Friday, March 19, 2010

Cycling in Yosemite

It’s not often that I get the opportunity for back-to-back cycling adventures so I try and make the most of it when I do. After an awesome 4 days of cycling in San Diego, Sherry and I went to Yosemite National Park for a few days. Among the items all neatly pack on the SUV was my road bike.

IMG_2991 Sherry and I have visited Yosemite many, many times. I have driven through the park, cross country skied on the valley floor, hiked to the top of Half Dome, and tooled around on a comfort bike, however this was the first time I was planning on doing any extensive cycling. You could say I was a little excited.

The plan was to speed down to Yosemite and enter the park via the central entrance on Hwy 140. However, it has been a few years and somehow we ended up entering through the northern entrance on Hwy 120 (and by “somehow” I mean I took the wrong route). No biggie! This is actually our favorite route to Yosemite so we just rolled with it.

The silver lining to taking Hwy 120 was it afforded me the opportunity to preview the road. My riding plan for the next day was to cycle Hwy 120 from the valley floor to the turn off for Tioga Pass. Our route would take us down this road so I would get a good idea of its ridability. As soon as we pass the road to Tioga Pass I knew my riding prospects were slim. There was still a fair amount of snow and ice on the road. The road was also very narrow, more so then I remembered, and had people flying by in cars, trucks, and RVs. Then I reached the longest of 3 tunnels, which is about ½ mile in length, very dark and has no shoulder. As this point, Sherry expressed real concerns about me riding this particular road. I agreed.

IMG_2978 We spent Monday relaxing and checking out the sights. We also changed hotels from the Yosemite Lodge to the Ahwahnee Hotel. One of the sights we visited was Tunnel View, which is a scenic vista that gives you a view of the entire valley. The road to Tunnel View goes all the way to the Badger Pass ski resort, however the vista is only one and a half miles from the valley floor and the road is in pretty good shape. I decide that I can make it there safely and now I have a plan.

I need to deviate from my story for just a minute. I have an amazing wife who allows me to have these little cycling adventures on our trips. And by that, I mean she is ok with me spending time away from her on our vacations to cycle. After seeing the road, she even volunteered to follow me in the car instead of spending her time reading in the Ahwahnee’s great room like she originally planned. How cool is that?

IMG_3021 Tuesday is another crystal clear sunny day. After sleeping in and eating breakfast in the Ahwahnee’s magnificent dining room, I finally hit the road. As I cycled along the valley floor I am in awe of what surrounds me. I immediately slow down to enjoy the ride and the scenery. This was cyclotourism at its finest. I completed my short climb to Tunnel View followed by a kick ass little descent. Once I got back near the Ahwahnee, I had only ridded 18 miles so I decided to ride the entire valley floor loop again. This time I rode with one hand, or no hands, as I was taking pictures. When all was said and done, I rode a very easy 30 miles in spectacular scenery.

As you can imagine, it was not the effort, or the climb, or the challenge that made this a great ride. After all, it was only 30 miles with less then 1,000 feet of climbing that took nearly 2 hours. No, it wasn’t the ride but the setting that made this such a memorable cycling adventure.


1 Comment(s):

dan said...

sounds like you guys had an amazing time! Yea, I think I would be scared to ride on 120 too; I remember how narrow that sucker is, lots of shade, and people driving their Winnebagos and not obeying the speed limits!