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Old 07-07-2009, 02:14 AM   #1
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Drives: 2007 Yaris Liftback
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Reno, Nevada, USA
Posts: 1,325
Thumbs up Mountain biking on the 4th of July weekend

My friend Amanda set up a ride in Downieville, CA on Sunday, July 5th, 2009 that 8 of us signed up for. Most of us belong to the local TNRG (Tuesday Night Ride Group). This is an unusual ride for us in that we get to take a shuttle to the trail's summit instead of climbing it on our own. The trail system is good for about 17 miles of 4,300 feet of descent and just 700 feet or so of climbing.

I almost backed out of this ride as the previous day had been long and I had been up for most of the night troubleshooting some network and system issues at my company's data center. However, Amanda had already paid for my shuttle seat and I'd already missed out on this trail once before, so I decided it was time to man up and get 'er done.

As it is a long drive we all met at a grocery store's parking lot in Reno in order to set up a carpool. We fit everyone and their bicycles into just 2 vehicles, including my Yaris (2 bikes on the back and 4 people in the car, everyone else and the other bikes in and on a quad-cab pickup truck).

Here I am getting ready in the public parking lot (while stuffing my face with an organic brown rice treat) in Downieville, with my friend Carla (the most athletic chick I know) in the foreground:

While we waited for our shuttle to the top of the trail some Scott reps told us about their new and quite expensive "Genius" mountain bike. Here's their tent with my friend Jamie in the center and Jeff on the right:

Here is a shot of one part of the claim to fame of the "Genius" mountain bike, a 3-chambered rear shock. It is coupled to the other claim to fame, a 3-position lockout trigger system near the left shifter. It allows the rider to select full suspension, half suspension or lockout, for both the front and rear suspension, with the flick of a finger. This is a brand new and patented system that is quite expensive today, but it's on my wish list for the future once the pricing comes down:

We filled every seat of the shuttle and it took us way up into the mountains and dropped us off at the trail head, where the driver took this group shot. From left to right: Matt, Jamie, Steve, Randy, Greg, me, Jeff, Carla and Amanda.

Carla took a spill in the first segment and due to being freshly covered in sun block and bug repellent the dirt stuck like glue. You can see she's riding one of those Scott bikes that was given to her as a demo for the day. I was offered the same but declined as I knew I would want one but the $5,500 price tag is unpalatable to me.

The second segment of the trail started with a drop into this small but rather gnarly gully. It's only about 20 feet deep but it is as steep as can be and is littered with raised and striated rock formations and has a dried out and rocky stream bed at the bottom. Several of us tried it multiple times but none of we 9, nor the other 2 folks that came through, could traverse it without dismounting. This picture doesn't do the gully justice but in it you can see Matt's front wheel warping as he hits some striations at speed and they begin to force his bicycle onto a line that he didn't intend. That's the true problem in this spot, which causes all kinds of unexpected line changes and hops:

After a few miles we were waiting at a bridge over a large stream while one of our guys fixed his flat tire. Matt had the idea to go swimming and I was the first one in. Here's a shot of me diving into a pool below the bridge:

Matt soon joined me and we both soon discovered just how friggin cold this stream is. It is fed purely by the runoff from the snow-packed crags and chutes about a thousand feet above us. This is as clean and pure as fresh water gets but it couldn't have been warmer than 40F! I was alright for about the first 45 seconds but by about a minute and a half I couldn't take it anymore. It sure was a great way to refresh on the trail, though.

We continued on down the trail through some absolutely beautiful segments but it was hard to enjoy most of the scenery as the trail got gnarlier. For example, there were several 90-degree turns no wider than the single track, with a rock wall on my left and a drop off of a hundred feet or more to a river on my right. I distinctly remember talking to myself: "I will not fall here. I WILL NOT fall here." hehe

There were 2 other flat tires along the way and lots of crashes, including my own. I blindly picked the wrong line in a fast section packed with head-sized rocks and lots of scree (small, sharp, loose, layered rock) that bounced my front tire to the right and into a rock garden after being airborne. I got pitched over the bars but was wise enough to roll with it, but even so my left knee and ankle hit the frame as my feet unclipped and the bicycle went flying above me and to the right, then cartwheeled about 10 feet down the 50-degree embankment. As I write this the next day my ankle is strong but sore to the touch on the inside, so it's under an ice pack and I'm covered in band-aids of various sizes on my knee, elbows and hand. Bruises are coming up on that ankle and the insides of both knees but they aren't painful.

For those that are interested our route was Sundance -> Butcher's -> Second Divide -> Third Divide. Here's a trail map:

Once we were back in Downieville we scarfed down huge pizzas and lots of water, lemonade and beer. Here's Amanda, Greg and I stuffing our faces:

Once everyone was stuffed we walked just a few meters down to the river, which is fed by the stream that Matt and I had swum in a few thousand feet higher and at least 2 other streams. The water here was much warmer but was still only about 60 degrees. Still, it felt great and was a great way to end our time in this town. Here you can see Jamie, myself, Greg, Carla and Matt:

It was a wonderful, active, fulfilling day spent with good folks and good sport in a beautiful and refreshing setting, polished by some advanced and challenging trails. Days like this make me so glad I moved to this area, and remind me how precious life, health and friends are.

What a great way to end the holiday weekend.
- Brian

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I often carry 2 carpool passengers and mountain bikes
or snowboards/skis over a 4,500 foot elevation difference.
Click the graphic above to see my detailed mileage logs.
BailOut is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-07-2009, 03:33 AM   #2
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Drives: 2007, Meteorite, LB
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Anaheim, CA
Posts: 2,073
Looks like fun.
yaris-me is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-07-2009, 12:13 PM   #3
Drives: 08 Yaris S Sedan AT Black
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Salina, KS
Posts: 54
looks like a lot of fun. definitely beautiful country up there.
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