California Dreamers #2

Photo by Ryota Kemmochi, Rie Sawada, Toyoshige Ikeyama / Text by Rie Sawada


Road to NAHBS
Unofficial Day / Solo Adventure

Ride Start : 16:30
Peak Arrived : 20:00
Distance : 15 mile (24km)
Elevation Gain : 3,068 ft (935m)
Rival : Mountain Lion

Sugarloaf Ridge State Park

Sugarloaf Climbing was A Killer!


It was probably in November last year when I surfed last time under the sun of California. It’s been 5 months since then to do a business trip to blue sky California in bright sunny day.

Our SimWorks base in Portland is in the middle of rainy season in March.
People in Portland recognize that half of the year from Halloween till May or June is the rainy season actually.

I was checking out a weather cast in Santa Rosa, Sacramento, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, LA, and San Diego like everyday with my happy smiles till right before the departure day. According to the forecast, Sunny day around 80~86°F everyday in California and I really needed to have that Vitamin D out of California sun.

With Steven, who is my new work buddy, we drove our lovely ASTRO van to Santa Rosa from Portland, which took us about 12 hours (about 1000km).

However, when we tried to cross the biggest ridge, Siskiyou Pass (around Ashland where Mike DeSalvo bases) right between Oregon and California, it started snowing and as a girl, I needed to be afraid of passing through because of 1997 2WD old ASTRO van, but actually I was simply excited to see its snowstorm right in front of me. the border line between Oregon and California.

My bigges concern was whether it’s still sunny in California or not…

When we got close to Santa Rosa, sunset in Napa winery reflected on a front glass and it scared me out to drive because of the glare, but finally I started feeling that I was in California.

Driving through Napa..

Heck yeah. Sun and blue sky in California… 
I was also excited and looking forward to having #RidetoNAHBS project as well.

It also had been a long time to see my SimWorks Japan crew at SyCip’s house and I was so encouraged to have these great riders for our project having started soon.

Under the clear and blue sky, I did a final adjustment on my new partner bike Doppo ATB while everyone talked out loud about their NAHBS show bikes with tons of beers.

I put new product tires called SUPER YUMMY onto Doppo ATB and also put 137 Basket Bag by Outershell Adventure, my new sponsor, on my beloved Potluck Rack, and I was getting ready including my mental feeling as well.

Yeah, I’m ready to go!

Jeremy told me, “Hey Rie, Aren’t we hungry right now? Let’s go to Russian River Brewing for a lunch!”

I was finally able to eat at Russian River Brewing, which is super famous in Santa Rosa and Bay Area. It was also a nice timing to see my friends, Nick and Adam from Sklar Bikes at the restaurant, so that I enjoyed too much before my departure.

I’m really easy to get into temptation.

Jeremy joked around and talked to me,
“Are you still here, are you really leaving today, Rie? haha!”

I was actually planning to leave for NAHBS from Santa Rosa with Nick, Adam and Shige together in the morning right next day by spending 1 night and 2 days.

However, when I checked the route which Nick made before I prepared everything, I was like, “Oh my god, I didn’t know that it was going to be this much hard core ride”. When I checked the map on the internet and zoomed in, almost all routes are off-road including so many agony hills (180km / 2590m ↑). I couldn’t train myself because of the rainy season in Portland also my old wound still ached; fracture of femur happened 2 years ago. I thought myself that I didn’t think that I could ride through all these difficulties within 2 days! So, I decided to leave one day earlier than everyone.

As a result of having too much fun with people at the restaurant, I left for the first destination at afternoon 4:30pm. Just like my CharRie’s Cafe European Tour.

Jeremy’s daughter, Leah was worried and told me, “When are you leaving? Are you still here? You might see Mountain Lions around here, so please do not forget to bring a bear spray at my house”. I said, “Oh, don’t worry, I think it’s too late to spray them when they attack me already right? I think I can handle them!” I was too much easy-going more than California weather.

I actually might have seen a Mountain Lion when me, Jeremy and Nick rode MTB at Annadel Park in Santa Rosa in the last summer.

