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.

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