Tahoe MTB weekend, Sept.'02

Tuesday, October 1, 2002

Full Aerobic Threshhold! Kick out the jams!! (part I)

Tahoe was awesome! (I've already used my quotient for exclamation marks.) We camped. we biked and we hammered. We cheated Death and basked in the Glory reserved only for the most worthy of Überdudes. We rocked the house and kicked some ass.

We got there on Friday. AZ and I set up camp at Nevada Beach State Park and headed up to Spooner Summit for a warmup ride. We hooked onto the Tahoe Rim Trail going south toward South Camp Peak. The singletrack was a blast and the altitude was very noticeable. We started after 4pm, went 3-4 miles in and got back before sundown. That evening, SC arrived at camp and we got stoked for the Flume Trail.

Next morning, we headed up to Spooner Lake and the start of the FT. The FT actually starts at the outlet of Marlette Lake. The road to Marlette Lake was fun and provided great views of the bowl and Marlette Peak. The aspen were all different colors, from drought-parched brown, to green, to their typical gld, to orange and red. We were just one or two weeks from climax. There was a quarter-mile of steep to a saddle, then a fun downhill to the lake and a flat, scenic stretch to the outlet.

The flume was probably part of Carson City's water system until repeated land- and snow-slides forced a different solution. What is left is (only!) 4.4 miles of KILLER singletrack that traverses some steep, rugged-assed terrain perched over 1.500' above lake level. We were faced with an eye-popping view of Tahoe's famous blueness. The lake measures 22 miles north to south and 12 miles east to west with a maximum depth of 1685'. It could swallow up the entire city of San Francisco... including Sutro Tower.

The FT was dangerous in spots. You needed to be in control at all times. The outside edge of the trail was loose sand that was capable of sending the unwary cyclist over and down. That's what happened to somebody in a party that was about a half-mile behind us. Scary fall, no serious owee. Sure, there was some heinous exposure, but even a short fall over the edge could be quite nasty. SC found out around four miles in. He teetered on the edge and fell AWAY from the hill, falling about 10'-15'. His Trek went down another 25'. Dude is lucky, he got off with just a big buttbruise and a body shot. AZ ran down and retrieved the bike while SC shook out the stars. Damage check: the bike lost a cable braze-on, but suffered no other damage. Treks are tough. On, Wisconsin!

After SC dusted himself off, we continued to the end to the FT, then turned east on the Tunnel Trail, over the creast of the Tahoe Basin and then south on another section of the FT. We arrived at a creek crossing and possibly the spot where the flume emptied into Hobart Creek which flows to Carson City. There we crossed a narrow catchment dam and took a break before the long climb over the saddle south of Marlette Peak and back to Marlette Lake.

The climb up east side of the divide, while lacking the specatacular view of Tahoe, traversed the merely beautiful upper basin of Hobart Creek. The fall color was a little more advanced than the warmer lower altitudes. We took a break looking west at Marlette Lake with Tahoe another 1000' below (the pictures are glary don't show Tahoe or the huge scale of the view - still learning how to use this camera). The downhill to Marlette Lake was exciting. From there, we went back up to the saddle to the south of the lake (several riders all strung along), then, the long steady drop back to Spooner Lake. Our total mileage was about 24 miles.

Full Aerobic Threshhold! Kick out the jams!! (part II)

The Flume Trail was more than worthy, pretty darn close to Epic. Fortunately nobody got (seriously) hurt. We went back to camp and hung out on the beach before dinner. Next morning, SC was pretty sore from his fall and wisely decided to bail. But, he offered to take AZ & me up to Luther Pass to do Mr Toad's Wild Ride.

We dropped AZ's car outside of Meyers at the end of the Ride and headed up to the Pass. There I realized that I had left my helmet and gloves down below in AZ's car. Doh! SC was kind enough to lend me his - we said goodbye to him and started north up to the top of a ridge that spurs west from the divide (between the Upper Truckee and East Carson Rivers). From the top of the spur, Mr Toad's Wild Ride goes straight down Saxon Creek to Meyers.

The climb was fun with a few rugged sections I had to hike-a-bike over. Views over Luther Pass into Hope Valley started opening up. We took a break and met this guy with a Colnago-Ferrari (!) mountainbike. We continued on and soon, we were at Tucker Flat at the top of MTWR. At Tucker Flat, we met some other cyclists, one of whom was freakin' crazy and busted some fairly large fir sticks over his head for us. He forgot to take his Ritalin that day or something.

We ate lunch and decided to head east on the Armstrong Pass Trail for a 4-5 mile extra yo-yo ride toward Freel Peak. That was a fun side trip. We climbed along the divide passing from basin to basin over mellow terrain until we got to a nice view. This spot was over 3000' above lake level. A little farther on, there was an exciting traverse of open hillside with views south over Hope Valley, Carson Pass, all of Alpine County. There was a glimpse of Yosemite North Country off in the distance. We continued until the trail started to decend toward Armstrong Pass and headed back to Tucker Flat.

From Tucker Flat, Saxon Creek decends over 2,000' to in just a few short, steep miles. Did I mention that it was steep? Yeah, it was relentless technical downhill - you had to keep fighting, judging, committing. Sometimes carrying. It was rad, especially for me on my old no-suspension Wicked. AZ had full suspension and was trying to see what he could do with it. One section was really steep and rocky and he had a nasty fall. Something hit that granite boulder real hard. Fortunately, it wasn't AZ, it was his new El Saltamonte, which sustained a bent seat stay! He had to adjust his rear V-brake and we continued down, down. Total mileage was only 20 miles.

Next morning, we sadly left Tahoe behind and headed west toward the Coast. On our way, we stopped at the Ventana shop in Rancho Cordova to pick up a new seat stay for AZ. They were pretty cool and let me take some pics. Ventana only makes full suspension bikes - even tandems. The tubes are spot welded on a jig, then finished. They also machine the suspension components right there in the shop.