Friday, January 8, 2021

Late season ride on Ponderosa Way and Yankee Jims Road. 2020 year's end review.


At the Ponderosa Road Bridge

Fall was speeding by and the holiday season was fast approaching. It was time, (11/12/2020) for a last adventure ride before by seasonal training ride routine began.

I decided to take the Ritchey to Ponderosa Way, it would be interesting to see how it handled that rough road.

As usual, I started this ride at the old Park and Ride at Colfax, by the site of the old "Dingus McGees". This is a handy jumping off point for both this ride and for Iowa Hill. 

At the Colfax Park and Ride

For this ride you start by heading west, up to Placer Hills Road. You then follow Placer Hills for a few miles to the Weimar Crossing Road intersection.

At the Weimar Sign

Up over a little rise then you descend into the little village of Weimar. From there you are on Ponderosa Way, which you will follow all the way to Foresthill Divide Road. The paved portion of Ponderosa includes a pretty good climb up to the border of the Auburn State Recreational Area. At that point you start a long descent. You eventually come to an open gate that has a sign indicating that the bridge is out! Don't worry, it is closed to vehicular traffic, but pedestrians and bikes are free to use it.

At the State Recreation Area.

The road now turns to dirt/gravel and it's condition goes downhill along with the road! This is one of the worst roads I've ridden, lots of ruts and holes. I rode the brakes quite a bit, glad to have the Spyre discs on this ride. The mustache handlebars also give you a nice stable riding position. Generally, I was pretty satisfied with the Ritchey's performance here. 

At the Ponderosa Bridge, now closed to cars.

After the long, rough descent I came to the bridge over the North Fork of the American River. I don't know what has caused the closure of this bridge, but it does look a little bit shabbier than the bridge at Yankee Jims. In any event, I'm glad it is closed as this reduces the traffic on the road to practically nothing! I did meet one fellow in a Jeep on the other side of the bridge who was wondering if it was okay to park, that was about the extent of the traffic on this weekday!

Ponderosa Bridge over the N. fork of the American River.

It was now time for the long climb to Foresthill Divide Road. This side of the road is in better condition than the north side so climbing wasn't technical at all, just laborious! I was passed by a trail bike, (motorcycle), at one point, that was the extent of the traffic until I reached Foresthill divide Road!

Pausing on the climb up from the Ponderosa Bridge.

After reaching the pavement, the climb continued into Foresthill. There, I stopped at Worton's Grocery Store and ate a snack at their wonderful picnic tables. Then I was off to Yankee Jims Road.

View from Worton's

I've described Yankee Jims many times in these pages so I won't go into much detail here. Generally the road was okay this year, maybe a little more washboard than I like. At the bottom I hit the corrugated steel plate that forms the road surface of the bridge a little too hard and this caused a pinch flat on my rear tire! This would turn out to be the only mechanical issue of this ride.

At the bottom of Yankee Jims Road, note the deflated rear tire!

Obligatory view back at Yankee Jims Bridge!

The rest of the ride was the usual climb up to Colfax. Nothing unusual here, one or two cars encountered but really, traffic was very light. 

Although this is a relatively short distance ride, (35 miles), the climbing, (4958 feet in elevation gain), and the road conditions really slow you down. It took me four hours to finish the ride!

End of the ride shot.

Equipment notes:

No mechanical issues outside the flat at Yankee Jims Bridge!

This was a good ride to test out the Ritchey Ascent and I was pretty happy with it's performance. Handling-wise, it sort of disappears on the pavement and is pretty stable on the rough stuff. Of course, having the 42mm Gravel King tires and disc brakes goes a long way to inspiring confidence on rough roads. 

I have set up this bike with indexed, (8-speed) bar end shifters. On rough roads like this, I like having positive shifts without having to adjust shifter position a lot which of course the indexing provides. It's really the only bike I have with indexing but I think that it is appropriate for this style of riding.

Finally, mustache handlebars have once again proven to me that they are perfect for this type of mixed surface riding. They can afford a comfortable aero position on the road and a very stable stance on the rough stuff.

