We kick off MUni Weekend 16 by returning to where it all started; Auburn, CA. This is where I first discovered California MUni riding in 1996, where I came up with the idea for the MUni Weekend, and the featured ride of that first MUni Weekend. We will recreate the Confluence Uphill Race, the original MUni Weekend competition event, and ride some of that first trail, but using a different route.
10:00 am: Meet at the American River Confluence. This is where the North and Middle forks of the American River come together. In winter and spring, the water rushes through like crazy, and storms can create flooding and tremendous erosion. You will see evidence of this on the trail, and even the wreckage of old bridges around the Confluence.
Confluence Uphill Race:
After a brief orientation and welcome, we'll do the race that kicked off the very first MUni Weekend. Our equipment has changed, we've grown older, the area's been subject to 15 years of erosion, and the course is still hard. But it's short, at about 60 meters, climbing maybe 20 meters from near the edge of the river up to our meeting spot near the road. Fastest one up with no dismounts wins. You get two tries. Fun for everyone! The distance is too short to wear you out, but it does get pretty challenging at the top.
In Honor of George Peck:
After that, we may do a second event, down along the river where there's a large expanse of river rock. In 1996, Rough Terrain Unicycling pioneer George Peck schooled us all on how "easy" it was to ride there, hands free and with nary a hop.
For those not interested in competitive events, you can also take a short ride out on the Clementine Trail, which goes under the Foresthill Bridge, or up the nearby Stagecoach Trail. Both of those trails were ridden at that first MUni Weekend.
To the Trails!
At about 11:30 we will pack into our shuttle vehicles for the drive up to our main ride. It's roughly 5 miles. From the trailhead, we head up a spur toward the Foresthill Divide Loop Trail. This joins up with the actual loop, where we will turn left. This part crosses Foresthill road (Caution: cars are traveling at freeway speeds along here) and continue on the other side. Then the trail comes to another split. The Loop Trail continues to the right, and the Connector Trail goes off to the left. We will ride the Connector Trail to its opposite end.
The Foresthill Loop and Connector Trails are newer, and didn't even exist in 1996. Connector is a pretty fast singletrack that can be really fun on a 29", though the rest of the ride is best done on a MUni that likes rocks.
Poison Oak Alert!
Unfortunately, poison oak is a fact of life on all the best trails around here. Each of our scheduled rides will have at least a little bit of poison oak lurking along the edges. I am very sensitive to the stuff, but have learned to co-exist with it. Basically you don't want to touch anything green while riding. Also beware when you stop--the plants around you might be of the evil leaf. Look before you lay down your unicycle, your stuff or yourself!
While it was very thick along the Connector Trail earlier this year, a ride on Sept. 25 showed a lot of it to be gone. Yaay! It's much thinner due to the dry conditions! But still plenty of it there, so take the caution seriously. It only grows in areas with plenty of shade, so if you're out in the open, you won't find any. There is very little once you've finished Friday's Connector Trail. For Saturday and Sunday's rides, again beware of the evil plant in shady areas.
Connecting to Auburn's Best Trail:
The Connector Trail ends at a little dirt lot on Clementine Road. You may recognize it if you rode the Clementine Loop at early MUni Weekends. From there we continue that loop, which is first on the Culvert Trail, then crosses Old Foresthill Road and joins up with the Confluence Trail, back down to the Confluence where we started. Those two trails are much more technical than the Connector, so I'll be on my 24" MUni for this ride. For best results, use the unicycle you prefer for the hard stuff. There are lots of pointy rocks, so keep enough air in your tires to avoid pinch flats!
Be aware of the many drop-offs along the side of the Confluence Trail, and don't ride off anything if you can't see what's after it. There's at least one bike jump along the way that will put even the fastest unicyclist into a ravine. Don't rush this part of the ride! Also it's the best part. Over the years, people have added lots of challenging variations along the way, so you can try those out. Below is a little clip of Robert Allen going off the edge on Sept. 25.
After the Ride:
Once we've retrieved the shuttle cars, it's time for lunch. You can picnic at the Confluence if you've planned ahead, while others will head off into Auburn or Roseville for lunch! Following this, it's open house at the Foss residence. We have a pool in the back yard, lots of unicycles in the garage, and a few other things of interest in there. We don't have a structured plan for dinner yet.