Saturday, September 28, 2013

Eastern Sierras - One Last Outing

Saturday, September 21

Despite the miserable forecast, which by the way, worsened for the weekend, with Yosemite closing due to snow, we managed one last outing, a mix of biking and hiking.

A joy this trip was, full of incroyable scenery and fun times during Happy Hour with club members.

The flat part of Horseshoe Meadows, still accessible, the winds kept at bay.

One last moment of joy before the trip came to its end.  Back to the Bay Area we go.  Since Yosemite was closed due to snow, we returned going towards L.A.  Red Rocks Canyon was startling.  We missed the exit for I-5 and ended up on 99 which turned out to be a treat, seeing all the farmlands, and eventually making our way across CA-152 back home. 

Eastern Sierras - Horseshoe Meadows

Saturday, September 21st

Awoke to a forecast of dangerous winds, and alas, the last ride of the trip, a road not traveled before, Horseshoe Meadows, was abandoned.  See the zigzags in the photo above -- that would have been the journey, or at least the first part, since the remaining section is on the backside.

A bit of beauty from the backside, as seen in a car.

And the long descent, keeping in mind that it must be one fun time going down but a long haul going up.  Just the stats:  47 miles from Lone Pine with 6800 feet of climbing to the summit (10,080).  This road is far more exposed than Whitney Portal and Onion Valley.  The weather is always a factor.  The views are spectacular.  Oh well, perhaps another time.

Eastern Sierras - Alabama Hills

Friday, September 20th

After surviving the gusty winds that came from nowhere upon the Whitney Portal descent, time to enjoy the beauty of the Alabama Hills

One imagines that hunters and gathers, tired of the savannah, sneaked away to these boulders for a little rest and relaxation.  There are two entrances to the Alabama Hills -- one being from Movie Road (film locations abound) and the other, from the Horseshoe Meadows/Tuttle entrance, of which these photos were shot.  The movie location is an unpaved road, good for a mountain bike or car, by the way.  Thank you Mark for introducing me to this hidden gem of a ride. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Eastern Sierras - Whitney Portal

Friday, September 20th

Ah, Whitney Portal.  Last year, with lots more photos for your viewing pleasure, I almost had a break down on this climb.  I think any cyclist will tell you that this climb (second to Bristlecone) is far more challenging physically and psychologically than Onion Valley. 

It's only 4600 feet of climbing in 13 miles to the summit (elevation 8371) but the last 5 miles range from 9-11% and so it is grueling.  It wears you down if you're not prepared.  I was determined to conquer this beast, which meant no flirting (well, save for the many motorcyclists and cars who waved and cheered me on).  Thanks to lots of singing and staring at the pavement,  I shattered last year's time to the top. Unfortunately, the winds began to kick up and the descent for almost everyone except The Boyfriend (he came down much earlier) was difficult.  Winds, what winds, he asked.  I was blown sideways, feeling as though I had no control of the bike.   The best part was yet to come -- Alabama Hills.  Next post.

Eastern Sierras - Onion Valley

Thursday, September 19th

Some have described Onion Valley as the hardest climb in California.  Well, if Weenie Woman got up it, last year and this year, then, one must challenge said claim.  I am guessing that it is because in 13 miles, you will climb 5200 feet to the summit (elevation 9,200).

Naturally, The Boyfriend accompanied me on part of the journey, having learned that Ranger Rob among others held my attention.  He wanted to make sure that my dance card was filled with his name only.  At some point along the way, The BF revved up his engines and shot off like a rocket.  I really liked our gang this year (I enjoyed the company of the cyclists from the previous two years as well) because it was clear that everyone was there to have a good time and to go at their own pace.  

Me, at the top.  It was warmer this year, however, with all these mountain descents, one must come prepared with jacket and woolies, just in case.  Apparently, I dazzled some of the cyclists with my singing.  Take note Boyfriend.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Eastern Sierras - Lake Sabrina

Wednesday, September 18th

Last year, we simply could not face doing the 51 mile climb to Lake Sabrina and South Lake.   As was the case this year as well.  What was different this year was that we found ourselves walking in what can only be described as an alien moonscape.  See me.  I should be submerged in water. 

I am walking where the lake should be.  It is odd and startling.  Research about drought and drainage provide little in the way of details and understanding as to what exactly is going on. 

Some of the lake remains.  Here is a website with photos and history of the glory of Lake Sabrina.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Eastern Sierras - Pine Creek

Tuesday, September 17

Today, The Boyfriend and I did another new climb for us -- Pine Creek.  We started from the hotel in Bishop.  44 miles total with 3,550 feet of climbing.  What I consider a classic Desert ride, like I know what that means....

Lookey, there's my man.

We're in the middle of nowhere.  And what should appear?  You guessed it -- a fire truck.  And shortly thereafter, we came upon a fire station.  My kind of day ....

The BF:  Do you call them in advance and let them know that you're in town?
Me:  What can I say, they follow me wherever I go.
The BF:  Apparently.
Me:  What can I say, when you're in demand ....
The BF:  Sigh.

About a mile or so to the summit, we encountered headwinds, so severe, that I, being a weenie woman, unlike my man, had to get off my bike and walk.  About this time, Ranger Rob, with his rippling muscles, spotted what he believed was a woman in distress ...  I had me a mighty fine with Ranger Rob.  Seriously, had I been by myself, I might have asked Ranger Rob for a ride.

Yay, the summit.  And yah, The BF was my hero, having located a source for water.  I forgot all about Ranger Rob. Elevation at this point was 7,425 feet.

