Let me take a break from putting up pictures from yesterday to show you pictures from today. I am in a celebratory mood because although I recently claimed I was giving up trying, today I hopped onto my bike and rode all the way to the infamous Five Mile House.

When I got there, I was delighted to find that they even have a bike rack. (And they're advertising the big bike race coming up in May.) Excellent placement of the Fat Tire (beer) neon sign, if you ask me. I meant to suggest to the owner that he move the bike rack a few more feet away from the wall, though. There's no way I'm just locking my front wheel to the thing.

I was able to ride up there because a reader named Sid dropped a comment into the jar, pointing out that there's an NID canal that would let me pass by the heaviest traffic on Willow Valley Road. The road is under construction just a bit uphill from the canal. In places it's a bit narrow and filled with gravel, but not so bad that I couldn't get the bike through. And he was right, the only people who passed me were other bikers.

He was also right about the hill being mighty steep. The last mile along Willow Valley back up to Route 20 is the steepest I've ever ridden. I had to stop at every driveway to rest. I was earning that pizza I finally got to eat at the Five Mile House.

The only times I walked my bike on the way up were at obstructions on the canal. On the way up, I rode up 20 to the point where the canal crosses and rode the canal over to Willow Valley. The biggest obstruction on that part of the canal was this big pipe.

You can see my bike there. It's a lot like a road bike, but with slightly fatter tires. I think I'd prefer a little bigger tires, but they were adequate for most of the canal. It tended to look a lot like this:

There were some rocky bits. I've never gone mountain biking, but I suspect that techniques I use on the road are probably dangerous on the trail. I tend to want to avoid obstacles, but there aren't a lot of options with the trail growing very narrow in spots, providing a drop-off on one side and a bunch of water on the other. Trying to finesse rocks is probably likely to get my tire stuck and flip me into the water. I suspect you're supposed to plow through them.

At any rate, I never fell down. One thing I like about road riding is that I feel like I can trust the road for longer distances and take a look around. With the trail, I felt like I need to keep an eye on the few feet in front of me the whole way. I also think I need to learn how to tell where my back tire is going to be. I don't generally need that on the road.

I had some fun with a duck who was floating on the canal. As I approached, I startled him and he flew a bit down the canal. Then I caught up to him and startled him again an he flew further down the canal. This continued a good five or six times along a relatively straight stretch of the canal, until the canal curved and flew straight away.

On the way back down, I crossed Route 20 and followed the canal to the water storage facility. There were other obstacles there, but in one place, they had erected a small sign.

When the canal went underground at the water storage facility, there was a road that went down the hill. Unfortunately, it passed through a chain link fenced gate that was hard to get around. I walked my bike down a very steep run-off gully and around a wooden warning barrier. That's the only time on the trip I slipped. I think I'll skip this part of the trail in the future on my cyclo-cross. There was paved shoulder for a good way up 20. There was soft shoulder with fine gravel and good sight-lines almost all the way to the canal, so I felt safe enough.

Across the street from the Five Mile House is the Harmony Ridge Market.

Although the pizza at the Five Mile House was good, the Harmony Ridge Market was my true goal. So after I made it all the way up there, I had my reward, freshly baked I was told:

2 thoughtful messages from friendly readers:

sid said...

Alright! Congratulations -- glad the ditch helped you get your cake (and eat it, too).

I'm a bit of a chicken when it comes to cars, so I never ride the portion of 20 up to the ditch access. I ride up Nevada Street, past the Northridge and cross 20 where it does naturally. Then, I take the first left off the access road that parallels 20 and follow it (steeply) up to the storage tanks where Snow Mountain Ditch kinda starts. You do have to go around one chain link fence, but it's short and not too difficult. The rest is just as you described it ;-).


- Sid

AbbotOfUnreason said...

Thanks, the cake was worth it.

I'm much more comfortable with traffic than with hills and rocks, so I'll keep to 20 up to the canal. That bit off Coyote is just too steep for me.