Day 65: Lee Vining, CA to Yosemite, CA
Total Mileage: 77 miles
Today’s ride was in dedication to Alice Jiang, my 4K mentor. She’s helped me out tremendously the past couple of months and I’m glad to have a mentor that’s so passionate about the 4K and the fight against cancer. You’re the best!
I’ve been waiting for this ride all summer. When the leg leaders and ride directors were planning our route a couple months ago, they asked us if there were any cities or national parks we wanted to bike through. A couple team members and I suggested Yosemite and they made it happen! It’s the first time team San Fran is biking through this national park, so we were super excited about this part of our route. Just visiting Yosemite was on my bucket list of things to do, and now that I got the chance to bike through the national park, I can officially say it’s my favorite one. I’m hoping to hike Half Dome next week, so cross my fingers and pray that I get a permit for the hike!
Today’s team name: Team Fresh Prince of Bel Air with Kat, Zac, Nick, and Coral. This time, Sara came up with the television series theme, where I drew Carlton out of the hat. The first 13 miles were tough out of Lee Vining and into Yosemite. The locals told us it would be a climb, and it definitely was a tough one. Not entirely sure what the grades were, but it felt like it was around 6-10% at some points. As difficult as it was, twelve miles of climbing never felt so great. We had so much to see biking up 120 and through Inyo National Forest: huge mountains surrounded us on both sides, water falling from the top of high cliffs, lakes so clear you could see the bottom, and evergreens all around. Climbing to almost 10,000 feet from around 7,000 feet in elevation within 12 miles was tough, but so worth it.
To save money, we had to shuttle all the riders into the park so we didn’t have to pay individual fees per biker. The hardest part of the day was over, and it’s great to have it done right at the beginning. After the big climb, a majority of the ride was rolling hills. We still had a couple difficult climbs, but they were all followed by rewarding downhills. One of the most exciting parts of my day was seeing Half Dome in person and passing through Tioga Lake. The ride through Yosemite was the most scenic ride to date. We enjoyed every single minute of our ride, stopping at almost every overlook to take pictures and soak in the scenery.
After lunch, it was literally all downhill into Yosemite Valley. We had 25 miles to go to the host from the lunch spot, so we weren’t sure whether or not we needed a water break. If there were a few strenuous climbs in between, we would definitely need one, but fortunately that wasn’t the case. Coming from the top of a mountain and going into the Valley, we knew it was going to be all downhill… and it was. Zac, Nick, and Coral went ahead of Kat and me. Every once in a while, we would meet up with other groups at great Kodak moment spots, but Kat and I stuck together till the host. We traveled through tunnels together, cruised through a ton of switchbacks, jumped off the Swinging Bridge, peered up at El Capitan, and visited the visitor center. I couldn’t have asked for a better riding partner on our way down to our host.
Oh, and a little explanation about my “beard.” Last week when I was changing my tire, I had a ton of grease on my hand. Not knowing what to do with it, I decided to smear some on my face as a mustache. From then on out, it became a daily thing. We eventually found black body paint in the water van, which I substituted that for the bike grease. Today, Amy decided to give me a full out beard. Not sure what the people in Yosemite were thinking, especially since I was wearing the polka dot jersey the 4K office sent to me as an incentive for raising over $7500. 4K, OK!