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A Bike Trip to Death Valley
Monday, 12 June 2006
Saturday 10 June. Lake Isabella to Porterville.

Today we left Lake Isabella on a usual day of clear blue skies and rising temperatures.

After a few miles we reached the start of the locally notorious 6000ft climb over the Sierras on route 155 via Alta Sierra. We soon found out why as the road reared up with gradients on average of 15% and reaching 21%. This went on for 8 miles. As the heat rose sweat poured into our eyes and we struggled with our lowest gears. For those in Sussex think of riding up Duncton Hill and steeper for 8 miles. For those in Dorset think of riding up Eggerdon for 8 miles.

After a few false summits we reached the top with much relief. Traffic on the climb was light and hardly any on the descent. The scenery could not be more different from yesterday with the climb being thickly wooded and even some Redwoods at the top. The descent was one sweeping curve merging into another and I kept pace with a motorbike for a few miles.

The thickly wooded slopes were part of the Sequoia National Forest. Further down this gave way to more open ranchland. We stopped at Glenwood at the Crazy Horse Saloon for lunch. The local cowboys and girls were well impressed at our cycling up their steep pass. Martin had bought a Cowboy hat at Furnace Creek and decided to blend in better by wearing it in the Saloon.

We continued on some quiet backroads descending through the foothills. Martin and Peter spotted a Golden Eagle swooping overhead.

Further down we stopped at the Fountain Springs Saloon for cold drinks as temperatures reached 94F.

Further on we came down to the central California plains of the San Joaquin Valley with orange and lemon groves lining the road. We stopped at a Motel 6 in Porterville overnight.

71.5 miles for the day with 5121ft of climbing and 7043ft of descending as our starting height at Lake Isabella was 2500ft.


remote Posted by Edwin at 5:13 AM BST

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