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berck

Eastern Sierra Double

Well, this past Saturday was our last double century, so we can earn the right to buy the jersey. It was comical in some ways. The adventure started the day before. We had been monitoring the weather and noticed that the chance of thundershowers would be around 50% on Saturday. We decided we'd bring fenders for the bikes just in case.

We were expecting about a six hour drive from SF Bay Area to Bishop. The week before, all passes across the Sierras had been open. As we traveled, we found that Tioga Pass in Yosemite had been closed that day. No problem, we'd go over Sonora Pass. It only added about 30 minutes to the trip. As we got a little closer towards that pass on 108, we found that they were checking to see if the cars had chains. We spent about an hour in the town of Sonora (about 50 miles from the pass) looking for chains. When we got near the pass, we jumped out and took a picture at the 26% grade sign.

Brahim and I.


We also noticed a sign just behind it saying the road was closed. No other warning had been posted down the road. We continued and about quarter mile later, there was a gate across the road.

We ended up going back down the road and found out that CHP/CalTrans closed the pass at 2pm. We had got there around 2:30pm. We had to go all the way down to the Sierra foothills and drive up highway 88 to 89 to get to the other side of the Sierra. The trip ended up taking 12 hours.

Since we couldn't check-in on time Friday, we called and asked how early we could check-in on Saturday. During the conversation, we found out they were changing the ride because the weather would be too cold and potential for snow about 7,000ft.

On Saturday morning, we got the route directions. Instead of heading north through the beautiful Mammoth / June lakes areas, we'd go south first and then pass through Bishop and back track the old route for 42 miles before returning. Overall, the route, they said, would have about the same climbing (~10,500ft), but 16 fewer miles (only 185).

The morning was uneventful to start. We could see storm clouds below us, but we went pretty fast to start. Bob got a flat within those first few miles, but the day was looking ok so far as we got the the first rest stop.

Brahim and Bob at the rest stop on highway 168 near US 395 & Big Pine


At this point, we did an out and back into an area called Eureka Valley. We climbed for 14 miles to reach a summit of 7600 ft. As we were going up, a guy on a tadem said he hoped those fenders wouldn't be needed. I agreed.

As we got near the summit, we got hit with sleet, then hail. As the hail let up at the summit, it started raining. Not knowing what to expect, I continued on the route. We then dropped 4,200 ft over a 16 mile drop into Eureka Valley. It rained the whole time going down until we came out in the valley.



We were all really cold at this point, but as Bob and I waited for Brahim, the sun started to shine a bit and the temperature felt like it warmed up. Quite a few people quite here.

As we started climbing back out, we didn't see anymore rain, but Bob got a second flat tire. Not wanting to give up my last CO2 cartridge (he used my first one earler), he pumped up his tired. Just as he got the tire about full, the stem broke off the tube. Argh! I didn't want to wait that long again, so I handed him one of my tubes and CO2 and we were on our way.

When we crested the summit. A worker took a picture of me. I don't know when or where I can find it. He said that it was much warmer now than when we crested earlier. He said it was 47F and it was 36F when we went over the first time.

The down hill seemed to get me to dry out some after getting wet earlier. By the time we got back to the same rest stop on highway 168, things were looking better for the weather.

Same peaks we saw early in the day.



We headed directly back to Bishop and I ended up flatting. No more CO2, but I had a back up pump. It didn't work. I ended up using Brahim's pump and we got back to Bishop just after 1pm. I got a couple more tubes while I was there, and we ate lunch.

After the lunch, we headed out the normal return route. For the next 34 miles, we had only an 1,100ft of climbing, and strong headwinds. During this part of the riding, I thought it felt like my tire was going flat. I was in the middle of our three person pace line. I looked down trying to see what my rear tire looked like. Next thing I know, my front tire was rubbing along Bob's rear tire. My bike started falling towards my right. I quickly clipped out of my right shoe and tired to hit the ground with it to help upright me. It worked, and fortunately, the dirt on the side of the road was very hard, so I was able to clip back in and go back into the pace line. I was very fortunate.

After the rest stop, we climbed seven miles to our turn around spot. Brahim came up last and we had somebody take a picture of us with the nice rock outcrop in the background.



From here on out, it was basically 42 miles of down hill with the wind to our backs. We finished about 7:50pm after starting at 5:00am. I had about 11:45 in ride time with a 15.7mph average over the 185 miles.

When we left on Sunday, we drove through the June Lakes area we missed on the ride. Wow, what a spectacular view. Just wished Bob would have stop so I could have got a couple of shots of the area. We were able to return on highway 120 through Yosemite and get home much faster than it took to get there.

Brahim and Bob at the subalpine lake near Tioga Pass before entering Yosemite National Park.
SlowRower

Nice report. 42 miles of downhill with a tailwind sounds nice. It sounds like you earned it after the preceding 143 miles!

I stayed in Bishop for a few days in the mid 90s. There was some great hiking to be done, but strangely, the thing I remember most was breakfast at the "Bishop Grill". A stack of 6 pancakes on the last day defeated me for the only time that holiday. Smile
CapeRoadie

Great read, berck!  Bishop is the official start of Interstate Route 6.  If you follow it east to its end, you end up in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
berck

CapeRoadie wrote:
Great read, berck!  Bishop is the official start of Interstate Route 6.  If you follow it east to its end, you end up in Provincetown, Massachusetts.


Interesting that you know that. I didn't until the ride. Less than a mile out of town, there was this large highway sign stating Provincetown Mass 3205 miles. We were discussing it and realized it was there becasue Hwy 6 probably ended in Provincetown.
berck

SlowRower wrote:
Nice report. 42 miles of downhill with a tailwind sounds nice. It sounds like you earned it after the preceding 143 miles!


Yes we definitely felt that way too. Although, we noticed that the wind didn't seem as strong when it was a tail wind as it was when it was a head wind. Wink

Oh, and thanks SR. I'm still following your progress too.

SlowRower wrote:
I stayed in Bishop for a few days in the mid 90s. There was some great hiking to be done, but strangely, the thing I remember most was breakfast at the "Bishop Grill". A stack of 6 pancakes on the last day defeated me for the only time that holiday. Smile


I'll have to keep that in mind in future visits. Although, I have to admit, it was my first time I ever got to the town.
SlowRower

The lady who ran the Grill was a feisty character. She seemed to take mortal offence at my failure to eat the last half of the 6th pancake. Never been back to redeem myself, sadly! (11 time zones is a lone way to travel for a few pancakes!)

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