A bit chilly at the start of the ride in Bear Valley. This was to be the test of my new bike, built the day before and ridden for its first mile on this ride.
Cool yes, but not a cloud in the sky and possibly the last weekend the trans-Sierra passes will be open
The obligatory photo, warning of the grade ahead!
Passing by Lake Alpine, just a few miles out of Bear Valley, you can see Kevin's not quite warmed up yet.
Cruising past Lake Alpine shortly before noon
From Lake Alpine you climb about 800 feet towards the summit of Pacific Grade, and begin to see what lies ahead
Kevin's now warmed up and in a good mood, although a bit tired of hearing me talk about the electronic shifting on my new bike.
The fall colors are out in force this weekend, although notably absent at altitude are reds. Lots and lots of yellow, but virtually no red.
Looking at the numbers of viewer/photo, this is the most-popular picture on this ride. Trying to figure out what I can learn from that. --Mike--
Mosquito Lake at the west end of Pacific Grade
This sign marks the end of "easy" riding. From here we'll descend 1000ft into Hermit Valley, then climb 1700ft to the top of Ebbetts, then descend 2000ft down the other side, and finally reverse direction.
A powerbar break just before descending Pacific Grade. I'd told Kevin to keep powerbars in his pocket so they wouldn't get cold and hard, but he didn't see the point. Now he did. At 50 degrees, a powerbar in your seatpack isn't easy on your teeth.
And so it begins! This road is much steeper than it looks, although thankfully, on the way up, the steepest sections (on the inside of the corner) are almost always for the downhill traffic.
Welcome to Hell, er, Hermit Valley. You can't do anything but climb your way out of here, 1000ft up uber-steep grades on the Bear Valley side, and 1700ft up a longer but easier climb on the Markleeville end.
We weren't the only cyclists out today; a pretty large group had started in Markeleeville and were doing our ride in reverse (so we saw them coming and going).
Kevin begins the climb towards Ebbetts Pass (from the west side).
The Highland Lakes turnoff is about 3/4 of the way up Ebbetts. I don't know what's out there (besides Highland Lakes) but it looks like a nicely paved road.
At last, Ebbetts Pass, 8730ft. Not nearly as high as Sonora Pass (9760), so you still get lots of trees and, apparently, pollen. This ride was not easy on the lungs!
I've always wanted to get a picture of falling leaves, and now I have. This is descending the east side of Ebbetts, towards Markleeville. Not sure if I needed a faster shutter speed to catch the leaves (some are blurry) or if they were very close and out-of-focus. Probably the latter.
The view from the east side
Admiring the view on the way down the hill
If it's not one pretty fall scene it's another...
Our turnaround point, at about 6400ft. We'd originally planned to ride a bit further, but we'd gotten off to a pretty late start and from here the road pretty much flattens out anyway.
Seems like even the stripe in the road is in keeping with the fall color theme.
Besides a bike ride, this was also a chance for Kevin to learn a bit more about photography, so we brought the smaller DSLR (a Canon 350) in his handlebar bag and he got some practice.
Does it get any prettier?
Drive up Saturday night after the shop closes, arrive in Angel's Camp at 10pm. Get up at 7:30, eat breakfast, get on the road around 9pm and drive an hour up to Bear Valley, then finally get on your bike and ride. Worth it? Every minute on this ride is a scene like this. You bet it's worth it!
My new bike on its maiden voyage. It won't normally have a handlebar bag, but for this trip I needed to carry extra water because there wasn't going to be any en-route.
On the return up Ebbetts, Kevin was not exactly a happy camper for the second half of the climb. From the lake shown here it's only half a mile or so to the top, and he couldn't get there soon enough.
Second time over the top! From here on, Kevin's spirits and speed picked up dramatically.
Seriously? Ebbetts Pass was considered a potential railroad route? I think they made a better choice with Donner Pass!
Descending the west side of Ebbetts pass, heading into Hermit Valley.
More cyclists heading up as we're heading down, all part of the same group we saw earlier in the opposite direction.
Welcome to Hermit Valley, a sinkhole you can only climb out from. There is a reasonable question regarding where water goes that flows into this valley, since it seems to be surrounded by mountains on all sides...
Beginning the climb up Pacific Grade. It's a rude awakening, heading up a 10% grade after descending into Hermit Valley, but the real nasty stuff is still to come.
This is the "nasty stuff." 15-20+% grades that Kevin insisted on doing in his middle chainring. Only because Dad told him he should use lower gears.
The tough part is over as Kevin crests Pacific Grade the second time.
I blew it here. Looking at this photo, there was a lot of potential for getting a really nice shot. Great shadows, especially in the lake, really nice skies and crystal-clear air.
Approaching the top of the final climb. It will be all downhill shortly!
Kevin looking very relieved to have *all* of the climbing behind him, and only a very fast downhill run of a mile or two back to the start.
Sure was tough to find a place to park the car for this ride!