Breaking The Obenchain

After last week’s big mileage, I was looking to keep it going and maybe, accidentally, get back on track for reaching my goal for miles this year.  Yeah.  That didn’t happen.  But, what did happen was something that it seems I haven’t done in quite a while.   An adventure.


First though, I put the Masi to the test a couple times in the middle of the week.


Tuesday, I managed just 16 miles of intense riding on a hot day before I ran out of water and time.  I forced myself to quit early in order to make it to yoga.  My body and mind seemed happy I did.  At least that was my interpretation of my dozing off 3 times during class.  Ommmmm……Zzzzzz….


I took Wednesday off to watch my youngest son graduate (Go Tanner!) before subjecting myself to another Thursday night of racing punishment.


1 Strategy
Lance, Jared, and I talk strategy. I wish my strategy had included thoughts on how to breathe until the end of the race. -Thanks, Ruth, for the cool photo (as usual).


After getting worked over for 12 laps by some fast guys and relentless headwinds, it came down to a sprint for first.  Or, so that’s what it looked like from where I was.  You know.  Back in 5th place.


2 Corner
I always like to spend a little time in the front so I can tell my Mom I was in the lead for awhile.


Alright.  Alright.  Adventure.  It really does seem like it’s been a couple months since I’ve gotten out for any exploring.  It’s one of my favorite things to do on a bike and, Saturday I met up with my Crazy Mofo partner and Cycle Analysis teammate, Jacob, to do what we do best; Ride bikes aimlessly on gravel roads we’ve never seen before and hope they end up coming out where we think they might.


We parked at the Lake Creek General Store (Go get a shake there and tell the lady behind the counter that the peanut butter milkshake guy sent you.  She really likes me.  PB shakes are SOOO easy to make.)  Sorry.  Got sidetracked there.  I really want a milkshake right now…. Anyway, we started pedaling at a quarter after 7 and made our way west on Hwy 140 to Obenchain Road.


Like I said, we usually only have a vague idea from looking at a map as to where the roads may take us.  We accept that the road may not even be a road anymore (it’s happened) but that’s part of the fun.  That in mind, we started grinding some sweet gravel as we rolled up Obenchain.


3 Start
5 miles in we were met by some high quality gravelness.


As luck (ours) would have it, the way forward sent us to where a road used to be, but had now been replaced by a bit of erosion control in the form of some unrideable rocks in a creek bed.


4 Big Stomp
Surprisingly, we made it through this section without either of us falling.


Fortunately, the old road was now double track and MOSTLY navigable by bike for the next mile or so after the creek crossing.


5 Rocky
I said MOSTLY navigable by bike. And, not surprisingly, one of us introduced elbow and knee to rocks while riding up this dirty gravel. Not saying who…JH….ahem.


Eventually, we made it to the top of the hill and started a fun, fast descent down the relatively washboard free road heading toward Butte Falls Hwy.


6 Meadow
Everything is still so green. What a difference from the last few years.


Before reaching the highway, we turned onto a gravel road that kinda made no sense to me.  It’s clearly driven on enough to be in good shape, but I don’t see a reason to use it when there’s a paved alternative a half mile away.  Oh well.  I’m not complaining.  Gravel is where it’s at.


7 BF
The meaningless happy maker of a road.


Just before the town of Butte Falls, our route took us back toward the mountain we had just climbed over.  It was back up if we wanted to loop back to where we started from.  At the top of the mountain we were greeted by a massive clear cut.


8 Clear Cut



Despite the interesting road leading to the top of the clearing, we took a right, under the assumption we would end up on the other side of the hill instead of at a dead end landing at the top of it.


9 Daisy
The right turn ended up being a good choice as I got this purty picture of some flowers.


10 Mick
And…..Jacob got this picture of me riding up the hill with McLoughlin in the background.  He always wins.


It turned out the right turn was the right turn.  We had made our way around the clear cut and found ourselves in the middle of the site of an old forest fire.


11 Pond


From there, it was all downhill.  When we reached Salt Creek road, we were surprised to find a few miles of good pavement and an even better descent!  I would ride up Salt Creek again just for the descent.


12 Descent
Despite his nonchalant attitude, Jacob claimed to be equally impressed with the descent.


One more mile after hitting 140 and we were back at the truck and wishing we had had more time to do a more extensive exploration.  I guess that’s what other weekends are for.


Now, I know this is supposed to be a blog about cycling, but Sunday I revisited an old friend, hiking.  I mention it for 3 reasons.  One, I had a ton of fun with a few awesome friends and two of my awesome kids.  Two, Castle Crags is a must do if you haven’t already hiked there.  And, three, my legs hurt in places riding my bike only pretend to exercise.  Whimper….


13 Shasta
Hike up to Castle Crags for a sweet view of Shasta, a death defying scramble to the top of the Dome, and REALLY REALLY sore legs.


So, I didn’t keep the mileage thing going.  But, I did keep the fun going.  73 miles on a bike in a week never felt so good!

Aaron Mock

Local cyclist, crazy mofo, and good-natured masochist, Aaron Mock, is a Team Cycle Analysis rider with a penchant for taking the road less traveled. Sometimes, that isn't the best choice. Follow his weekly blog series for the latest on his never-ending escapades and exploits!

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