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On bicycle touring, big rocks and pump tracks

Delaine Fragnoli
Managing Editor
9/15/2010

I met my first touring cyclist following the new Sierra Cascades Route the other day. He was replenishing food supplies at Quincy Natural Foods. I could tell from his bike and camping gear that he was a serious cyclist so I chatted him up.

His journey follows a route developed by Adventure Cycling, a national organization devoted to bicycle touring. As the name implies, the route follows the spine of the two mountain ranges from the Canadian border to the Mexican border.

The route passes through Plumas County on its way from Lassen National Park to Truckee. So if you see heavily laden cyclists on local roads, it's likely that they are attempting the 2,389-mile route.

Please make them feel welcome. There's nothing like traveling by bicycle to meet people and get to know an area. Perhaps they will even spend a little money here, or decide to come back at a later date.

***

I don't know if you've been following developments out at Lassen Volcanic National Park, but the re-working of Lassen Peak Trail is a really burly undertaking.

The park recently completed a 10-day helicopter operation that transported 2,244,260 pounds of material in 705 round-trips from the Lassen Peak parking area to holding areas on the Lassen Peak mountainside. That's a lotta rock. The rock will be used to build steps and retaining walls.

The trail is open to the Grandview area, 1.3 miles up. The California Conservation Corps was scheduled to help with additional rockwork on the trail this week and next, Sept. 8 - 15 and 22 - 29, before the trail will be opened to the summit.

This is just the first part of a five-year project to widen sections of the peak trail to accommodate visitor traffic, construct a new loop route around the crater to provide opportunities to interpret geology and scenery while reducing resource damage to sensitive vegetation, and install a new evaporator toilet.

The final step will be construction of a trail linking the Manzanita Creek Trail to the peak parking lot and improvements to the Manzanita Creek trailhead parking.

You can find the latest information about trail access on the park website at nps.gov/lavo/parkmgmt/current-lassen-peak-trail-status.htm. For additional information, visit the park website at nps.gov/lavo or call 595-4480.

***

Now here is something truly new and cool. The folks at Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship just completed construction of a pump track at Chalet View Lodge, on Highway 70 between Portola and Graeagle.

What's a pump track? It's a lot like a BMX track, a closed circuit with berms and bumps. The idea is that by "pumping," or using your body weight to maneuver in certain ways, you can maintain enough momentum to round the track without pedaling. In fact, pedaling can be difficult in the terrain.

Apparently, the track started as a joke, for the nuptials of SBTS board member Nica Lorber and longtime SBTS member Jonathan Rayner. Chalet View owner Bob Hickman was thrilled with the idea of another attraction to the lodge, which already has a golf course, swimming pool, volleyball court, yoga studio, horseshoe pit and fishing pond.

SBTS called in the troops and the track was completed in three days. Local kids showed up on the third day (word travels fast in small towns) and broke in the new track.

The track will be open to the public and will be a fun addition to the community. So drop in for a spin next time you're in the area.

***

Big Bald Rock Trail, near Berry Creek outside of Oroville, was recently closed for a week for some much-needed repairs. Last year, a severe winter storm caused the stream course on either side of a culvert to carve deep holes beneath the pipe, narrowing the trail and creating a potential safety hazard.

The trail is located off of Bald Rock Road in Butte County on the Feather River Ranger District of the Plumas National Forest. The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act funded the project.

With cooler weather around the corner, these lower elevation trails are once again looking attractive.

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