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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In a couple of weeks we're traveling to Downieville from Tucson and are trying to figure out the best route to get there. The "best" route doesn't necessarily mean the shortest - we are planning to take two days and do a ride wherever we happen to camp. Hwy 395 appears to be the scenic route, while I-5 may be faster. Originally I planned to take 395 and camp at Grey's Meadow, but after Googling for information regarding trails in the area, there doesn't seem to be anything conveniently located near the campground. Does anyone have any recommendations for camping and riding? Is there any great singletrack that we should sample along 395 or should we just b-line it up to Downieville/Sierra City to secure a campsite for the race?

--Thanks --
 

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As FE said, the 395 route will definitely add some time to your drive. BUT, if you've never driven the eastern side of the Sierra's I'd definitely take that route (I grew up over there).

If you are trying to make it in 2 days, I'd make a long day out of the first day and drive all the way to Bishop and camp up by Tom's Place (top of the hill out of Bishop). Next morning I'd do some sort of loop that includes Lower Rock Creek: (http://trails.mtbr.com/cat/united-s...ll-other-areas/trail/PRD_165111_4518crx.aspx). That loop will only take a couple of hours then head up the rest of the way to D-Ville.

395.com is a decent website for information, plus you'll get to see Mono Lake.

-Derek
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks!

FE and Derek --

Thanks a bunch for the info! I did a Google search on both of the trails and it would be a shame to miss either one of them ... I'm leaning toward taking 395 to Downieville and then I-5 back home, so it's possible we could have time to do both. Hopefully I'm not too wiped out after the race ...
 

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The real question is your planned route, and where you plan in take 395 from. The way I see it, you can take 10 from Phoenix into LA/Riverside where you will have to make the choice of going up the 15 to 395, or taking the 10/215 to 5. In either case when you(time) hit the area will have a large impact due to traffic. Taking 15, and cutting through Palmdale and/or Mohave and then going through Bakersfield is a lot slower than the 10/215 route. Another choice would be cutting up to the 40 either through Prescott, that other road(forget the number - it hit 40 near Kingman), or along the river, and either taking 40 to Needles to cut up through Vegas to US 95 to somewhere north of Tonopah before cutting over to 395, or going 40 Barstow and cutting across on 58 to 395. I won't suggest going through Death Valley, as it'll take a while(though the quickest this way would be 190).

I'd probably do the Needles/Barstow route.
 

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I'd shoot for 395. Here's why. Driving wise, I used to live in Socal, both Orange and San Diego counties. 15 to 395 is a better route to Tahoe than 5 to 80, and much more scenic. I'd say it is generally faster as well. I've never been caught in gridlock out on the Mojave desert, though I have been "forced" to grind along at 55 behind a cop or slow moving rig for a while.

I just looked at the map to refresh my memory. I'd head north to 40 from Tuscon, then hit 395. If in your opinion that is not a good route, then head for El Centro and cut north along the west side of the Salton Sea to Redlands and hit 15/395 that way. Miss the whole LA basin.

East side of the Sierra is cool. Just slow down going through the towns. Tourism is their lifeblood; they don't like folks blowing through.

Lotsa camping off the east side. If you google Inyo National Forest, you can get hooked up.
 

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If you do happen to camp at Mt. Pinos on a new moon, they have dozens of amature astronomers with their very big telescopes at the parking lot. You get a cool astronomy lecture and they let you look through their scopes. fun
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
So many options!!

I really appreciate all of the input I've received! Everytime I look at the map I see this big maze of roads and it's hard to tell which ones are fast and flat and which ones are slow mountain passes...

The route through Kingman is really scenic, but I've already been that way and I think it might add too much time to the trip for it to be worth it... The Needles-Barstow route might be a little out of the way too, but avoiding the LA area would be ideal - I hate driving in rush hour traffic there - we will be in a truck with a cab-over and trailer, so traffic definitely won't be fun... we'll make an effort to hit the outskirts of LA a little after lunchtime. It's really up to our 2 year old and 5 month old -- they are the ones in charge!! haha My main dilemma was 395 vs. 5 .... so, 395 it is!!

Whew!
 

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Don't forget to tank up in Bishop if you can't make it to the Nevada State line. From Bishop north, they ream you for fuel. For instance, in Bridgeport you can add .50-$1, depending on where you're from, per gallon of whatever you're buying.

Just make sure you do hit the Riverside/San Bernadino area no later than 3. The Inland Empire lives up to its name these days, and traffic has really increased. After 3, you can hit heavy traffic all the wat to Victorville on 15, especially on Friday(LA-Vegas traffic).
 

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Hmmm...

The best route?

Ship the bikes ahead to Yuba Expeditions.

Fly to Sacramento. Jump in the rental van. Take 80 East to 49 N.

Bahdah boom, you're in D'ville, full of energy, riding the same day.

:D

I'll gladly pay for airfare to save a day on the front and back of a riding vacation. Why blow
2 days of vacation time in a car...driving the whole day? Is it worth the savings? Take the
cost of airfare and subtract the cost of ga$amoline and divide by 2 to see just how much
it really costs to have each of those extra days of riding.

