In a recap, the 2014 has been a busy, sometimes stressful, but overall a very successful year for us. Marketa has graduated with a Master's degree from a US university (her second Master's), something nobody in our extended families has ever achieved. I found a new job that I enjoy tremendously, returned from the rainy Northwest to sunny California, bought a house and still found time to run and bike. Whatever few pockets of existential vacuum I had got filled with purpose, meaning and directions. I don't feel much need to share on the Internet, or seek external validation for what I do or think. I like to share photos with friends and family and I still log some longer runs and rides onto Garmin Connect, just for archival purposes. I guess there are some plans for months and years to come that could make an interesting blog post or few, but I am sure these will be few and far apart.
Yet the end of old year and transition to a new year and the time off is usually an opportunity for spending more time outside and the last two weeks were active ones, so here is a quick description.
On the day of Winter Solstice, Jill, Beat and Liehann planned a long ride through preserves of the South Bay:
|Jill's planned route in Strava|
This was an opportunity for me to try riding a 50+ mile ride after many months of much shorter rides, and in a wet, muddy weather, too. One third into the planned distance I cramped badly, decided to continue at a bailout option, almost passed out on the climb up Montevina and finished after sunset. Here is what my Garmin recorded:
|Jan's Garmin track|
On Christmas Eve, having the traditional Czech fish and potato salad dinner ready, we went for an afternoon run at Del Valle, enjoyed the dramatic lighting and freshly green hills, only to get completely soaked by a strong rain shower on return. This run's photo was picked by us as our "Pour Feliciter 2015" greeting after sifting through hundreds of 2014 photos.
On Christmas Day, I wanted to show Marketa the new John Nicholas trail in Sanborn park. We started at Saratoga Gap on a cold and very windy day. No matter how hard we tried to keep ourselves warm by efforts on this challenging trail, we had to cut the run short after 8 miles feeling hypothermic.
New Year at Tahoe
A week long trip to Tahoe, or more exactly Soda Springs area, with friends was supposed to be all relaxation and good times. It was all that, plus a few days of diverse snow activities. When we arrived at the cabin, temperature dropped to 12F (3F at night) and winds picked up, with strong gusts blowing swirls of fresh snow around Serene Lake.
Cross-country skiing at Royal Gorge the next day at warmer temperatures was much more enjoyable and resulted even in a small adventure when we tried to connect to trails through some ungroomed terrain and ended up falling into deep snow in unpassable terrain. It was a tough trip for adults and two young boys, sons of our friends, did a great job of finishing on very tired legs.
Soda Springs Road Fatbiking
I brought my fat bike along for this vacation, hoping to scout out some riding in the area. One possibility was to cross Serene Lake and continue onto Soda Springs road, which is a public road that eventually reaches Foresthill and goes all the way to Auburn, probably more that 70-80 miles out. My goal was much more modest - I just wanted to see if the road was rideable at all. I was advised by a skier that there was a settlement about six miles down into the valley and that I should definitely stick to trail to avoid some unpleasant encounters. The first mile of trail was well packed by snowshoers, except a terribly rutted spot where some teenagers buried their two trucks in deep snow. Beyond that, the trail switchbacked through some sunny open slopes and snow surface was fast.
|The same wolf after about 5x digital zoom|
The Cedars settlement is marked on Open Street maps, but Google maps ignore its existence. It was probably possible to ride a mile further to the North Fork of American River, but I think that beyond that it would be hard to continue if the snow was not packed.
Hike to Hole in the Ground and PCT
Our last day of vacation, we parked at Boreal Ridge ski area and hiked up the connector trail towards PCT. I wanted to see if this trail and the famous HTG would be good for snow biking. The fist section of what is a fire road in summer was packed down by many snowshoers, hikers and back country skiers. After an intersection with HTG, the trail pitched steeply up and while being still very solid surface, I suspect it would be beyond (at least mine) ability to pedal on a fat bike. The HTG trail itself had a deep snow cover and except some snow shoe footprints, it was untracked. It is a narrow singletrack through some very technical rocky terrain and I guess not at all bikeable.
One possibility here could be riding a snowmobile trail shown on the map below, but it seemed fairly steep at the bottom and it is an out and back trail.
So since my fat bike days in Seattle, this was my first foray into the Sierras on a snow bike. Soda Springs trail is very beautiful and under the right conditions, it could lead to a longer (or much longer) ride, although it goes through some very remote areas with few possibilities of reaching roads if needed. Donner summit is hopeless for fat biking, except the power line trail between Sugar Bowl ski resort and Royal Gorge. Royal Gorge XC has few loops open to fat bikes, but all of those were closed at this time, and riding here requires a $27 trail pass. There may be some more trails between Tahoe City and Truckee, but I think that local knowledge would be essential for having fun on a fat bike around Tahoe. Let's hope that there will be more snow and chances to explore the vast area during the winter of 2015.