Thursday, May 31, 2012


As a public service to all the “Church of the Open Road” sacrificed the spanking cleanliness of the GSA to investigate conditions on California State Route 49 over Yuba Pass this on May 30.

Owing to the fact that there were road construction signs west of Downieville, I elected not to hang around and stretch my legs in town thinking there’d be enough stoppages ahead.  I was nearly wrong.  Nearly.  The first five or six miles east, the road had one of those new asphalt surfaces that most of us only dream about.  Smooth.  Superbly engineered. 

Delays east of D'Ville
However, six miles east, we were stopped for nigh onto 20 minutes for the pilot car (which is always a big pickup truck) to lead us through the zone.   After a time, the fellow in the Ford Explorer behind me got out of his car and the conversation ensued:  “Nice day for a ride.”  “What kind of bike is that?”  “Where ya goin’?”   I found out the gentleman had eschewed I-80 construction on his way to an annual golf tournament in the Graeagle area, involving Nevada Union’s class of ’60 or thereabout.  I immediately regretted losing track of Chico High’s Class of ’70.  He regretted not having taken I-80.

Initial pavement along this section was fresh with the eastbound lane having its second layer of asphalt, the westbound lane waiting its second.   
Along Cal-Ida Road a half mile up from CA 49
There’s a short stretch free of delays then, four miles west of Sierra City, another wait.  Here, I learned from the gentleman in the Explorer about the history of the Cal-Ida Lumber Company who’d logged the area and transported timber to Auburn for milling back in the day.

At this point, route 49’s old surface is being heated and removed.  From here into Sierra City, expect to drive on deteriorated road base not suitable for your Sunday-go-to-meetin’ bike.  The water truck did a fine job keeping the surface muddy enough for those later to ask how long it’d had been since I returned from Alaska on the Beemer.

Stop in for the pie and the latest...
By Bassett’s Station, the work had concluded, however, my sources there (the young man who served me a wonderful hunk of warmed peach pie with ice cream and said, “Yes, if you want to call it lunch, you can call it lunch”) reported that the section from Downieville to Sierra City should be completed in the next couple of weeks, but that they were still slated to tear up and resurface the rest of the route to Yuba Pass with completion being around the first of July.

He added that CA 89 from Sattley to Truckee was slated for similar work beginning the first of July.

Sierra City prior to road resurfacing
Use caution or select alternate routes like the Lakes Basin Highway from Bassett’s Station to CA 89 below Blairsden or CA 70 through Oroville, Quincy and beyond.

© 2012
Church of the Open Road Press

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