Mosquito Ridge and the End of the World

Motorcycle miles: ~380
Bicycle miles: 49.5
Elevation feet:  7500
Selfies: 2
Closed roads: 2

Another practice weekend where reality went awry from plan several times.

Mosquito ridge is a pretty remote & isolated climb, that is difficult to pair up with much else, so a good target.  There’s a couple of spur roads that add to the difficulty – both ~2500 ascent and 10% average grade.  One of these is dubbed “The Corkscrew” and the other ends at a place that Google maps marks as “The End of the World” – you can also do a loop that takes some dirt for another 1000 feet of ascent, and ends up totaling 11,000 ascent and 85 miles.

I’d prefer to do the bulk of motorcycling the day before a hard climb, but Friday traffic looked too depressing to fathom, so I decided to get up REAL early and try to hit the road by 5 AM Saturday, do the 3 hour motorcycle ride, and give myself maximum daylight for the bicycling.

Everything after this ended up being improvised on the fly.  First thing was the WIND.  There were wind warnings everywhere near the bay, 40 to 50 mph gusts.  So I decided to head east and go up the inland valley.  Conveniently forgetting the Altamont Pass is covered in windmills.  So my ride was pretty tiring (even ignoring the soul killing power of the central valley) – they were holding big rigs at the pass due to the high winds, so I suppose that means it was pretty strong.

This is the point I started thinking “hmm, maybe I won’t be doing those extra two climbs!”

I rolled into Foresthill on time, to be faced with 41 degrees and wet, heavy fog.

My transformation time was hindered by being COLD and not super psyched to do an 8 mile descent to the base of the climb. I did remember chemical toe warmers, and a half buff.. but that’s still really cold.

The good news is my latest modifications have further sped up the bike removal part – single quick release bag and I have modified the front wheel holder to use a spare through-axle that I can leave attached to the rig.

I downed a hot cup of coffee to brace myself, and headed down the hill.  And yes, it was REALLY COLD.

The other important part here is that this 8 mile descent means if you turn around (instead of doing the loop) – you’re gonna have to pedal back up it.

No where to go from here but up!

Once over the bridge, I started the ascent.  The first spur road (the corkscrew) was a couple miles up the climb, and I immediately noticed the dirt fire roads were all EXTREMELY wet and muddy.. boding very ill to make it over the top.

At this point I pretty much decided I’d go to the top of the ridge without doing the spur roads and decide what the plan would be from there.

I rolled past the Corkscrew turn, and there was a sign saying “Road closed 2 miles” – I don’t know how “closed” it was, but I wasn’t going to investigate at this point, and kept on heading up.

There was lots and lots of water streaming down the mountains.. pretty much waterfalls every where.  Pavement was generally good, especially compared to the previous Napa trip.

Water water water!

The main climb is pretty gradual, and since there are few cars and no real difficult grades, you can really enjoy the scenery and the views.  And it goes on, and on.


Same picture as above.. this is the road you came up!


As I approached the second spur road (“end of the world”) I was greeted by everyone’s least favorite sight:



“Road Closed” has various meanings, depending on where you are.  Sometimes they are advisory (“You’re an idiot”) and sometimes they’re serious (“We will arrest you and fine you”) – unfortunately this one looked like the latter type, reinforced by a friendly ranger who responded with “10,000 dollars of closed” when I asked him how closed the road was.  The closure was also very long, so it wasn’t a matter of nipping past real quick like – I’d have been on that closure for an hour or an hour and a half.

So, plan revised yet again.. let’s check out the end of the world!


This is a dead end at a dam, and very steep.. The 10% average grade is misleading, since there are 2 slightly downhill sections.  So the rest is >15% solid.

I zoomed down to the bottom and took a quick picture, plenty of water rushing through the dam.


The grind up was actually a nice change of pace after miles and miles of 4-5%, but that probably says something more about me than the road.

At the top, obviously my only choice at this point was to head back down, which meant 1) time to freeze again and 2) I was going to have to do that 8 mile climb back out, so I was unlikely to investigate “Road Closed” #2 on the corkscrew.

Down the lonnnnnnnnnnng descent, past the corkscrew and back to the bridge, where I collected a water bottle I had stashed on the off chance I had run out of water, which, given how cold it was, was utterly unnecessary.  I didn’t even finish my 2L camelbak, so I hauled around TWO full water bottles the entire ride.

Still, I will call it a successful trip – awesome scenery, great climbing, and I barely saw more than 5 vehicles the entire time.  The “full mosquito” will have to be another time!


After getting back to the cafe, I loaded up the bike and then threatened the employees with eating all of the food they had.  Instead, I settled for a recovery meal of biscuits, gravy, eggs and bacon.


I’m not making this picture clickable because zooming will make you hungry or sick

After eating my ridiculous breakfast (which I normally would not do if I had more bicycling to do the next day or two, really!) I headed over to Auburn to find a hotel.

3 hotels visited, all 3 full up.  Apparently there was a “car thing” and a “mountain bike thing” going on this weekend.  For a longer trip, usually that means heading to the next town or finding a campground.. but in this case, my bike ride was shorter than expected and I was feeling pretty good.. so.. I just headed straight home.

Yes, that means I spent 10.5 hours on 2 wheels.  3+ hours motorcycle, 4.5 hours bicycle, 3+ hours motorcycle.  The good news is I felt pretty good afterward, so that’s a good sign for my trip!



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