Road Bike, Cycling Forums banner
1 - 20 of 31 Posts

·
Bacon!
Joined
·
9,190 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I wanted to title this "Pass Out and Crash" but didn't have any good photos of my event so I'll stick with the nicer title. But, I have to say this was one of the more amazing passes I've ridden in the Sierras ever. If you are ever in central California or live there already you absolutely have to ride from Dardanelle, CA up and over the pass. If you don't your missing a slice of bicycling heaven. This ride was amazing enough that I had a real problem cutting down on the number of pictures so I apologize for the pic overload.

http://www.bikely.com/maps/bike-path/Sonora-Pass-California

Over the 3-day weekend we did two rides. On the first day we rode over Sonora Pass from U.S. 395 along California SR 108 over to Dardanelle and back. I had been told that this ride was one of the prettiest in the Sierras and would rival Tioga Pass. They also told me it was a butt kicker but I didn't believe them. Afterall, I'm invincible (said with a lot of sarcasm).

I rode with my wife and three friends starting early Saturday morning. We already had a brisk headwind as we headed across the valley known as Pickle Meadows. It started out fairly flat and very open with nothing to worry about except the rush of the air and singing of the birds. But that would quickly turn to the roar of pounding blood in my ears and the sound of my lungs nearly quitting on me as we hit the first of 12% through 22% grades. And this was in the first third of the trip!
 

·
Bacon!
Joined
·
9,190 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Making the Summit

As we climbed up towards the top at 9600 feet I was hyperventilating pretty bad and not feeling right in the head (my wife would agree with this all the time). I had been sick for over two weeks after spending a couple of weeks in China and I could tell I hadn't recovered all the way. But instead of stopping I dug in my heels and started to sprint towards the last 100 foot of 15% climb. 90 feet my brain told me, 75 feet, 50 feet, 25 feet, yesssss. . .and then I woke up in a ditch. This can't be good as I cussed a lot and stood up with my whole body shaking. Everyone had rushed down from the top to check on me but I had been going so slow I kind of just fell over onto the side. Nothing worse for wear so I got back on my bike and rode the last 25 feet. Crazy feeling and I've never had that happen before. I decided that a 1/2 hour lunch stop would be good and actually felt a little bit better after some real food.

Anyway, after packing down some food we began the wild descent into Dardanelle. What a rush! 20% grades descending down hair pin turns (note: I am guessing at the 20% on the turns. The signs said 15% but it felt a lot worse for short distances) surrounding by sheer volcanic and granite cliffs. "Unbelievable" I yelled out to the rest of our group as we flew down the valley and unbelievable was what I really felt. I hope my pics can do even a little justice to the beauty of this place.
 

·
Bacon!
Joined
·
9,190 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Can't compete with all the gorgeous Colorado Posts

But, for my backyard I was very happy to be riding here. As we descended closer and closer to Dardanelle I decided my brakes needed a break and pulled over for a shot of the mountains above Yosemite in the distance. I just found myself standing there for some time before getting back on my bike and drifting down the switchbacks to the next surprise. A mile long section of 26% climb (according to the sign to be posted shortly). Wow, I have to come back up this?? Sure enough, through the notch and down the other side to test gravity, brakes, and the joy of flying at 55mph down the mountain! Whhhooohoooo!

Anyway, I made it safely down to the town (store) of Dardanelle where I gorged on brownies and Pepsi before turning around to head back up. Luckily there was a nice run out before hitting that 26% climb. Now, I should have known better judging by the shaking of my hands and legs but I still attacked it like the last place finisher in a bigwheels contest! Alas, I only made it about 1/2 way before I had to pull over with bile ripping up my throat. As I stood there hanging over my bars my wife went zipping by with a big smile. No way was some woman going to beat me! I jumped back on the bike and made it about another 100 yards before again stopping. Oh well, women rule and I sux. At least I finally made it up to my patient wife and took a picture of the mountains ahead of me.
 

·
Bacon!
Joined
·
9,190 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Back to the Top

As we climbed back towards the top of the pass there was nothing but postcard views and the sounds of grunting and groaning bikers. Two of our friends had decided to back out and got a ride to the top but dumb me, my great riding wife, and our overly energetic friend Joe made it back to the top. It's hard to tell how steep it is on these roads, but when you can see my wife tacking (proper word?) from side to side please note that she is a very strong rider and was kicking my tail and still having difficulty. Me. . .my body had just given up on me and I was literally giving up the ghost. Taking pictures was beyond difficult as my hands shook like California was falling into the sea, but knowing I had to get the story out I kept snapping hoping a few wouldn't be blurred. :)
 

·
Bacon!
Joined
·
9,190 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
And then it was all back down to the start!

What else can be said except :D :D :D :D !
 

·
Knives, Guns, and Booze
Joined
·
2,942 Posts
WOW! That’s kickass. And looks like your lady friend was right there with you all along…*hope my wife can handle such a ride one day…
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
21,910 Posts
Well, this should give philippec a run for his money.....

How many riders did you see all day (I'n guessing not as many as I see in 11 minutes around here).
 
Joined
·
0 Posts
All this, and cocktails, too

Awesome ride! We don't get stuff like that down here in the Deep South.

That first pic, of the Marine Corps hut -- It's all chimney! Must get cold on a winter's guard duty.
 

·
The web is a MUT
Joined
·
1,373 Posts
Excellent report, and more excellent that you survived it. It would make for an interesting followup report if you rode this ride again once you've fully recovered, don't need another ditch dive event.

You know the road is steep when you see bumper drag gouges in the pavement as shown in this pic of your's:
 

·
Yo no fui.
Joined
·
8,081 Posts
I need to get out there. Have you ridden the 26% uphill?
 
G

·
Beautiful.

Reminds me of local climb I was on last weekend. Thought it seemed so unfair to be looking at the Garmin, showing 9% grade and coming around a bend in the road, looking at a HILL rising up.
 

·
Bacon!
Joined
·
9,190 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
MB, you've got me beat with your zillion rider reports. We saw a total of three other people the whole day and maybe 50 cars (and lots of motorcycles). It was terrific.
 

·
Bacon!
Joined
·
9,190 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Yep, it's in miles per hour. I was way too afraid and too shakey for the 55mph shot.
 

·
Bacon!
Joined
·
9,190 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Oh yeah, I don't Phillipe has anything to worry about. Neither do the Colorado posters. Man I love their stuff.
 

·
Bacon!
Joined
·
9,190 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I'm going back in October to reride it. There are an unbelievable amount of aspen groves along the road and I want to see them in full fall splendor.
 

·
Bacon!
Joined
·
9,190 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
The 26% was what we had to ride on the way back. Almost a mile of it if the information I have is correct. It was the hardest thing I've ever done healthy or not. My compact double with 27 began to seem really out of its league after only a couple hundred feet of climbing. It hurt.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,238 Posts
That's beautiful. You're crazy!
 
1 - 20 of 31 Posts
Top