L’Etape California by Le Tour de France

I recently participated in the Le Tour De France L’Etape California in Folsom, California.

L’Etape California by Le Tour de France challenges cyclists on a course comparable to an Alps Mountain Stage.

There were two route distances: riders chose 90 miles 7,500 feet of climbing, or the short ride 60 miles and 4,000 feet of climbing in the Sierra Foothills.

I was motivated to participate because of my enjoyment of watching the Tour on TV each summer or attending four different Tour de France races. This summer I am attending four stages the 2019 Tour de France in the Pyrenees and plan to pre ride Tourmalet before Stage 14.

Also, Folsom is a bike friendly community and I wanted to experience riding and training in this cycling friendly community.

My cycling goal was to win two KOM Stages in the 60 mile course. I knew from SBC weekday rides, I could increase my training routines, train with a stronger rider and win two KOM stages for my age category, 60-64.

The two KOM segments were KOM 1, Salmon Falls Road, a 3.5 mile climb, 5% average gradient, 960 ft elevation gain, and KOM 2, Foresthill Road, 3 mile climb, 5% average gradient, 850 ft elevation gain.

(The KOM segments timed results for 500 plus cyclists, ages 17-76, ranged from 14 minutes to 60 minutes.)

My KOM times; KOM 1, 20.57 and KOM 2, 19.06. I won first place by 8 seconds over the second place winner. There were twenty-five men in my age group who raced in the 60 mile route.

I trained for eight weeks with SBC BikePals, Walt Ebbett, Keith Smith and one special ride with SBC Member Frank Oligaray. My training rides included weekday SBC rides, several Sonora Big Hill rides, and Coach Keith dragging me around Folsom and El Dorado County at “his speed and pace”. We didn’t stop much to eat bagels or drink coffee! On my first 50 mile, 4000 feet of elevation ride with Keith I told him I was feeling a bit overwhelmed! I was tired and my legs screaming to stop.

While riding in Folsom, I learned the value of bike advocacy and how one person can make a difference in promoting cycling as a healthy and safe activity. The cycling lanes and share the road signs make cycling safer. I heard repeatedly that the former City Manager of Folsom created the Johnny Cash Bike Trail system and was responsible for creating cycling lanes and posting Share the Road signs.

My time at Folsom Bikes Coffee Shop, the Grinder with other cyclists was pure bliss. The City of Folsom is a bike friendly city and has a strong bike advocacy community. It is no wonder the Amgen Tour and Tour de France Organizers sponsor bike events in Folsom.

The 90 minute drive to Folsom to ride bikes is clearly worth the time commuting!

Participating in the E’Tape California reminded me that I’m not too old to have fitness goals and my role as Co-Founder of the Motherlode Bike Coalition.

I learned how important bike advocacy is and how I’ve failed to be more active as Co-Founder of the Motherlode Bike Coalition. During the last two years I spent more time writing a blog rather than organizing bike rides in the Motherlode. And, thinking ahead to 2020-2025 I realize there is an opportunity to make the Motherlode a Cycling Destination like Folsom. Most cyclists are not aware, Cal Trans awarded Calaveras, Toulumne, Alpine, Stanislaus and San Joaquin Counties Cycling Tourism Grants. These grants are to identify popular cycling roads, needs and determine how to promote cycling in Cal Trans District 10.

And, my cycling experience in Folsom has motivated me to take action and sponsor Tuesday bike rides starting and ending in Valley Springs to promote cycling tourism in Calaveras and surrounding Foothills Counties.

The MBC Ride Series Is to Ride Locally, Ride Local Bike Events, and Set a Challenging Ride to Accomplish. This series officially begins Tuesday, January 8, 2019.

Popular Bike Rides in the Foothills

Most Popular Rural Cycling Roads in Gold Country

Central Calaveras County

Angels Camp

A popular bike route from Angels Camp are the roads often used in the annual Mr Frog Bike Ride held in April. (Map below shows start in Murphy’s) Begin your ride from Mountain Pedaler Bike Store and ride through the hilly neighborhoods of Angels Camp above Greenhorn Creek golf resort. Ride through historic downtown Angels Camp before heading up Highway 4 to the small Gold Rush Camp Vallecito. Its Union Church is a California Historic Landmark. Leaving Vallecito descend down to Parrotts Ferry bridge on New Melones Lake. Return to Highway 4 and head back to Angels camp. Your ride will make a giant loop back through Angels Camp and up to Murphys via Murphys Grade Road. Ride through downtown Murphys and return up French Gulch Road, a favorite local backroad lined with oak trees and hayfields, then back down Murphys Grade Road into Angels Camp.

There are several local restaurants for post ride lunch or coffee at Starbucks.

Route Options from Angels Camp

Dogtown-Calaveritas Out and Back, 28 Miles, Rolling hills and few steep climbs

Dogtown to San Dominican to Stevenot Winery, to Murphy’s

Old Gulch to Michael and Cave City

Why it’s the best

Some of the States most scenic Gold Rush Rural Roads are a short drive from Central Valley, Sacramento and Modesto and 2 hour drive from most Bay Area communities.

