Freedom Of Choice

I’m not going to bore you guys with all the regular stuff like, “Hey, I rode 17 miles on Tuesday” (I did).  Or, “It was really dumping rain during the race Thursday and I was sliding all over so I bailed because I could” (It was, and yeah, I did).

Instead, I’m gonna get right to the good stuff!

Saturday didn’t necessarily look like it would be good.  I woke up at 4:15, got ready, and headed to Mt. Shasta City for the 4th annual Castle Crags Century.  I had done the first 3 and I wasn’t going to miss this one.  Problem was, it was drizzling when I hopped in the car.  It didn’t get better and by the time I hit Mt. Shasta, it was a nice cold rain.

Meeting up with Shawn and Jared at the check in, it didn’t take more than a suggestion from both of them to convince me to bail on the rain and cold in favor of a quick hour’s drive to Redding for some warm sunshine.

Gear thrown in the Clasiq  car and bike thrown on top, we were off!!  Wow.  That was the right choice for sure.  We parked in the City of Lake Shasta and pedaled the 8 miles to Shasta Dam.

1 Damn
It was short sleeves and cloudy goodness all day in Redding

It was my first time at the dam and Lake Shasta looked to be near capacity (for a change).

Leaving the dam, it was a fast descent until we hit a bike path heading south along the Sacramento River.

2 Trail
A smooth bike path assisted us in putting in a fast 8 or 9 miles.
3 Tunnel
So cool riding through this tunnel. At one point, it was so dark we just aimed for the light and hoped for the best.

With Shawn as our guide we left the path, wound our way on roads I couldn’t find again without help, and somehow popped out on Hwy 299.  We hammered along that for just a couple miles before hitting the small town of Shasta.

4 Mean
These guys think they’re cool ’cause they got me to change my plans.

After more twists and turns, an out and back that climbed what felt like 500 feet in a quarter mile, and a long run on Placer, we found ourselves in the tiny town of Igo.

5 Valley
It doesn’t take a whole lot of climbing to get a view when the valley is as big as the Sacramento Valley.
6 Igo
I knew we would get some good mileage in when we somehow ended up in Igo. The car wasn’t all that close anymore.
7 Coastals
So much big sky!
9 Peace
Peace, man…

After another rather scenic detour, it was time to start adding up miles on the way back to the car.

8 Crest
Valleys always look flat from a distance. They aren’t.

Since neither Shawn, nor Jared, had ever been to the Sundial Bridge, we made a point to hit that before laying the (very tired and barely capable) hammer down all the way back to the car.

10 Sundial
The Sundial Bridge was crowded but we managed to avoid making too many people mad as we courteously weaved our way through them.

I normally pride myself on being willing (dumb enough) to ride in any type of weather.  But, honestly, this last Winter was pretty wet, and I’m over the rain.  Give me 100 degrees.  I’ll ride in that for awhile.

Luckily, Redding only hit the 70’s while we were there.  It was awesome.  And, so was Sunday!  After camping out overnight in a now dry Mt Shasta with a great group of friends, it was back north to home.  But, not before a detour to the beautiful Colestin Valley for a gravel ride.

Ruth, Dan, and I were fortunate enough to have the Dwyers offer to let us leave our cars at their place while we rode.  (Thanks guys!!)  We didn’t waste any time getting on the road and temps were already in the low 70’s as we rolled out around 11 am.

11 Flags
The Colestin Valley is home to a monastery and these flags fly at the end of the road that leads to it.

Besides offering great scenery, the valley also has some pretty nice gravel to grind and we took advantage of it for the first 7 miles or so before heading up Trestle Road and a nice long climb.

12 Hill
Ruth giving her Diamond back its maiden voyage. Dan rolling on his Raleigh.
13 Zoom
So much to look at.
14 Trestle
After our ill-advised direction taking from Dan, we finally started up the CORRECT Trestle Road. You know. The one right by the barn. (There was no barn.)

For a large portion of the climb we were treated to some amazing views of Pilot Rock, Mt Shasta, or Mt Ashland.  Sometimes all three depending on which direction we looked.

15 Pilot
Dan and Ruth take in some of the breathtaking views.
16 Travelled
Yep. We started just below Pilot Rock in the distance.
17 Rocks
There were 8 or 9 of these rock crossings. I love those things!
18 Rustler
Dan just couldn’t resist chasing the poor free range cattle we came across near the top of the mountain. I guess he was hungry.

Eventually all good things must end and we traded climbing for a fast descent back down to Colestin Road.  We were only on the main road for maybe a tenth of a mile before hitting a short spur road that dead ends at some rail road tracks.

19 Sexy
Almost too much sexy for one photo. Good thing I cropped Dan out!

I gotta say, having Karen as a guide in the past paid off as, after a little bushwacking, we found the long single track that brought us back to base camp.

20 Trail
Ruth using all her John’s Peak mtb experience to show us how easy it is to ride a gravel bike on single track.

A couple cold drinks later and another fantastic weekend of riding was in the books.  Reliving every ride every week gives me a lot of time to reflect on things.  Yeah, the bikes I ride are pretty good.  The trails and roads I’m fortunate enough to get to ride are pretty amazing.  But, seriously, without awesome people to share the experiences with, the rides are just stories.  Thanks to all my buddies for making our rides not just stories, but memories that will stay with me forever.  Cheers!

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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