Friday, July 23, 2010

Big Adventure with the Little Guy

Yesterday the boy and I decided to go riding.  He wanted to do the usual route around Lake Natoma, but I thought we would try something new.

I had never ridden on the old bike trail above Placerville because it wasn't long enough for a decent ride.  With the recent additions of two new sections, and adding a little dirt in-between, I thought I could piece together something worthwhile.

We started in the town of El Dorado near Poor Red's.  According to Google Earth, we were right at 1600 feet.  After riding a bit through town and taking a gravel road to the trail head, we were on our way.

The first section of trail was "unimproved" according to the crude map I found online.  What this means, I learned, is you should really bring a machete, chainsaw and rope.  There were downed trees to navigate and overgrown berry bushes to scratch us up.  A couple times the trail was impassable, and we had to push the bikes up the steep rail embankment to get around.  It was rocky at times, with the occasional steep hill.  Nothing too difficult for a solo rider, but kind of tough towing the boy.

The first two miles were hot and slow, but it wasn't all bad.  There were a few sections, like this one, that were smooth and fun.  The railroad tracks are above the trail to the right:

The second section of trail starts right across the street from where the first one ends.  This is the newest piece of the El Dorado Trail to be built, and it's nice.  The highlight is the beautiful bridge crossing Weber Creek:

After the bridge the trail starts climbing.  Since the trail is built on the old railroad grade, it never gets too steep.  Still, towing 75 pounds of kid and trail-a-bike was tough.  Here my copilot sleeps while I grind up:

The trail spit us out on Forni road.  After a bit of searching, we found the unmarked trail head on Ray Lawyer where our third section would begin.  A smooth gravel road, it ran slightly downhill toward Placerville.  There's something about gravel roads and the Fargo—the bike seems to come alive and go faster than it does on asphalt.

The trail dumped us out on Main Street in Placerville.  We had to ride a little through downtown to pick up the next section on Clay Street.

This part of the trail was nice.  There was plenty of shade and few trail users.

Spencer liked it:

After climbing and climbing for miles, the trail turns to dirt.  It's easy to envision where the train tracks were:

It was pretty weird to find a magnolia tree in the middle of nowhere:

We turned around in Camino Heights at 2900 feet.  For over seven miles we coasted downhill at 20 to 22 miles per hour, rarely turning a pedal.  For someone who lives at the top of a hill, and finishes almost every ride with a tough climb, it was great to coast home.

The only difficult part was the last section before the car, but I remembered where most of the downed trees were and avoided them.

We made it back to the truck with 28.5 miles on the computer and almost four hours on the bike.  We had a good time, and I think next time I will go solo and see if I can make it up that far starting from the house.


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