A couple of weeks ago, I went on a slightly epic road trip for work: South Lake Tahoe > Bishop > Visalia > Truckee > Redding > South Lake Tahoe. On my way back from Redding, I took a slight (two hour) detour to the south end of Lassen National Park. The park road was mostly closed, so I just hiked up the empty road for about 3/4 of a mile for some awesome views. I’ll definitely have to come back when more of the park is open!
As you may know, there is currently a massive fire raging in California. The smoke from the 180,000 acre blaze is filling up the Tahoe Basin, where I live. I went to get an emergency refill on my inhaler (ooops…probably should have done that ~6 months ago), and the doctor suggested I get out of town. A prescription for an impromptu road trip? The best prescription ever! My roommate and I packed up Strawberry, my CRV, and headed toward the Mendocino coast.
We made it to the Motel 6 in Ukiah and crashed for the night, planning on doing the rest of the drive in the morning. After sampling the produce at the Ukiah Farmers Market and a leisurely breakfast at Ellie’s Mutt Hut, we made the hour or so drive to Fort Bragg.
I absolutely fell in love with Fort Bragg. It’s definitely a tourist town, but also a functioning harbor and fishing port. I had lots of fantasies about marrying a sea captain, getting really good at kayaking and eating fresh salmon every day.
Some highlights from the Fort Bragg area were:
Buying local smoked salmon and salmon fillets right off the boat in Noyo Harbor
Breakfast at Cafe 1 (which one Yelp review described as “that pretentious organic crap”),
We ended up camping a little north of Fort Bragg near Westport at the Westport-Union Landing State Beach campground, which was “primitive” (no potable water, pit toilets), but had a gorgeous view of the coast and beach access with a bit of a hike. The tide was out and the tide pools were teeming with sea creatures! When we were walking along the beach, we discovered that the local KOA campground lets you tent camp right on the beach, far away from the motorhomes. Next time, I will definitely stay there.
My roommate and I played in the tide pools, splashed around in the (cold!) ocean, and attempted to make friends with some successful and attractive kayak anglers. They were friendly, but did not invite us to dinner.
On Sunday, we packed up camp and headed south on Hwy 1, admiring the gorgeous foggy views before we cut inland through Navarro River Redwoods State Park. This is a beautiful but windy drive through dense redwoods and then dozens of vineyards. This drive was a little out of our way home to Tahoe, but the most direct route to Anderson Valley Brewing Company!
I love beer and breweries, and Anderson Valley is a favorite. We hung around the tiny town of Boonville, waiting until the next tour began. Anderson Valley is a little outside of town, with fun grounds to explore, including a disk golf course and goats! The tour was fun, informative and only $5, which included two 5 ounce samples. Katie and I each split our two, so we tried 4 varieties that you can only get at the brewery.
We began our long trek back to Tahoe, hoping that the smoke had cleared. The drive back wasn’t terrible, as there were new views we had missed during the drive in the dark. Also, we stopped at Whole Foods in for dinner and Sonoma Pickles! Definitely a great weekend.
A post shared by Lynn (Tahoe Fabulous) (@tahoefabulous) on
I headed down to Auburn the night before the triathlon with my friend Evan (who did the Half Iron Man!) and his girlfriend. We picked up our packets, attended the pre-race meeting, set up our T2 transition areas and got free food from a church triathlon group doing a free pre-race spaghetti dinner.
Attending the pre-race meeting was pretty helpful, as the 3 courses and a separate T1 and T2 made for a confusing course map.
We woke up bright and early (but not early enough) and headed to the race. We ended up getting a little lost heading to the start (which was at a random river bank not on any map), and we were extremely worried we were going to be late and/or miss the start. We ended up being in time, but definitely rushed. Word of advice: if you do this, race leave early and possibly go find the swim start on the day before.
The swim was in the warm (74 degrees I think!) Folsom Reservoir. The swim was a wave start with waves leaving every 5 minutes (international men, international women, half iron men, half iron women, mini men and finally my wave, mini women). I felt really good on the swim, despite not doing a ton of it in the last month before the triathlon. I even caught up and passed a few of the men from the wave ahead of me!
500 m, 8:51 2/5 AG, 13/61 overall
I’m pretty excited about the 13th overall, including the men! I wonder what I could do if I actually trained for the swimming.
T1 was fairly straightforward. I stripped off my wetsuit, put on my top, helmet, shoes (forgot socks, oops!) and sunglasses and headed off on my bike.
The bike was hard! It was only a little over 8 miles, but there was about 800 feet of climbing over the first six miles with some steep sections. The bike leg was probably the leg I was best trained for, but it was still really hard. I did the vast majority of my training via mountain bike, and really only went on one ~10 mile road ride before hand. That was probably not the best training plan, but it worked out ok. I did drop my chain within the first minute of riding, which cost me a good minute. And they were not lying about the section of steep switchbacks. I even got off and pushed for a bit. I literally cannot remember the last time I had to do that on a road bike. The road is closed to traffic and quite nicely paved and scenic. Looking back, I could have pushed harder on the bike, but I’m still happy with my performance.
