I prefer biking to running for “base training” because it provides aerobic and endurance training. Although running does provide aerobic training it doesn’t have the other advantages of biking like low impact for aging knees. Biking also builds muscle tone and strength much more so than running.

If you are new to serious biking, here are some basics. Biking should be done three times a week at the beginning of the training program. Two times a week will be fine but other training activities (the circuits) should be added after the first few weeks to supplement the two-day bike program.

Biking Technique
Serious bikers talk about something called spinning. Spinning is the most efficient way to move on a bike. It means you form a complete circle of power with your pedaling action. Pedaling isn’t a series of alternating downward pressure strokes, it is a continuous circle of pressure on the pedals. The downward push shouldn’t do all the work. As the right foot comes to the top of the pedal circle the left foot begins to pull up during the back of the pedal circle. Combining the pull back and up with the push down and forward gives the circle no weak points. Alternating these movements from right to left foot and from pushing to pulling requires some practice, but once you have the idea of spinning, biking enjoyment is reached. It’s hard to explain because it feels so powerful yet requires much less strength. You become an efficient machine, in tune with the bike.

Here’s how it’s learned:

  • Spin at ninety or more revolutions per minute. This means you are in a low gear and your feet are turning very fast. I often practice the spin early in the season at 120 RPM to speed up my feet. Bike stores sell little bike computers that tell you exactly how fast you are spinning. At only $20 – $30, they are worthwhile and a great training tool.
  • A good way to measure your improvement is to ride the same loop or a number of loops that you can repeat. After the first week, time your ride. The computer can also be used as a timer and it records your average speed. Do not try to improve your time during the first two weeks. Ride for the enjoyment and experience.
  • Your first weeks of riding should be half to three-quarters of an hour long. Your ride can have some small hills and you may need to learn how to ride standing up.
  • If you are riding at 90 RPM as recommended and you come to a hill your cadence will decrease. You can maintain the same gear by standing on the pedals. Standing gives you more power but it is more demanding aerobically. It is good to do some standing as it develops other muscles and requires bike handling skills and balance.
  • The really dedicated enthusiast will want to use a heart rate monitor. The monitor tells you how hard you are working or not working. People who are new to biking usually say they have a hard time getting a workout. They try to compare it to running, where they are immediately out of breath. Biking will get you out of breath, have no worries, but you have to learn how.
  • Make sure you are in good health and have no medical conditions that keep you from participating in strenuous physical activity. If you are unsure about your ability to start a physical program consult your doctor.

Bike Intervals

Now that you’ve been biking regularly for a few weeks, you’re ready to add a weekly bike interval workout. The interval workout will improve your fitness faster than steady cycling does. Two workouts are described here. Start with the “Faster Mile” interval workout, once a week. It will improve your aerobic capacity and leg strength. Once you’re comfortable with that workout, try the “All-out Effort” workout, which will improve your anaerobic capacity and your lactate threshold. (That’s the point at which your legs cry for mercy.)

For either interval workout, begin with 5 – 10 minutes of easy spinning, gradually increasing to your standard steady-ride pace. You want your muscles and joints thoroughly warmed-up prior to beginning the intervals. After the intervals, cool off with about 5 minutes of easy spinning.

IMPORTANT: If you haven’t been riding several times a week for at least three weeks, don’t do these interval workouts! You must have a sufficient base in order to derive benefits from these workouts. If you don’t, you will simply hurt.

“Faster Mile” Interval Workout
Using a cyclocomputer, your car odometer, or other method, find a one-mile section of road or trail that you enjoy. It should have distinct starting and ending landmarks, be fairly flat, and have several hundred yards of speed-up and slow down zones at either end of it. You’ll be doing U-turns in order to ride this section back and forth, so keep traffic safety in mind.

Ride the mile once at your normal, steady pace and time how long it takes you. Your interval pace should be about 80% of your steady pace. For instance, if it normally takes you 5 minutes to ride the mile, your interval target time will be 4 minutes. If you normally ride it in 4 minutes, your target time is 3:12.

Here’s the workout…
Once you are warmed up, spin up to your desired speed in the acceleration zone. Try to be at speed when you pass the incoming landmark. Remain at your higher speed throughout the mile, and don’t let off until you pass your exit landmark. Slow down through your deceleration zone, do a U-turn (LOOK FOR CARS!!), and pedal easily back to your acceleration zone.

Repeat the round trip 4 times. Try to meet your target time in each interval. If your later intervals are slower than your early ones, aim for a slightly slower pace. Keep pedaling at 90-100 rpm throughout the interval – you may need to adjust your gears.

“All-out Effort” Interval Workout
This workout can be performed in a loop, as above, or you can incorporate it on your regular bike routes. Once you are warmed up, go as hard as you can for 30 seconds. Keep your rpm’s between 90 and 100; you’ll need to shift to a harder gear. After the interval, pedal easily until you have recovered. If you have a heart rate monitor, recover until 120 bpm. If you don’t have a monitor, when you’ve recovered you’ll be able to have a conversation without difficulty breathing. Repeat the effort/recovery 4 times, then pedal easily to cool off.

