A Visit to the High Country of the Eastern Sierra
Tour of the E. Sierra - Base Camp Tour - June 1-12, 2017 - 30 to 70 Miles/Day - $ 100
How about an early summer camping and bicycle tour on the scenic roads of the Eastern Sierra? This is a base camp tour, where we locate in various towns of the E. Sierra, riding for 2 or 3 days in a specific location before loading up our cars and moving on to the next location. Everyone makes their own campsite reservations and provides their own camping and food supplies. We will supply the planning, maps and social hour snacks. Sag support is not generally supplied, however particularly hard days may find someone volunteering to provide vehicle support. Everyone supplies their own transportation between riding locations. Lodging is also possible in most locations. The base locations are Bishop, Crowley Lake, Lee Vining, and Markleeville. If you think you might be interested in participating in this base camp type tour, go to our contact page and add your name to the information list for that trip. Sign Up for the trip begins on Jan. 3, 2017. You can participate in part or all of the trip.
June 1 (Thurs.) - Meet in Bishop.
We’ll meet at Browns Town Campground, located at the south end of Bishop, adjacent to the Bishop Golf Course off of US Hwy. 395. We will meet at 5:00 pm to discuss the organization of the trip, proposed riding routes, transportation between riding locations, etc. We will hand out maps, have you sign waivers, and settle down to a social hour before preparing dinner or going out on the town for dinner. You will have to make your own reservations for here and the other base camp locations of Crowley Lake, Lee Vining, and Markleeville. Go to the Detail section on the following pages to see campground contact information and reservation details. (Possible dinner in town - many choices.) Stay at Brown's Town Campground-Bishop
June 2 (Fri.) - Warm Springs/Round Valley Loops 55mi - 2,151' El. Gain
This low elevation ride consists of approximately 25 miles riding around the Bishop area south of town towards Warm Springs with a return to Bishop, followed by a 30 mile northern loop towards Round Valley. As part of our ride on this second loop, we will divert through Pleasant Valley Reservoir on a road that does not show up on most maps. In other words, a secret road. These two loops comprise the major training ride for riders in the local area from Fall until late Spring. This will likely be the warmest day of the tour due to the lower elev. (Possible dinner in town. Many choices.) Stay at Brown's Town Campground-Bishop
June 3 (Sat.) - Pine Creek & McGee Creek Trailheads (Travel Day)
22mi. - 2,951' El. Gain & 9mi. - 1,470' El. Gain
After a leisurely breakfast at our camp in Bishop, we will pack up all our gear and bikes and drive to the north end of Round Valley to a location known affectionately by the local riders as the B.O.G. Few outsiders consider Pine Creek a worthy ride in comparison to the other massive climbs in the Owens Valley, but fear not, this is a beautiful climb with little or no traffic up a spectacular canyon culminating at three trail heads at the end of the pavement. The downhill to the B.O.G is fast and sweet. From the B.O.G. we take a side road up to the higher elevations of the Long Valley Caldera for a lunch stop at either Tom's Place or the Eastside Bakery. After lunch, we will set up camp. For those who still have energy in their legs ..... take a stab at climbing McGee Creek Rd to the end of the pavement. This will likely be the steepest climb for the entire tour. Short but agonizing. (Possible dinner and entertainment at McGee Creek Lodge) Stay at McGee Creek RV Park & C.G.-Crowley Lake
June 4 (Sun.) - Rock Creek Ride - 43 Miles - 4,431' El.Gain
Your timing could not be better as this terrific climb up to Mosquito Flats at 10,300' is now possible on a newly paved road. Please note that this is even higher than Tioga Pass, which most people think is the highest paved road in California. The old road was so horrible that few of us had the will to ride it, in spite of the terrific pie found at Rock Creek Resort about 2/3 of the way up the climb. After a fast descent, take the little spur road out to Crowley Lake Dam before stopping off at Tom's Place for lunch. (Possible dinner at McGee Creek Lodge.) Stay at McGee Creek RV Park & C.G.-Crowley Lake
June 5 (Mon.) - Wild Rose Summit Ride - 55 Miles - 2,852' Gain
This will probably be your best day for panoramic vistas as we head north, then east, then south, then north again around Crowley Lake. This fantastic fishing lake is nestled in the giant Long Valley Caldera created by volcanic activity a mere 50,000 years ago. Our destination is via a wide open road to first Watterson Divide at 7,670' , followed by your turn around at Wild Rose Summit 7,650'. Only opportunity for food is Brown's Crowley Campground just a few miles after the start of the ride and before the finish on your way back. (Possible dinner at Tom's Place.) Stay at McGee Creek RV Park & C.G.-Crowley Lake
June 6 (Tues.) - Mammoth Scenic Loop & Convict Lk - 49 Mi. - 3,543' El Gain