My poor set up the previous night caught up with me here. I had forgotten to untie my running shoes! Rookie mistake. I finally got my shoes untied, threw on my race belt, drank some water and headed off.
I headed off on my run, and in my loopy state, started the wrong way around the loop. In my defense, the girl in front of me did too. Someone yelled at us, and we turned around before we had gone more than a 100 yards or so. The run course for the mini was awesome! Most of the run was on a shaded trail that ran along side a creek. Then there was a nice long downhill on a paved (but closed to traffic) road. The sunny uphill that followed was the worst part of the course, but it wasn’t that bad at all. Before I knew it, I turned a corner and could see the finish line in the distance. The last little bit was on grass through the park, and then I was done! My legs felt pretty good the whole run (proof I could have pushed harder on the bike), and while I felt like I ran well, I had no idea what my time was going to be.
4 k, 20:52; 5/5 AG, 37/61 overall
Now, I know the run time isn’t especially great in the grand scheme of things, but it is awesome for me! I usually feel like I’m speeding along at 9 minute miles, but I did the 4 k with an average pace of 8:20! Race day adrenaline, trying to pass men, and a nice downhill really made for a great run.
Glad I waited to have these flattering shots before writing the recap.
1:18:24; 4/5 AG (though they originally had the AG wrong and gave me the 3rd place AG award) 26/61 overall
I would highly recommend the Auburn Triathlon as a challenging, early season race that is well organized, a perfect size and a whole lot of fun.
Also, my friend Evan killed it on his first triathlon (that’s right, he did the World’s Toughest Half Iron Man as his first ever triathlon). Though after seeing his face on his last couple run laps, it made me never want to do this particular Half Iron Man.
After years of mountain biking in either a road biking helmet or a full face helmet, I finally purchased a mountain-bike-specific helmet. Specifically, the Giro Feather Women’s MTB Helmet.
Giro’s website describes the Feather:
“The Feather™ provides a little more coverage than traditional trail helmets, with vents that draw heat up and out of the helmet—perfect when you’re climbing at lower speeds. In-Mold™ construction keeps it light, and when the trail drops, our rugged In Form™ fit system offers one-handed fit and stability adjustment, so you can dial in the perfect feel and stay focused on the trail ahead.”
I’ve worn this helmet on every mountain bike ride I’ve been on this year, and so far – I love it! I was a little worried that the fewer vents + fuller coverage would = an overly hot head, but so far so good! I even wore it on an 81-degree ride this week, and it didn’t seem any hotter than my more ventilated road bike helmet and obviously much cooler than a full face helmet.
Visibility is the same as the traditional helmet and I had more peripheral vision than in a full face helmet. Range of motion is not impacted, though I did have to slightly adjust where I wear my hydration pack. When I stood up on the downhills, the part of the helmet that covered the lower head bumped into my hydration pack, pushing the helmet forward. I just had to adjust my hydration pack so it sat a touch lower on my back, and that solved the problem.
The only other (extremely small) downside of the helmet is that it limits how I can wear my hair. The low back, close fit of the helmet prevents any sort of high ponytails or buns. I’ve found the only hairstyles for long hair that work with the helmet are two braids (as pictured), hair down or extremely low ponytail (like base of the neck low). As someone who tends to run extremely hot when exerting myself, hair down and low pony are too hot on my neck.
I haven’t yet put this helmet to the ultimate test of a major crash (and hope to avoid doing so!), but I’ve had great experience with Giro helmets in the past. Another thing I appreciate about Giro is that they have this to say about this “women’s specific” helmet
“Although there is no difference between male and female head shapes other than a smaller average size, we offer women’s specific models to keep up with the fashion forward kit found on the mountain. Finishing details and a sophisticated color palette set these models apart.”
I appreciate that they admit there isn’t really a difference between men’s and women’s helmets, and this helmet cost the same as the men’s version. All in all, I highly recommend the Giro Women’s Feather MTB helmet as a great option for a fuller-coverage, mountain-bike-specific helmet. You can purchase the Giro Feather Women’s MTB Helmet. Note: As of 2019, Giro isn’t making the Feather anymore, though you can still purchase past years’ versions on Amazon. The current equivalent is Giro Montara MIPS Helmet .
I’ll leave you with this picture of the gorgeous trail I rode this week, Tahoe Mountain in South Lake Tahoe. Trail Report available here!
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I receive a small percentage of the sale as compensation – at no additional cost to you. I promise to only recommend products that I use and enjoy!