Is there a better time and place than right now in Shasta County to ride a bicycle? If you own a bike, you know the answer.
Granted, commuting or running errands on a bike around here isn’t always a delight. That’s a story for another time. Today, I’m talking about cycling for sport, recreation and exercise. For the baggy shorts crowd, Shasta County offers oodles of easily accessible trails that will take you farther than you could ever pedal. For the all-Lycra set, endless miles of lightly traveled country roads await. For people who enjoy a leisurely pace, the exquisite Sacramento River bike path is ideal. And whether you’re riding on knobby treads or skinny tires, you’re guaranteed great scenery and good weather right now.
So, grease that chain, tighten up those wheels and let’s roll.
Lemurian Shasta Classic
If you’re good enough to ride the Lemurian, I strongly suspect you already know all about this event. Suffice to say that the Lemurian (shastalemurian.org), now in its 22nd year, is a West Coast mountain biking treasure. The event is scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday, April 25, at the Brandy Creek Boat Ramp in Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. If you haven’t already registered, you may do so starting at 7 a.m. on race day. Registration is $50 on race day. The event is limited to 400 entrants, but race director Ron Bresolin told me he doubts the race will fill this year.
I don’t want to discourage anyone, but the Lemurian is very definitely a race, and it’s not for beginners or whiners. The 26-mile long course and the 20-mile intermediate course are full of brutal climbs, wicked descents and technical single-track. Those are courses for people with enormous lung capacity and no fear. Even the eight-mile short course offers quad-searing climbing and tricky single-track riding. But adequately skilled riders, mountain biking doesn’t get much better than this.
A century is – you guessed it – a 100-mile bike ride. (Review what I said above about lung capacity and fearlessness.) Fortunately, the Jamboree Century (jamboreecentury.com) also offers 66-, 25- and 15-mile options for us mortals. Plus, this isn’t a race, so you’re free to pedal at whatever pace feels comfortable and to linger at aid stations. The event is set for May 3, with all four courses starting and ending at the Sundial Bridge.
While the Jamboree bills itself as the region’s oldest century, the current courses are fairly new. The organizers have included in the century and metric century (66-mile) routes some of my favorite cycling roads, such as Swasey Drive, Placer Road, Gas Point Road and Quartz Hill Road. Even the 25-miler gets in some gorgeous territory west of Redding.
Redding Velo President Keith Ritter said organizers would like to grow the Jamboree into a “True Bike Weekend” that rivals the motorized “Big Bike Weekend.” That may be a year or two off. In the meantime, cyclists of all abilities can enjoy a one-day festival for as little as $10.
If neither the Lemurian nor the Jamboree suits you, there are numerous options. I’ll highlight a few of them.
The Redding Mountain Biking Club is hosting a four-week series of beginner’s classes (reddingmountainbiking.com/Beginnerclass2009.html) starting May 5. The idea is give even hopeless riders like me all the skills we need to survive and even enjoy the region’s many trails. The series is free with your $20 RMB membership ($25 for a family). I call that a bargain. Word is out this series may fill early, so don’t delay.
Named for its starting and ending point, the Anderson River Park Century (centurybikeride.com ) rolls on May 16. Like the Jamboree, the Anderson event features shorter options, in this case 60-, 40- and 25-mile courses. The 100 miler follows the original Jamboree course well into the mountains east of Redding. (Remember, lung capacity!) The shorter courses are less intimidating.
A brand new mountain bike race series is scheduled for five consecutive Thursday evenings beginning May 21. The Blazing Saddles (reddingmountainbiking.com/Blazingsaddles) series will feature expert and beginner courses at the popular Swasey recreation area just east of Redding. I’ll have more details as this exciting event gets nearer.
Paul Shigley rides an ancient, aluminum-frame Cannondale from his home in Centerville. He may be reached at email@example.com.