I stopped on my training ride near Clipper Gap to check out a tiny car that had become a roadside display when I heard a woman’s voice behind me. “Do you know what kind of car that is?” “Uhh, I think it might be a Fiat or something,” I replied. “No,” she said, “It’s a Subaru.”
The day started of a bit weird, and this little incident didn’t change that trend. Conrad was racing in Brisbane (he ended up 4th in the crit, 11th in the circuit, and 3rd in the Omnium, nice work!), and he and others tried to talk me into racing, but after getting clobbered at Copperopolis due to lack of fitness, I figured I’d benefit more from a training ride. And as the Bay Area was socked in with fog, and Janet and I were heading to Truckee, I figured I’d stop in Auburn and do a Cyclepaths/Wild Cherries Racing team favorite ride out to Iowa Hill. (Check out the previous post, Colfax – Iowa Hill – Auburn Loop).
But on my way to Auburn I got a call from Conrad, who was heading the opposite way down to the bay area to the race. “You’d better change your plan,” he said. “Why?” I asked curiously. “Because it’s raining cats and dogs in Auburn.” Great, I thought to myself. I dodged the fog in the bay area… and now it’s raining in Auburn? So I started my ride in drizzle but it soon stopped, and the ride got interesting.
I explored some twisty back roads as alternatives to riding beside I-80, and that was fun, but when I came upon the little red car, I had to stop and check it out. Turns out it was a 1969 Subaru 360, with a 360cc two-stroke motor, and the owners of the car, and the little gas station mini mart, were there to tell me about it! The car had a top speed of 55 mph and delivered 62 mpg.
After that I came up behind another cyclist and it turned out to be Paco Lindsay from Truckee, so we rode together for a few miles as he finished his ride in Colfax. The ride then plummets into the American River Canyon. At the bottom is an old historic bridge, which now serves pedestrians, while cars and bikes travel over a newer bridge.
The road then climbs out of the canyon “sharply” to the tune of 1200′ in just 1.7 miles. You don’t have to do the math, I’ll do it for you. It’s just a bit shy of 14% average grade for almost two miles. It’s an amazingly difficult climb, but the beautiful wildflowers in bloom alongside the road made it more tolerable.
A few miles later one arrives in Iowa Hill, and the population is not listed on the sign, but it’s probably somewhere between a dozen and 30. Not much there except for a few mean dogs. The jail is an historic land mark. Smallest jail I’ve ever seen. Hydraulic mining was the rage back in the day and the area still shows some scars.
The ride then climbs up a bit higher to Sugar Pine reservoir where it then connects over to Foresthill Rd. I took a little side detour to Yankee Jim Rd. and Spring Garden Road, before meeting Janet in Foresthill where she had done a shorter ride.
Riding in Northern California in the early Spring is truly spectacular. It’s great when you can really enjoy your training, and there are some interesting sights along the way. The ride was 65 miles with 7500′ of climbing. Hopefully this will do me some good so I can step it up at the next team race, Ward’s Ferry on April 5th. We’ll have a good turnout there, so I’m sure there will be many tales to tell. But I doubt there will be any Subaru 360’s in the parking area.