Year's end notes:

Thus ended my last "adventure" ride of 2020. COVID had some impact on my riding this year. I avoided a lot of long rides, only riding one century this year. That one was the flat "Three River Century" I do every year. I also managed a 100km ride which included a long stretch of gravel around Camp Far West.

I did get a lot of shorter rides in. In fact my cumulative mileage for 2020 was one of my highest, 5,265 miles!

Equipment wise, the big item was the Ritchey. Initially I set this bike up with the 650b wheels left over from my Felt. Towards the end of the year I collected the components for a new set of 650b wheels, this time they were to be tubeless.  I chose Sun-Ringle Helix rims, Shimano M525A disc hubs and Panaracer Gravel King Slicks, 650X48mm.

This is the first time I ever tried to set up a tubeless tire system and I was anxious to see how it works. There were a couple of hiccups but I finally was able to get the tires working. I haven't put many miles on these yet, but on the short test rides I've taken the wheels seem quite light, and the ride seems very nice!

The Ritchey's new shoes!

Well, that's a wrap for 2020, good riddance! Looking forward to 2021!

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Exploring roads north of Camp Far West

Looking down Long Ravine Road.

Having ridden my new Ritchey Ascent on most of my local training circuits, I decided it was time to do some dirt road exploring with it. I wanted to check out a route which would take me from Camp Far West, off McCourtney Road, eastward to eventually connect to Highway 49 just north of Auburn.

Along McCourtney Road

The ride along McCourtney was uneventful, it was a pleasant morning with little wind. But it was starting to warm up! 

Camp Far West Reservoir

Passing Camp Far West, it looked like the water was quite high. I went up the steep, paved road which goes by the campground entrance and then hit the gravel! The first part of the road was a little chewed up with a fair amount of washboard but the 42mm Gravel Kings handled the rough stuff well. I soon came to the junction of Camp Far West and Long Ravine Roads.

Junction of Camp Far West and Long Ravine Roads

Now I turned east and road down Long Ravine. It was a very good road with just short sections of washboard and practically no traffic!

The start of Long Ravine Road

Along Long Ravine Road.

Long Ravine Road.

Following the main road bearing right I found McCourtney Road again! Apparently a portion which had been cut off by Camp Far West Reservior's construction. (McCourtney actually continues northeast all the way to Grass Valley. That might be an interesting ride for the future!) Continuing  right on McCourtney a short distance brings you to to the junction with White Oak Drive and there is a sign here pointing you to the left, onto White Oak Drive.

If you follow the road which looks the most traveled, you will go in the right direction! Eventually I came to Perimeter Road which I was to follow for quite a while. Eventually, Perimeter Road turns to pavement, although it is still very lightly traveled.

I had to decide where to leave Perimeter Road to get over to Highway 49 without too much meandering! I passed MacDonald Road, which looked like a possibility. Passing that I came to Cabrera Road. This road was shown on my Google map as going through to MacDonald, but it was posted as a private road with no outlet! As I stopped there wondering if I should go back to MacDonald, a fellow drove by and I asked him about the road. Turns out he is something of a cyclist himself! He said to go ahead it actually did go through to MacDonald, and, although it is gated, bikes can get through no problem!

On Cabrera Road, closed to cars, but bikes are OK I guess, but I recommend taking Macdonald road.

Well, while this road gets a little small and feels more like a driveway in some spots, you do get to the gate! As you can see in the above photo a cyclist has no problem getting through. After the gate you follow a narrow drive(and past a small pond) and soon you reach MacDonald Road.

Now on MacDonald Road, looking back at where Cabrerra Rd, (right) joins MacDonald.

Turning around on the point where the previous picture was taken, looking down MacDonald.

All in all, I would recommend just taking MacDonald Road in the future! At the junction with Cabrera, MacDonald Road is dirt with some good climbs. After a mile or so you will come to Garden Bar Road and now the rest of your ride will be on pavement. While stopping at Wolf Road for a snack break I managed to pause my Ride tracking software; not restarting it until I stopped at a Taco Bell in Auburn, so my ride mapping is a little off!