Once I recalled that moment, I was little bit afraid of camping around this area alone, but it was also impossible to ride through this route only spending 1 night and 2 days, and I needed to ride a whole distance till the end at NAHBS on this new Doppo ATB also wanted to share my ride story with everyone at the show! So, my plan for leaving earlier defeated this anxious feeling toward a Mountain Lion completely.

On the way to climb up the mountain, Steven joined me since he really wanted to move his body because of driving too much. However, it grew dark so fast, so he rode down earlier than I expected.

On the first day ride, a number of steep slopes showed up in front of me and I needed to climb 1000m on an average 10% gravel road.

It was about 8:00pm when I arrived on top of the Sugarloaf Peak, and it became dark entirely and I wasn’t able to build a tent because of a windy situation, so I had no choice but climbing down in this dark steep slope.

I saw city lights at the opposite side of a ridge. I tried to lift my spirits and decided to go there.
It seemed pretty much close to me to get to the city just like the picture above, but it wasn’t at all until I realized next day.

Single track in the darkness & super steep gravel down hill. I had beers, wine, and coffee beans in the front bag which was definitely heavy. Moreover, my front bag disturbed my light on a handle bar, so that I couldn’t see any in front of me at all. WTF!!!

Skidding, and going down in the darkness. So scary!

Some animal eyes were reflecting on my head light in every 3~5m.

What the …
What kind of animal were those? Coyotes? or Mountain Lions? When I stopped and saw them in close, it was Quails sleeping on a road and their eyes caught my light and reflected every time I went through.

I was so scared, but I still needed to get closer to the city as much as I could.
I thought I was able to get there at that time, but I realized that it was an impossible mission right next day.

After 30 minutes riding down, I accidentally found a table.

I encountered this View Spot miraculously.
Moreover, it was very calm and quiet.
A starry sky was so beautiful that I didn’t need any lights around me.
I had never believed in god thing at all, but I felt like my ancestors and god totally looked after me.

I was exhausted, and I thought that it was a sign that I needed to stop riding down a steep hill and set up camp there. It wasn’t a campsite and seemed no one could be around, then probably Mountain Lions might have appeared if I stayed up late. I got little bit scared of what was coming, so I decided to sleep early in the tent.

I was looking for an early morning view tomorrow.. When I went to sleep, I actually put a knife right next to my pillow since I was still scared of Mountain Lions.

To tell you the truth, I saw dreams again and again that a Mountain Lion jumped upon my body, and eventually it was getting windy so that the sound of it couldn’t make me sleep at all. I probably cried out in my nightmare, so I guess Mountain Lions didn’t want to approach this weird noisy tent at all. Was I lucky or what?

In the early morning, I had a cup of coffee and it was amazing along with the sunrise in front of me.

Downhill in bright clear early morning should be great.
I left the View Point having been excited to go down hill.

However, Oh my goodness!
So scary!!!

I had never expected that much steeper to go down!!!
I couldn’t even walk down, and braking could make me fall down, so I made a balance and just had to go for it. I bravely went down without any hesitation.

Whoops, I missed the turn. I knew that I went down a wrong route but who could stop riding down that evil slope? So, I spent 20 minutes going down and finally arrived at the place where I shouldn’t have been.

I was at a loss at what to do when I looked up where I came from. Probably, everyone has already passed ahead of me or close to it. I didn’t have any choices but climbing up again for an hour.

A view from the top after climbing up was superb.
As I expected, while I had a good moment of grand site, all the other riders showed up. I left earlier than everyone and spent all night to climb up, but they only spent 2 hours to get here…

This is a picture of the moment that they caught up with me saying, “GANG IS HERE!”

I finally and officially became a member of a long ride crew, and I just simply climbed up the mountain all day long. Unexpectedly, we needed to cross some private lands in several times, so that I was worried whether I was going to get shot or not since I was always behind and the end of the line.

Before I left for my first day, Nick and Adam told me, “Don’t worry Rie! This route is SUPER CHILL RIDE, so you will be happy.”

Adam, he climbed up with VANS sneakers on flat pedals, and it was hard enough to catch up with all the other song boys, but it was also amazingly fun to ride with someone together, rather than riding alone.







California Dreamers #1 |Text by Shinya Tanaka

California Dreamers #2|Text by Rie Sawada

California Dreamers #3|Text by Nicholas Haig-Arack