Recently, my bride and I embarked on a long-awaited weekend with bikes in tow and a sparkle in our eyes, driving north into the Sierra Buttes region with dreams of late-summer weather, blazing singletrack adventures, lake solitude and cool Yuba plunges.
Surprisingly, after taking some time off from competitive racing, and even consistent bike riding, to be honest, I found myself recharged and reinvigorated this late summer with the sights, sounds and pace found only on a bike as it rolls and lofts along trails narrowly lined with green ferns and towering cedars, and through creek ways strewn with slippery rock and tangled wet roots. Oh yes, it was that good.
Sounding promisingly peaceful, and convinced by the photos posted on vrbo.com, we arranged our home away from home to be a low-tech cabin in the lush and remote Jim Crow Canyon, just 2.5 miles upstream from downtown Downieville. Designed and built in the mid 1950s, it's perched just above a small cascading creek, promising a vintage atmosphere with a fresh ambiance. Turns out, it's tucked up along existing mining claims, where miners still scratch out a living on 19th Century leftovers.
More than gold and timber, the good people of Plumas and Sierra counties are now focusing on improving and preserving their backyard with vast networks of trail for the enjoyment of present and future generations.
Whether we were in downtown Forest City, Downieville, Sierra City or the top of Mills Peak Fire Lookout, all we heard about from locals and visitors alike was how much they appreciated the trail-building efforts and outcome made possible by Forest Service officials collaborating with nonprofits such as Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship and Forest Trails Alliance.
Throughout this memorable weekend, whether riding endless networks of singletrack or cold plunging into gold-laden tributaries of the North Yuba River, I was reminded of the area's endless vistas, easy lifestyle and the recharging benefits of breathing deep and taking it all in. After a pleasant lunch atop Mills Peak and the adventurous singletrack descent into Graeagle that followed, I'm here to report that this memorable weekend also brought glimpses of yellow foliage and familiar scents of autumn. Bring it!
and#8212; Team rider Forrest Huisman is the author of this week's Marc Pro-Strava Racing column. For more information, results and upcoming events from the Truckee-based cycling team, visit http://marcpro-strava.com.