Blame it on the rain |

Blame it on the rain

Kelli Du Fresne
Appeal Local News Editor
Kelli Du Fresne/Nevada Appeal Christy Chamberlain crosses an old automobile bridge, now part of The Bizz Johnson Trail. The bridge, once part of the old highway, is used in place of the former railroad trestle that burned.

I’ve had four surgeries for different childhood or later disasters but I don’t think I’ve ever hurt as bad as I did following my latest bicycle ride for fun.

Now understand, I’m not complaining. I had a great time, but I can also map the bone structure inside of the human leg from memory, because they all hurt.

I did not crash, though I did fall over at least once. I did not ride across the United States, barely across town – 32 miles or so.

I think it was the weather.


We started our trek on two wheels in the sunshine. The sun soon hid behind a mass of gray that began to sprinkle and then the temperature dropped and the drizzle of rain turned to hail punctuated by thunder and lightning.

Again I am not complaining.

The weather made for wonderful light as we traveled along the Bizz Johnson Trail through the bottom of the Susan River Canyon near Susanville, Calif.

The trees were just beginning their fall show, but the golden meadows, river, volcanic rock and the weather put on a display the fall colors can only hope to rival. They say just now that it is gorgeous.

The rain falling on the black volcanic rock made for a misty scene worthy of “The Lord of the Rings.” The nitrogen in the air from the thunder turned the trees to an almost unbelievable shade of green. We’d have miss this without the weather.

We found two-thirds of an old shack to hide away in as the hail picked up speed. Standing inside the doorway watching the hail bounce along the trail we wondered about the logger or railroader who may have lived there or used the shack sometime in the past.

The Bizz Johnson Trail is 30 miles, one way, but for the most part it is an aggregate road as it is the former railroad bed of the Fernley and Lassen Branch Line of the Southern Pacific Railroad.

The trail wanders through the trees along the river with only about one-quarter mile of single track, where you have to navigate around a tunnel that is closed for repairs. Since it was a former railroad route the steepest grade you find is 3 percent, except going around the tunnel and in one other spot where the trestle burned and you have to drop down and then come back up to hit the old highway. Both are short little detours that can be walked if you’re not comfortable staying on the bike.

We stopped and ate lunch at Crazy Harry Gulch. When we sat down to munch our snacks the sun was still shining, but that didn’t last long and soon we were packing it up and heading out in the rain.

I blame the pain on the weather (couldn’t be because I’m out of shape or anything) because I was wearing shorts and though we were pedaling pretty much nonstop I don’t think it kept my muscles warm enough.

But I’m not complaining. I want to try and go a little farther next time. A round trip of the whole trail would be 60 miles. So I’m halfway there.

Get There

Bizz Johnson Rail Trail

• Take Highway 395 north through Reno to Susanville, Calif., about 2.5 hours

• Turn left at Richmond Street to the Depot Office. The trail head is across the street to the west of the depot just past the caboose.

• The Depot offers bike rentals in the summer and has a display of the area’s history.

• The trail is open to all non motorized uses: mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

• Call the Depot at (530) 257-3252.

• Call BLM’s the Eagle Lake Field Office at (530) 257-0456