Wednesday, May 18, 2011

3 Days in Trout Heaven....

As I gave the rod a tug I realized that once again I had managed to snag the 27ft of indicator, fly, dropper fly, tippet, leader and floating line into another tree. And not even a tree alongside the river, a tree directly behind me…on dry ground…..10 feet from the water….

We had driven 5 hours to be able to fish this exclusive stretch of the McCloud at the invite of one of our vendors and to be honest, this river deserved better than I was offering. As I slapped and thrashed at the water with my line, I’m pretty sure that I heard the fish actually laughing at my attempts.

After all, this stretch of river, this Bollibokka fishing club, had seen some pretty accomplished fishermen. It was arguably one of the most famous stretches of private water in California, some would say the entire US, and here I stood once again tangled in a tree, my cursing and swearing drowned out by the sounds of this amazing river.

Amazingly enough I did manage to put the fly into the water several times. Enough times actually to fool four fish into attaching themselves to the fly at the end of my line. Granted only once was I able to bring said fish all the way to the bank where I had to release it, but still I had accomplished it. I had found four trout that had either been born with a brain defect or had hit their heads on rocks enough that even my feeble attempts were enough to fool them into attacking my fly.

The 7 miles of private river and the amazing fishery may be the primary reason people are willing to pay the required fees to gain access to this trout nirvana, but that’s only part of the story. The property itself is a sight to behold.

The clubhouse, built in the 20s with its adjoining log cabin kitchen and dining room from the 1860s is the epitome of a mountain fishing retreat with its large burl table that easily seats a dozen hungry fisherman.

Across the large expanse of lawn from the main clubhouse is the Rock House. This very cool, all rock 2 bedroom cabin sits right on top of the river with a deck and chairs where it would be easy to waste away an afternoon with a glass of scotch and a nice cigar were it not for the fish that continued to taunt me in the pools just below the porch. 
Now, having fished, and I use the term loosely, this amazing river can I ever be satisfied with a spinning rod and a nightcrawler on my local creeks again?  Of course I can….but the monster trout that I know live in this incredible section of river will always be on my mind as the ones that got away.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Into the Wind….

Botanists say that trees need the powerful March winds to flex their trunks and main branches, so the sap is drawn up to nourish the budding leaves. Perhaps we need the gales of life in the same way, though we dislike enduring them.
--Jane Truax

Last Saturday, before heading up to Napa for the Tour de Cure, my buddy Tracy and I headed out to do the “zoo loop”. This loop is a nice local 26 mile circle with about 2300ft of climbing.

We started out heading north on Redwood Rd into a pretty stiff headwind. The first portion of the ride contains about half of the total climbing for the loop and there’s nothing quite as much fun as riding uphill into a headwind.

The strange part was that even after reaching Skyline and with our direction now almost due south, we were still riding in to a headwind. And again later as we headed east on Lake Chabot Rd we were STILL going in to the wind….how is it possible to do a 26 mile loop and be riding in to the wind the entire time???

This past Saturday, Tracy and I again headed out into the wind. We did a 77 mile loop that included about 4300ft of climbing. Once again, there’s nothing quite as much fun as riding uphill into a headwind.

The worst of it was towards the end of the ride. As you come back in to Fremont from Milpitas, you turn from Warm Springs on to Mission Bl. and there’s a 2 ½ mile section that is uphill. Granted, it’s not a steep uphill, just a long grind from Warm Springs up to Ohlone College that averages about 4% where you gain about 300ft.

Of course when you add in the fact that there was a strong headwind AND we had already done about 65 miles, this became the point for me where I was no longer having fun. The point where, as the poet quoted above puts it, I need the gales of life, but I dislike enduring them….

A famous Greek proverb states that “He who suffers much will know much” and after riding these past couple of Saturdays I do feel like I know something…..I know I hate the wind….

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Riding for a Cure….Year 4

This past weekend was the 4th annual Tour de Cure ride for TheOverTheHillGang.

The “team” and I use that word loosely since none of us are even near to being classified as racers, was 21 riders strong this year. We had co-workers, family, friends and friends of friends join us for either the 25 or 50 mile ride.

This ride, of all the rides I do, is probably the most focused on fun and least focused on performance. This year in addition to riding with my wife on the pepto-bike, I had both of my daughters and my semi-adopted, part-time daughter riding with me.

Our goal, in addition to having fun and riding together was to raise $15,000 for the American Diabetes Association, a group that does a huge amount of work in trying to find a cure for diabetes.

As we always do, we went up on Saturday to hang out, socialize, have a fun team dinner and prepare for Sunday’s ride. Sunday actually started pretty early for me since I had forgotten my shoes. I was at Walmart at 5:15am buying shoes to wear. Yes, we were only doing 25 miles and yes, I have toe clips on the tandem, but there was no way I was doing it in flip-flops which is the only thing I had brought with me.

After getting that taken care of I went in to the Holiday Inn Express where we were staying and had coffee and took pictures of the 50 mile group that were there getting fueled up. This was followed by checking on the bikes my daughters were to ride, loading up the truck and sitting down to breakfast with our group that was doing the 25 mile route.

At dinner the evening before it was decided that Deb and I would pull her friend Anita’s granddaughter in a trailer.  Anita was originally planning to do it, but due to illness hadn’t really been riding much. This would add an additional 6ft to the already long and bright pink tandem. Good thing we were only doing the 25.

The weather on the ride was absolutely gorgeous. Temps in the mid to high 70s, a little wind, but not too bad, and clear skies greeted us as we wound our way through the Napa valley and its vineyards.

As we came in to the rest stop we were caught by Tracy and Tammy who had done the 50 mile route. They told us that most of the others were ahead of us and making good time. As we filled our water bottles and bellies we found George was already there. Gary, Janet, Jerry and Evan rolled in not long after so we hung about and chatted while our group prepared for what would be our second half and they got ready for their last 12 miles.

We quickly spread out with George, Gary, Janet, Jerry and Evan quickly leaving us behind. Evidently chatting and stopping, taking pictures and generally plodding along taking our time doesn’t make for fast progress on a 25 mile ride.

The last little climb back up to the start is usually the toughest part of the ride for new riders, but our group motored right along and crossed the finish line amid much clapping and celebration. For several members of our team this was their longest ride ever and the after ride beverages and food were a nice reward.

I still don’t have the official total from the Diabetes Association since many of our group turned in cash on the day of the event, but I’m pretty sure we actually hit our $15,000 fund raising goal.

What about my personal goals for the event? Well, I shared a gorgeous day on the bike with my girls and a bunch of my friends, everyone had fun, no-one got hurt and we raised a good chunk of money for an important cause…..Yep, complete and total success!