Hypothetically:

airfare = $400 roundtrip
shipping bike = $110 roundtrip (fully insured)
rental van = $229/week

total ~= $740


From mapquest, TUC to Downieville =

Est. Time: 15 hours, 22 minutes,
Distance: 975.93 miles

15+ hours of driving (each day, each way) blows!

975 miles out and 975 miles back = 1950 miles

If your vehicle gets 25mi/gal on the highway, you'll gulp 78 gallons of gas. At ~$3/gal, that's
$234

$740 - $234 = $506

So, if you're willing to pay $253 to get out of having to sit in your car, driving for what
seems like an endless trip out there and to be able to ride on the first day and $253
to get out of having to sit in your car, driving for what seems like an endless trip home
and to be able to ride on the last day, then flying is the best route.

Heck, 15 hours of your time is worth more than $253, right? That's about $17 / hr. That's
about the rate per hour for someone that makes $35K per year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
But ...

.... you forgot to take into account that my husband and two kids are going, so that's more airfare (2 more tix and the baby can sit on my lap), PLUS shipping his bike, plus bringing the stroller and car seats for the kids on the plane, PLUS 4 nights at a not so cheap hotel in Downieville or Sierra City.... Not to mention, I'd rather not subject other airplane passengers to screaming babies.... that's a drag... Leaving the kids at home also isn't an option for many reasons - main one being that the little one is still only nursing. :)

Anyway - I figure we can make the most out of the drive if we stop and camp somewhere fun along the way and ride some singeltrack, too!
 

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route with rides

It's too hot to hit anything in southern AZ but as a Tucsonan who's driven the route here's a few rides on the way. Take I-10 to Carefree Highway, north of Phoenix and then west to US-93, north to Kingman. There is a good trail there, for a early morning ride. Camp Beal Loop is the known trail but off it, across the highway is Monolith Gardens. Much prettier riding and more fun. Then northwest to Vegas. Just after Vegas, on 93 is Mt. Charleston. Up Lee Canyon, just above the ski resort is Bristlecone Pine Trail and a campground. About 8000'.
Pretty good ride. Then find a route you like across the mountains to 395. North of Bishop is the Lower Rock Creek Trail. Singletrack. If you go to Mammoth find singletrack. Riding the ski mountain in the volcanic tuff it's so soft you sink in 2" and it's not a great riding surface.
June Lake, just to the north is a beautiful area to explore. Volcanoes are numerous in this area, such as Mono Lake. When you get back into Nevada on 395 there's some nicely banked trail near Carson City, in the Pine Nut Mountains. Camping should be OK there, too. Nice friendly bike shop in town.Then you'll hit Tahoe and if you have the time there's tons of trails and beautiful views.
When you get to Downieville, there's very limited lodging and few food options, very small town so have a reservation if you want a room and a full ice chest.
The Downieville Trails are a blast and I've only done one. Be ready to hit the pools on the way down they are clear and beautiful. Panning for gold is very common in ths area.
Gas is more expensive in California, fill up in Nevada.
Have a blast, Downieville is great.
Be true to your teeth, and they won't be false, to you!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Great Info ...

You're not kidding about the heat in Tucson! I rode yesterday evening and couldn't stop thinking about how hot it was ... we hit record temps of 110 degrees...

Thanks for more info about finding trails along the way to Downieville - you've just made out decision harder! Just kidding... we are going to drive as long as we can before the kids have too many meltdowns and hopefully make it past Bishop so we can ride there in the morning. Then we'll head up to Downieville! I'd like to get there in time to find a decent camp spot.

Wish me luck in the race!
 

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I'd say right on about making it past Bishop if you can. It's hot all the way up the Owens Valley, and only the altitude gives you a break from the heat. The big grade north of Bishop is Sherwin Grade. At the top, before you hit Crowley Lake is Tom's Place, and there are forest service camp grounds up there, and you are also quite near to Mammoth or Lower Rock Creek. Short of that, there are also quite a few beautiful areas up Bishop Creek around South Lake and Lake Sabrina.

There used to be a Foster Freeze towards the north end of Bishop; don't know if it is still there, but they had about 20 flavors of milkshakes. Definitely hit Schatt's Bakery if you like cookies or pastries or fresh baked bread! And as Bernhardt noted, Gas up in Bishop or Big Pine. Gas north of there until you get to Nevada is expensive.

I would be all packed and ready to roll the day before, and roll out as early as you can, even with air conditioning, say at 4 or 5 in the morning
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
You Speaka My Language...

Mmmmm - milkshakes... I just finished another ride in 100+ heat...

Derek mentioned Tom's Place and Lower Rock Creek, too. I Googled both for information and that looks like our goal for the first night. Woo hoo! I'm getting excited about the trip!
 

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A week ago, I drove through 5, 70, 60, 395, and some other things I can't remember this late. Here's some things I found useful :
http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/roadinfo/mtnhwys.htm

First time I read this, I programmed the number into my phone.

http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/roadinfo/

You can look at their list of Mountain Highways, or enter a highway number like "395" and hit "search".

http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/trafficinfo/ca.htm

My experience RE: San Bernadino / Riverside at 3pm is similar to what was mentioned above. Also, keep in mind that there's a bit of construction going on at night, when there's less traffic, except that lane closures = more traffic again.

This one is OT, and for the Bay Area only, but as long as we're sharing info:

http://traffic.511.org/traffic_text_all.asp

~ Rex
 
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