The City of Redding is the county seat of Shasta County. If you’re not from the area but recognize that name, you have one landmark to thank: Mt. Shasta. Though this destination provides unmatched mountain biking and summer activities, it is—first and foremost—a ski destination.

Located just east of Interstate 5 along SR 89, the Mount Shasta Ski Park is just a short drive north of Redding. It is the second highest volcano in the Cascade Range, straddling several small volcanic buttes on the lower and southern flanks. Chairlifts run to the top of the 6,567-foot-tall Douglas Butte and the 6,150-foot-tall Marmot Ridge. With a total skiable vertical of 1,390 feet, the mountain has terrain for every ski ability: around 20% of the terrain is rated as beginner, 55% is intermediate, and 25% is advanced.

Mount Shasta Ski Park is also surprisingly accessible. It features four chairlifts—3 triple chairs and 1 surface lift, totaling a capacity of 6,200 passengers per hour. Additionally, with 32 total runs and an annual snowfall of 280 inches, this winter retreat is a perfect way to spend time outside when you can’t hop on the bike. The ski area is located entirely on a 1 square mile single section within the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.

Mount Shasta is also an incredibly popular backcountry destination for skiers, hikers, and climbers. With few crevasse hazards on most summit routes and amazing springtime weather make Shasta one of the best west coast springtime skiing and mountaineering destinations. Avalanche Gulch on the mountain’s south side is the most classic and popular trail, but the Hotlum-Wintun Ridge on the northeast side is a favorite among locals. Most approaches and descents are documented on local climbing sites.

So, you want to visit Redding during the mountain biking off-season, but you don’t own your own gear. Renting is a popular option for those visiting Shasta County in the summer months, and there are plenty of local ski and equipment shops to help you find the perfect fit. Lift ticket deals are also available so you don’t have to take out a second mortgage to take up a second hobby. Redding is an excellent destination and home for outdoor adventurers—anything related to outdoor recreation, no matter the season, is within reach.

I have been asked so many times, “Is this a trail I can do”? or “Is it really a beginner trail”?
This page will try to describe what makes which trail a beginner trail or advanced trail. I have made an informal rating as well as a short summary description. You’re welcome.

The Chimney
Intermediate
Although the climb is on a fire road, it is fairly long, and not for those who aren’t in pretty good shape. As for technical aspects, the trail is mostly smooth, with a couple of sections that the less experienced should walk.

The Recliner
Advanced Intermediate
This ride also has a long fire road climb, and a fairly steep downhill section, followed by a tricky creek crossing. The downhill is mostly smooth, nothing that can’t be ridden by the average rider.

The Couch
Advanced Intermediate
A very steep initial climb, (one of the steeper ones at Whiskeytown) some very technical downhill sections make this ride for someone who is confident in their skills. With features like the “Trench of Terror”, it borders on Advanced.

Shasta Mine Trail
Beginner to Intermediate
Depending on the route, this can be a good beginner ride, or if you throw in “the climb”, it would be more geared for intermediate riders. This ride is part of the “Peltier Valley” rides, and when we have a beginner
ride in this area, it is mostly flat, some rocky sections, all very rideable for anyone comfortable in the dirt.

Boulder Creek
Advanced Intermediate
Rated so because of the climb. It is on a fire road, but during the summer it can be very hot, and it is a non stop steep climb for over two miles. The downhill is not technical, but does have several creek crossings. Very refreshing in the summer, but cold in the winter!

Oak Bottom
Beginner
Flat, smooth, nothing technical, makes this probably the perfect ride for the beginner. There is one little hill, (probably 30 yards total) that is a very good gauge for your improvement. In the winter the trail is usually very wet, as it is an old water ditch trail, and does not drain well. In the summer this is a great ride as it is right next to the lake, and is mostly in the shade.

El Dorado Mine Trail
Advanced Beginner
Another great trail for those new to the sport. This can be added on to Oak Bottom. This ride throws in a climb on switchbacks, (tough for any level rider) but is very do-able. Don’t get discouraged if you aren’t able to ride the switchbacks till your more experienced.

French Gulch
Intermediate to Advanced
This area is all about the climbing. 7 Miles on the shorter course. The downhill is not super technical, mainly motorcycle-made single or double track. Depending on the route, this can be an all day ride!

Dry Creek
Advanced Intermediate to Advanced
This ride is a beauty! The reason for the advanced rating is due to the cliffs on the side of the trail. It can be very technical, and should NOT be ridden alone. There are no major climbs, the trail just hugs the shore, but is very technical. If the dam is full of water, the trail can not be accessed.

Mary Lake Area
Intermediate on up
This is a great new area, hopefully it will stay around, the subdivision is growing and threatening the area. This is an intermediate ride because of the climbing. The trails are wide, and all very rideable, nothing too technical, but you do have to climb. This is a great winter ride area, even for night rides. The view from the top at night can’t be beat!

River Trail
Beginner
A great place to get your “legs”. This trail system is mostly flat, and all paved. There are a couple of single track dirt trails that lead off the pavement, good place to explore, with a friend. Watch out for other trail users.