Map of the ride, note that the Mapper was accidentally paused just before getting on Hwy 49!

Overall this was a satisfying ride but the total distance on gravel was a little low, I would guess about 12 to 15 miles was on dirt roads. The Ritchey performed well and was excellent on the dirt. I would recommend this ride during the cooler months of the year since there are few facilities between Camp Far West and Auburn.

No bike photo from this actual ride, but here's the Ritchey it was as pictured but with 2 bottle cages.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Riding during the COVID 19 shutdown and new bike day!

Taken at Auburn State Recreational Area in early May.
COVID and me.

While COVID-19 has brought the world to a halt, strangely it's had little effect on a retired guy's riding in California! Even when the Governor issued the Stay At Home order, there were exceptions for solo bicycling which is pretty much all I do. I did restrict my riding to 20 to 30 mile rides through April, but in May I started extending them out a bit. As of the time of this writing, (5/17), my longest ride has been 49 miles.

Even with these restrictions I've been able to keep my mileage up to 4-500 miles per month for all but December thanks to good riding weather this Spring so I'm on track for at least a normal yearly mileage.

New Bike Day!!

In the U.S. the Federal Government issued "Stimulus checks" to virtually all citizens, (at least those who had filed taxes in the recent past). In my case, my wife and I each received a $1,200 stipend! What could I possibly do with $1,200 that had to be spent to keep our economy going? 

I had been following a thread on Google Groups iBOB list about a recently discontinued "Allroads" bike by Tom Ritchey, the Ascent. This bike was designed for Quick Release disc brake wheels which probably doomed it in then the trend was going to thru-axles. However, I had a set of 650b, Q/R disc wheels left over from my Felt and I had been searching for the right frame. I had been considering the Surly Bridge Club and Midnight Special as well, but the Ritchey is a slightly higher quality frame with lighter tubing and the stack and top tube measurements looked better for my size.

Best of all, Universal Cycles was closing the Ascents out at $500 off! So I pulled the trigger on a "Large" and it arrived withing 2 days of my order!

New bike day! The Ritchey Ascent.
I had almost everything I needed to assemble the bike except for handlebars, cabling and bar tape. I opted for mustache style handlebars since I have enjoyed them so much on my Mercian. I have learned that you really should use bar end shifters when running mustache bars and I had a set of Shimano 8-speed shifters in the parts bin. For derailleurs, I used a Shimano RSX double up front. The rear derailleur was a little trickier, as I wanted to use the shifter's indexing. After a few different attempts, I finally found that a long-cage, 9-speed Tiagra, again from the parts bin, worked quite well.

Inititially, I installed the Tiagra 4700 series compact crank but I wasn't satisfied with the gearing it provided. I finally took the Sugino Messenger crank from my KOM and installed it on this bike. More about the K.O.M. later!

The Spyre brakes were left over from my Felt. I used some Shimano aero brake levers with them. It's taken a bit of patience to install and adjust these to feel about right to me. The flat mounts provided on this frame are nice and eliminate the need for additional brackets. The rear brake cable takes a really long run of housing! I needed an extra length from the parts to be able to install the front!

Front 3/4 view showing off the Origin 8 Tiki (mustache) handlebars.
Once everything was assembled I took it out for a test spin around the block. No longer rides initially as I was awaiting the handlebar tape to arrive. Everything felt pretty good, although I had to tweak the brake adjustment a bit.

A look at the rear brake, a TRP Spyre

...and a look at the front.
Finally, the tape was installed and it was time for a real ride! I planned to do a short 20 mile hop over to Lincoln. Everything was going so well that once in Lincoln I decided to press on to Chamberlain Road to get a taste of gravel with this bike. That went quite well so I continued into the foothills via Wise Road. The ride ended up being 39 miles with no problems. The bike handled quite well after I got used to the feel of the 42mm Gravel King tires again! That takes a little getting used to but once you are, then they are a lot of fun!

