Monday, October 27, 2014

Owens Valley Cyclocross

Owens Valley Cyclocross #3 at the Wye Road Course went off great!

Fortunately my wonderful wife hustled around and took a bunch of pics. 

In chronological order.

Eric rolls through the "party spot".

Doug drops into the "party spot"

Joe is all smiles in front of fall foliage.

Lots of battles out there. Royce and I were never too far apart.

Pete and Andreas hopping barriers early in the race.

B. Cashore and Eric go at it.

Kathleen pushes it up the run up.

Yours truly runs up.

While the maestro, Royce, rides it!

I've forgotten this gal's name! Apologies. Approaching the run up.

Joe sets her down and prepares to remount.

Kegan about to remount.

Doug drops into the horseshoe section.

Todd prepares to carve the drop in.

Brian too.

Karen wisely takes it with a healthy dose of caution.

Andreas & Bill battle some more

Rolling the meadow.

I try to keep Royce within striking distance late in the race.

Pete sets up for the hairpin turn.

Andreas with mountains.

 Chris chases Todd late in the race.

Pete rolls next to the creek.

The sprint at the end was close, but not close enough.
Royce, B. Cashore, and me.

Post race. Mutual respects!

Big thanks to the photographer.

And her able assistant.

And big thanks to all who came out and rode, cheered, counted laps, roasted brats, sipped beer, set up the course, took down the course, and, most of all, celebrated cyclocross Owens Valley style!!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Nowhere!

Ever since riding up to Masonic with the crew two years ago (click here) I have wanted to explore the region north of the Bodie Hills along the East Fork of the Walker River and beyond.

I figured the wide gravel roads would be a perfect spot to "get acquainted" with my new cross bike and I'd get to see historical sites, big scenery, and, hopefully, some wildlife.

I parked along the East Fork of the Walker River eight or nine miles before the dirt turnoff figuring it would be nice to get a little spinning before and after the gravel grinding. In no time I found myself at "The Elbow" which would be last I would see of the river before it ventures into a narrow gorge. 

Beyond The Elbow, the road climbs steeply for a short stretch and then descends into this broad valley with Mt. Grant in the distance. 

To my surprise a little ranch quickly came to view. A check of the map confirmed it was Nine Mile Ranch (named because it is nine miles from Aurora).

Apparently Mark Twain stayed in this fine old brick house for a spell (reference).
 

Not long after Nine Mile Ranch I came to this junction and decided to head up into the hills for a little change of scenery.

I took the fork into Del Monte Canyon and rode up a few more miles on a pleasant road.

Heading back I noticed a patch of Cottonwoods and Willows just east of the above junction, so I decided to check it out. This is Fletcher Station  established as a stage stop and way station in the late 1860s. Best of all there was a nice spring there to top off my water bottles and freshen up.

Heading back I saw this fine Pronghorn Antelope by the side of the road who seemed a bit wary and a bit curious.

Finally, the last stretch of gravel with the east side of the Sweetwater Mountains in the distance.

Good one. Gotta come back for more someday!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Birthday Mountain Bike in the Sweetwaters

Been way too long. Apologies!

My great friend Jim hooked up with me for another incredible adventure ride. This time in the Sweetwater Mountains.

Started it out with some terrific single track along Desert Creek.

Then some cool rock formations along with some rugged hike a bike.

Crossing the line!

Amazing terrain with springs and meadows galore.

Then some more hike a bike. One hell of a crazy trail here!

At the end of the trail was this nice columnar basalt outcrop.

On the way back the road ran along a ridge with fine views and leg breaking pitches.

Here are the stark high peaks of the Sweetwaters with our ridge road in the foreground. Jim tackles one of the many steeps (click to enlarge).

Nearing the end in idyllic country.

Unreal! Gotta cook up some more routes in this area!
Thanks Jim.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Aurora & Vicinity Mountain Bike

Seeking adventure and some good times with my buddy Jim T, I decided to explore the area around the ghost town of Aurora which is east of Bodie and northeast of Mono Lake. We drove out Highway 167/Pole Line Road just over the California/Nevada border then drove four miles or so along the high voltage power lines. We parked at the junction of the road returning from Alkali Lake.

We were greeted to crisp, blue skies and moderate northwest winds as we headed up the power line road. As we rose out of Alkali Valley we enjoyed these views back to the Sierra (apologies for the poor pic quality, I only had my cell phone along). 

The road was in good shape.  A bit sandy and a little rocky with a few short, steep pitches. Near the top of the climb we entered the burn area from last year's fire which made for a stark landscape. The winds were strong enough there to initiate small dust and ash clouds. Without vegetation, sand transport had created small dunes in the road and some the smaller, ancillary roads were completely buried in sand!

The historical town site of Aurora sits almost adjacent to the modern Esmeralda Mine. This is the view from near Aurora Peak towards the mine with the snow capped Sweetwater Mountains in the distant right.

From the same location this is the view north. The road here alternated between loose basalt rock and deep sand.

The fire had burned into part of the mining operation where we found melted plastic pipe, burnt timbers, and grim piles of scorched mining junk.

A short climb over tailings piles and through a maze of old mining roads finally brought us to the town site of Aurora. Click to enlarge.

Not much remains of the town except some foundations and walls.

The stamp mill still stands proud.

The nearby cemetery was perhaps the highlight of our visit to Aurora.

A Nevada State Senator.

Elaborate brick work.

A husband and wife who came all the way from Ireland.

The graveyard and it's setting put us in a reflective and grateful mood.

We backtracked to the power line road, took a wrong turn, but pretty quickly straightened ourselves out and found the correct road. Initially the road quality was decent, but after a mile or two it deteriorated to a barely discernible track that alternated between loose rock and deep sand.

This was one of the better sections!

The only recent track was from an ATV and it appeared the rider had set pink flags along the route. The road was so faint and rough we had serious concerns we were on the right one, but we found the pink flagging mentally reassuring.

We came across a strange camp along this road with a poorly constructed, but fairly large building, tools, rotting building supplies, and plenty of trash. I didn't stop for pictures as we both were a little concerned about possible occupants! According to the maps there are private parcels in this area, so the camp was not likely on Federal land.

To our relief, this road joined a larger, better maintained road and headed up and over a shallow pass.

The sky grew darker as we entered serene Aurora Valley with Alkali Lake in the distance.

We were thankful the increasing winds were at our backs as we headed through the valley and then out towards the truck. A light snow began to fall as we negotiated the last stretch of sandy road.

By the time we were done the storm was really rolling in! I took this pic from inside the truck just a few minutes after we finished.

Despite some seriously miserable riding this was one great adventure ride with a really good dude! Thanks Jim.