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The Birthday Ride

Updates below!

What is it?

The concept of the Birthday Ride was introduced to me by my friend Cecil Johns. To celebrate another year of life, he would go on long rides designed to both test the spirit and celebrate the soul. Cecil's Birthday Rides would be on the order of riding his BMX bike from Mountain View to the ocean and back.

Last year, I took the day off and did my own birthday ride. I rode my Surly cross bike from Redding out west to Igo, then worked my way up Clear Creek Road to Whiskeytown, then over Muletown Road down into Old Shasta, taking Middle Creek and other trails back to Redding. On the way back I rode the Twister loop, just to see how a cross bike would handle the twisty trail. While not super-epic, it was a good 4 hour cross ride and included a lot of cool terrain.

So what?

Well, I'm having another Birthday Ride this year. And you, dear reader, are invited. I've decided to have it on the day after my birthday, December 8th. Are you up for a challenge?

OK, So where are you going this year?

That's a good question. I'm still working on several loops. There are so many possibilities up here that it's going to depend a lot on who shows up and what they think they are capable of. The ride will be Epic (fully deserving capitalization), but I don't want to make it so Epic everybody is ready to turn around halfway through. Some possibilities:

  1. March of the Drunken Soldier (Whiskeytown Loop). This could be the King Daddy of Epic, especially if we take Muletown over to Whiskeytown instead of just going up the highway. It could be even sicker if we went down and started with Swasey Ridge, but I could see things getting ugly by the time we got to Boulder Creek. Anyway, I should have it mapped out soon so I'll have some idea of the distance, and I should also be able to get an elevation profile and see if this is actually doable by mere mortals. Expect 3 or four major climbs, 5 or 6 if we're stupid. Payoff will be eating lunch by a waterfall, assuming you can still see straight by then.
  2. Do-it-All. This should be a little bit easier, though it really depends on how many trail systems we try to cover. For this we'd probably want to start at Cecil's, then ride Sulpher Creek, cross over to Nutter Butter, cross the river, go up Salt Creek, take the Ninja trails to Middle Creek Ditch, cross over to Muletown, do either the Rod Brauer loop or maybe even the Recliner, hit some more Peltier Valley singletrack, and then head back over Muletown. If we're feeling ambitious, we could also do Swasey ridge (especially if I can find how to get to it from the west side in time) and end up with some of the Southern backwoods trails. This loop could cross through civilization, in which case there might be a mandatory donut stop.
  3. Re-murian. Theoretically, there should be a way to ride from my house north to Shasta Dam, and then come down the Lemurian Chute. It might not be as simple as it sounds. I've got the GPS, the topo maps and the aerial photos for the area so a route might be possible, but this could take some adventurous souls.
  4. Psycho-Cross. If the planned participants all have cross bikes, we could do some version of the loop I did last year. However, since we'd be starting near the halfway point of last year's ride, that sort of messes things up. So I'd have to think about this more.
  5. Whiskeytown Downhill. Heck, we could ride up the highway and then do the Whiskeytown Downhill. Did I mention it's not all downhill?
  6. Any of the above, on single speeds. Heck, why not? I'm already questioning my sanity.
  7. 50 other options. Castle Crags? Gumboot? Lassen Mountain Metric Century (70 miles on cross bikes thorugh Mt. Lassen)? Sierra Nevada Mountain Metric Ride (60 miles off road starting in Chester)? Mt Shasta? Castle Crags? Gumboot/Toad Lake? Forks of the Salmon?

Alright, I'm ready. Now what do I do?

Email me. Tell me what you're ready for, and what you'd like to do. Let me know if you have a cross bike. If you're not ready for this but want to come up, tell me anyway. I might try to set it up with a shorter loop at the beginning or end for those who feel that they aren't up for a big ride.

Anything else I should know?

If it's a mountain bike ride, you need to bring 2 spare tubes and a patch kit. Trust me on this one. Actually, same regulations apply to cross bikes. It's rocky up here! Please run fat knobby tires. No 1.8s or Semi-slicks, please. There is a chance of snow at higher elevations, so keep that in mind. Also, there exists the chance that Chris King might hold a cyclocross race on Dec. 8. The nice thing about the King races is that if you race in the "Fast Men" category (they simplified the categories to "Fast" and "Not So Fast"), they offer Cash Payback as the prizes. So if there is a race that day, I say let's race, and if you're a Fast Man (Aaron), make some cash. We can then do an appropriate Birthday ride on Sunday. Of course, that means you've have to drive home Sunday night kind of bonked. Hmmm. Well, Chris King hasn't announced their schedule yet beyond the first event (or even start times, for that manner), so this isn't anything to worry about yet.

Once I'm settled in the new house I'll try to whip up some maps and elevation profiles.

Update 10/31/01:

First, Chris King will be having their second cross race on December 16, so there won't be a confict with that. I did the first one and the course needed some help but I got second and made $20. I also got a really cool trophy made by my good friend and King employee Jen Klish. Best of all was the great food they served. Chef Jeff made tri-tip, chicken, and turkey sandwiches plus potato salad, green salad, lemon bars, and brownies. And I'm not talking your run-of-the-mill Safeway Deli stuff. This was the real deal, ready for Palo Alto type food.

Second, during the last storm the snow level dropped to 6000 feet. I don't know how this will affect possible routes - it's still too early to tell, but snow could be a factor on certain loops.