The only complaint I have about this bike is the (to me) excessive amount of seatpost that is exposed with this compact style frame. It is a "Large", so the stack and reach are okay, but I feel the seat post is a little short, (for aesthetic reasons only). Had I gone with an "Extra-Large", the top tube would have been a bit long and I would have required a very short stem, (and have only gained 2.5 cm's of seat tube). I suppose this is just a question of style, as the feel of the bike is just fine.

One final comment, I did not even touch the steerer tube of this frameset. You can see in the pictures that there is about a centimeter of steerer above the stem! I'll just leave that alone.

Post-maiden ride shot. 
A new Crankset for the Mercian K.O.M.

I mentioned that I had installed the Messenger crank onto the Ritchey. Lest you think that I've left the Mercian hanging there without a crankset, here is an update!

Some time ago I had found an 86mm BCD crankset on eBay, a Stronglight 80. I have been interested in the 86mm BCD pattern since reading an article in "Cyclist" magazine in the mid 80s! Here's the article: Cyclist magazine tourlines

The crank came with 42/52 chainwheels but I eventually found some NOS chainwheels on 30/46. Later I also found a 28 that I'm saving. I'll want to try 28/44 for loaded touring sometime.

With the Messenger crank now on the Ritchey, I was able to install my Stronglight on the Mercian. The one catch with this crankset is that you really should use a bottom bracket with an ISO style taper which is a little different from the standard you find on the ubiquitous Shimano UN range of BB's. I did find a nice unit, (another Origin 8 product!) and used it. The BB didn't want to fit into my frame's shell initially. It had two raised ridges on the dust cover that fits between the cartridge bearings. Well, that was weird, I filed the ridges down until they cleared the shell. I don't know why they are even there!

Anyway, the crank is now installed and looks great! I took the bike out for a ride and the gearing is quite good for day riding, although I may want to go lower gears when camping.

The Stronglight 80, finally installed.
Refreshing the older Mercians.

Since my Ritchey will now be my 650b bike, I decided to revert my older Mercian Olympic/Classic to 700c. This entailed swapping wheels of course and swapping brakes; I returned the Campy Nouvo Record sidepulls to service. Since I had been swapping cranksets all around, I also changed the crank on the Olympic back to the Velo Orange compact 110mm BCD crank for no particular reason!

I took this bike out for a longer ride the other day. It seemed kind of sluggish. By the time I got to Lincoln I thought I had a flat tire it was so slow! I pulled over to inspect the wheel. It turned out that the rear wheel had slipped,(horizontal dropouts!), and the tire had been rubbing against the chainstay! I would guess this had been the case for at least 5 miles!

The '80 Mercian with 700c wheels again.

After adjusting the wheel and tightening the Q/R, the bike felt like a rocket!

Finally, in order to make room for the Ritchey, I had to get rid of a bike. I sold the Nishiki as a frame and transferred the fixed gear equipment over to the '82 Mercian since I still wanted a fixed gear bike available.

The '82 Classic in fixed gear mode.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

2019 year end review and this Winter's projects.

At Olmstead Point, Yosemite NP.
The year in review:

Another year has come and gone! 2019 was a pretty successful year for me, (by my modest standards)! The highlight of this year's riding was my High Sierra tour, which included climbs of Tioga and Sonora Passes. Other interesting rides included a couple of gravel road adventures  Camp Far West and beyond , Loon Lake bikehike, and the my two century rides, Three rivers century. , Foothill century. This year, I added Foresthill and Yankee Jims Road to my foothill route which made it pretty challenging.

Another significant, (to me), accomplishment was my total yearly mileage which topped 5,000 miles this year!

So it was a pretty good riding year.

Winter Projects:

K.O.M. conversion to mustache bars is finalized.

Mercian with Mustache Bars 
Winter is the time for maintenance. With the KOM Mercian, I decided to commit completely to the mustache handlebar installation. I trimmed down the brake cables to a better fit, (they had been left unchanged from the drop bar configuration). I also installed my old but relatively lightly used SunTour Barcons, handlebar-end shifters. These are basically friction shifters, but have a light ratcheting action which is useful when trimming the derailleurs. Handlebar mounted shifters are generally preferred for mustache bars for ease of access. A new tape job, in black this year, finished off the package.

