I woke up at 6 am after a good night’s sleep, but was a bit weary of facing the long miles home. I knew we had to ride up and over mountain passes that would be cold again, but the sun was shining and that can make a huge difference.
Our plan was to ride up and over 395, catching 50 and heading back down the mountains towards home. This would be roughly 360 miles, not too bad, I knew I just had to tolerate the cold. So, we had our Mc Donald’s breakfast, and started up 395 into the Sierras.
Gaining in elevation, the temps started to drop quickly. We rode through the twisty road and took in the beauty of the snow-capped Sierras. All was well until about 25 miles up the road and we saw the dreaded Cal-Trans sign that read “chains required beyond this point”. Ugh. I saw snowflakes drifting in the air and I knew we would have to turn around. 25 miles back down to Bishop means we just added an extra 50 miles onto our day and lost an hour.
The other passes to get over the mountains were closed, so there was no choice but to have to go all the way back south to the desert to get around the mountain range. The winds were also picking up as the news predicted they would. I was disappointed but knew sometimes things don’t turn out as planned and you make the best of it.
We continued south on 395 and off in the distance, looking towards the Mojave desert, we could see a huge band of brown sand–dust storms. It looked something like this:
I had visions of the last dust storm I rode through I did not want to repeat it. Mike remembered a road that would allow us to bypass the Mojave by only adding 15 extra miles so we agreed that was the best way. It was hwy 178 to Lake Isabella. The elevation over that pass was much lower at 5 or 6,000 feet. Not only that, the winding road was beautiful with views of the lake, hot springs and rocky cliff sides.
It dropped us into Bakersfield where we could then find our way back to the dreaded I-5. It was only 51 degrees and the winds were strong so it was just a matter of hunkering down and covering the mileage to get home. We continued on, only stopping long enough to gas up.
We split off on our separate ways about an hour or so from our respective homes, waving as I pulled off for my last gas stop. My neck and shoulders were so sore from hundreds of miles in a head wind but I knew I was getting close to home and that kept me going.
When I rolled up my driveway, the ending miles for the day was 580. Yes, a long day indeed. My girlfriend greeted me with a beautiful salmon dinner and I was happy to be home. Overall, it was a fantastic trip and as always, I came away with some lessons learned.
Thank you for following along on my last trip of the year, and stay tuned for more in 2018!