We start our day off by riding about an hour on US 395 north on a beautiful shoulder that will keep us away from the tourist traffic. We make a turn left onto the Mammoth Scenic Loop Rd which was not designed to be scenic, but rather as an alternate escape route for the residents of Mammoth Lakes in case of volcanic activity that might cut off escape on the main road out of town. After a few miles into the loop, you will turn right and climb past Mammoth Mountain Ski Area to to the lookout at Minaret Summit, a must see location for a great view of the rugged Minaret Spires. Down we go for lunch in the town of Mammoth Lakes. On our way back to camp, we'll take a spur road to Convict Lake, named for a shootout between the Law and some escaped convicts. (Possible dinner at Tom's Place.) Stay at McGee Creek RV Park & C.G.-Crowley Lake
June 7 (Wed.) - Sagehen Summit - 44 Mi. - 2,445' El.Gain (Travel Day)
After a leisurely breakfast in camp, we'll pack up our gear and bicycles and head for Lee Vining. We can't check into camp until 2 in the afternoon, so we'll park at the city park and take off for a ride around the south end of Mono Lake heading towards Benton Hot Springs. We won't make it to the hot springs, but we will get fabulous views of Mono Lake on a beautiful road with little traffic. We can have a late lunch at the Mobil gas station. (Possible dinner at Barbecue Bill's.) Stay at Mono Vista RV Park & C.G. - Lee Vining
June 8 (Thurs.) - Tioga Pass and June Lake Loop - 58mi. - 4,698' El. Gain
Everyone and his cousin has heard of "Mighty Tioga". I guess the old original road, built to service the mines up near the pass, was really an adventure to drive, as it was narrow, winding, and exposed to frequent rock slides. These days, the road is smooth, wide, and evenly graded to the top. If you have never ridden this monster, you owe it to yourself to ride up to the entrance station at 9,943'. After your fast decent back to Lee Vining and a well deserved lunch, you will have plenty of time to ride the June Lakes Loop, what I consider one the most beautiful loop rides in the E. Sierra. (Possible dinner at the Whoa Nelly Deli.) Stay at Mono Vista RV Park & C.G.-Lee Vining
June 9 (Fri.) - Virginia Lakes & Lundy Lakes - 46 mi. - 4,975' El. Gain
This is your chance to visit some beautiful lakes not frequented by the normal tourist crowd that tends to rush into Yosemite, ignoring these charming lakes located just west of US 395, north of Lee Vining. The day starts with a quick descent down next to the west side of Mono Lake, cruising by the Mono Inn, The Shrimp Factory, and Mono Lake County Park ....all worth while visits. Then your long but moderately steep climb begins, first to the top of Conway Summit 8,143' and then a final ascent to the Virginia Lakes trail head at 9, 850'. If you are hungry, a small cafe and store are located at the lakes. Then a long and undemanding descent towards Mono Lake. Before heading for Lee Vining, feel free to take the short ride up Lundy Canyon, a birch and aspen lined road that few people get to see. (Possible dinner at Mono Inn, an eating and visual experience.) Stay at Mono Vista RV Park & C.G. - Lee Vining
June 10 (Sat.) - Twin Lakes - 28mi. (Travel Day) - 935' El. Gain (Travel Day)
After four nights spent in Lee Vining, we finally move on towards our last base camp, Grover Hot Springs near Markleeville. Again, after a good breakfast, we pack our gear and bikes, and drive to Bridgeport for the easiest cycling day of the trip. We will ride our bikes toward Twin Lakes located under the towering Matterhorn Peak (American Version). The ride to the lakes is through luscious meadow lands filled with thousands of cattle before transitioning into rugged wilderness country. After a quick gander at the resort at the end of the lakes, we'll head back to Bridgeport for lunch. From there we drive to Grover Hot Springs via Gardnerville for last minute supplies. Be sure to bring your bathing suits for the hot springs. (Possible dinner at The Cutthroat Saloon.) Stay at Grover Hot Springs State Park-Markleeville
June 11 (Sun.) - (Sat.) Monitor Pass & Ebbots Pass - 60mi - 6,773' El. Gain
If you ride both passes today, it will prove to be the hardest day of riding for the whole tour. And rightfully so, as this is the home of the famous "Markleeville Death Ride", a ride so brutal that only a mere 3,500 ambitious souls sign up for it in one short day. Our two passes are the best of the lot, and we don't even have to ride both of them. However, if you can muster up the courage to grind out both of these wonderful climbs, you will be presented beautiful alpine scenery every inch of the way. No food on the route, so be sure to have plenty of calories and water. (Possible dinner at The Cutthroat Saloon.) Stay at Grover Hot Springs State Park- Markleeville
June 12 (Mon.) - Kingsbury Grade & Genoa - 60mi. - 4,376' El. Gain
Our last day of riding finds us breaking camp, loading up, and heading to the Diamond Valley School in Woodfords. From there we ride into Nevada via the beautiful Diamond Valley Rd. That brings us to the baseline road along edge of the equally beautiful Carson Valley. These first few miles are very easy before coming to a decision point. The decision is whether to ride both the long Kingsbury Grade to Daggett Pass with it's superb views of the Carson Valley, and then ride onto the ancient town of Genoa ..... or to skip Kingsbury Grade. If you have an itch to get home today, you might want to skip Kingsbury Grade and just head for Genoa. Lunch in Genoa would be appropriate. Back to the cars and then "Head for home!"
