CAL's Sunday Shop Ride
2005 Annual Two-Pass Ride Report
September 4 was our 500 mile, Two Pass Ride! We didn't get back at the shop until 10:45 and the last 90 miles were the hardest for sure. My right hand got very tired and started to cramp up. (We need cruise control on our GS's next year!)
We started out at a little after 7:00 am with about 15 people, and picked up another 6 in Livermore, and another 4 in Jamestown., for about 25 riders in total. We had a mixture of bikes, about 50% GS riders, the rest spread all over the charts. Darryl was a newcomer on his Yamaha FZR 1300, for his first really long ride. It was a very convivial, group, with two woman riders, Gail and Kilby. My wife Gail was the sweep rider,and our Salesman Reinhold helped out all day as well.
We kept everyone together until the Jamestown gas stop, and more or less together all the way to Dardanelle, on Sonora Pass. The weather was perfect - not too hot, not too cold, and almost cloudlessly sunny. We paused for 20 minutes in Jamestown and I discovered the joys of Starbucks Double Shots. Finally an energy drink that I like!
After Jamestown the road gets interesting, and we were blessed with very light traffic from Sonora through Strawberry and all the way to Dardanelle. The last ten miles to Dardanelle are among the nicest in the Sierras, and we swept through the corners like swallows until the turn-out to the Dardanelle rest stop and food store.
We took about a 30 minute rest stop at Dardanelle, bought snacks at the little store and relaxed before heading up to the top of the pass. It is only about another fifteen miles to the summit, and we all stopped there for pictures and a quick break to rest the throttle hand before heading down the east side of the pass to Bridgeport. Some of the best views are seen on the south side of the pass - Leavitt Peak, Sardine Falls, the entrance to the Leavitt Lake trail, and then the West Walker River Valley opens up onto 395, which took us in to Bridgeport. There are terrific views of the Matterhorn Range to the west as you ride into Bridgeport . In spite of the heavy enforcement over the Labor Day Weekend, noon got traffic tickets and we all arrived at the Bridgeport gas stop at about the same time.
In Bridgeport the group split into two. Gail led the street riders up to Twin Lakes for spectacular mountain views, and I led the GS'ers and two brave street bike riders up Aurora Canyon Road (all dirt) to the Bodie-Masonic Road (also dirt) that led us down into Bodie. We had one person turn back, one mild crash, and the two street riders, Claus and Patrick acquit themselves admirably, blasting along through the sand and rocks faster than most of the GS riders! It just goes to show how versatile a Triumph Sprint ST and a BMW K 100 RS can be!
The RS rider passed most of us, and gave me a little bit of worry, which turned out to be justified when I watched him in my mirror fetch up in the ditch on the way out of Bodie. No great harm to rider or bike, but definitely a case of leaving no margins for error.
We blasted out of Bodie and down Rte. 167 back to 395 and Lee Vining, for a glorious late lunch and pie at Nicely's Restaurant. We always make that our destination stop, both because the food is good, and they are not upset at accommodating 15 or 20 hungry bikers at one time. I finished my meal with deep-dish peach pie and vanilla ice cream, but instead of a nap, we gathered the group for a charge up Tioga Pass to Tuolumne Meadow.
By this time the group had shrunk back down to about 18 riders, and not everyone chose to stop at Tuolumne. I led us to the parking lot at the foot of Lembert Dome, the big granite knob just to the north of the road going into Tuolumne meadows, at the bridge over the Tuolumne River. I make a point of locating this, so that you can climb it, too, if you take this ride. Three of us (Gail, Jonathan and Kari) out of the group friction climbed right up the front of the dome, eschewing the trail that runs around behind it, and made it to the top in about half an hour. After enjoying the views of Cathedral Peak, Unicorn, Hoffman, Mt. Conness, etc. we headed back down in double-time and made it to the bottom in about 15 minutes. By this time it was about 5:30 pm and we still had a lot of miles to go. We saddled back up and rode at a sedate pace to Olmstead Point, where we stopped for views of Cloud's Rest and Half Dome in the evening sun. That was our last real view of the mountains, as the road dives into the woods after this and we just had to slog along at 50 mph through the park in order to avoid tickets.
Our next major stop was in Oakdale, at the Shell station for Starbucks double shots and junk food to get us the rest of the way home. It was dark by this time, but the weather was still nice, and it was just starting to cool off and be pleasant for crossing the Central Valley.
We rolled in a little after 10:30 pm, no one left except for Gail, Reinhold and I, put our bikes away and headed home, well satisfied with a safe and beautiful ride accomplished. Total mileage was about 500, time on the road about 15 hours, probably about 11 of them actually riding, the rest spent eating, climbing, resting, deciding where to go next, etc.
This remains one of my most favorite rides, and if you did not make it this year, I hope you can join us in 2006 for a reprise. I'll probably add a little different GS route next year, and I expect more of you to climb Lembert Dome!