How to get there

West Calaveras County offers an never-ending supply of hill climbing in the Foothills, just a short drive from the Central Valley, Sacramento and Bay Area.

From Stockton take CA Highway 4, for 30 miles to Angels Camp

From Highway 49 take Highway 49 to Angels Camp

Best bike shops in Motherlode

Jackson Family Sports 275 CA-88 Jackson, CA

Mountain Pedaler Bicycle 352 S Main St, Angels Camp, CA

Sonora Cyclery 13867 Mono Way Sonora CA

For more information: Call The Motherlode Bicycle Coalition Co-Founder Rob Williams, 209-531-5844 or email rbwilliams72@gmail.com. Check Meetup: Valley Springs Cyclists

The Motherlode Bicycle Coalition is a fiscally sponsored project of the California Bicycle Education Fund and in Partnership with the Golden Chain Bike Club and Sponsored by Mountain Pedaler, Jackson, and Sonora Bike Stores.

RideandWalk4Art 2019

Please join us on March 17, 2019 for Ride & Walk4Art in the beautiful California foothills in West Calaveras County. Choose from 2 bicycle rides—25-miles or 45-miles—or an easy 4.5-mile walk skirting New Hogan Lake. 

Afterwards, the Tri-Dam lions will prepare a Chicken-in-a-Barrel lunch and corned beef in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.

This is the fourth year the Calaveras County Arts Council has held Ride & Walk4Art. Past participants say that this event is the best local bike and walk event, and serves a sensational lunch along with a friendly community atmosphere. 

We’re accepting no more than 290 participants—250 cyclists and 40 walkers—making this an intimate ride with a community vibe. You’ll traverse rolling California foothills along roads that rarely see cars, past scenic views of oak forests and pastoral meadows and the blue waters of three reservoirs.

Your participation will help raise funds for the Calaveras Arts Council Arts in Education program, a program designed to bring art, music, dance, and theatre to the schools of Calaveras County. In the last two years we have supported watercolor classes, collage instruction, ceramic classes, and school murals. The kids are creative; they are hungry for art.  In 2019 the CCAC plans to offer even more art. Simply by having fun, you can help us help the children of Calaveras County. 

Registration: January 1-March 15.

Registration closes at 250 riders and 40 walkers.

Fees: $40 for bicyclists/$50 on day of event

$20/age 16 and under/$30 on day of event

 $20 for Walkers

To register: www.rideandwalk4art.com

To support, nourish, and awaken the arts in our community.

Popular Bike Rides in Foothills

Most Popular Rural Cycling Roads in Gold Country

Pardee, Comanche and Hogan Three Lakes Loop

The Three Lakes Loop is a 35 mile, 3,000 elevation gain bike ride that starts in the the historic railroad town of Valley Springs and then beside the historic Pardee Reservoir. This part of the route features a ride across the Pardee spillway and a historic 1920’s bridge before riding to the Pardee Overlook Rest Stop. The ride continues to Stoney Creek Road, a fast downhill section taking cyclists into Historic Buena Vista. The route then heads out to Comanche Reservoir and then returns to Valley Springs along Burson Road and Rancho Calaveras. The final climb of this ride is up to Hogan Dam Reservoir and returns to Valley Springs. There are several local restaurants for post ride lunch or coffee at Starbucks.

The Three Lakes are hardly a secret in the cycling community! The California Amgen Tour held a KOM Stage at Pardee Lookout in May 2018. And, cyclists boast of the rural country-lined-roads and hill climbs. Valley Springs is a perfect start location to ride in Gold Country.mThe Three Lakes Main Route can be extended with rides to Paloma, Campo Seco, Mokelumne Hill, Jackson, Plymouth, Volcano and Sutter Creek.

Three Valley Springs Route Options

– Tri Lake Loop, 40 mile, 2,884 elevation gain

– Jackson and Mokelumne Hill Loop, 37mile, 3,360 elevation gain

– Ione to Sutter Creek, 50 mile Loop 4,000 elevation gain

Why it’s the best

Some of the States most scenic Gold Rush Rural Roads are a short drive from Central Valley, Sacramento and Modesto and 2 hour drive from most Bay Area communities.

How to get there

West Calaveras County offers an never-ending supply of hill climbing in the Foothills, just a short drive from the Central Valley, Sacramento and Bay Area.

From Stockton take CA 26 for 30 miles to Valley Springs.

From Highway 49 take Highway 12 or 26 to Valley Springs.

Best bike shops in Motherlode

Jackson Family Sports 275 CA-88 Jackson, CA

Mountain Pedaler Bicycle 352 S Main St, Angels Camp, CA

Sonora Cyclery 13867 Mono Way Sonora CA

For more information call The Motherlode Bicycle Coalition Founder Rob Williams, 209-531-5844 or email rbwilliams72@gmail.com. Check Meetup: Valley Springs Cyclists

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