Bike Advocacy

Motherlode Bicycle Coalition Newsletter

The MLBC Board recently met to discuss bike advocacy plans and bike sponsored activities in 2021. We agreed that our top priorities are to advocate to improve conditions for biking for transportation and recreation, encourage all residents, kids and adults to ride a bicycle, and to promote our region for road and mountain biking.

During the last several months we have all been out riding in the Motherlode and sharing our bike destinations on social media. Carl, Jack, Nikki, Holly, Rob and Carol are posting pictures and routes on Instagram, Facebook, and Strava.

In January, Caltrans District 10 Bike Advocates: MLBC, Merced Bike Coalition, Stanislaus County Bike Club, Modesto Bike Advisory, Lodi Bike, and California Alps Cycling met by Zoom with the new Caltrans District 10 Director of Planning and his staff.

At this meeting we discussed forming a Caltrans District 10 Bike Advisory Committee, our counties road safety issues and poorly planned rumble strips.

Example of Rumble Strips

Our request to form a Bike Advisory is under review by the Caltrans District 10 Executive Managers. (*Purpose for formation of a District 10 Bicycle Advisory Committee Below) We also discussed our collective disdain for Rumble Strips! The good news is that CalBike has hired a transportation planner to draft general guidance to rumble strip application. These guidelines will be published in the final Cycling Tourism Plan and part of any road improvements application from Caltrans.

The Calaveras Arts Council annual bike event, RideandWalk4Art is scheduled for March 21, 2021. MLBC members are encouraged to participate.See

Current registration is over 35 cyclists and 15 walking participants and 90% are traveling over two hours to attend this event in West Calaveras. This event is a “No Frills Bike and Walk Event.” Cyclists are paying for our road safety preparations and monitoring. Cycle California Magazine will promote this event in late February and early March to over 4,000 cyclists in California, Nevada and Oregon.

Groveland Trails Head Crew

We are proud to share that the Groveland Trail Heads Mountain Bike Destination Trail System in the Stanislaus National Forest was one of eight projects selected for International Mountain Bicycling Association’s Dig In Program founded by Shimano-MTB! The goal of the Dig In Program is to bridge the gap between local and national fundraising efforts and show a new audience how inspirational and vital trails are to local communities, businesses and youth.

This is an online peer-to-peer crowdsourcing opportunity with a $2000 match from IMBA corporate sponsors. Groveland Trailhead Needs our support

Ferretti Non-Motorized Trail System

Tuolumne County has been awarded a $2 million State Active Transportation Program Grant to construct sidewalk improvements in the vicinity of Jamestown Elementary School. MLBC provided a support letter for the project, and we are happy to congratulate Tuolumne County on their first successful ATP application. MLBC also provided a support letter for Mariposa County’s application to the Caltrans Sustainable Communities Planning Grant program for an Active Transportation Plan. We wish them the best of luck in obtaining funding to help plan for walking and biking in Mariposa County.

The foothill counties need to compete with affluent urban areas for these statewide grant programs. Joining MLBC and supporting robust community planning can help our cities and counties demonstrate public support for their plans and projects to better compete for funding.

We hope to resume monthly pop up and weekly bike rides but until then, ride along with us on Facebook, Instagram or the Motherlodebike website stay updated on our latest news.

If you haven’t become a member or would like to renew your membership open

Rob Williams


Important Motherlode Bicycle Resources

Cycling Tourism Information

Showcase Areas Tuolumne and Calaveras

Caltrans District 10 Survey

My Calaveras County Road Maintenance Request

Caltrans Safety Maintenance Request

Groveland Trailhead Needs our Support

Pedaling Paths to Independence Virtual Bike Event Registration Open

*Purpose for formation of a District 10 Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC)

  • Provide District 10 with a dedicated outreach channel representing bicyclists throughout the District for planning, project development and delivery, maintenance, and encroachment permits.
  • Bring bicyclist concerns about State Highway conditions to the District in a coordinated way (reduce reliance on individual PIO customer service requests).
  • Improve, not bypass, bicyclist coordination for regional transportation planning agencies (COGs, Transportation Councils and Commissions), cities, and counties.
  • Inform coalition and club alignment with State goals regarding Active Transportation, Complete Streets, and transportation equity/inclusion of underrepresented communities.
  • Increase opportunities for partnership and knowledge sharing between bike advocates in District 10.

