I almost never get out early when I travel on the bike. I tend to be a night owl but I was determined to get out early on the ride today. I got to bed at a somewhat reasonable hour, but 6:45 comes early. The bed at motel 6 was not that great, so getting on the road at 8:30 was not that bad.
Last night I could see that the color on the trees was good in the Hope Valley, but the early evening sun hid how good it really was. Both 88 and 89 had good color and the recent snow storm left a dusting of snow on the mountain tops.
The morning light with clouds made for great photos to the west with snow and fall color. Coming down 89 you have great views of the Hope Valley so I made a few stops and hit some of the side roads that quickly turned to dirt (and sand).
The DL soon became unwieldy in that sand so I had to make some U turns along the way. There were numerous photographers in the Hope Valley, so I’d stop and take some pictures when I found a cluster of shutterbugs on the side of the road.
I was disappointed that the camera battery was out of juice for the ride up, so I made my way back to Bear River Reservoir for some more pictures. Getting to ride 88 again was fun. I’m becoming more confident in my riding downhill, especially on that road since I know the turns so well. A few pictures later, I’m on my way east again. Since I usually hit this road going east in the evening, all of the spots I usually frequent are all in direct sunlight, not the backlit sunlight I’m used to. It was hard to take pics into the sun… I did manage to get a few though:
It was hard to believe that it was only 1pm after what seemed like a full day of riding. I’m guessing that is one of the perks of getting up early. Sorensen’s is a popular spot in the Hope Valley and I was hoping to get a spot there for lunch. The fall color on their grounds is second to none.
Unfortunately, the place was booked and had a 45 minute wait for lunch. Down the road was Lisa’s but it was apparent why they were not busy. The menu had some very slim pickin’s.
It seemed that it was the end of the season for them as most of the shelves looked pretty bare and the menu sparse. A bowl of chili did look good (and it was good), but in the end, I would have waited for Sorensen’s and taken pictures on the grounds.
As I started to climb the pass in earnest, the fall was just past peak, as you could see the trees were starting to get that bare look. The sun was warm and the road was nice and dry, so it was a great ride all along the highway.
Once up at the top of Monitor Pass, things changed very quickly. Looking back to the west, there was a massive squall line that was moving across the Sierras. As I was taking pictures from the saddle on the side of the road a gust of wind almost pushed the bike and I over!
Moving, the bike is much less top heavy so the wind was not super bad, but there was enough to keep you on your toes! I’ve ridden in plenty of wind, but most often in the valley where the roads are straight. This was a new experience to be tossed about in the twisties. The last time I’d ridden highway 4 was about 8 years ago. I was new to riding out in the Sierra and got soaked in the middle of summer. The road has a 22 mile one lane section which was a bit much for me then so I swore it off since then. I was up for a bit more adventure today then I was then so I figured it was time to give it another try. There were some nice sploches of fall color along the route:
So many parallels between then and now: technical ride. bad weather, and all the issues that go along with both. Once getting out of the goat trail section of 4 it was great riding into the valley. I was rolling though turns at a good clip and having a lot of fun doing so. Traffic started to back up in the western section of the foothills, but nothing a bit of aggressive passing can’t solve.
Touchdown at home was just before 8pm. It was a great day with many diverse experiences to be out on the bike. Hopefully we’ll have a few more weekends in the Sierra before they close for the winter.
Here is the final route map: