Dave and Diane did this Sierra foothills ride last year and had high praise for the beauty of the area. This year, Ferrell's committed to a touch time trail race to the top of Mt. Haleakula in Hawaii, and so extra efforts on bike climb adventures is called for. He asked if I'd be up for this, and I said "of course!". Struggling with left hip strain early this year, it was decided that Ferrell would do the metric century and I'd cut off the part in the San Juaquin Valley to remove a few miles so we'd likely finish about the same time. First business was getting a place to stay. Rick found an RV camp just outside Arnold which had small cabins which were affordable and something different. This sort of thing worked well at Mt Baldy last year, so why not?

On the drive out, Rick realized he'd forgotten a key bike component, and also his arm warmers. I was iPhone navigator and we found a bike shop in Modesto and got Ferrell fixed up; we both bought arm-warmers as well.

 

Our humble cabin in Angel's Camp.

We found a burrito place in Modesto, and enjoyed chips and salsa, beer from home, and some chicken burritos at sunset

A day without painful rolling on tight fascia and muscles is like a day w/o sunshine! Time to get in my lumps before we prepare for a movie. I brought my laptop and we watched "Hanna" - a good flick about evil spies and female empowerment (sort of)

Sunrise - I was in charge of breakfast: oatmeal, fruits/nuts mix, and oranges, at the communal kitchen for the cabins, outdoors. A nice venue.

Then, prepare my on-board nutrition for the ride; electrolytes in this case

On the drive up to Murphys and the race start - nippy conditions: 43F

Packet pick up in a park on the outskirts of Murphys. This was a new ride and ridership was still building.

I would be doing the 50K route plus a little extra. Ferrell the 100K route.

Ferrell and Laura, Rick Lowell's wife

Ferrell runs through his mental checklist...

The ride starts off through Murphys, which has an old and quite scenic center of town district. Then heads into the rolling hills. This first section of the ride was, I thought, the most beautiful. Impossibly green hills and streams and oak trees and ponds and old barns and cowboys...

...and we're off

French Gulch had the most beautiful scenery ...

At the Angel's Camp food stop. The little cabins and businesses which lined the creeks and green hills were a treat for the eye

Not very aerodynamic, but a big fat frog on your helmet does make you stand out

Then a long uphill to get to Vallecito's and this old church

of course - flowers were everywhere, after this 2x normal rain year

Stone architecture in Arnold

At the post-ride feed. A great surprise to see Rick Lowell - one of the original "Team Awesome" from the late '80's and early '90's! He and his wife Laura moved up here after he retired, and have built a beautiful big home. Peter and Jan also decided to do the ride, and nice to see them there too.

Mr. Frog Himself, who biked around the area to add some fun.

2 Ricks: Ferrell, and Lowell

Not as good as 3 Ricks!

me and Jan

Last shot before we headed out

Rick Lowell's estate is just outside Vallecitos, he offered to show us around

Turns out, he bought at the right moment - in the housing collapse 8 years ago, and he now owns most of this valley. Yikes!

Impressive - Lowell and Ian Ross and a few friends raised this humongous barn by hand, themselves! Now he's turning it into a B&B destination