Sunday mornings in the small town of Quincy, California, are quiet. The occasional person or two can be spotted strolling down the sidewalk, perhaps the distant bark of a dog or even the crow of a rooster can break the stillness, that is until recently.
Outside of Feather River Outdoors there is a bit of hustle around a full-size white passenger van with a healthy coating of red dust on it. Six people clad in trail gear and helmets stand on the sidewalk as Matt Meyerl loads bikes on to the front and rear of the vehicle. “Everybody ready!” calls out Meyerl. With that, everyone piles into the white whale of a van.
We bump and rock up a dusty forest service road in the Plumas National Forest in route to the top of Mt. Hough. Mt. Hough has become a launching point for many searching for the Quincy mountain bike experience. Trails on the mountain continue to increase thanks to the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship which in turn has attracted more riders to the area. The demand for shuttles to the top of Mt. Hough has offered just the opportunity that Meyerl was looking for.
As the rumble of tires fade and the dust settles as the latest load of riders plummets down the trail back towards town, Meyerl and I talk about how he ended up here. “I was trying to become a firefighter back in Pittsburgh, but with no military experience and no family connection, it was pretty much impossible,” said Meyerl. After some research and soul searching, Meyerl packed up and headed for Lake Tahoe. In 2010 Meyerl joined the firefighter division of the Forest Service in Tahoe and began a wild and fast-paced career.
It was in Tahoe that Meyerl found a love for the mountain bike. The trails of North Star and the surrounding areas became his playground during the off-season. In 2014 Meyerl transferred from Lake Tahoe to the Plumas National Forest. Along with his partner Jaqueline and two dogs, they headed for Quincy not quite sure what they would find or where he would ride.
It wasn’t long before Meyerl starting meeting others in the Quincy area with a similar passion for two wheels. Eventually, Meyerl would run into local mountain biker, and frame builder Cameron Falconer and the two forged a friendship. The summer would begin and with it, the fire season, and Meyerl would be out for weeks on end. After almost 10 years and a couple of close calls, he began looking for a change. “You don’t see too many older guys working for the fire crews out here,” Meyerl stated.
In April of this year, Matt got a lead on a job with a local contractor, and with that, he left the Hot Shots. Meyerl was looking to spend more time doing the things he enjoyed and spending more time at home and with the local riding community. Soon after starting his new job his boss’ wife, Dana Ludington, a teacher at the local high school and a coach for the Northern Nevada NICA league asked if Matt would like to volunteer. “I wanted to do more with bikes, so of course I said yes,” Meyerl explained. Along with helping out with the Plumas County composite NICA program, Meyeryl was also volunteering at the newly opened Yuba Expeditions in town. “On Fridays in the morning, I would drive the early shuttles if they needed me.” Yuba had just opened their new shop this past May, which also houses the main offices for the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship.
This past July, the owner of Feather River Outdoors was looking to sell his van and the shuttle service along with it. While the previous owner found the shuttle to be more trouble than what it was worth to him, Meyeryl saw just the thing he was waiting for. He purchased the cargo van along with the permit to operate in the National Forest and on July 4th Lost Sierra Adventure Monkeys were open for business. When I asked if he was worried if his friends at Yuba would be bummed on the new venture he claimed: “Not at all, I get a lot of their spillover on the weekend when they run out of seats, and I won’t be undercutting them on price.”
We headed back down the mountain to pick up the next batch of riders hungry to get a taste of what Quincy mountain biking had to offer. The dust clouds billowing out from underneath van as we descend. “I don’t know man, this town has something special going on right now, there’s just a whole lot of energy coming out of the mountain biking community, and I think people are starting to notice,” Meyerl explained. We pull up to the curb, six more mountain bikers jump in the van, some from the bay area and Santa Cruz and a close friend of Meyerl’s jumps in to help support the new business. Everyone is excited about the ride back down and Meyerl, well he’s excited about the potential of the Lost Sierra Adventure Monkeys and about the future of Quincy.