Our guest Rich Pickett recently shared his blog post with us about his recent riding adventures, so we thought we'd share it with you on our Fitness Friday!
Plumas County is a great place to bike, and now is one of our favorites ! Okay, I love just about any place I visit but this is really is great :). On Friday morning after a late night of music, we thought we would warm up with a 20 mile ride up the mountains to Snake Lake and back.
The road to Bucks Lake follows a beautiful canyon up to, you guessed it – Bucks Lake! Mike at Ada’s Place recommended visiting Snake Lake on the way, a place he likes to hike in the early morning. After our first late night of music, it seemed like a good warm up ride, only 10 miles away up the canyon.
Even the ride up the road towards the lakes was beautiful, with us stopping along the way to enjoy the scenery.
Plumas County was one of the first locations of the California Gold Rush. Some of the towns are no longer present, however you can still find some old mines and active mining claims in the area. This sign, along the road, describes a 20 mile ditch that was manually dug to bring water for the mining.
We were riding our Haibike e-assist mountain bikes from the Bicycle Warehouse in San Diego. While the bikes still require a lot of pedaling, it is amazing how just some assistance from the 400W motor helps with the climbs! While we have always loved to bike, these pedal-assisted mountain bikes have increased our riding range by many factors. In the first two months, I’ve biked nearly 400 miles on trails and roads.
Six miles up the Bucks Lake Road from Quincy you turn right at the bridge. It is important to know where to turn because there are no signs! Thanks to Mike Neller we knew where to turn. Three miles up on pavement and gravel you arrive at the first campground at Snake Lake. We use various apps for navigation, and still haven’t found the perfect one for biking. One that comes in handy for offline maps (important when you don’t have cell service) is Offmaps which utilizes open source maps. I’ve used these maps in Haiti when helping after their earthquake in 2010 and nothing else was available. It isn’t perfect, but it can help you from getting too lost! I’ll write about other options in a separate blog.
The lake is being overcome by non-native plants, which is regrettable since depletes the nutrients for other life, but it is still a nice place to visit, ride your horse, and hang out in cooler temperatures. The bike ride is a moderate climb, especially if you venture around the lake or go up to Smith Lake, a smaller lake nearby that has water seasonally. We ran into people camping that were extremely helpful, pointing out other places to ride and hike.
Spanish Creek Trailhead
On Saturday after a great day and night of music from TAUK, Turkuaz, Main Squeeze and others, we headed to the many trails along Spanish Creek, also near a fun swimming hole! Riding just east of the airport along Quincy Junction Rd. it is an easy ride up to the trailhead. This is one of the trailheads for the South Park Non-Motorized Trail System, basically where you want to ride!
The map is clearly labeled, if you actually read it I led the way to the right, thinking it was the way to the easier route. Quickly we found that not to be the case.
We decided to continue, because you don’t know what is around the corner until you try it. When you have to navigate over large obstacles, you realize that the e-bikes can be a bit ponderous to pick up and move. I would have helped Jane, except someone had to take the photograph!
The trail faded more and more, until we couldn’t find it any more and it was time to turn around, of course we had to go through a few obstacles the other way.
Just to the right of the Trailhead is a road that leads up to the Oakland Recreation Camp, and a very nice access road that progresses up the canyon on the east side of the creek. A helpful ranger pointed out some swimming spots along the creek that offered a quiet, and private, access to the creek about a mile from the camp.
Just before reaching the Trailhead is a more accessible, and public, swimming spot that is great when it is hot. Sometimes the water can be quite chilly, but this day it was probably in the upper 70s. I decided to take my shoes off and just wade in a few feet. Why should I change into a swim suit when all I was going to do was cool off a bit. The water was great, so I went a bit deeper, taking out my iPhone to take photos. Before I could say ‘High Sierra’ I was totally submerged, clothes, wallet, and backpack. I handed my phone to someone standing on the edge and emerged a bit wet but a lot cooler from the ride!
We ventured back to the Festival for the evening and more music, and thought about another ride before we would leave for home on Sunday. On Saturday night we listened to Anders Osborne, Lettuce, Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals. What a great way to listen, and dance, to a variety of music with great weather and friends.
Of course it is always fun to ride a night, and we took a short cut along a fun trail back to the cottage at midnight.
Bucks Lake Road – Detour to Silver Lake
We were now psyched to bike to a higher elevation before leaving for San Diego. We decided to try Bucks Lake, approximately 17 miles from Quincy up the same road that led us to Snake Lake. With a full charge on our Haibikes we were off. The road past the Snake Lake turnoff is windy and fun, with a number of narrow sections and all of the motorists were courteous. One of the nice features of the e-bikes is the speed you can maintain along the roads. While the top speed for the assist on our bikes was 20mph, it was enough to help us go faster.
Along the way to Bucks Lake you enter Meadow Valley, a small town with a great country store, and beautiful views. We had gained about 1,000 feet in elevation.
Just past Meadow Valley, we came across a turnoff with a sign to Silver Lake. Jane thought it sounded like a nice place, and since my navigation has led us down a difficult path on the last ride, we decided to take her suggestion.
The initial approach to Silver Lake looked very nice. The roadway was smooth and there was no traffic. As we rode around one of the corners, and the grade increased on the road, we saw Spanish Peak in the distance and thought we were glad we weren’t going up that far.
We kept out checking our odometer, and battery charge on the bikes. While we knew we could always rely only on pedaling back to Quincy, there were some steep climbs still ahead of us. With each turn around a corner we were getting either closer, or more lost, and each view of Spanish Peak was getting closer. We finally deduced that Silver Lake was probably high up on the peak.
Jane and I traded bikes on the way up so she could try my dropper seatpost and my bike had a higher charge level. The last segment was probably the steepest, later we learned that our steeped grade was 16% with many grades above 8% on the way up.
We finally made it to Silver Lake and it was worth the effort! It was 16 miles from our cottage, 1 hour and 35 minutes, and an elevation gain of 2400 feet.
We only stayed a few minutes up at the lake, however we found some great hiking trails for another time. We met some local folks from Quincy who were extremely helpful, and amazed we rode all the way up from Quincy. They typically don’t see older bikers this far up the mountain!
The way back was obviously faster! At Silver Lake our e-bikes registered 16 miles range on High, 19 on Standard, and a bit higher on the 2 lower settings. We knew that we wouldn’t need much help on the way back to Quincy, however there were some steep climbs on the return. The range is approximate and is determined by how much you use the assist. We stopped at Meadow Valley for some water for the hydration packs. Note to self: you can never have enough water By the time we arrived back at Quincy we had 6 miles left on High and 9 on Standard. Second note to self: Bring a charger when biking in the mountains!
Thanks Rich for sharing! Looks like it was a great adventure.
Enjoy riding this weekend! "It's Your World Ride It"
Article from Personal Wings, written by Rich Pickett. Photos from Rich Pickett