Calaveras Bike Event Supports Art Education

Calaveras County Arts Council

RideandWalk4Art Is Back!

RideandWalk4Art county special event permits have been approved to hold a NO FRILLS bike and walk event on Sunday, March 21, 2021 in Western Calaveras County. This event will be touchless, pre-registration online, no lunch, no entertainment, and keep your own space!

What we are providing and monitoring is a beautiful springtime bike or walk in Calaveras County!

Motherlode Bicycle Coalition Jack Becker

The Calaveras Amateur Radio Association and San Andreas American Legion Ambulance will be at RideandWalk4Art to insure cyclists and walking safety.

Support vehicles will monitor the cycling route and Road Safety Volunteers will supervise all intersections. Cameron Trail will be monitored by event volunteer.

Learn more and register at our website:

Calaveras CountyArts Education Fundraiser

The Calaveras County Arts Council has a mission to support arts in our public schools. In 2019 the fundraising event Ride & Walk 4 Art raised nearly $6,000; all of the money was earmarked for arts in our public schools.

Sadly, last year the Arts Council canceled Ride & Walk 4 Art due to the Covid-19 emergency. Happily, most participants said, “keep our registration money!”

But the Arts Council has fallen far short of it’s goal of matching last year’s contributions. And this upcoming 2021 school year, students will need the arts more than ever as they return to school and try to navigate this new world we live in.

RideandWalk4Art helps pay for many things: art supplies for classes, visiting artists, school theater projects, art days at elementary schools.

But most importantly, this fundraiser helps students make sense of their lives as they learn critical real world skills like creative thinking, resilience, problem solving, and project management. Studies show that children with access to the arts fare better in school and life.

Looking for more bike rides?

Motherlode Bicycle Coalition, Jack Becker

Bike Riding Resources


Bike Tuolumne County

Old Ward’s Ferry Road Et Al.

Jay Rawlins, explores, rides and write about his bike adventures in California and Oregon. The Old Ward’s Ferry Bike ride is one of several routes in Bike to Sierra Region that Jay features on Jay and I recently discussed road improvements in Calaveras County and we have a bike date to ride Jesus Maria Road!

Jay Rawlins, Campo Seco Road

A general word of warning about riding in the Southern Southern Gold Country: every back road I’ve ridden from Jesus Maria Rd. south has had stretches of pavement ranging from poor to comically horrible. That includes every Bestrides ride in the area—Jesus Maria, Ward’s Ferry, this one, and others like Dogtown Rd (not so much Priest-Coulterville). If poor pavement bothers you, ride somewhere else.

This ride lies just west of our Ward’s Ferry Road ride, but it couldn’t be more different. Ward’s Ferry is a straight down-and-up crossing of a big canyon. This ride wanders around in a warren of old farming roads that roll up and down constantly over endless little hills. It’s never flat, and it never climbs or descends for long.

It’s harder than the profile makes it look, because short, steep rollers wear you out, and because the road surfaces here are poor, and that beats you up. The up side is, this isn’t your yuppified Gold Country. There are next to no gated mansions, vineyards, Lexuses—just oak and grassland, unpretentious folk, beat-up pick-ups, and horses and cows in the fields.
There is nothing magical about my route. I just tried to link as many of the roads in the area as I could. My route has you riding everything of note except Algerine Wards Ferry Rd., which you can easily add as an out and back.

Start at the intersection of Old Ward’s Ferry Road and Jacobs Rd. You can start at the northern end of OWFR if you want to, but it’s very unpleasant multi-lane frenetic urban. Half a mile past Hwy 108, you’re in the country.

Old Ward’s Ferry Rd. is the second-worst road surface on the ride, and it’s immediately up and down, so it’s hard on an unwarm body. Nothing on this ride lasts very long, however, so soon you go R onto Murphy Rd. and things are much better though not perfect. Go right on Lime Kiln Rd. and go up and down, mostly up, until you’re in the shadow of Hwy 108, where Campo Seco Rd. goes L along the highway.

Jay Rawlins, Old Wards Ferry Road

Camp Seco is a horse of a different color. It runs along upscale housing tracts on one side, so it’s bigger, domesticated, busier, and glassy smooth.

Go L on Algerine and roll to Twist Rd. At the intersection is a chance to pick up Algerine-Ward’s Ferry Rd. (not on our route)—just keep riding past the Twist turn-off.

Whatever you do, don’t miss Twist Rd.—it’s the jewel in this crown. The road surface isn’t perfect, but it’s good enough that you can finally bomb some descents.

Twist Rd. ends at Jacksonville Road, for all intents and purposes a highway, though not a heavily trafficked one. It’s not thrilling, and the pavement is new chipseal, but it’s OK and the views (of the canyon holding an arm of an arm of an arm of Don Pedro Lake) are good—the only time on this ride where you can see further than across the meadow beside you, but only a mile plus to the Jacobs Rd. cut-off back to your car.

Jacobs is not to be missed—perhaps a third of a mile of the worst road surface I have ever experienced. Absolute misery. It’s easier and more pleasant to walk it, but ride it just so you can tell your friends you did.

Jay Rawlins, Big Hill in Columbia

Shortening the route: Except for Twist, none of these roads is markedly superior to any other. The southwest loop might be slightly superior to the northeast loop.

Adding miles: This ride takes you within yards of our Ward’s Ferry Road route, a ride I would certainly do before I did this one. In Sonora you are 6 miles from Big Hill Road out of Columbia, a 10-mile out-and-back consisting of a four-mile moderately challenging climb followed by 6 miles of easy rollers, with fabulous views of the lands to south—the best vistas in all my Gold Country riding. It would be a Bestrides-worthy ride, but it’s cursed with the same unfortunate Calaveras County pavement as this ride—not intolerable but bad enough to turn an otherwise wonderful 4-mile descent coming back into something merely good. If you’re near Columbia, don’t miss little Sawmill Flat Road, unique in the region (in my experience) for having easy rollers, lush scenery, and pristine road surface.

Bike Amador County

Lower Bear River Back Country Ride (All Paved)

Pioneer, California

Bill Condrashoff, Foothill Cyclists

When the weather gets too warm to ride in the foothills, I like to head up to Lower Bear River Reservoir where the weather is usually perfect on those days. Drive about 2 miles on Bear River Road off of Hwy 88 down to the dam and park there.

I almost always ride to the south over the dam on South Bear River Road and either make a small scenic loop out of Cole Creek Road. Or take Spur 19 down to the really cool flume flowing water out of Salt Springs Reservoir. In the spring of a wet year, you can sometimes time it to see the water spill from Salt Springs Dam. The spillway is a natural rock surface and it is quite the sight to see on a hot spring day.

The Cole Creek Road loop takes less than an hour without stops. But there are some nice places you’ll want to stop and view the Mokulumne Canyon from above. The road is not perfect but there’s not too much to complain about. There are cows roaming in the area and you might run across a group of them. I just keep moving and make sure they know I’m coming. You never want to surprise one when you’re close to it.


You’ll be able to see Salt Springs Reservoir in the canyon below. If you want to go down to the lake, make sure you have good working brakes on both wheels cuz you’re going to need them. You might even consider stopping to let your rims cool on the way down. Spur 19 will take you down to Salt Springs Reservoir Road. The descent is steep and there can be obstacles like rocks, logs and cow pies on the pavement. Its only one lane wide so remember you may encounter a car around one of the many turns. Be careful!

To get to the spillway and lake, turn left at the bottom of Spur 19. There is a sign there that will help you in case you’re not sure. The lake is an out and back and it will take a least an hour to get back to Spur 19. The flume is about 1⁄2 mile down the road on your way to the lake. As you get near the dam, keep a look out for the spillway on your right across the river. If it’s operating, you won’t miss it. It’s uphill to the top of the dam and it gets steep in a few spots.

If you are at all worried about making it out of the canyon under your own power, don’t do the out and back to the lake. Instead, you can just go to the flume and turn around or turn right at the bottom of Spur 19 and ride out on Ellis Road up to the Hwy. Whether you ride to the dam or not, I recommend taking Ellis Road up to Hwy 88. Spur 19 is very steep and unrelenting and it’s going to hurt you if you trying riding up it.

