The Tour of Three Parks
The drive to Mammoth should qualify as part of our rides, we are a little beat up by the drive and the elevation.
We departed Granada Hills in the OTTOvan around 3:00 pm after Andres’ late arrival due to a haircut appointment that could not wait; hair produces drag.
The team is formed by Otto, Hans, Natasha, Julio, Shawn, and Andres. We left Shawn’s car in the beautiful city of Mojave and continued driving north towards Mammoth. Along the way, Hans shared some OTB history with us, he talked about the club’s founding members and sang Kumbaya while holding Otto’s hand.
We are spending the night at the Presidential condo, tomorrow at 8 am we’ll be starting our grueling century towards Yosemite valley, approximately 103 miles of fun with plenty of climbing along the way. It should be Epic.
Mammoth Lakes to Yosemite Valley
Start time 7:35 am
Distance 114 miles
Elevation gain 7180 feet aprox.
Birthday ride: Andres turns 35 today
Arrival time: 5:45 pm
We had an early start in Mammoth with a pancake breakfast prepared by Shawn, Hans, and gourmet coffee served by Natasha
The temperature was around the low 30s when we started , it got a little chilly during the downhill towards June lake where we did a nice scenic extra credit loop.
Ready to roll Deadman Summit
June Lake Loop
Otto missed his ride with Natasha up to Tioga pass and had to climb most of the 12 mile uphill with us (he found another ride at the end). This climb was a big one, the grade was not that steep, but the elevation hits you like a brick wall. We paced ourselves and made.
it up Tioga pass (Yosemite park’s entrance were Andres begged for water from cars entering the park. We were officially out of water and the next water stop was about 40 miles out, luckily we got some H2O. The ride in Yosemite park was spectacular, the scenery was amazing, the terrain was rolling hills with plenty of climbs. Julio spent some time in the woods with a handful of baby wipes. We ran out of water again around mile 80 and found a gas station at mile 98 that provided some badly needed water and food. We had another 16 miles to go, but it was all downhill. Overall, there was plenty of climbing with plenty of downhills to make it one of our best centuries ever. In Yosemite Valley, Natasha prepared camp for us at the Upper Pines campground. When we rolled in at 5:45 pm we cooked veggie burgers, beans, and fresh guacamole. Good stuff ! Nexium (Otto’s drug program) sponsored the dinner party and the festivities were a total success.
A warm shower at Curry Village and an OTB meeting to discuss route options and hand signals to alert of oncoming farts closed the night.
We expect some bears to visit our camp tonight, but they might turn to the Ottovan, he has a secret stash of power bars hidden somewhere.
Yosemite Valley to Pine Flats Lake
“and the road becomes my bride…”
Departure time 8:26 am
Distance 108 miles
Total ascent 7980 ft
Riding time 7 hours 8 min
Arrival time 6 pm
Andres’ Bear visit prediction from last night’s journal came true at 3:20 am this morning, when a bear and its cub visited our campsite and left with no incident, just a little startled by discovering Otto sleeping naked inside the Ottovan. No sight of Julio.
Breakfast consisted of eggs with “El Pato” sauce, apple cider, and muffins.
A little cold once again, low 40s and no sun due to the rocks all around us. Yosemite in the fall is definitively a sight to see, at least hundreds of tourists with digital camerasseem to think so.
This morning Otto decided to get a ride out of the valley to Oakhurst with Natasha (he skipped 48 miles). We climbed our way out of the valley with no major incidents, two hours to the park’s gate and then sweeeeet downhill, close to 11 miles, big smiles on our faces.
We picked up Otto, water, and food at Oakhurst with about 57 miles to go. The temperature in Oakhurst was around the 80s, a nice change from the last two days but we still have some more climbing to do. The last 57 miles were really nice, we took some beautiful back roads, oak tree groves, pastures, lakes, and minimal traffic.
Our destination, Pine Flats lake; we reached the Island Park campground around 6 pm. Natasha had picked a lakeside campsite, what a treat. After a bath in the lake, (we found out later the campground had hot showers) we started our dinner festivities sponsored by Nexium once again. Appetizers consisted of chips and fresh guacamole, followed by the main course with salmon, wild rice, and salad.
Tonight’s OTB meeting was around the campfire were we shared true stories, ate marshmallows, and elected Natasha as our MVP.
Another Epic day for this ride, we did not expect the beautiful scenery that we encountered, great lonely countryside roads. The downhills were fast, we raced at every chance. Cumulative climbing was surprisingly higher today than yesterday. On a last note, Otto might be getting tired, today, his jokes needed additional explanations and he is using his three additional gears on his bike as what he proudly describes as “drafting gear”
Pine Flats Lake to Kings Canyon
…And he said “up yours and your buddy too” then I shot his horse and my buddy
shot his cow”
Otto’s joke (we have not been able to figure out the punch line)
Start time 8:10 am
Distance covered 76 miles
Total ascent 10460 feet
Ride time 6 hours 45 minutes
Total time 8 hours 53 minutes
Arrival time 5:03 pm
As far as riding is concerned, a wake up call at 5:45 in the morning is not a nice thing to do to your riding buddies after 223 miles in the saddle, however, Hans doesn’t seem to think so.
The stars were shining bright and the cool air hugged our tired muscles. We had a pancake and pato egg breakfast, with coffee served by Natasha, our trusted MVP. We ate using purple utensils provided by Nexium, these guys really came through for this trip.
