The air was cool and clear at 6 a.m. when riders began their tour of Lake Almanor for the 35th annual Mile High Ride. The first departures were scheduled to begin at 9 a.m., but since the event is “for fun,” many riders decided to get a jump on the heat and head out early.
The Lake Almanor Chamber of Commerce hosted the 2017 event with a starting and ending point at Chester Park.
The bike journeys for the day ranged from 33 to 56 to 108 miles. The advantage of making a ride with a group of 200 other riders versus taking on the lake peddle on a day without a bunch of other riders was described, “I can travel light,” said 100-miler Luke Wentland of Paradise. “Normally I would be carrying a day’s worth of food and water, but this is easy and just a lot of fun with all of the aid stations set up along the way.”
The first such station for the day was set up at Bodfish Bike Shop, not far from the starting point. The 100-milers, following their designated route, first trekked up through Warner Valley near Lassen Park before arriving at that first break station.
Beverages and snacks were offered by volunteers and with the convenience of a well-equipped bike shop for any mechanical difficulties, Bodfish was an ideal stop for riders.
One of the shop owners, Chuck Elliot, was on site checking out the bikes and chatting with riders. He and his partner, Lisa Sedlacek, actually started the event 35 years earlier.
It turns out, the Bodfish crew weren’t the only returners for the event. “We had some of the original riders from 35 years ago participate this year,” said one of the organizers, Tracey Smith.
Riders traveled the east side of Lake Almanor, following the detour route through Hamilton Branch perhaps due to construction on Hwy. 147. The layout presented a long view of some daunting climbs.
“This is nothing,” said Michelle Ryback of Quincy, “compared to La Porte Road or riding up to Bucks Lake Road,” where Ryback says she has been conditioning for her 56-mile ride.
Much of the route could be ridden in shade because of thick forest lining the roads all around the area. Riders were seen throughout the morning as far out as Greenville and Taylorsville as they followed the 100-miler signs pointing the way.
Evergreen Market in Greenville hosted a welcomed replenishment station for those long-winded riders. “They are always very generous,” said Smith.
“Next year, the event will be sponsored by Almanor Recreation and Park District,” said Smith between tasks. She was busy reorganizing the Chester Park staging area after the last of the participants got their start.
Once the last of the riders was gone, she immediately busied herself, along with other volunteers, to get ready for all 200 riders to return.
Carol’s Prattville Café provided a lunch for the 100-milers when they arrived in Taylorsville and the big meal for all 200 riders to celebrate their return to Chester Park. Pork sliders, vegetarian chili, coleslaw and fresh baked cookies were on the menu.