Clikapudi
Beginner to Advanced Intermediate
This is mainly an easy trail, it does have a couple of good climbs, and features the dreaded “switchbacks”. For the real beginner, it can be rode as an out an back from the boat ramp to the campground. For the hardened rider, it can be a “recovery” ride, or at race pace, or at night for even more challenges. Look for the new addition that RMB is working on now. The trail does feature some “rock garden” areas that the beginning rider should use caution on.

Downieville
Advanced Intermediate
Although this is mainly downhill, it is very technical, and should not be attempted by beginners. There are cliffs, drop offs, rocks, and loose dirt that thrown in with the fact that you are fatigued from the ride, can cause you to let your guard down. But…it’s a BLAST!

Again, special thanks to Max Walter for all his work on his book dedicated to our trails in this area. Max also does a lot of volunteer trail clean ups, and has given a lot to this sport. Check out his book, North State Singletrack!

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Another quick trail finding reference:

Beginner Trails: Oak Bottom, El Dorado Mine Trail, Sacramento River Trail, Keswick Dam River Trail, Clikapudi, Mule Mountain
Intermediate Trails: The Chimney, Shasta Mine Trail, Clikapudi, French Gulch, Mary Lake, Mule Mountain
Advanced Intermediate and up: Recliner, Couch, Shasta Mine, Boulder Creek, Dry Creek, French Gulch
Easiest: River Trails
Best all around: Clikapudi
Hardest climb: French Gulch, Boulder Creek
Most scenic: Chimney
Best cardio workout and fitness gauge: Southfork! This is a 7 mile climb, starts on the dirt road across 299 from the Visitor Center at Whiskeytown. It is all dirt road and is perfect for those who want to just get out and get in shape. Try getting to the first lookout without stopping, then try to get to the top, then try to go all the way without stopping, then try using your middle chain ring up front, etc. The view from the top is great, and this is a good night ride as well!

Most extreme, mountain-based sports have a code of conduct. Either written or spoken, this code allows riders to remain safe and responsible while on the trail. Climbing has one. Skiing and snowboarding has one. Mountain biking, a fast-paced extreme sport wherein several people share a swath of wilderness and may or may not interact with one another, has one, too. In fact, mountain biking etiquette may be one of the more important codes of conduct; you will likely share Redding’s trails with hikers, runners, and equestrians, which increases the need for extreme caution and a reverence for safety. Below, we have listed and detailed the six Rules of the Trail.

 

  1. Ride open trails. You should never ride on trails that are closed off. Respect trail and road closures, and don’t trespass on private land.
  2. Leave no trace. This applies to all outdoor adventure sports. Stay on existing trails, don’t cut switchbacks, and pack out at least as much as you can pack in.
  3. Bike in control. Keep your head up and obey all speed regulations and recommendations. Stay alert and always ride within your limits.
  4. Yield appropriately. Always let other trail users know you’re coming and give a friendly greeting. Do your best to anticipate other trail users around corners, and yield to non-bike trail users. Always yield to riders headed uphill when you are riding downhill.
  5. Don’t scare the animals. Frightened wildlife can be very dangerous, so do your best to stay alert and use special care when passing horses.
  6. Plan ahead. Do the appropriate research before your trip and pack what you’ll need. Know your equipment and your own ability and be self-sufficient. Always, always, always wear a helmet.

Depending on your mountain biking terrain, these rules of conduct should be posted on either the base or the peak of the trail or mountain. Even if they’re not, learn to respect the code and other riders; mountain biking is only safe if you know how to stay in control and handle the trail.

While the Carr Fire rages to the west, several areas in and around Redding remain perfectly suitable for mountain biking. However, some of the city’s favorite recreation areas have been scorched by the blaze. While the trails themselves can’t burn, everything around them can. This can include anything from trees and signs to benches, tables, and culverts. It is estimated that around 100 of the 120 miles of the Bureau of Land Management’s trail are affected in some way, but this does not mean they are irrevocably damaged. In fact, some of these trails may re-open before the close of the season. However, here is a list of current closures and fire-related happenings.

  • Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, which drew more than 832,000 visitors last year, has closed for the summer.
  • Large chunks of the Sacramento River Trail are missing; four bridges were burned on the western part of the loop. The city is asking the public to stay off this six-mile section until it is repaired.
  • Power lines have fallen across trails, and burned trees can pose a danger to bikers.
  • The Swasey Recreation Area has sustained significant damage; officials say it was, ”completely blackened.”

In order to re-open the trails, officials will need to inspect every mile. This is the only way to ensure safety. Officials also warn that the conditions of trails can be deceiving; bikers may see trailheads with intact kiosks and bathrooms, but dangers could lurk down the path.

Mountain bikers should continue to exercise caution as the fire slows. Autumn marks the beginning of the rainy season, and the lack of vegetation will inevitably create a lot of runoff. If the area gets a lot of rain, landslides are likely to occur.

Though much of the biking to the west of Redding has been damaged, trails to the east remain relatively untouched. The City of Redding is still ripe with mountain biking opportunities—tourists and locals should simply exercise caution to the west.