Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A week of mountain biking at Whiskeytown - Weaverville

There were several reasons for this trip, whose primary purpose was a relaxing vacation, not a strenuous mountain biking: getting sick of this year's cold summer (a fter all, having sun in summer months is the reason we DON'T live in San Francisco!), desire to get away from people and all the Bay Area BS, have a chance to swim in water without a wetsuit, and finally the rich mountain biking history of the area.

For a few weeks before going on this trip, I read ride descriptions in Max Walter's book North State Singletrack and I got excited: lots of singletrack, steep hills, remote creeks and waterfalls, the famous Lemurian  race course etc etc.
It all proved true, I found the ride descriptions very accurate and directions easy to understand. Two things were a bit off in my opinion: warnings about technical difficulty usually turned out to be a little exaggerated (or has my 8 years of mountain biking in New England made me a very skilled rider? I don't think so...), and warnings about how steep the climbs were going to be proved a little too mild. For the Boulder Creek Falls ride the book says: "Top of the climb! You've GOT to be glad that is behind you".  Well, I ended up pushing my bike for a mile up steep, dusty fire road in 100F heat, hating myself for being such a sissy and not being able to spin my granny gear up the hill.  But I couldn't, every time I tried, my heart rate spiked to 1000 bpm and the liters of electrolyte water sloshing in my stomach wanted to depart me. But the falls were pretty and the downhill from there back to the lake was fun.

The following rides (The Chimney, Weaverville trails and the Whiskeytown Lemurian) went much better, mainly due to proper pacing myself at the early parts of the rides and perhaps me getting used to the hot weather.
One of the highlights of these rides were the Rich Gulch Trail, where the locals must have spent countless hours shaping the jumps and berms. It was more sandy that I am used to but a super nicely flowing downhill trail. Another gem is the whole Weaverville Basin Trail system with all kinds of trails, super smooth winding singletrack, rocky trails, beautiful forest scenery and the La Grange mine ditch trail, which was something completely new to me.
With the exception of the first Sunday ride, I have not met another mountain biker on these trails during 4 days, 65 miles and 10 hours of riding. In fact, I saw perhaps 3 people alltogether on trails, two equestrians and one lady picking blackberries. Those were the best trailside refreshments (blackberries, not the ladies) and beat the GU gels any time!

The Garmin tracks, elevation and all the other info for these rides is here: