I’ve never ridden in Chico… Until two weeks ago.
After the first day of introductions, a shakedown ride, a whole lot of names to remember and even more Sierra Nevadas involved, came the second day of Paul Camp in Chico, named and organized by none other than Paul Price of Paul Component Engineering.
I know, there are a lot of Paul’s in the previous sentence.
The plan for the day was to ride bikes. Precisely, custom handmade bikes made specifically for this one ride.
I was set up on a 27.5 drop-bar mountain bike built by Robert Ives at Blue Collar Bikes in Sacramento. Painted in bright candy red and adorned with just about every anodized blue component Paul makes out of his shop.
The bike was gorgeous as it was playful and surefooted to commandeer… very much like Ives himself, who was a welder at Ventana and Ibis before dabbling between his own bike company, a day job as a metal fabricator, and being super involved in a Pitbull rescue in town.
“I want to build bikes that people can go out and get rad on,” said Ives when I asked him about his design as we slowly pedaled closer to Bidwell Park.
Once we quickly treaded through the trails we rode on the previous day, it was game on. Although the post-ride strava revealed we didn’t climb a whole lot, I was getting reacquainted with rock navigation 101. It wasn’t that the trail was really gnarly, but let’s just say I was rusty while everyone else was in tip top shape.
Whatevs, I was riding with a badass group of frame builders and their bikes. This must be the rideable version of NAHBS.
After a quick descent on the double track and ripping through the shrubbery (read: poison oaks), I made it to lunch.
It was a picnic by a Big Chico Creek. After what seemed to be an eternity of riding with no overhead covering, it was a much welcomed break.
But we had more to ride.
“Stop at parking lot P on the way back,” said Travis, one of Paul’s employee.
We did as we were told and out of nowhere, boom, came the view of the canyon. Definitely not huckable, but the size of the canyon was unexpected. It was amazing and for a second I wished I was at that sweet looking swimming hole at the bottom of the canyon.
I spent the last few miles in and out of paved bike paths and parallel singletracks.
Further down at the front of our dirt peloton, Adam from Sklar Bikes was giving Burnsey of Oddity Cycles and Maurice from Dirt Rag a quick tow. I quickly snapped a photo on my camera and that essentially summed up the entire laid-back rad nature of Paul Camp.
Minutes later, Curtis from Retrotec ditched his bike and dashed into the water at Five Mile while Paul tried to hustle all of us back to the hotel. We weren’t done just yet!
We had an appointment at Sierra Nevada.
It was a combination of a brewery tour, a handmade bike expo in the brewhouse, and dinner out on the patio. One of the attendees quipped, “This must be the biggest handmade bike gathering in Chico.”
Forget the whole biggest handmade bike gathering thing. This must be the best bike party in Chico.