It’s hard to beat a springtime bike ride through the Gold Country – temperatures are mild, redbuds bursting with their purple flowers and fiery orange poppies punctuate the lush green hillsides. It might just be the perfect way to cruise the foothills and take it all in at your own pace. Luckily there’s Mr. Frog’s Wild Ride, designed to give you just that opportunity, while supporting a great Calaveras County resource as well. All proceeds benefit Feeney Park in Murphys – a 15 acre community sports and recreation facility featuring a skate park, disc golf course, outdoor amphitheater, picnic areas and playing fields for soccer, baseball or the occasional game of Ultimate Frisbee.
Now in its seventh year, the ride has become a popular springtime tradition, drawing in cyclists from all over Northern California and Nevada. This year’s route will showcase the southwest end of the county and riders have the option of a 50K route or the 100K “Wilder Ride.” Included in the ride fees are SAG support and traffic control, tech support by Mountain Pedaler bike shop, rest stops with fresh and tasty snacks, as well as a great barbecue and party with live music at the end of it all – oh, and let’s not forget the free massage at the finish.
Starting at Feeney Park, the route heads through downtown Murphys and up French Gulch Road, a favorite local backroad lined with oak trees and hayfields, then down Murphys Grade Road into Angels Camp. Grab a drink and a bite at the first rest stop before the ride meanders through the hilly neighborhoods of Angels Camp above Greenhorn Creek golf resort and then south on Highway 49. You’ll pass Glory Hole Sports, where all the fishermen gear up, on the way down to Glory Hole Recreation Area, with its miles of hiking and mountain biking trails.
From there it’s up Red Hill Road, another fun hidden backroad with historic ranches that will bring you past Twisted Oak Winery before dropping into the hamlet of Vallecito. Its Union Church is a California Historic Landmark and just down the road is California’s largest cave, Moaning Cavern. The following section of the route offers those cyclists on the 100K plan the option of a time trial for the climb back up from Parrotts Ferry bridge on New Melones Lake. As you’re huffing and puffing your way up the hill, you’ll pass the trailhead for Natural Bridges, an amazing series of limestone caverns you can swim through – it’s one of several popular summer swimming spots in the area.
A giant loop back through Angels Camp and up to Murphys via Murphys Grade Road will have you back at Feeney Park, and surely deserving of that free massage which will be waiting for you. Refuel with some hearty chicken or vegetarian barbecue and celebrate the afternoon with great live music. Even if you’re not riding you can still enjoy the barbecue and party and show your support.
Looking for something fun on Sunday too? Now that you have a little extra time, check out some of the many attractions mentioned above that you rode by on Saturday.