The barcons did require the cable housing to hang in front of the handlebars so I removed my handlebar bag and rack, replacing them with my Carradice Pendle saddlebag. This combo rides quite nicely but I rather miss the convenience of a handlebar bag. I may have to revisit this at a later date.

With these installed, I've pretty much committed myself to the mustache bar configuration.

Finally, I replaced the SKS Longboard fenders with SKS Bluemel "Commuter" fenders which come in a 53mm width. I've liked the wider fenders on my 650b conversion so these seemed like a good idea. Like all SKS fenders these went on without drama, although I did shave off a bit on the front fender to clear the fork blades.

Just a bit shaved off to clear the fork to allow the fender to spread with no bending.
Front bag for the fixed gear:

The old Blackburn front rack on the Nishiki.
 With the front bag which was formerly mounted on the KOM now languishing, I decided to mount it on my Nishiki International fixie. To do this I used my very old Jim Blackburn front rack which needed a little twisting to get set on the bike. Now I've got a little more capacity for my fixed gear rides.

650b Mercian updates:

Just a few minor changes were made to my 650b Mercian conversion. I replaced the Campagnolo brake levers with nearly identical SunTour Superbe levers. Mostly I wanted to protect the old Campy levers from possible damage as the Superbes are little less valuable. I also felt funny about mixing Italian levers with Asian brakes. Silly, I know.

Actually, the quality of the SunTour levers seem just as high as the Campagnolo.

The Superbe Levers on the Mercian.
One final equipment note; this year I've tried some new pedals, "two-way" Shimano PD-EH500 pedals. These offer a platform surface on one side, and a SPD interface on the other. I wanted to experiment with platform to give my feet the chance to move around. I've found that I can get some foot pain when I keep feet in a fixed spot for an extended period of time.

Shimano PD-EH500 two way pedals.
I actually used these on my KOM during my Sierra tour. They worked well. The only negative I have found is that ground clearance is a little restricted when using the SPD side; the platform hangs a little lower and I did experience a pedal strike once when cornering while using the SPD side.

A new home for my bikes!

My youngest son recently returned to the West Coast and is currently staying with us. He is currently between jobs ans so was looking for something to do. We had mentioned that we wanted to have a shed set up to provide a storage site for my bikes. He jumped at this chance. He designed the shed using a CAD program he owned. We supplied the materials and bought some of the tools he needed. We agreed to pay him the same amount that we were going to pay for a store-bought shed, less the costs of the materials and tools.

It took a few weeks and we had to help here and there but generally, the shed was his product and it came out pretty nicely. I now have all of my bikes hanging, along with Shelly's. Also a couple of the grandkid's bikes are thrown in, along with our Christmas decoration storage boxes.

The new bike shed!
With the new year upon me, I have to plan my riding, I managed to avoid Iowa Hill in 2019, something I'll have to remedy in 2020. I want to do more overnight tours, I'm not sure where to at this time. As for equipment, I'd still like to get some sort of disc braked gravel bike frame, but I don't have any room left in the shed!

Saturday, October 5, 2019

High Sierra tour of 2019

On Highway 120 to Tioga Pass
I like to plan multi-day bicycle trips for the Fall. It's been a while but I had a hankering for  trip so I decided to ride over Tioga Pass, one of the High Sierra passes I hadn't yet ridden. Looking over the map it seemed that I could combine riding Highway 120 through Yosemite with an overnight stay in Sonora, followed by a climb over Sonora Pass on Highway 108. On paper, it looked like I could do it in two days.

I booked a room in Sonora and planned to have a camp site on Hwy 120 below Tioga Pass for three nights. This would allow me to leave my truck there while I made the ride. The weather proved to be a little dodgy, I had to put everything off one day due to an early season storm system passing through Northern California and brushing the Yosemite area. Watching the weather forecasts proved to be a nerve-wracking experience because it seemed like the only bad weather was to occur around the time of my planned trip!

