This past Saturday I organized a group MUni ride of Stevens Trail in Colfax, CA
We ended up with nine riders: Jess Riegel, Zack Baldwin, their friend Nick(?), Brian Lundgren, Mike Scalisi, Bevan Gerber-Siff, Corbin Dunn, Jim Roberts, and me. The weather turned out beautiful after an amazing downpour the previous day. We drove up from Sacramento and above the gloomy deck that we’ve been having in the valley for the past few weeks, and into the sun. Temps were in the low 50s, but felt much warmer when in the sunlight. We got this weird effect of being able to see our breath, but not being cold in bike shorts and T-shirts.
Anyway, the Stevens Trail is famous for cliffside retrievals. What’s a cliffside retrieval? That’s when you fall off, and your unicycle gets away from you over the edge. The retrieval is measured in how far down the unicycle gets.
Before that day I was familiar with three very large cliffside retrievals:
- John Childs’ unattended unicycle slipping down the side of a curving rock/cliff at Moab in 2003 (70-100’)
- David Poznanter on the Stevens Trail (something over 100’)
- Brett Bymaster on the Stevens Trail (over 100’)
The last time I rode there alone I had a small one also. But on Saturday, January 29, 2005, Jim Roberts (guest rider from Boulder, CO) hit the cliffside retrieval jackpot, at an estimated 300’ (approximate) drop!
I was riding behind him when it happened. An innocent UPD, but then the loss of grip on the unicycle’s seat. Okay, it’s over the edge. It only gets bad when the unicycle points it’s wheel down the slope with the seat trailing behind it, and picks up speed! “Uh oh” we said. It rolled, flopped and tumbled ever downward until we lost sight of it in the trees below.
Jim started climbing carefully down after it. The side of the trail here was steep enough that no one else elected to go down with him, as it knocked too much stuff lose and it was thought better not to risk multiple persons. In time, he made it back up, and the cycle was undamaged! He said the cycle had come to rest still about 150’ above the water, which we couldn’t see from up above. At first we were watching to see if it came floating down the river.
Fortunately Jim’s unicycle is built to military specifications. We know this because it’s senciled on the side: “Mil-Spec.”
Aside from that mishap, we had a great time. My uni almost went over the side at one point, but stopped obediently right at the edge of the trail. Whew! Mike Scalisi had to chase his down 20’ or so.
At the bottom, the trials guys had some fun hopping around on some very slippery, water-carved rocks along the river. It’s a spot that makes a great swimming hole during the warmer weather. In the winter, it’s a fast-moving torrent of ice water.
If this thread stays alive long enough, I’ll post the pictures from this ride as soon as I get them up. In the mean time, here’s some others: