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Sierra Hill Training

by Bill Turner • February 16, 2023

Hill Training Road Riding the Rt 395 Sierra East Side Access Roads

Back Drop: Some things in life just seem to happen: you are in the right place at the right time, you overhear a conversation etc., but other things like an epic trip or 1,200 mile bicycle ride, you have to plan for, stay in shape for, and devote time and effort to making it happen. My two months spent riding the access roads on the east side of the Sierra up to 10,000ft falls in to the “stay in shape” category for me and a 1,200 mile bike ride falls into the latter category with FCBA…. but let me back up a little bit.

After 10 years of watching my PSA climb up to 12 and listening to rumors that riding can elevate the numbers, unfortunately in January of 2022 operable cancer was found in my Prostate. To keep it from spreading - as recently happened to a friend of mine - on April 21, 2022 my Prostrate was removed. I was told to stay off the bike for a minimum of a dozen weeks, so my habit of riding 5 to 6 days a week year-round was halted after 17 years. My planned 1,200 mile ride with the Fuller Center Bike Adventure was also postponed for a year and Rescue Dog Tucker and I were limited to walking and hiking for the next three months, with miles under our feet we followed this by backpacking in Montana for a month.

Our next adventure in 2022 after my son Kirk Turner's wedding celebration in Oregon, was a two month camping trip with my wife Lily in the Sierra Range to day-hike and road ride. Lily was one of the last of my generation to have polio so we are limited to four or six mile day hikes, every other day or so. Although Tucker appreciates the days off, I need to keep legs and the rest of me ready for my next long bicycle trip with Fuller or some epic ride elsewhere.

Riding: For anyone who has yet to visit the east side of the Sierra Range, the access to the Forest Service campgrounds and incredible day hikes above tree line is fantastic. Most of the roads from Rt. 395 climb continually for 5-10 miles, are blacktop, often have room for a road bike, and as you might imagine are incredible climbing opportunities. Kirk Turner and I checked out the 2017 Kona Roadhouse I keep at Kirk's home in Idaho and we decided it would be a suitable training steed. While camping, it was mostly stored on the back of our Canyon set up with a Yakima swing out rack and Kryptonite Evolution chain, cable, and lock. This enabled me to move it out of the way to set up camp quickly each day and keep the bike fully assembled for fast deployment. Depending on the day, I either got dropped off low and road up, or I left the high campground and coasted down (with disk brakes) to a turnaround point and then climbed back up. A few of the roads have bike lanes and motorists are usually not going to fast on their own climbs. I was never treated rudely, but always ride with a flashing Cygolite front and rear light for safety reasons. When there is no bike lane, you are definitely taking the whole lane and I am typically doing only 4 to 6 MPH up the grade.

Stability Issue: At one point the bike seemed a bit squirrely while going 30 to 40 MPH on downhill’s, at Kirk's suggestion I took the Roadhouse to a local bikeshop in Bishop to have the rear trued and checked out. The mechanic took a look and said that the wheels did not need truing and asked me what pressure I was riding my 32mm tires at. To be kinder to my pelvic floor area I was only at 65 lbs. and his suggestion was 90 PSI would make the squirrelly feeling at high speeds completely go away, (which worked!!)

Specific Roads to Ride: Most of the high campgrounds are at about 8-9,000ft of elevation with great day hiking. Route 395 generally runs at a 4,000ft so there is often a 5,000 ft climb training opportunity. I road: Twin Lakes Rd., Virginia Lakes Rd., Lundy Lake Rd., Rock Creek Rd, Rt 168 Lake Sabrina Rd., and my absolute favorite, the 10 mile climb on the Pine Creek Rd. which is in great shape, has no campground at the top, and leads to a not currently functional Molybdenum Mine, so it has almost no vehicle traffic other than hikers headed to Pine Lake or higher.

Changes coming to my Roadhouse: My 5 year-old Roadhouse has a older compact crank and cassette gearing. At 73 years my knees and hips could use a bit less force on them when climbing up 8% grades, so Kirk will be changing the gearing a little bit for use again this fall on training road trips.

More changes coming to Me: When doing the above riding last fall, my right shoulder began to noticeably not like pulling on the grips during climbs which got worse when riding my Woo fat tire bike this winter. An X-ray revealed bone on bone contact and a worn out shoulder joint that will get replaced in April. So once again 12 more weeks of no serious riding to figure out how to keep training, and unfortunately no ride with FCBA in June from Bryce Canyon to Salt Lake City. For those who like inexpensive supported rides, with an opportunity to meet great folks and work on housing, riding with FCBA is a very satisfying opportunity for training and some public service with some often very fun folks.

Thanks for Reading. Rock On!!!!

Rangeley Fat Bike Loppet
Carrabassett Fat Tire Race