The Winter Formal

What a month!  January has already come and gone.  I started off a little slow, what with resting an extra day here and there.  But, I’ve come back with a vengeance and I feel ready to lay the smack down on 2016!
I started off last week with a 36 mile road ride with Jacob on Tuesday.  Although I got back to my car a half hour after dark, I had a bit of my faith restored in the truth that longer days are near!  It wasn’t really dark till after 5:30!
1 Tuesday Unreal Cycles
Wednesday I was back on the Toa.  Jacob and I got an early start and hit some of the Britt Trails before meeting up with the bigger group and doing some climbing up Reservoir Road in Jacksonville.
2 Beebe Unreal Cycles
After a day of Insanity and Yoga, and another day of rest it was time for the big dance!!
Jacob had done most of the work that went into the organization of the event.  All I really did was a bit of scouting for the route that was approximately 2/3 gravel.  The Winter Formal was never supposed to be easy.  In fact, we wanted to make it hard.  These are the roads we ride year round (snow level permitting) and we wanted to share the goodness.
That said, we doubted anybody but Jacob and I would even show up.  We were VERY surprised to see 7 or 8 other crazies ready to roll with us at 9 am on a cold Saturday morning.
There was no easing into the ride.  We left Jville and headed straight up the left side of John’s Peak and gained nearly 1700 feet before our first descent which took us quickly down East Forest Creek Road.
3 Doug Unreal Cycles
By this point, the group had already broken into a few small groups and, turning right at the West Forest Creek junction, I found myself in the good company of a couple cool cats, Doug and Marty.
We continued on until the sign directed us left onto Isabelle Mountain Road.  Having been climbing since the previous turn, we now started gaining elevation a little faster before reaching the turn to Oregon Belle Road and finally getting a short break from the steep climb.
Not far up this road, we came across several mine shafts.  I love living here.  There’s always something cool to see in the middle of nowhere.
4 Mine Unreal Cycles
Up, up.  Down, down.  Our route finally dumped the three of us at Hwy 238 a few miles north of Ruch.  With Doug needing to get home for one of those pesky familial obligations, we said our goodbyes and Marty and I headed for Bishop Creek Road.
Leaving Bishop, we started pedaling up Squires Peak Road, not exactly an easy task.  In just 2 miles we gained another 1000 feet before anything resembling a break.  I will say we were treated to some nice views of the valley during the climb.
5 Ben Unreal Cycles6 Valley Unreal Cycles
3/4 of the way up the climb, we ran into our support vehicle.  Sure!  We’d love some cookies!  A banana too?  Okay.  Our faithful driver, Cameron, informed us that Jacob wasn’t that far behind us so we waited for him and our group’s number was restored back to three.
7 Survivors Unreal Cycles
8 Three Unreal Cycles
A half hour later, we had reached Sterling Creek Road.  After a few miles of fast, paved descending we took a left and started making our way up the last big climb of the day.  It wasn’t only the last one, but the biggest as well.  About 2500 feet over 7 miles from Sterling Creek Road up past the Deming Gulch and Wolf Gulch trailheads before reaching the pavement on Anderson Butte Road.
9 Wolf Gulch Unreal Cycles
10 Almost Done Unreal Cycles
It was a great day.  The only real rain/snow we encountered was during the long descent down Anderson Butte.  It dried up during our last 5 miles of relatively flat pavement that took us back to Jville.
In the end, we were the only 3 that did the whole ride.  We finished with over 9000 feet and 54 miles total.  Not a bad day’s work.  Everybody that came out and gave it a shot deserves a ton of props.  Thanks to all of you for making it a great day!  Also, thanks to Jana and Vern for the start/finish point and an awesome spaghetti meal to replace calories at the end!
Sunday felt like a footnote to a great week.  I joined in a group ride and knocked out 28 miles before calling it a day.
Overall, my monthly mileage wasn’t great (only 473 miles), but my elevation gain was pretty good (almost 42,000 feet).
I plan to exceed both those numbers in February.  I can’t wait for SPRING!!

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