Monday, September 12, 2011

Home to Tahoe on the CSTR course.

This is my second overnighter since I pulled the plug on the Colorado Trail Race in July. My left hand is just not co-operating for riding right now and I can either work or ride, guess which one wins out. Surgery is going to happen here in the coming months so I just decided to suck it up and try to get the CSTR course layed out a weekend at a time, no way will I be able to run the whole course this year, way too much going on both physically and mentally.

Not much riding has been going on, yet alone training, too many big changes in my life to have riding be a priority so it was bit of a stretch to think I could make the 140 or so miles to Lake Tahoe without some suffering. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but there was certainly some suffering going on out there.

I worked a 12 hour day on Fri and was pretty wrecked before I even headed out the door at 7:30 for the 40 mile 5000' climb up to Robinson Flat for the night. I had gotten GPX tracks for the first 50 miles a few weeks ago so I didn't start the GPS until I got to Forks House Rd. I decided to take the route up trail 5 out of China Wall for a little more dirt as the rest of the route up to Robinson Flat is paved, not a huge deal as the first 50 miles has only a few miles of pavement.

I finally made my way to Robinson Flat and up the Little Bald Mountain Trail at about 10:30 and got to setting up camp. It was a bit breezy which meant the temps were nice, the summer setup would do just fine. 

First trip on the Anthem 29er
My camp spot at 7200' on Duncan Peak, Sat morning.

I was on my first trip on the new Anthem, a great bike but my pack job was a bit off, the seatbag rubbed on the first large hit I took. This meant a full repack job on Sat morn, no big deal and it was nice to see the sun rise on a spectacular morning.

Pondering the land I'll travel over today
I'll be headed over the farthest ridgline you see. 

Once packed up I was off on the Western States trail down to Glenn Mine, the opposite direction of the Tahoe Sierra 100 for once! From Glenn Mine it was on to French Meadows Reservoir and up and over Chipmunk Ridge on a nice dirt road to Hell Hole Reservoir, I know there's a story there but I've yet to find it.

Western States dropping off Duncan Peak

French Meadows Res. disappearing below me.
Once I arrived at Hell Hole Res. I was off on the Hunters Trail, a trail I'd ridden 10 years ago but not from this end. I had wanted to find a route around Hell Hole, but the trails that led from here to Loon Lake had not been maintained in years and the massive amount of downed trees meant there was no way that was going to work. Hunter Trail was a blast, alternately really technical and really swoopy fun moto stuff, good times on this 10 mile stretch of trail!
Hunter Trail, let the pushing begin! Actually not too bad, less than a 1/4 mile. It's steeper than it looks!
A little techy!
The Fun Stuff!
Pretty good views here!
Classic Sierra mining trails

From the bottom of Hunter Trail began the sucky part of not being able to follow the trails out of Hell Hole, a 20 mile 4000' climb up to Loon Lake. It's mostly  back roads and where it's not, it's got a 6' shoulder, but it's road and I really wanted to minimize that, Damn Forest Service! About five miles short of Loon Lake the thunderstorms that had been in the area the past few days let loose with thunder, lightning and rain. I found a big Sugar Pine to hide under and looked over the maps for the hour it took to blow over.
An unusual Sierra thunderstorm
I finally made Loon Lake and with a bit of searching found the Rubicon Trail that headed out to the Desolation Wilderness, I would turn off a bit before the wilderness on a faintly used trail at Buck Island Lake that would eventually lead me to the Rubicon OHV trail, a world famous jeep route. The trail to Buck Island Lake was typical for the day, super sweet stuff followed by unrideable sections, nothing long, no more than 50-100' sections, good thing the views are amazing!
The good stuff
You're gonna have to be a good chunk rider to stay on your bike here!
More fun stuff!
Once I finally made the Rubicon OHV trail it was all about being amazed that vehicles can navigate this stuff. More impressive is that this was a trade route in the 1800's and wagon trains rode these trails, amazing! There's some really fun granite slab riding in here but I was too busy having fun to take any pictures, plus I had to make it up in front of the jeeps who really didn't understand what the hell I was doing up here on a mountain bike.
The pictures don't do it justice, those are 3 foot high boulders with drop offs the back side.
Those are nearly as tall as me on a 60 degree slope.
I rolled along the Rubicon trying to stay on my bike as much as possible, I only saw one jeep on it's side and I bet they spent the night right there. At the Rubicon River the trail turns to river bottom dirt road and really easy riding. There is an historic resort and springs along the river from the 1800's that now caters to the thousands of jeepers that travel the trail, amazing to wonder how all that stuff got down here in the 1800's, there is a heliport now for the less hardy settlers!
The bridge over the Rubicon River.
From Rubicon Springs it was time to get used to pushing, Cadillac Hill awaited me! I had only heard about this hill, it was a good solid 1/2 mile push but much more rideable than I thought, all in all not bad. At the top of Cadillac Hill you start to get a glimpse of the enormity of this area and the hellish time the early settlers must have had. That is one impression that this race will leave on you, those were some tough folks to eek out a life in these places.
The bottom of Cadillac Hill, that's steeper than it looks as well.
More Cadillac Hill, I had a hard time pushing up this, once again, steeper than it looks.
Some big country out there!
As Cadillac Hill leveled out it became pretty fun, just techy enough to really challenge you, but minimal pushing to go with the fun stuff. At this point I was getting out near 75 miles on some pretty rugged terrain and the long day on Friday was catching up to me. I decided to find a spot prior to dark and get to bed early. I knew I was close to Lake Tahoe at this point and certainly could have pushed on to the lake, but the camping options get limited the closer you get to the lake and I didn't want to get some crappy spot in the dark. I found a nice level spot at about 7200' and got a fire going quickly to ward off the mosquitoes who were out in force. a nice dinner of tuna, salmon and crackers followed up with some dark chocolate and I was off into the bivy. It was considerably colder tonight and I was happy to see the sun come up on Sunday morn. and get myself together for the drop to Lake Tahoe.
I rolled out around 7:00 and made my way on the now lovely flat to downhill Rubicon OHV trail along some stunning high meadows and lakes, by 8am I was at the lake!
Millers Meadow
Rubicon Lake
Still gotta pay attention on the easy stuff.
The final destination....
At the lake I rolled the final 10 miles on HWY 89 to the next dirt section at Ward Canyon where the race will start on the Tahoe Rim Trail, an epic experience for the next 140 miles! A nice breakfast in Tahoe City and another 20 or so miles of the Rim Trail with Mary (who was nice enough to pick me up!) was a perfect end to a great weekend.

All in all a great trip. I was worried about this section of the route. Would it be too hard? Would it be too much pushing? Too much pavement? In the end I think it's just fine as it is. It is the only route through the Sierras to the west shore of Lake Tahoe, so it is what it is, but in the end I'm happy with it. Totals for the weekend were about 130 miles in about 16 hours riding time, Ward Canyon puts me at about 180 miles from Auburn as the first section of the race. Thanks for reading.

1 comment:

  1. Great write up Sean, the words and pics really make me want to do this next year now!