the photos from the event here.
This past weekend, Al and I headed up to Oakridge, OR to attend Mountain Bike Oregon (MBO). It was the GREATEST.
First of all, its a huge event: 340 attendees this year. You camp out in the Oakridge City Park, which is right on the Willamette River. I’m honestly not sure how big Oakridge is, but I can tell you that it’s considerably smaller than Tahoe. The event lasts for three days and for three days they feed you, beer you, and shuttle you to the trails of your choice. Bargain.
Within the 340 attendees, there were about 10 girls and the rest were middle aged men with wives and children at home that were essentially high as a kite every day and trying to ride bikes faster than each other. This equal fairly consistent hilarity, especially if you’re Allison who discovered that every time she rode up on a middle aged man’s tail on the trail they would push themselves outside of their comfort range, panic and crash all because they were too proud to pull over and let someone by.
The greatest part of the event was the 20 some-odd vendors and bike companies in attendance. I’m honestly not sure why I even took my bike with me! I rode a different bike each day and now I’ve fallen in love with something very expensive.
We arrived pretty late at night on Thursday and missed the more popular trail sign-ups. As a result, Al and I rode a trail called Heckletooth. While the bottom featured some seriously fast, flowy singletrack, the top was an absolute nightmare: insanely steep fall line pitches followed by the tightest most blown-out switchbacks I’ve ever seen. I had demoed a Santa Cruz Nomad which was considerably more bike than I was used to and featured the widest handlebars ever. I fell more times on that ride than I have ever fallen in my life and I have the cuts, bruises and wounds to prove it. I am a veritable puzzle of black and blue. At one point I ended up upside down in a blackberry bush and it was not comfortable.
The next day’s ride was more my style: Alpine trail was 15 miles of fast singletrack under gorgeous canopies of tall trees. You whizzed by steep sidehill and tried not to look. I was also on my new crush, the blur (see above, “expensive”) and we really understood each other. The bike climbs just like my swift, responsive hardtail, but descends like something plush and airy. I love it.
On Sunday I signed up for a considerably longer ride that featured the top half of the trail we’d ridden the day before (Alpine Trail) plus something called Tire Mountain and Cloverpatch. The ride tally was 25 before the 8 mile return to camp. After two days of pedaling, I knew I’d be tired but I had heard amongst other participants that it was worth it. They were right.
Tire Mountain was an alternate universe. I fell in with a group of somewhat locals who knew the area well. They were able to point out trail features, native plants and give directions. One of the group members told me as we started the climb to Tire Mountain that when you drop down the back side, you “suddenly feel as if you’re in Jurassic Park, like some sort of predatory bird is going to swoop down at any second and eat you.” It’s a completely accurate and eerie description: everything towered over you on Tire Mountain. The trees were enormous, the ferns overgrown, the birds louder. It was surreal.
Every night there was an awesome meal, showers, free beer from four different local breweries and entertainment. Yours truly just narrowly missed winning the women’s bike toss, but I lost to a worthy adversary and an exceptionally good toss.
There were also pixie bike races, which were hysterical to watch and if you were one of the unfortunate folks that either forgot earplugs or didn’t have Al to give you an extra pair, a campsite rave complete with disco ball into the wee hours of the night. Thankfully I was blissfully unaware.
I was really disappointed to leave on Sunday. The weekend went way too fast and was ridiculously fun. As soon as registration opens for 2012, I plan on signing up and I’m taking a whole load of folks with me. What’s not to love? They essentially take all the inconveniences of bike trips (food, cooking, showers, shuttles) and do it for you.
If you’d like to check out all the photos from the weekend, you may do so here.