Anyway, the day arrived and I made the long trip to Lee Vining and found a great campsite at Lower Lee Vining Campground, a USFS campground on Highway 120, about 12 miles below the summit of Tioga Pass. I set up a tent and had dinner and looked around the campground. This is a nice site, although it is a "dry" one, you have to bring your own water to this campground.

That night I watched a movie on my tablet, ("Air Strike" a Chinese movie with Bruce Willis, if you aren't interested in Chinese air warfare in the early days of WWII, don't bother!), then went to sleep.

The next morning I hit the road at around 7:30, starting the long grind up to Tioga Summit. At first, things were pretty routine, just a long slog up the grade. It gradually became a little breezy, then downright windy. As I approached a gap in the mountains approaching Ellery Lake the wind gusts and grade combined to make things downright difficult! At one point on a steep curve a gust hit me in just a way that I was moved into the gravel shoulder and the next thing I flopped over to the ground! Well, that was interesting! I got up and back on the bike and the wind seemed to relent a bit. Soon I was on a slightly less steep section and things got back to normal.

On the way up Tioga Pass on Hwy 120.
At Ellery Lake
It wasn't long after Ellery Lake that I reached the Park entrance and Tioga Summit, (9945 ft.). It's too bad they don't have a nice summit marker there, just the entrance kiosk...

Made it! At the Park entrance.
Then I biked through the northern half of Yosemite NP. Lots of interesting scenery. Being Fall, the traffic wasn't too troublesome, but there was definitely a good number of people about.

Along 120 in the Park.
I paused at Olmstead Point to take in the extraordinary the distance you could see the back side of Half Dome.

The Mercian at Olmstead Point; that's Half Dome in the distance.
Then it was just a ride in the park! But this park consisted of a continuous series of tough climbs and swift descents. I could see this would be a tough ride in either direction! I had considered making my return ride from Sonora back through the Park but I now rejected that plan because it seemed like it would be simply too hard a ride!

I eventually left the Park and continued on Hwy 120, finally reaching Groveland after 4:00 pm, man, this was taking a long time!

Finally, Groveland!
The climb out of Groveland was rewarded with the impressive view from the top of Old Priest Road. Old Priest road, in the picture below, is the narrow and steep road on the left, while the modern road is on the right. I took the modern road and it was hoot! I was lucky to hit it when there was virtually no traffic so I was able to really hit the downhill with gusto! The Mercian was handling very well with the saddlebag/handlebar bag combination so I was able to let it go. MapMyRide indicated a top speed of 45mph on this stretch.

Past Groveland is Priest Summit. Old Priest Road is on the left.
Of course, all good things must come to an end and so did this descent, at Moccasin. After that it was a gentle climb to a cutoff on Jacksonville Road which took me to Jamestown. This was a tedious climbing stretch but it cut off quite a few miles from taking the Hwy 120 route. I finally reached my hotel in Sonora as it was getting quite dark! It had been a long day, 12 hours and 122 miles! That night I found I had very little appetite which was a little worrying, but I forced myself to eat some dinner and have a pint of Sierra Nevada; that I could do!

The next morning I had breakfast and headed out. The nice thing about the hotel I chose was that it was on the east side of Sonora so it was easy to get out of town and onto Highway 108, the road up Sonora Pass. I had no illusions about this day's ride; it would be a lot of hard climbing. The only other time I had climbed Sonora Pass, I had stayed the night in a cabin at Dardanelle and had a relatively short ride to the hard part. This time I would have to do a lot more climbing.

On Highway 108 to Sonora Pass.
It was a tough ride but in many respects, I preferred riding 108 to riding through Yosemite. Generally the road was in better condition and seemed to have more shoulders. It was also much less traveled, traffic was way less. The scenery is still very beautiful although at Dardanelle a fire had destroyed the cabins I had stayed at last time, that was sad to see.

