I spent an exhilarating day last Saturday taking on the challenge of the Ebbetts Pass Century! What an incredibly well organized and extremely fun ride this was from start to finish in Bear Valley. Originally planned for August 24, the Ebbetts Pass Century was rescheduled due to the RIM Fires that not only wreaked havoc throughout Stanislaus National Forest scorching everything in its path, but also raining down ash on Yosemite National Park and Alpine County, home to Ebbetts Pass.
Arriving in Bear Valley Friday afternoon the sun was out, the sky was blue, and the air comfortably breezy. As night fell, however, so did the temperature. I was told to expect a morning high of 34 degrees - YIKES!
Sure enough at 6:30 Saturday morning as I pedaled over to the start, it was down right COLD. My body was amply warm but my fingers, exposed to the cold in fingerless gloves, wasted no time in FREEZING to the point I could barely shift gears! As I made my way down Highway 4 to the first stop at Ganns Meadow, the empty road and the stillness of dawn gave me pause to reflect how lucky I was to be undertaking this unique adventure on this most shivery yet beautiful morning.
Saying a quick hello and goodbye to Jody who was manning the first aid station at Ganns Meadow, I turned around and headed for Spicer Reservoir. This 25 mile segment is an absolutely delightful highlight of the course. The route twists and turns passing through forested areas with campers and pitched tents, dams for water enthusiasts, cavernous sections aesthetically formed from rock, and stunning views in any direction.
Continuing on to Lake Alpine and Mosquito Lake, the temperature rose, my fingers thawed, I was comfortably content! Riding along Lake Alpine is indeed a special treat. The water sparkles as if crystals dance upon it. Mosquito Lake is less dramatic yet enchanting in its own right.
The views at the top of Pacific Grade are astonishing, the descent down to Hermit Valley rapid and exhilarating! The difficult climb up Ebbetts Pass is marvelous and astounding. To reach the top is nothing short of a glorious feat! The screaming descent to Wolf Creek Camp is intoxicating, the scenery far beyond one's dreams. As I was climbing back up Ebbetts, fatigue settled over me slowing my pace between miles 70-78. But by the time I reached the top of Ebbetts and went full throttle on the descent to Hermit Valley, my energy was restored. I was ready to take on the dreaded 24% Pacific Grade.
Having never climbed Pacific Grade before Saturday, I worried about it because several cyclists had told me how awful it was. Truth be told, Pacific Grade was the easiest section of everything I had ridden throughout the day taking a total of 20 minutes from Hermit Valley up Pacific Grade to Mosquito Lake without suffering! Honestly after climbing up Ebbetts front and back (most definitely not for the faint of heart), Pacific Grade was a cake walk!
The cheerful terrain back to Bear Valley rocked and literally rolled! I completed the ride in 8 hours and 20 minutes (rest stops included). Kudos to Aaron and Kimi from Mountain Adventure Seminars for putting together this wonderfully well designed ride. It was so much fun, I had a ball! I'm looking forward to riding it again next year! I encourage everyone from TS/BIW who is looking for a well organized beautiful challenging course to mark down the date and join me in 2014 for this delightful adventure!
Credit and thanks to Bobby Boggs for turning me on to this ride, Hans Florine from Touchstone Diablo Rock Gym for generously sponsoring my registration, Wendy Georges for founding and managing an incredibly unique spin program at Touchstone/BIW that keeps me motivated and fit, Marty Kaplan for teaching me the proper technique of descending, and Lyn and Markham for kindly gifting me my Touchstone Climbing Cycling kit. I never leave home without it!