Thursday, May 25, 2017

Racing the wild river

One of the really wonderful things about bicycle touring is that you have your stuff with you. So if you decide that you need to stay a little longer somewhere, or if you want to take a different route, or if you have to adjust your schedule to accommodate wind or weather, your level of fitness, mechanical failures, or just your need to relax in a beautiful spot, it's not really any problem. You are in charge. You do what you want to do.

Thus it is that we determined to go as far as Walker and stay for the night, rather than turning around to do another 30 miles and return to Bridgeport. Both Autumn and I are tired. This is more riding than I have done in months. We're feeling pretty good, but I personally did not want to push back to Bridgeport (what would have been a 90-mile day) into a headwind and then face a similarly difficult day following that. That is how I find myself now, enjoying the sunshine in a beautiful little courtyard at a really sweet motel along the highway here in Walker. We have had the requisite Walker Burger when we arrived, and eaten barbecue for dinner on top of that! Soon we are headed to bed. But first, a few notes about today.
The Fabulous Four plus Steve!
We left Lee Vining with Roger's old friend Steve and headed up Conway Summit above Mono Lake. This is a spectacular climb, with views of the mountains and lake in every direction.
Mono Lake and the mountain backdrop from Conway

Once you are at the top, you are treated to a truly smashing descent down towards Bridgeport. It was pretty windy along this stretch of road, but it was just gorgeous. I found myself being more and more comfortable on the bike.
Conway Summit

Our second breakfast was in Bridgeport, and then Steve headed back home. The four of us continued on to Walker over Devil's Gate Summit.

Stopping to admire the river's power 
We had been a little apprehensive about the transit through the Walker River Canyon. Dana in particular was concerned about the traffic. There is no shoulder to speak of, so you have to be very aware of the cars. However, they were doing some road work near the Sonora Pass junction, which resulted in the cars being held up and escorted through with a pilot car. We arrived at the stop point just as they were letting our side of the cars go through. The result was that we had the canyon more or less to ourselves! We were able to ride the entire stretch with only a few vehicles coming through behind us. What incredible fortune!
Coming off Devil's Gate 

The canyon is one of my favorite parts of this drive, and with the water raging through the river, it really was spectacular. There have been many times that we have driven through the canyon and the water level is so low you could walk across the river without getting your shoes wet. Today it looked like it might make a great run in a raft. Even more fabulous, the winds turned around just as we got to 108 (Sonora Pass), so we had a wonderful tail wind through the canyon. It truly was everything that I had hoped it would be. I think Roger had a good time.

Our plan as it stands now is to head out early in the morning to come back up the canyon before the traffic gets bad and then stay a night with Steve and Brielle in Lee Vining. We'll then go over Deadman Summit and back down Sherwin Summit to our car in Bishop on Saturday.

At least, that's the plan as it stands right now! When you are touring, anything can happen.

This is hard work. Autumn and Roger are just 'resting their eyes' a minute before bedtime!

1 comment:

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