Nevada City Epic 50-Miler

Last week I got a casual message on Facebook from a friend inviting me and several others to join him for a 50 mile mountain bike ride outside of Nevada City. I naively replied that sure, I’d love to join him for an epic, but didn’t know how truly epic the ride would actually be. Hyland is an endurance rider who splits his time between Chico and Nevada City and was an excellent ride leader. I met up with him and two friends- Stosh and Erin to start an all-day adventure on Friday in Nevada City. We rolled out from town on some sweet techy singletrack and then climbed along the flumes to scenic “Taxi Cab” trail over rocky grasslands that reminded me of Chico. We connected to the Pioneer Trail which follows hwy 20 into the Sierras. We were on the steady climb up Pioneer Trails for about 12 miles. Stosh and Erin eventually peeled off as they were doing the same ride as us the next day as a supported benefit ride. From the top of Pioneer, we flew down a super steep dirt road descent to Washington. Washington is a tiny town by the Yuba river with about 250 people, a store, trailer park, and a bar. We filled up our packs with water there and stuffed our jerseys with granola bars and snacks. At this point we were only 25 miles into the ride, but had already been out for 3.5 hours. I was nervous and excited about the rest of the ride.
We rolled from Washington the the start of the South Yuba Trail- 17 miles of single-track along the river. I was blown away by how beautiful the views of the river were and how steep the trail was! The South Yuba Trail was one punchy climb after another! It seemed like we were working super hard, but barely moving! Hyland was encouraging and patient as I worked through my exhaustion and fought off the gnats that seemed to want to crawl inside my nostrils and eyelids. About 1/2 of the way (and 2 hours) into the South Yuba trail we stopped for a snack break and washed the poison oak off our legs and arms. I forced myself to eat some snacks and inhaled a package of chomps and a mint chocolate GU. Re-fueling brought me back to life and I was able to granny gear it up the impossibly steep climbs with switchbacks that led us to the end of South Yuba. After a quick road descent, we made it to the pavement climb of death- 18 of 20% grade that just kept going. We were about 42 miles and 7hours into the ride and the climb was pretty torturous. I went at a mellow pace and tried to fight off the leg cramps that seemed to be creeping up on me. At the top of the climb we stopped at a christian camp to re-fill water. My body was shaking from the exertion. I ate another GU and dropped a Gu brew tablet in my bottle. We kept a steady pace to the next section of singletrack, a super fun swoopy trail that led us through the woods and back to Nevada City. When we rolled up to my car it was 8:20pm and we’d been out for 9hours, EPIC! I quickly changed, warmed up in the car and headed to the co-op in Grass Valley where I devoured a grass fed beef burrito and downed a cup of coffee to survive the drive back to Chico. I’ve done some pretty epic rides before (Creampuff 100, training rides with Brian in Gualala, etc.) but this one took the cake. It was amazing- challenging, scenic, technical, steep, and almost all single-track! I will definitely be back to ride more in this area. Thanks again to Hyland for his excellent navigation and patience. Check out the ride profile from his Garmin here: Pioneer-South Yuba Ride
-Emma