Past Dardanelle things started to get tough. Approaching the "gates", a gap in the rock that the road goes through, the grade approaches 26 percent! At one point I stopped to catch my breath. Upon starting again, my front wheel swerved and I caught it with my toe! Down I went. This section was so steep that I had to push the bike a few yards before I could even try to mount it. I went down one more time during this ride but fortunately all this mishaps occurred while climbing, so I was going quite slow with no damage to me or my bike!

The grade continued in varying degrees of severity. I actually flopped over once more on a steep hairpin! This was getting ridiculous! To make matters worse, I had gotten the idea that the summit was 7800 feet, imagine my surprise when I passed a 9,000 foot marker!

As I continued to slog forward, the weather was getting more and more threatening. First there was an occasional spit of rain but that soon turned to a occasional flake of snow. At least it wasn't windy!

At long last I came to the summit! what a relief. I snapped a couple of pictures, then a couple of guys who were getting ready to camp up there came along and I got them to snap my picture, thanks guys!

At the top! I was getting pelted with snow pellets at this point!
In my face I think you can see some of the strain of this ride!

The strain of the ride is on my face!
Of course, now I had the pleasure of the grand descent from the summit! And it was thrilling, with lots of steep drops and wild hairpin turns. I loved it. My max speed on this day was 46 mph.

Upon reaching the bottom of the descent I realized I was really in the middle of nowhere at 5:00 pm in the evening, and with no reservations anywhere. I had to push on to Bridgeport, there was simply no place between where I was and there! I finally made it to town as darkness was falling. I actually used my new bike light! I was relieved to find a vacancy, the last room the place had as it turned out. It was a little pricey, but I definitely enjoyed the room!

That night I enjoyed a plate of spaghetti and garlic toast and the most delicious pint of Ballast Point Sculpin I ever tasted.

The next morning I started out in the chilly air. I had managed to loose my gloves the day before so I was using my extra pair of socks for mittens. The ride was now on HWY 395 from Bridgeport to Lee Vining and I had no illusions that this would be a dream ride. However, traffic wasn't too bad and I was enjoying the lonely landscapes of the Eastern Sierra. The was a seemingly endless chain of little summits to cross until finally I reached Conway Summit, 8138 feet. shortly after this was a vista point.

The final summit...?
At the vista point I was able to look down upon mono Lake and Lee Vining. What a great view!

...Yes!! Overlooking Mono Lake and Hwy 395!
The downgrade here was very  broad and well shouldered, an easy ride though I didn't hit any extraordinary speeds on it. At the bottom I just rode a series of low hills up and down to the Highway 120 junction. Turning on that it was a few miles to my campsite where I started the ride.

Total mileage for the two and a half day ride was 244 miles. If the MapMyRide stats are correct, my total elevation gain for the three days was 25,000 feet with the biggest day being the climb up Sonora Pass which amounted to 11,400 feet. Maximum elevation was 9,962 feet while climbing Sonora Pass!

The final picture taken as I turned onto the road to Lower Lee Vining Campground, looking up at Tioga!
Equipment Notes

I rode my King of Mercia Touring model on this ride. The gearing was the most important feature on a ride of the nature, mine consisted of a "wide-range" double, 26/46 chainrings up front and a 12/28 8 speed cassette on back which gave me a satisfactory gear range. I didn't have any serious issues with the drivetrain.

In fact I had virtually no mechanical issues, at least I thought that much before I got home. No Flats at all, (I put a fresh 700X32 Pasella on the rear before the ride). About a week after this ride, however, after a short day ride at home, I noticed my rear brake wasn't centered. It turned out the brake was fine, the wheel was a bit out of true. It turned out that I had actually broken a spoke on the rear wheel on the drive side at the head! I don't know when this happened but suppose it occurred during the climbing, probably on Sonora Pass!

My baggage was carried in a Carradice Camper saddlebag supported by a "Bagman" saddlebag support. In addition, a Velo Orange Rando Bag up front carried food and light gear. The bike handles superbly in this configuration.

This was a very challenging ride. I don't know if I'll ever be able to tackle something like it again! The grades on both passes were really taxing. But I won't be forgetting this ride any time soon, and that's the whole point, isn't it?