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ESD Ride Report

Fifty Plus (50+) Share the victories, challenges, successes and special concerns of bicyclists 50 and older. Especially useful for those entering or reentering bicycling.

ESD Ride Report

Old 06-08-19, 08:07 PM
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ESD Ride Report

The ESD is my favorite ride in the world. It takes place in beautiful scenery, and has generally good weather. Starting in the town of Bishop (Galen Rowell's old stomping grounds), it heads up the 3500 foot Sherwin Grade climb, and from there varies between 6500 and 8500 feet or so. What makes it difficult (besides the 200 miles) is the elevation. If you're a flatlander, you'll definitely feel the altitude. Oh, and weather ... it is changeable at higher elevations.

This year, thunderstorms were in the offing, and a lot of people (more sensible than I) canceled. On the day of the ride itself, the weather looked pretty good ... mostly clear. So off I headed at the crack of dawn 5AM start.

In years past, the route had us circussing around Bishop before heading uphill, but since last year, the reroute has us heading right up to the base of the Sherwin Grade ... a climb of 3000 feet or so.

I haven't been riding as much as usual, and that climb up the Sherwin Grade kicked my arse. I stopped to take my jacket off and fell behind a lot of people. I rode up the grade with my buddy Rick ... and we were making a brisk pace and passed a lot of people. Trouble is, I think that climb took more out of me than I wanted to ... I was too close to the land of anerobia than I should have been.

We got to the false summit. It was still chilly for my taste (low 40s), but I was perspiring, so I did the smart thing and kept going ... no sense in chilling down and *then* heading down into the colder valley.

We were still keeping a pretty good pace and got to Tom's Place in pretty short order. I decided to jacket up there again. The rest of the group kept going and I caught up to them at the first food stop. From that rest stop, we would do a lot of up and downing. Up to 8000 feet. Back down to 7000 feet. Back up to 8000. Back down to 7000. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

The first up and down was a climb up Highway 203 to Mammoth Lakes and down the Scenic Loop back to US 395. OMG, I have never liked this climb. It's only maybe 1000 feet, but it goes into the wind, has a significant amount of traffic (although, a wide shoulder) and seems to take forever. I just wasn't feeling it, and decided to soft pedal for my buddy Steve who was behind me. Good decision, as Steve is a GREAT riding partner. I felt like crap. Typically, being tired means that either your legs are fatigued or you are out of breath. Today, being tired meant I was both. I kinda hung on to lunch, knowing the second half of the ride was REALLY gonna kick my arse.

We finally turned at the Village, and headed down the Scenic Loop back to US395. Steve descended so much faster than I ... even pedaling I could not keep up. Those aero wheels must really help! And the whole time, I was flippin cold. Not freezing cold, but not all that comfortable. Temps were in the 40s much of the time.

Finally, we headed up the Deadman Grade (another 1000 foot climb) and hit the June Lake Loop. This is a totally beautiful 17 mile section, mostly downhill, that has you riding though the aspens by lakes and waterfalls. There is a view from Oh! Ridge which is particularly nice.

The warmer weather and beautiful scenery started to perk me up, and I felt better rolling down to lunch. They had watermelon, chips, sandwiches ... everything I needed to feel better. Lunch completely perked me up and I rode fairly strong from that point forward.

So far, we were fairly lucky with the T-storms, but our luck was about to change. When we rode through the June Lake Loop before lunch, the weather was good ... kinda warm almost. But we could see it was now in the midst of a thunderstorm. I was hoping we would get to the 120/395 intersection and head East before the thunderstorm got there, so I picked up the pace.

Of course, we didn't make it. It started drizzling on us about a mile short of the intersection, and after we made the turn, the rain turned to hail, smacking us on our right cheeks by the 20 MPH wind. We took the opportunity to jacket up. lol

The good news is that there was clear sky in front of us. And after we got around the Inyo Craters on the other side, the rain had stopped. So we got to climb the Sagehen grade (yes, back up to 8000 feet) with pretty good weather. It was actually beautiful.