Money: We are charging $100 for this trip. This provides you with our planning, maps, and some snack food & liquids for our daily social hour held in late afternoon each day.
Camping & Reservations: You must make your own reservations. Following are the campgrounds that we will be staying with. and suggested campsite numbers. If you can't get one of the suggested sites, no problem, you can find something close by. Campground fees will probably average about $30 per night per site. More than one person can stay in a site so it would be cheaper for everyone to come with one or more people to cut down the cost. You can probably get by without making reservations, but one never knows. We will be making a roster available shortly after we start taking sign ups so that you can contact each other. All these campgrounds are closed during the winter and open at various times during early Spring. Check each campground below to see the first date when you can make reservations.
Tent Sites: 95, 97, 99, 101, 103, 105, 107, 175, 177, 179, 181, 183, 185
RV Sites: 30 thru 49 and 186, 188
Reserve Date: April 1
Tent Sites: 37, 38, 39, 40, 46, 53, 17, 18
RV Sites: 19 thru 27
Reserve Date: April 20
Tent Site: T1 thru T10
RV Sites: 40 thru 43
Reserve Date: April 1
Tent/RV Sites: 034, 033, 036, 002, 004, 001, 005, 006, 007, 031, 030
Reserve Date: Jan. 1
Food: Because this is a base camp trip, all of you will be bringing most of your food with you to be stored in food containers of your own choice. Groceries in local stores is another option. In addition to your own food, you will have the choice in all of our base camp locations to simply eat at local restaurants, particularly for the evening meal. Most riders will eat breakfast in camp and use a mix of their own food and what is available on the road for lunches. We will supply chips for each afternoons social hour. If you need anything beyond that, feel free to bring your own snacks and refreshments.
Equipment: We are providing a three burner stove with a couple of pots that you can use for heating water. You must bring your own cook pot and utensils and we recommend that you bring your own stove. Beyond that, you are responsible for bringing everything you need: tent, sleeping bags, mattress, flashlight, cooking and eating equipment, reading material, plenty of clothing for various weather conditions, money, and hopefully, a bicycle. Your bicycle should be equipped with low gears, new tires, two water bottles, spare tubes, repair kit, and bike lock. In addition, I would recommend that you have a small bag, either for the handlebar or for a rear rack to carry whatever provisions you might need to ride independently for a day. Again ...... there is no sag wagon support for the various rides.
Weather: You should come equipped with appropriate clothing to ride and camp in various weather conditions. Our first two days in Bishop can result in weather where the temperatures can range from mild to hot, due to the relatively low elevation of Bishop and the Owens Valley at around 4,000'. There is generally little chance of rain in the Bishop area. Once we leave for the high country, all of that changes. We can have a temperature range from mild to cold .... even freezing on rare occasions. Precipitation on the east side high country is generally sporadic, but we have had occasions where we have had downpours and even some snow. Wind can be another factor for riding here on the east side ..... although not as critical as temperature and rain. Overall, the riding conditions over here are generally mild, but you simply must be prepared for anything.
Maps: We will provide you with a high quality paper road map that will suffice for all of your riding. This is wide open country, and as such, you will not be faced with the myriad of turns that many of you face riding in urban areas. With the exception of our first day of riding around Bishop, you will hardly need to glance at your map. However, for those of you with a phobia for GPS guidance devices, we are providing .GPX files for downloading to Garmin gadgets. You can obtain these files by going to the following RideWithGPS websites:
Sign Up Procedure: To officially sign up for this trip, just follow these steps:
Cancellations: You can cancel anytime up until May 1, 2017. After that, no refund. Please let us know, so we really have a good idea of who is coming.
Wayne Martin & Margy Marshall
1335 Rocking W Dr. #390 (Mailing Address)
306 Altair Circle - Starlite Estates (Physical Address)
Bishop, CA 93514