After a short night’s sleep, Ed and I dressed for our bike ride on the Bizz Johnson – a Hall of Fame trail located in northeastern California just east of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. We ate a big breakfast (lots of carbs for energy) and met Joyce and Ron at the Enterprise Car Rental, which was conveniently located in the Silver Legacy lobby. The agent took us up to the 10th floor parking deck where we loaded our rental car. We drove about 30 minutes north to Hallelujah Junction where we met Kimberly Kaznowski, the owner of Howling Dogs Bike & Ski in Graegle, California. I contacted Kimberly a few months ago to make arrangements for renting bikes because the two shops closest to “The Bizz” were closed (one is not open on Mondays and the other does not open until after Memorial Day). Although her shop was more than hour from the trail, she offered to bring the bikes to us AND to shuttle us from one end of the trail to the other, at a very reasonable price.
When we met Kimberly in Hallelujah Junction, we caravanned to Susanville, purchased Subway sandwiches, and parked our rental car at the Train Museum that marks the eastern terminus of the Bizz Johnson. Kimberly transported us to Mason Station, the western terminus, where we unloaded the bikes and prepared for our ride. The mountain bikes which Kimberly brought for us to ride were brand new for this season and were top of the line! My 27” bike had dual suspension, an automatic seat drop, and an incredibly smooth gear system. Needless to say, I was anxious to get this bike on the trail! Kimberly patiently answered all of our questions and gave us a brief maintenance lesson on the bikes before we started our ride.
We embarked on the trail at noon and estimated that the 25 mile trip would take about 4 hours, including a picnic lunch and several photo stops. About 2 miles into the gravel trail, we stopped to take pictures of the Mule’s Ear wildflowers and to remove a layer of clothes. Although the temperature was only in the 50s when we reached Susanville, the bright sunny day and the slight uphill grade of the trail made it feel much warmer.
The trail begins at an elevation of 5500 feet, and the first seven miles pass through a heavily wooded forest. We saw numerous Ponderosa pine and a few fir trees adjacent to the trail. Most of the fallen trees from this past winter’s storms had recently been cleared from the trail. In fact, we only had to climb over one tree during the entire length of our ride.
Amidst the conifers, we spotted dark igneous rock formations that were a result of lava flows over a million years ago. There were also smaller volcanic rocks from Mt. Lassen’s most recent eruptions (early 1900s) scattered throughout the forest.
The remaining 18 miles of the trail descended at a 3% grade through the Susan River canyon. We crossed 12 bridges and went through two tunnels during this scenic portion of the trail. Our first glimpses of the river were that of small, boggy areas, which seemed ideal for moose. As we pedaled down the rugged canyon, the river increased in size and visibility. The greenish-blue tint of the water reminded me of Canadian glacial pools.
We took several breaks to snack and take photos, giving our husbands an opportunity to rest and stretch their legs. About halfway down the trail, we met Kimberly, our host, pedaling uphill. Her agility and stamina put us to shame! She warned us about some loose gravel and an uphill climb out of Devils Corral ahead on the trail. While stopping to marvel at the steel trestle bridge spanning the river below, Kimberly caught up to us again on her descent back to Susanville. Leaving Devils Corral, we decided to push our bikes up the steep embankment; however, Kimberly pedaled all the way to the top.
According to the map, there was supposed to be a small campground along the river’s edge where we planned to eat our picnic lunch. Hungry and only five miles from the end of the trail, we realized that we must have missed the campground. We decided to eat our lunch at a small wooden bench overlooking the flowing river below. Rejuvenated by our sandwiches, we biked down to the trail’s end in less than 30 minutes. Kimberly was waiting for us, and we helped her load the bikes before browsing the train museum.
On our drive back to Reno, we treated ourselves to an ice cream sundae at McDonalds. Returning to Circus, Circus, we parked the rental car and headed upstairs to our rooms to take showers and change clothes. We wanted to buy tickets to the comedy club but found out that there are no shows on Monday nights. After a late dinner at the Brew Boys restaurant in the Silver Legacy Casino, we purchased some bakery-fresh Danish rolls for breakfast and watched people playing slots & gambling in the Eldorado Casino. Ellen’s video slots were my favorite; when you won a spin, she danced or told jokes. If you were not doing well, she ridiculed you using her humor to entertain you even though you were losing. Ed and I played a few rounds of penny slots and then took the elevator back to our room. I was asleep within 15 minutes of crawling into bed!