A hot shower at the campsite was a nice perk before the hard day ahead. We worked our way out of the lake and after some navigation glitches we found all the climbing that we needed to do.
Just as our previous two days, the countryside was beautiful around every corner; we have managed to stay in the back roads thanks to our navigation crew. After our breakfast climb we started our lunch climb, a 23 mile ascent to Kings Canyon National Park. We powered our way up the climb (keep in mind that Otto is in the van, again), non stop climbing with a support vehicle feed station along the way. At Kings Canyon we had an 11 mile downhill (Otto came on this one), it made all our climbing worth it. Kings Canyon was another amazing sight, we descended into an incredibly deep canyon surrounded by big cliffs and rock formations. At the bottom, we meandered along the river and climbed for another 15 miles to our destination (Otto’s fresh legs led most of this climb)
Sheep Trail camp. After setting up camp we baptized Julio in the ice cold river, what a blast. Dinner consisted of steaks, chicken, salad, avocados, corn, water and beer.
Today’s campsite meeting debated about the upcoming mileage and climbs.
Today, the climbs kept coming and the pain was all around us, but we are still having a great time. We don’t know how far our muscles are going to take us, but one thing is for sure, we have come very far from that chilly morning in Mammoth, any additional turn of the cranks is a victory already.
We’ll be on bear watch tonight…
Kings Canyon to Sequoia
“…we did not use our radios yesterday, why would we need them today? ”
Start time: 8:32 am
Distance: 45 miles
Ascent: 4120 feet
Ride time: 3 hours 20 minutes
Total time: 5 hours 28 minutes
Arrival time: 2:00 pm
This morning Hans and Andres surprised our riding partners and support team with a new morning call: “breakfast is ready”. Pato eggs , banana pancakes, and coffee were served at the table when the team rolled off their warm beds. Today is considered a recovery day,our plan is to ride 45 miles and then hike around the giant sequoias next to our camp in Sequoia National Park. We rolled downhill our first 10 miles of the ride where we met Natasha, who brought us out of Kings Canyon and into Sequoia National Forest. Our climbing started once again, our legs are tired and our pace is not the same, but we keep a nice pace line most of the time. Sequoia National Forest and Otto’s secret back roads were breathtaking, we were cold most of the time due to the elevation, but there were some warm spots along the way.
We climbed most our time today, we encountered some steady up hills and even some fast downhills; however our destination is at 7000 feet of elevation, which means more climbing to get there. Since we have a short day today, Otto is leading the way, into the coffee shops that is. We had some nice scenic spots along the way, and enjoyed rolling hills into our final destination, Lodgepole campground; in the heart of Sequoia National Park. After cooking a fast lunch with veggie burgers and chicken breasts, we left to do our hike to the Sequoia groves.
We visited the General Sherman and other interesting sequoias. We hiked around 3 to 4 miles in addition to our ride, it was a nice addition to the epic riding that we have been doing. After collecting some firewood off the highway we came back to camp, took a freezing bath in the river, baptized Shawn, and started grilling two Costco whole chickens, along with pasta , beans and gatorade.
We have been sharing true stories along the way and around the campfire. Each day we learn something new about each other, for example, Julio does not know how to cook but loves to clean up, Otto is a party animal and loves drafting and sleeping in, Shawn is a downhill maniac when it comes time to filming with one hand on the handlebars at 40 mph, and Hans, well you know Hans, he’s the President of OTB , he has a daughter named Natasha, and he looooves sleeping in too. We think he has a pancake eating disorder.
“Yavate, Yavate !!!”
Indian word , it means: THIS IS BULLSHIT !
Start time: 8:08 am
Ascent: 520 feet 🙂
Distance: 30.2 miles, Sissy ride
Ride time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Total time: 3 hours
Last chilly night in the sierras, it was probably the coldest night out here, judging by the ice forming inside and outside our tents, yavate ! Even the local bear was wearing a wind breaker.
We had another early am call by our drill sergeant Hans at 5:45 am , Yavate ! We prepared apple pancakes, coffee, and broke out camp for the last time. Today’s plan is to climb out of Sequoia and descend towards the San Joaquin Valley. Since we conquered the three parks already, we’ll wait for Natasha to catch up with us down the road and wrap up the Tour of Three parks.
The climb out of the park was cold but beautiful, the trees all around us are changing colors and every turn is a perfect fall postcard. We continue to see Sequoias along the road, another great day
on the bike.
Downhill day was a well deserved treat, after more than 29,000 feet of climbing and 372 miles, we needed a ride with the wind in our faces. Descending out of Sequoia was a blast, little traffic due to road construction and warming temperatures as we descended down the hill.
We found a bakery next to the road where we had freshly baked pastries, bread, coffee, and orange juice. We are in celebration mode now, and our legs are ready for a break, at least until the OTTObeerfest on Saturday.
After our morning tea, we rode another 5 miles when Natasha found us down the road (Otto leading the way for the first time, with his newly found “pulling gears”). Just like that, the Tour of three parks was over.
We are done with another epic ride, no hugs,tears, or kisses; bikes on the rack, and back to the city. The weather and the universe were with us on this trip, today ,we all got our wishes, I got to see my black and white cow, and all the others got their wishes too. After all, Otto was right all along: he said “wake a vish (make a wish), the universe will bring it to you” during a campfire chat. After this trip we are all believers, give it a try, it really works.
Wake a Vish !
Tour of Three Parks Stats:
The lowest point was 720′
Highest point was 9700′
Total miles= 373
Total Elevation gain 30,260′