Sunday, March 27, 2011

Tour of Unknown Valley

Heading into the verdant hills

In spite of threatening rain, Herb, Frank, Gordy and I drove to Orland to participate in the Tour of the Unknown Valley sponsored by Chico Velo.

This ride is a gem. An early season sub-century ride in a beautiful and remote part of Northern California. With heavy winter rains, the hills are as green as Ireland. What makes this ride special is the remote location, the non-existent traffic, great support and low number of participants. This year there were only 60 riders with many potential riders scared away by the forecast of rain.

Although the skies were menacing, we lucked out and the rains held off. That's the good news. The bad news were the hellacious headwinds blowing between 20-30 mph in the last 20 miles of the ride.

The ride distance was 78 miles but we expended enough energy bucking the headwinds that it felt like we rode a full century ride. It was brutal.

The total elevation gain was 2,362'. All in all, it was a terrific ride and I can't say enough for the great support (3 rest-stops and after ride dinner) put on by Chico Velo.

Click on pic for enlarged view

Putting on the rain gear at the ride start - Frank, Herb, and Gordy. . . prepared for the worst, hoping for the best

Riding over I-5 in the early morning

The first part of the ride goes south from Orland to Willows and then turns west into the hills

Sun rise and overcast skies

Riders hammering down County Road D between Orland and Willows

Low clouds momentarily part to reveal snow covered Mt. St. John (6746')

The climbing begins on Clark's Valley Road

Scenic Clark's Valley Road meanders through the hills

Arriving at the rainbow bridge over high-flowing Stony Creek

Stony Creek was crankin'!!

Herb refueling at well stocked rest stop near the bridge

Tributaries emanating from the Snow Mountain range and Stony Gorge Reservior feed into Stony Creek and flows into Black Butte Lake. During the hot summer months, this creek is a mere dribbler. This winter/spring, it is a torrent.

Scenes in the Unknown Valley (Road 306)

Gordy and Brian, a couple Team Rev dudes, stopping to take in the views. Neat ridge line with odd formations border the Unknown Valley.

A pile of rocks and oak

Rolling hummocks

The Unknown Valley surrounded by hummocky rock piles appears like a volcanic caldera

Picturesque ranches dot the Unknown Valley

Neat formations near Newville

"Shasta", the Great Pyrennes, greets riders at the last rest-stop

Chowing down and kickin' back at the Glenn County Fairgrounds after the ride. End of an awesome day.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Endless Winter

The Sacramento skyline viewed across the flooded Yolo Bypass

Sacramento has become Seattle!! It is March 22nd and it seems like it has rained almost everyday this month. I think we may have had only 4 or 5 dry days in the last 3 weeks. March is normally a transition to spring but this year it is still the middle of winter.

Sacramento is at 118% of normal for rainfall and the snow pack in the Sierra is at 146% to date. More rain/snow is predicted this week. Will it ever end?!

Today, we caught a brief one day break and I wanted to see the water in the Yolo Bypass and the high flows along the Sacramento River.

Herb, Dick, Don and I hopped on our bikes and rode to Davis crossing the I-80 Causeway over the "inland sea". The dams of Shasta, Oroville, and Folsom were letting out so much water the weirs along the Sacramento River were over-flowing creating an inland sea in the Bypass.

Later in the day, Don and I rode up Old River Road in West Sacramento to check out the Sacramento Weir and the high flowing river.

Click on pic for enlarged view

The lads appreciating a sunny day, a rarity this month

Dick, Don and Herb at the east-end of the Causeway viewing the inland sea

We rode the bike path on the I-80 Causeway to Davis

I-80 Freeway crossing the inland sea

The Fazio Wildlife Refuge is under water

The weirs below Old River Road in West Sacramento

Water from the Sacramento River flowing into a channel leading to the Bypass

When the river is approaching flood stage, the weirs are opened to divert excess water into the Yolo Bypass, a vast 60,000 acre leveed flood plain west of Sacramento . This flood control safety-valve is a life-saver for the urban areas along the lower Sacramento River.

Don gazing across the swollen Sac River

Backyard under water and river lapping under the deck of this home along the Garden Hwy.
Note boat parked in garage. Owners ready for a quick get-away should the river rise higher.

Gazebo and backyard under water

Grove of trees in W. Sac has become a mangrove forest

Broderick boat launch and parking lot under water

No BBQ today!

Amtrak train crossing the I-Street Bridge

The end of the bike path on the River Walk

The Delta King riding high on the river

The gangplanks act like scissors to rise and fall with the river

Minimal freeboard under the Tower Bridge

Fishing from the steps

Al fresco diners at Joe's Crab Shak get a ring-side seat of the swollen river

River Walk in W. Sac

Capitol Mall high-rises . . . safe for now

W. Sac high-rises

Raley's Landing partially submerged

Don on the Tower Bridge

End of a very interesting day . . .