Ellis Road has a mostly even grade and it is a very long climb. You can enjoy that time watching the flume and river canyon slowly sink away from you. The bottom part of the ride up Ellis is exposed and allows for good viewing. However, because of the exposure, it will be hot down in the canyon when the sun is high. On hot days, I recommend only climbing out of the canyon in the morning or before sunset.

When you get back to Hwy 88, turn right and go a little over 1 mile back to Bear River Road and coast down to the dam where you parked. A small scenic add-on option is to continue on Hwy 88 about 1 mile to the view point overlooking Lower Bear River Reservoir. Be very careful on Hwy 88. The shoulders are minimal in a few sections.

An option I like to ride to save as much energy as possible for the climb out on Ellis is to short cut the Cole Creek Road part by taking Bear River Road direct to Spur 19 then to Ellis. That’s about a 20 mile loop with a lot of climbing. Allow 2-3 hours for this ride.


Upcountry Road Improvements in Calaveras County

On September 9, 2015, east of the California foothill town of Jackson in Amador County, a PG&E power line came into contact with brush and sparked flames that grew into a wildfire that jumped the Mokelumne River into Calaveras County. That fire, known as the Butte fire, eventually killed two people, destroyed nearly 1000 structures, and burned over 70,000 acres across two counties. The impacts to Calaveras citizens, economy, and landscape were devastating.

The Butte Fire caused significant damage to road segments above Highway 49 in Mountain Ranch, Sheep Ranch, Railroad Flat and along Jesus Maria Road. These small county roads are the life-lines for the tiny rural communities in the mountains, and Calaveras County Public Works is currently spending $14.6 million dollars to repair and repave at least 24 county road segments that are within the Butte Fire burn scar or were damaged by emergency access use.

The road repairs make bike riding in these upcountry communities more accessible and desirable. These upcountry roads have been popular with cyclists since the late 1970’s, but, poor road conditions have discouraged cycling tourism. The current road improvements will make Calaveras a go-to cycling destination for cyclist and bike tour companies.

San Andreas and Mokelumne Hill are centrally located at the base of upcountry hill climbs allowing avid cyclists access to the rolling foothills with hill climbs, descents, and of course, spectacular scenery. Traffic on upcountry roads is light, although cyclists should be cautious when riding.

Calaveras County Upcountry

Seven Routes, 200 miles of roads, 18,700 feet of climbing

San Andreas, Jesus Maria Road and Old Gulch Road (Loop)

Jesus Maria to Whiskey Slide to Mountain Ranch (Out and Back)

Calaveritas Road to Old Gulch Road(Out and Back)

Calaveritas, Fricot City Road to Rite of Passage School (Out and Back)

San Andreas, Hawver Road to Jesus Maria Gravel Ride

San Andreas, Pool Station Road (Out and Back)

San Andreas to Angels Camp and/or Murphy’s

Jesus Maria Road

Please review this showcase area and tell us what you think!

Are these the popular bike routes you like to ride currently?

What bike destinations or routes would you like to visit/ride to in the future?

Do you have Safety concerns within any Showcase Area?

Do you have any ideas for supportive amenities (signage, repair services, bike racks, etc) that would encourage bike riding in the Showcase Areas?

Email comments to

The road improvements identified in the list below will be completed by fall of 2023, based on available funding.



Calaveras County: SR-4 Murphys – Arnold Corridor

Murphy’s Grade from Angels Camp

The segment of State Route (SR) 4 stretching from Murphys to Arnold offers access to multiple tourism destinations ranging from caverns to wine tasting rooms. This focus area has the opportunity to consider long term improvements to a state route that also serves as an alternative “main street” for these smaller communities, as well as identify potential side routes and paths for bicycle tourists who may be seeking quieter roadways. SR-4 already has a reputation among cyclists for scenery where it crosses Ebbetts Pass and links to Alpine County, and the focus area is also developing a positive reputation among local gravel and mountain bike enthusiasts

Sonora High School Mountain Bike Club

Please review your county’s showcase area and tell us what you think!

Are these the popular bike routes you like to ride currently?

What bike destinations or routes would you like to visit/ride to in the future?

Do you have Safety concerns within any Showcase Area?

Do you have any ideas for supportive amenities (signage, repair services, bike racks, etc) that would encourage bike riding in the Showcase Areas?



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