A couple of friends of mine Scott and Stan laid out a 22 mile course up at place called Chalk Bluff, or Burlington Ridge or a couple of other names it’s known by. It’s about 20 miles up Hwy 20 from Nevada City at about 5000 foot elevation and is known for its tight switch back, back and forth trails. There are numerous places where you can actually see the rider behind you because of the trail layout. It’s primarily a 2nd and 3rd gear riding area, no real pushing and shoving kind of ride just some nice moderate elevation changes. There’s one section that has many names, I’ve heard it called 14 turns, 16 turns and this day I heard it being called 19 turns. Depending on if you’re going up it or down it, it’s either up, 14, 16, or 19 turns or down 14,16 or 19 turns. I never have counted them, always too busy trying to ride it not count them.
Scott and Stan know the area very well. They both have helped layout and maintain the trails in that area for years. Scott’s idea was to layout a course and invite a bunch of his riding buddies and their families up for a day’s riding a pot luck dinner and cap it off with a night ride over the same course. I don’t know how many riders were there my guess would be somewhere around fifty. I heard there were 25 riders who were going to ride the night course.
I didn’t get up there until around noon and hit the trail about 1PM, by that time most of the riders were starting to arrive back at camp finishing up their ride. It was an epic ride, the weather was just about perfect, no jacket needed and the trails were about as perfect as they can get. The area had been soaked with quite a few inches of rain a few days prior, but steady sunshine had dried it out enough that there were very few water puddles. In fact I didn’t really need to wash my bike maybe under the fenders, but that’s all.
By the time Barry my riding partner and I started the trails had some nice berms and it was easy to follow the trail. Well we did get lost a couple of times, no big deal though and found our way back on to the course. Barry and I stopped several times mostly so I could adjust something on my bike. This was the first ride on it since I had taken it apart and gone through just about everything. We had big grins and kept telling each other, it doesn’t get much better than this. It’s interesting I had just met Barry before we took off and here we are sharing this ride and grinning from ear to ear, goes to show you, you don’t need to know some forever to enjoy the moment, just a shared passion.
I ended up riding 31 miles because I missed the left hand turn back to the camping area. I was in a grove and at the time was riding by myself having left Barry behind and had no one to key off in front of me, so I just kept going until I came up on the back of a few riders who were just starting out on the loop. Oops, I had to turn around and backtrack. Very slowly, I averaged 13mph and had a top speed of 38mph which isn’t too bad believe it or not for that kind of riding. By the time I got back to camp the majority of riders were sitting around with a beverage in hand re-hashing the day’s ride.
Not long after I got back, around 4pm, everyone started cooking, heating up whatever they had brought then began setting their offerings down on some folding tables. All this magically appeared no one was in charge barking out orders it just happened. One minute there was nothing and the next the tables were full of pot luck food. The food was excellent. That usually happens when people bring pot luck, you end up with someone’s specialty. The deserts were also great. I had eaten a plate full and was going back for seconds on desert table and noticed there was now twice as much variety of foods as when I had first gone through the line, amazing.
My wife Chris and I had to leave just before dark, we had to get back to take care of all the critters we have. But the big bond fire was roaring to life and people were beginning to gather around it, the sun was going down and the temperature was dropping. And the night ride lay ahead.
It just doesn’t get any better than that.
Thank you Scott, Stan and all the other people there who made this a truly epic day.