Is that man hot or what!  My top speed on descent was 38.5 and his was 47 mph.  The struggle was worth it.  The ride was lovely.  Onto Happy Hour, and well deserved.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Eastern Sierras - Bristlecone Pine Forest

Monday, September 16

Ah, time to do Bristlecone.  The gang met in Big Pine to tackle this climb.  Any cyclist who has done this ride will tell you it is hard, psychologically and physically.  24 miles of climbing, with a mix of 6-8% for the first section (in which you don't realize you're climbing until later when you descend), with a middle section that is flat, and a last part that is grueling (lots of ups and downs, plateaus and so forth).

Having experienced this ride last year, I knew what to expect.  Other first time cyclists found it challenging and some needed to stop repeatedly.  Bristlecone Pine Forest is a 48 mile out and back, beginning at 4,000 feet and finishing at an elevation of 10,100.  6600 feet of climbing.

The Boyfriend and I started out together before the others since I knew that eventually they'd catch up to me.  The BF likes to start out slowly, nice and easy, and then, go for the bang, if you know what I mean. Me, I just want to last and make it up as far as I can go.  Naturally, we engaged in a conversation --

The BF:  How about you meet me afterwards at Happy Hour, wearing a dress and high heels?
Me:  Sure, if I don't meet a fireman along the way.
The BF:  Sigh.

Well, I made it to the Vista Point and then some.  That was my goal.  I met my man coming down from the summit.  I managed a total of 43 miles. This climb was hard.  I could barely sing, something I like to do on rides.  We were assaulted by hot and strong headwinds on the way down.  Maybe I met The BF later for Happy Hour, wearing a dress and high heels and just maybe, he got lucky.....

Eastern Sierras - Mosquito Flat

Sunday, September 15

Today, The BF and I, along with a few other cyclists decided to bike to Mosquito Flat via Rock Creek Road, which is the highest paved public road in California.  Another new climb for us.

 We started at 7,000 feet beginning at Upper Rock Creek Road.   Actually, we started at 10,000 feet (but we should have started at 7,000 feet).  The temperature was 55 degrees!  And obviously, the air felt thin besides cold.

After only cycling 2 miles, we came to the end  (elevation 10,220).  Our friends were nowhere to be found.  Oops, we did something wrong since the climb should have been around 10 miles or so.  We enjoyed a leisurely swing around the lake and then went down to find our friends.  We found one another!  We turned around and climbed back up.  It was pretty comical, the mix up on our part.  Our friends had their well earned dessert from the legendary Pie in the Sky Cafe.   Maybe next time, we'll do lower and upper Rock Creek Road and then, enjoy a slice of pie. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Eastern Sierras - Glacier Lodge

Saturday, September 14th

So, the day before, the conversation went something like this (of course The Boyfriend will disagree) --

Me:  I need a chauffeur to take me to Dick and Donna's Eastern Sierras trip.  You'll do.
The BF:  At your service, Ma'am.
Me:  Damn right, Mister.

Of course I ended up in the trunk on the way....  we had to go over the Sonora Pass since Yosemite was still closed to traffic because of the fire.  Lots of signs thanking our wonderful firefighters.  We smelled smoke for only a few moments and we felt blessed to be rained upon as we crossed the Pass.  Thank you firefighters and Mother Nature.

We arrived too late for Happy Hour also known as cocktail time with chips and dip.  We ate a good meal at Whiskey Creek and settled in at the hotel in thriving Bishop.  This is our third time doing this fabulous cycling trip; this year, with rides we hadn't done in previous years.

Hard to spot but there are cyclists in this photo.  Our first climb, for the Eastern Sierras trip that Dick and Donna lead each year, was a new one for us -- Glacier Lodge. From Lone Pine, we climbed 11 miles (and then 11 miles back down). Elevation 7800 (starting at ~4000 feet) with 3900 feet of climbing. Here's a video someone posted of their drive up this road.

I started out fast and hard, and full of myself until about half way up when altitude sickness got me.  Can we say "fun".  I don't think so.  I was hit with stomach cramps and a feeling of incredible stupidity in my head.  I felt like I was moving in slow motion, struggling under water, but, darn it, I wanted to finish, and I pulled myself together and arrived at the summit.  As you can see, we were blessed with great weather and no winds.  I managed 37.5 mph somewhere on the descent.  And back in time for Happy Hour!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Field Trip

Miss A and I drove to Milbrae and took BART for a visit to the Asian Art Museum.  I've never been so I looked forward to our field trip and I certainly was not disappointed.  Later while on BART, we had a discussion about taking Caltrain (to go completely car free) and using the new Bay Area Bike Share program.  Miss A. has the Spotcycle app on her mobile device.  It locates bike stations, bike paths etc.  Nifty! 

Upon arrival at the museum, the big hunky sexy security guard informed us that our visit was free!  Turns out the first Sunday of each month is free.  I wondered if the security guard was free later...

Miss A. wanted to see the In the Moment Collection (on loan from Larry Ellison) and I wanted to see The Cyrus Cylinder exhibit.  It is touring around the U.S, on loan from the British Museum.  The full title is:  The Cyrus Cyclinder and Ancient Persia:  a new beginning for the Middle East.   The British Museum has a video and more information about this artifact is available from the Asian Art Museum

We were treated so nicely by museum staff. Everyone wanted to help us.  I went up to the Information Desk to ask the very good looking man if I was permitted to take photos.  He said of course.  I said really!  He said, "I just made your day, didn't I."  You sure did ....

Scary warrior.  Upon closer inspection, not possible from this photograph, was intricate silk woven patterns.  One can only take in so much so we didn't see all of the exhibits.  But what we did see was just beautiful.  I certainly plan to return.  Before we left, we completed a survey using an iPad and were treated with a postcard for our participation.  Swell field trip with Miss A!