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Eastern Sierra Double Report

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Eastern Sierra Double Report

Old 06-15-22, 04:16 PM
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Eastern Sierra Double Report

Well, I did it. I managed to complete my 50th double century. I had done the Davis Double (great DC, BTW), so that the Eastern Sierra Double would be my 50th. Itís appropriate, as the Eastern Sierra is one of my favorite places in the world, and Iíve had this ongoing love affair with the area for some 50 years now.

I havenít done a double since 2019. COVID and some unresolved chronic illnesses kept me off the bike long enough so doubles really were not in the cards for me. But Iíve clawed my way at least some of the way back, and rather than wait until I am ALL the way back, I said the hell with it ... Iím going for it.

It almost didnít happen, as they had an extremely low turnout. There are at least 2x the number of doubles in California now, and about Ĺ the number of people doing them, and even a popular double like this was way down in participation. Ultimately, we had about 60 riders, which isnít good but isnít terrible. The ride organizers love the ride as much as I do, and were loath to cancel it.

So we made due with ďleap frogĒ support instead of fixed rest stops. And some of my good friends came up to help out.

The weather was really ODD. Typically, the weather is clear and sunny and in the 70s or 80s for most of the ride, but it was much cooler than that this time. And it was cloudy virtually the entire day. Large, ominous lenticular clouds, but all we felt was a few sprinkles blowing off the mountains ... we got no rain.

My friends Molly and Ron were staying with me up at my vacation home in Mammoth. Itís comfy, but 40 miles away from the start, so that means getting up VERY early to make the drive down to Bishop for the start. We got it done, though and 5AM saw us heading East and South from Bishop to cross the Owens River.

We usually get to see the Sun rise on the Sierra, but since it was cloudy, that didnít happen. The Sun peeked through the clouds to illuminate one lenticular cloud in red, which was kinda cool. Still, all the lenticular clouds were cool.






One rest stop before heading up the big climb ... the Sherwin Grade.




The Sherwin grade is a bit of a tough climb. It is an extended 8% and has a false summit too. But the views from the climb of the round valley are nice, and although it takes time, it goes pretty quickly.



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Old 06-15-22, 04:26 PM
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After a short stint on US395, we turn at Tomís place (a 100 year old restaurant), and head down old 395 towards Mammoth Lakes.



Another Rest Stop










The climb from 395 to Mammoth Lakes up the 203 is my least favorite climb. Itís not all that steep, but it is on a 4 lane road, and typically into a stiff headwind. The wind wasnít too bad today, but it remains my least favorite climb.

My bud wanted to be there for my 50th double, but didnít want to do the whole thing, so she was to meet us there in Mammoth Lakes and do the rest of the ride with us. She was staying at our vacation home just a couple of blocks away.

We climbed up to the Mammoth Scenic Loop (not all that scenic, and it is really an alternate escape route put in after a series of earthquakes in the area), and from there, descended back to US395.




The next significant climb was to Deadman Summit. Great name, eh? It got itís name for someone found face first in a local creek, clearly murdered. The likely culprit was a guy who had lured the victim by advertising that he had found gold and was looking for an investor. The victim came with cash, and the result is as expected. No gold. Murder. And the perpetrator was never found.

After summiting Deadman, there is a short section and then we turn onto the June Lake Loop. This is typically the highlight of the ride. Itís drop dead beautiful with alpine lakes, nearby mountain peaks, waterfalls, aspens ... and a beautiful, generally smooth road. Itís also generally downhill.

It wasnít quite so beautiful this time though, with all the gray clouds about. We zoomed through and backdown to US395 to lunch in Lee Vining.





Lunch was the usual affair ... Subway sandwiches, cookies, chips, and the like. The Mountain Dew was really a nice touch.
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Old 06-15-22, 04:31 PM
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After lunch, we have one last really serious climb ... Sagehen. Sagehen is a longish climb. It’s terraced ... with shortish sections that are relatively steep and other that are only a few percent or so. It can be unpleasant when hot, but it was still coolish today, so it wasn’t too bad.

