For a ride that almost didn't get ridden, this was fun.
Got up at 6:50 for a ride that starts at 7:00...and the shop is 25 minutes riding time away. Figured I'd head for a junction that was much closer to me than the shop and wait for them. Gassed up, then headed for that junction (680 and 84). As I get ready to pull off, there's a bunch of riders (mostly BMW, too) just pulling back onto the road. Wave at the sweep, and jump into line...timing is everything.
Was overcast and chilly in the bay area, as well as over the pass into the Central Valley. Then it started to warm up. Nice ride on 120 to 108, once past Escalon. Only curve to mention prior to that was the right-hand decreasing radius turn from Highway 120 to Highway 99...pretty much straight-line riding through farm country. Once outside of Escalon, though, you get passing lanes to get by the slow-moving cages. Nice sweeping turns, too, especially the 8+ mile-long "passing lane".
Gas in Jamestown (85ºF), where I got a pretty good look at all the riders. Must have been 30-35 there, with about ½ being dual-sport. Part of the ride was an off-road excursion to Bodie from Bridgeport. Getting to Bridgeport was a great ride as well. Lots of traffic, though. Everyone heading to their holiday spot. No one want's to use the turnouts, either. At least this area of California highways still have dotted lines for the stretches of pavement you can see a decent ways down the road. No double-yellow lines were hurt, although I'm sure some were fussing about their authority being challenged.
Once over the pass, there's a sign that says "25% Grade". Whoa! They weren't kidding, either. No, I didn't actually measure it, but 2nd gear and brakes at times were needed. Definately not a truck route. Road hugs the side of the mountains pretty much all the way to the end, with a couple of miles of flat (considering what the rest of it was) to the intersection of 395. On to Bridgeport, the next gas stop. 395 is another road like 120/108, with nice curves and passing lanes. 16 miles flew by before we stopped at Bridgeport. From there, the off-road option for dual-sports, and a 16 mile round trip for the non-dual-sport types out to twin lakes. Pretty country, nice 8 mile ride to the two lakes. Nice country, but it'd pretty much matched what we'd seen so far on the trip. Back out to Bridgeport, then on to Lee Vining (and food!). Had about 6 riders eating lunch, bs'ing and such, and just as we're paying the tab, the alternative-style riders show up. Good ride to Bodie? Yeah! Nice trip out to Twin Lakes? Well...yeah, kinda.
Lee Vining is at the intersection of 120 and 395. Onwards to the park.
Tioga pass is listed as 9945 ft. at the summit (according to the sign at Yosemite Park entrance) and the ride up is definately sight-seeing worthy. Some of the cages thought so too, so they were easy to get around. You can also see the work that gets done every year when the pass opens up, as there's new patches and old patches at some of the corners. Lots of rocks waiting for their chance for freedom and making a dent in the road. Alt. on the Garmin said 9966' at the park entrance. Have to go there again and see if it says the same thing. 34' shy of 10k feet. Also happens to be the highest paved-road pass in California.
Not much excitement on the downhill through Yosemite, except the views. Probably why the speed limit is 45MPH max through the park. 35 if there's any chance of someone being pulled off to the side for any reason, and 25 if there's a campsite within 100 yards of the road. Federal Park Rangers do have radar, and they get fussy at 5 over...so I'm told. Alternatively, it's really kind of a nice place to saunter through unhurried. Since Mr. Garmin said I'd be home by 7:00 PM, it wasn't a big deal. Plus, there was that 8+ mile passing lane again on the way home up ahead.
Once out of the park, it was back to curvy mountain road riding. Not a lot of cars leaving Yosemite, so it wasn't hard to get going. Left the group I was with at Priest Grade. This is a choice between the old highway (120) and the new one. The current highway goes 9 miles to Moccasin, while the old Priest Grade Road is 2 miles. Carved as a nitch on the side of the mountain, mostly 15 MPH corners on a 25MPH road. It's funny to watch cars start down this grade, and then the brake lights come on to almost a complete stop
. Very easy to get around those. However, the brakes were a bit fussy at the bottom of the grade. Plenty of stop, but more pressure. 2nd gear all the way down, too. Helps to have been on that grade a few times, you know what to expect. It's definately a challenge for the first-time driver.
Rest of the trip was pretty much the same as the day went as a whole. Got my rush again at the "passing lane", stopped in Oakdale because the fuel lamp needed attention, and met up with one of the riders in the group I'd left at the grade. He liked the passing lane as well, apparently much more so than I did. Needed a guide back to the Bay Area to get to one of the bridges, so I had company for the boring, straight-line ride the rest of the way home. Last hills to be crossed provided sunset, but not the pretty kind. No, the kind that hits you right in the eyes, and if you block the sun, you can't see the road in front of you. All the traffic felt the same as I did, so we creepy-crawled until the hills blocked the sun, then away we went...until the shadows went away, and we resumed the road-crawl.
One section of the trip home includes Interstate 238, which is a two-lane freeway between 580 (lots of traffic) and 880 (again, lots of traffic). Some of you probably aren't aware of this, but a two-lane freeway that joins two four/five-laned freeways is just a bit undersized. The fun of lane sharing can't be measured until you experience this 2-mile stretch. Eventually, the right lane has an exit for 880 south. The rest goes on to 880 north. Trucks that want to go south park themselves in the right lane. Northbound ones do the same in the left lane. Your task is to time the movement of the trucks such that when you "split", you do so only when there's a set of cars in either of the lanes next to the truck. Even on Sundays, even on a Sunday in the middle of a three-day weekend. Sheesh...
Did get him pointed to the San Mateo Bridge. One of these days I'm going to have ask him his name. And if he got home well enough with just the dark shield on the helmet. Don't know if that was his issue, but my guess as he didn't have any bags or cases was that a dark, reflectorized shield wasn't the best thing to have at night. Got back at 7:30, so pretty much just a li'l ol' 12 hour jaunt through California. Had a blast, something really nice to have done on the weekend. Just have to figure when I can do it again.
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