FlannelGrinder Course Description
At only 36.5 miles, it doesn't seem like a big day out but don't let the distance fool you! There's sure to be plenty of suffering on the undulating roads of Placer County. And don't forget...12 miles of dirt! If you're wondering what bike to tackle the challenge with, I used a road bike with 25mm tires during the pre ride last fall without any issues. A cross bike is probably ideal though.
The Flannel Grinder begins in the small town of Meadow Vista, located just 8 miles North of Auburn, but not before munching on Cal Giant Berries (after spending 4 years racing on Cal Giant, I can attest to how delicious they are!), granola, and coffee! The ride rolls out north of town and gradual climbs for about 5 miles before crossing over Interstate 80. Shortly after crossing the freeway, you'll begin to descend a couple miles before turning onto Yankee Jims Road. Yankee Jims is where the adventure really begins! The descent is roughly 4 miles on dirt with some pretty spectacular views as you head down into the canyon. This section is where we encountered most of our flats so new and durable tires are encouraged. At the bottom of the descent is where you'll cross one of two really rad bridges over the North Fork of the American River!
When you descend, that usually means you're going to have to climb back up! Immediately after crossing the bridge, you'll begin the 3.7 miles of dirt climbing at 7% gradient (Strava ranks it as a Cat 2 climb!). Again, the views of the canyon as you climb towards the small, remote town of Yankee Jims are stunning. When the road surface switches back over to asphalt, you'll have one more mile of climbing before it levels out and gradually descends towards Ponderosa Road (there may or may not be a surprise climb tucked into the descent!).
After the right turn onto Ponderosa, part two of the dirt begins with a somewhat gnarly descent down to the second bridge crossing. Beware of ruts and rocks on this descent and make sure there's no loose bolts on your bike! At the base, there will be an aid station with mechanical support from the good folks from Kinetic Cycles as well as snacks and GQ-6 Hydration!
The next Cat 2 climb you'll be facing is shorter but much steeper at 2.6 miles and 9%. This is where compact gearing and a 32 tooth cassette will definitely come in handy! During the pre ride, it became a race up the climb to beat the sunset...we may have started just a bit late. After cresting the dirt climb, you'll face some rollers as you gently roll back towards the town of Meadow Vista where lunch awaits.
After the ride, hang out in your flannel and recover with a beer from Ruhstaller Brewing and TACO 'bout your day in the dirt...yup there's tacos if you didn't catch that! So mark your calendars, find your finest flannel, bomb proof your bike, and be ready for a day of fun and adventure on April 9th out on some of the best roads of Placer County! Hope to see you there!