The descent from Sagehen is interesting. It’s generally down, but has some uphill sections. But we now had a tailwind, and that tailwind pretty much blew us through the uphill sections, so we sped through here pretty quickly.




The last part of this descent is PERFECT for high speed descents. It is in a deep canyon, so there are no cross winds, and the road is in good shape. LOTS of people I know hit their highest speed through here (for me, 57.5 MPH). I don’t have a speedometer on this bike, so I had no idea what my speed was, but I am pretty sure it was well over 40 MPH.

The descent ends in Adobe Valley. Adobe is interesting. I have seen wild mustangs and wild burros through here, and also had a rattlesnake lunge at me. It is also notable for 5 or 6 really steep whoop-de-doos. We got through the valley pretty quickly because of that tailwind, and the whoop-de-doos were less of a bother. Then, one last climb to Black Divide, and a great descent down into Benton.




Oy, this is nice. twisty road and a great view of the 14,000 foot peaks of the White Mountains very close by.

One thing about this double. The last of it ... riding from Benton to Bishop ... either has a significant tail wind or a significant headwind. My first time, we had a tailwind and fairly FLEW back to the start. Pretty much every other time, we have had a tailwind, and needed to paceline to get through here.

This time, as we rolled into Benton, I saw a flag fluttering from right to left.

UGH. A headwind again. I took my right hand off the handlebar and gave the flag the finger. My little act of defiance. At this point, some of the riders were feeling poorly, with stomach problems. So we decided to stick together and paceline to the end.

A few mile out of town, something odd happened. That headwind turned into a tailwind. And pretty soon, we were pedaling in our highest gears with almost no effort at all. And the road was fairly empty and smooth. The last 35 miles of a double century can be a grunt, but with a smooth road and a tailwind, we made great time and got in just before sundown.








Yay! Finished that 50th double century.
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Old 06-15-22, 04:36 PM
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The Eastern Sierra Double has a great route, great support, and great scenery, but there is also a final treat. A dinner at Holy Smokes BBQ is included. I got a tri tip sandwich, and it was truly awesome. What a treat! One of my friends also got some cupcakes to celebrate my 50th double.




The next day, we took a short 3 mile hike around Convict Lake (a great way to loosen up the legs), and then headed for Bodie ... the best “arrested decay” ghost town in the West. I love the place and have read many books about it’s history, and it was great to take my friend there for a looksee.










I wish I could say that was the end of the weekend adventure, but there was more. After the frankly dangerous section of US395 from Brady’s to the I15, we were treated with a 5 mile backup because of road construction on the I15. Even better, after dropping off my friend, I managed to run over a tire in the road (I was making a left turn and did not see the black tire on the black tarmac at night). My van got stuck on the tire, and it took Pepe from Pepe’s towing to bring over a floor jack to get my car off of the thing. The good news was: No damage to the car. Yay.

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Old 06-15-22, 05:12 PM
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Great pics and great report. Obviously you had a great ride. very jelly.
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Old 06-15-22, 06:41 PM
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Biker395,I really appreciate and enjoy the reports and pictures from your Double Century rides. Certainty is beautiful country out your way.
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Old 06-15-22, 07:34 PM
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Congratulations on 50!! That’s amazing. With the clouds it looked like a great day for a long ride.

Wow, only 60 participants. That’s unbelievable for a ride like that. With all of our organized rides starting back up after two years, participation is greater than ever.

Great pictures as well.
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Old 06-16-22, 09:07 AM
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Having done a total of 2 century rides, I'm in awe of anyone that does a double let alone 50 doubles. I camped up in the Twin Lakes area a couple of years ago and really enjoy that area. Seems like a great area for a long ride.

Congratulations on the milestone!
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Old 06-26-22, 09:10 AM
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Great thread great pics. 200 miles in one day. Yikes! That's amazing. And it ain't like it's Kansas or flat. It's mountains!! Geez. Awesome!!!
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