Coast to Coast Ride

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

At two or three-year intervals, we make a bike trip to Yosemite.  Michele, Roy, Brooks, Steve and I are veterans of past trips.  Diane and John were new.  We started early in the morning to avoid heat in the Central Valley.  We took BART out to Pleasanton to begin.  Our route took us through Livermore to the Altamont Pass.  We had good tailwinds pushing us over the pass.  

Tracy was the least attractive part of the ride.  Steve and John work for an agency that is in competition with another office to pedal the most non-recreational miles during May.  Their boss met us in Tracy so that Steve and John could count their mileage as business miles.  

We lunched at Jimmy's, a roadhouse along River Road. We followed little J4 along the San Joaquin River.  Our first night was at Bruce's ranch east of Turlock.  Bruce and Barbara settled us in and then gave us a tour of the ranch.  
We pedaled along Keyes road through orchards and fields to Snelling.  We followed the Merced River, crossing at Friant Dam, and then began climbing to Hornitos.  Hornitos is a tiny Gold Rush town.  We sat in the shade to eat our sandwiches.  The next leg is my favorite part, the Old Toll Road to Mt. Bullion.  

The road is steep and remote in a charming landscape.  We cranked up the hill in granny gear.  At last, we reached Highway 49 and coasted to Mariposa for the night.  Chi and Cristina joined us there.  

Our expanded group ascended to Midpines Summit, a climb of about 1000 feet.  We descended dizzyingly to the Merced River, 2000 feet below.  The road ascended gently along the
 river for miles until we arrived at El Portal.  From there, it was granny gear all the way to the Yosemite Valley.  We took it slow, with frequent rests.  This was our best-ever Yosemite ride.  

Neal invited me to go with him for a hike from Del Valle Reservoir in Livermore to Sunol Regional Park.  The distance is about twenty miles.  We set out very early in the morning to avoid the heat.  The trail climbed steeply up and down ridges.  

The views from the ridgetops were impressive.  We encountered a turtle with about a five-inch shell and a very sleek gopher snake along the trail.  We lunched at Rose Peak.  I was exhausted by the end.  I'm looking forward to trying the hike again as an overnight trip.