From there, it is up and down, but mostly down into Adobe Valley. we had a bit of a tailwind too, which made it quite entertaining. There is a steeper section just before Adobe Valley that runs through a canyon with winds at your back ... and no cross winds. The result is a place were a lot of people zip through at their personal best fastest speed. I've gone 57.5 MPH through there, but only hit 46 this time.

Adobe Valley has incredible whoop-de doos ... 5 to be precise. And the wind is often a headwind. But this time there wasn't much wind and we made it through the woop-de-doos in short order.

The next grade (back up to 8000 feet) is the climb to Wildrose Summit. This climb has never been a favorite of mine. But I was actually feeling pretty good and just paced myself going up. The top of the climb nears 13%, but only for a tenth of a mile or so.

From there, a lot more up and downing to Watterson Divide, also at 8000 feet. Down that descent 1000 feet to the beautiful Long Valley. This section is typically headwindy, and it didn't disappoint this time. Ron, Steve, Eric and I pacelined through here and made pretty good time. The road turns west at Benton Crossing. And the view from here is always amazing.

We rolled to the next stop at the Whitmore ball field. I had some chips, some Mountain Dew and contemplated the rest of the ride. We were at about 160 miles and had the long descent back down to Bishop in front of us. It should have been easy. But a look to the south showed it was pouring down there, and the volunteers at the rest stop confirmed it ... the ride to Bishop would be wet.

We didn't get very far before Eric got a flat. I stood and watched the rain sweeping in our direction, getting darker and darker.

It started raining near Lake Crowley and the further we went, the heavier the rain got. I was looking forward to getting to the bottom of the grade, where I expected it to be warmer. We got to the top of the 3000 foot descent and started down.

I won't forget this descent for a looong time. With the end of the day and all the rain, it was quite dark outside ... dark enough to make wearing sunglasses a bad idea. But it was also raining hard enough so without some eye protection, the raindrops would just get in my eyes. Damn, I didn't think I needed clear glasses.

Yet another problem ... my brakes were wet. Grabbing the brakes from the hoods did little to slow me down at all, and if I got on the drops where I had more braking power, the reduced wind resistance increased my speed.

How fast was I going? Hard to say, but the occasional glimpses of my speedometer showed my speed was in the low 30s. The shoulder of the descent is pretty wide, but often has a lot of debris. And for sure with all the rain, it had puddles with an inch of water. I decided it was best to take the slow lane where there was a better surface and no debris. I checked my mirror frequently for cars approaching from behind, and thankfully, they were few and respectful.

I had spent the week in Mammoth before the ride and saw deer at dawn and twilight every day. It was spring and they were migrating. If one had shown up in front of me, I dunno how I would have stopped to avoid it. The only reason I could see the road surface at all was because the skies over
Bishop itself still had some light.

So yea ... the descent wasn't fun. It was wet. It was terrifying, and it was long. No fun at all. It seemed forever getting to the bottom.

Once at the bottom, we all wanted to move quickly to Bishop. The descent chilled us, and we wanted to pedal hard to warm up. We averaged well over 20 MPH back to Bishop, 8 miles distant.

One of the nice things about the ESD is that a end of the ride BBQ at the Holy Smokes BBQ is included, so we immediately headed over there to warm up, get a bite to eat and trade stories.
Proud parent of a happy inner child ...

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Old 06-09-19, 06:02 AM
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Great report and pics. One you'll remember, for sure.
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Old 06-09-19, 07:40 AM
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Congratulations on the ride. Tough weather made it a memorable one. Beautiful photos and informative report.
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Old 06-09-19, 05:59 PM
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Incredible ride! It’s great that you were able to regain energy and riding form. I’m betting the cooler temperatures played a role in not feeling 100% as well.

Now that I have 1320 gram carbon wheels on my disc brake bike it rides like a dream. It’s also the best descending bike I’ve ridden. As much descending as you do when it comes time to look at other bikes you might want to take a look at disc brakes. I’ve descended on wet roads with caliper brakes and it can be terrifying. Sometimes you just can’t control the riding conditions and while disc brakes aren’t perfect they certainly help.
Ride your Ride!!
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Old 06-09-19, 07:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Biker395
Galen Rowell's old stomping grounds
A copy of Mountain Light sits on my coffee table.

May God have mercy on his soul, and ours.

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