Sunday, July 20, 2014

2014_07_19 My California Road Trip – Combining a family visit with riding

Author:  James Kressler

Because of a variety of unforeseen events my bike riding boiled down to one big day and one short day.

Arrived at The Creekside Inn – Markleeville (nice motel in a tiny town…I would gladly return) Saturday in a driving rain storm.   I was prepared for cold high speed mountain descending but I didn’t have full-on rain gear so I discarded my Saturday ride plans in favor of reading and wandering around the tiny town. 

Sunday early AM (Cyclopath timeJ)…beautiful sky.  Warm.  Time to GET IT ON!

The “big” ride: Markleeville -> Monitor Pass -> Highway 395 à back up to Markleeville…44 miles
After munching a Clif bar and filling my bottles I left Markleeville and headed towards the Ebbetts Pass/Monitor Pass highway junction.  EZ riding…no air…Alpine County, California sits above 6000 feet and breathing wasn’t EZ. 

The roads in Alpine County are in excellent shape.  No holes.  No glass.  No litter.  Very little traffic.  Like the little motel in Markleeville…I would love to ride in Alpine County again.

Since I was by myself I took my time getting to the top.

The ride from the top down to Highway 395 was 11 miles of super friggin excellent fun!  Again…perfect road conditions and ZERO cars…just me & my bike.  Glorious high speed (had to frequently dab the brakes to keep my MPH below 45) canyon carving.

After a short break at the bottom of the hill (Highway 395) I started back up.  Since I had just sped down the hill I knew I had 11 miles of tough climbing ahead of me.  At the 2 mile mark two bikes heading down the hill zipped past.  My bet was that like me they would reach the bottom and then head back up.  I decided that I was going to use this hunch to spur me towards keeping a high pace all the way to the top.  Only one break…steady tempo…34x28, 34x25, 34x23…don’t get caught…don’t get caught…don’t get caught. 

I didn’t get caught and I made it back to the top far faster than I had expected which was very satisfying.

My second ride was supposed to be Ebbett’s pass.  That didn’t pan out…I will have to go back to Markleeville someday and tackle Ebbett’s.  I did ride to Calaveras Big Trees State Park from where I was staying in Arnold.  Bikes were free (cool), the road was in great shape and was very hilly.  Nine miles in and nine miles out.  Since Highway 4 from Arnold had been a nightmare (1” wide bike “lane”) I chose to pull a Leon and did two loops in the park before packing it in for the day.  I highly recommend cycling on this road.  

A Brief History of Calaveras Big Trees State Park
Calaveras became a State Park in 1931 to preserve the North Grove of giant sequoias. This grove includes the "Discovery Tree", also known as the "Big Stump", the first Sierra redwood noted by Augustus T. Dowd in 1852. This area has been a major tourist attraction ever since, and is considered the longest continuously operated tourist facility in California.

Over the years, other parcels of mixed conifer forests have been added to the park.

First break on the way up was to read this sign
which satisfied my curiosity about the highway name

Second break…snapped a photo of one of the areas beautiful trees

22 miles back to the motel…no carsJ
Stopped on the way up from 395, obsessing about being caught…keep grinding!

Monitor Pass…8314 feet

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