Rubicon Road / by Walter Kitundu

Our destination was a steep valley that my friend North found in the mountains northeast of Georgetown. The red squiggle actually shows our route from morning until we came to an unexpected bump in the road. This was the goal... to weave through the trees beyond Rubicon Road and get to a tiny bridge that could carry us across the river to unknown and uncharted territory. We hoped to reconnect with Interstate 80 after navigating through what looked like passable trails on the satellite photos.

So I got the bike packed up for an overnight trip into the hills.

I ended up in Dixon after a low-frequency front-end wobble at 80 mph had me puzzling over the recent changes I'd made to the bike. Suspension, steering damper, new tires? I rechecked all the bolts and decided to crank up the preload on the rear shock and hope for the best. The oscillation was self correcting which was good if still unsettling. I got in tune with it and soon was back up to speed and feeling safe again.

Reaching the South Fork of the American River it finally felt like I was away from the congestion of the central valley.

This was the scene that greeted me at that particular pullout.

North and I met up at a friend's home in Garden Valley and contemplated getting our camp set up before the forecasted rains arrived.

Not a bad place to spend a night. The lightning storm was an added bonus at 3am.

The next day we set off to find Rubicon Road and North, eager to get off the pavement, found some rain-slicked single-track to dirty up his bike before the main event. Here he has just recovered his bike from a hole in the forest off Darling Ridge Road.

We eventually found Rubicon Road and the riding was amazing, and challenging, and rainy, and rocky, and slick... Click the image above to see it full size.

Before I get too ahead of the story, here is the video of what happened on that particular Easter Sunday.

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/63148826 w=600&h=451]

Here is a link to the story as told by still pictures from my helmet-cam.

The road eventually came to an abrupt end courtesy of a landslide that had reclaimed the hillside. It was a beautiful place to have to stop. Click the image to see it full size.

We figured it was as good a place as any to have lunch.

Heading down that ravine trail in the rain, over sharp rocks, mud, moss, branches, ruts, etc... surely counts as a legit way to get my first off road experience. It was epic. Thanks to North for leading the way, in his inimitable fashion, on worn out street tires that had no business being on the trail.

North and I reflect on the events of the morning.

We could see that tiny bridge in the distance but there wasn't any hope of getting our bikes down there.

North contemplates the trails snaking up to the opposing ridge.

I practice timing celebratory jumps in anticipation of crossing equators and such.

While setting up to pose for what I'm sure would have been the most epic heroic self portraits at the end of the road, North backed his bike up to the edge of a sheer forty foot drop and dismounted only to have the kickstand sink into the mud and the 600lb bike fall onto the very edge of the cliff. It was a scary moment that I couldn't quite believe I was seeing as it unfolded in slow motion.

We managed to drag it away from the edge and get it righted again but not before, feeling slightly unsure of etiquette, I grabbed my camera to document the proceedings.

I wound up heading to Grizzly Island at the end of the day to look for Short-eared Owls and relax a bit. It was a fantastic day with incredibly beautiful and challenging terrain.