Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Tour-de-Licious -- Sacramento to Kings Canyon Bicycle Tour - Part 1

First, let me tell you how this tour came about.  Wendy Sigerson, a professional caterer, approached me several months ago about catering a bicycle tour and wondered if I could organize one.  She enjoys camping with her husband, Saxon, and one of her passions is outdoor camp cooking.

She wanted to test the waters of catering a bicycle tour and eager to give a test run with a group who participates in self-supported tours.

Well heck! . . . breakfast, lunch and dinner on the road prepared by a professional caterer.  That's a no brainer.  Our typical routine on self-supported tours consists of ramen and dehy packaged meals that gets old fast.

Since we will have a caterer bird-dogging our trail and preparing meals, I devised a 10-day tour devoid of services.  I resurrected a tour with a few modifications that I did about 9 years ago with Herb Lee and Dick Fraschetti.
Starting in Sacramento, I plotted a route on obscure back-country roads (see blue route on above map) through the Central Valley foothills to Kings Canyon National Park.

The final destination was Hanford where members could take the San Joaquin Amtrak Train back to Sacramento (this leg not shown on map).

The total riding distance was 418 miles which crossed seven major watersheds - Consumes, Mokelumne, Stanislaus, Tuolumne, Merced, Fresno and Kings Rivers and untold number of smaller creeks and river forks.

The climbing over undulating terrain totaled 24,463 feet.  Our average daily mileage was around 52 miles with the shortest day, 23 miles and longest, 76 miles.

To be honest, this was a challenging route and not for the weak or faint-of-heart.  There were many steep tough climbs.  We experienced extremes of temperatures with the Valley in the high 80's to low 90's and night-time temps in Kings Canyon at elevation 6500', in the low 30's.

Were it not for Wendy's superb cooking fueling our bodies and the benefit of Bob Anderson's sag truck hauling cold drinks and food, the tour would have been a near impossibility.

Due to the unique nature of this catered tour, we dubbed this The Tour-de-Licious.

Note: For enlarged view of photo, click on first photo and scroll through the album at bottom of page.

There are two blog entries - Part 1 and 2.  Click on "older posts" at bottom of this page to continue to Part 2 of Tour.
Let the tour begin!

1st day - Sac to Lake Pardee, 52 miles & 2,030'
L-R Geno, Saxon Sigerson, Jay Okada, Keith Wynns, Doug Bittner, Bob Anderson, David and Kristina Vandershaf, Harvey Cohen, Frank Gerace, Mike Broderick, Peter Saucerman, Dennis Engblom, Jim Regan

Stopping off at Slough House for picnic lunch
Enjoying Wendy's sack lunch on Slough House lawn
A whopper of a flat - so much for the bullet-proof reputation of Schwalbe Marathons
Doug only 20 miles into the tour before getting hit by an IED
Peter rolling over the Irish Hills
Approaching Preston Castle in Ione
Arriving at Lake Pardee, end of 52 mile day with 2,030' of climbing
Hoohee!! . . . a welcome sight!

Wendy lays out outstanding snack table for hot and tired cyclists
Setting up camp at beautiful Lake Pardee

CA buckeyes were in full bloom
A basic item like camp chairs enhances the pleasure of a bike tour
Jim is one whipped puppy . . . takes a pre-dinner snooze
Wendy rings the dinner bell
Saxon on Milton Road

2nd day - Pardee Lake to Lake Turlock, 65 miles and 2,650'

Stopping off in Knights Ferry to check out the historic covered bridge

Following pics scenes along Whilms Road - south of Knights Ferry

Camping along Tuolumne River
Pasta and green salad for dinner
Saxon serving up dessert
Man vs. yogurt
3rd day - Lake Turlock to Lake McSwain, 23 miles and 740'
Cruising on Grange Road
Merced Falls Road near Snelling
Arriving at Lake McSwain
A nice shady campground

Temps in the 90's - time for a swim
Circling the wagons in the shade

Wendy cranking up the stove/oven combo.
Meat loaf in the oven

Lake McSwain at sunset
Avid fishermen line the Merced River Bridge in the early morning
4th day - Lake McSwain to Hensley Lake, 64 miles and 4,544'
Scenes along Hornitos Road
Leaving early to beat the heat

No shade on Hornitos Road

Stopping in Hornitos to check out the historic chapel
Very cool cemetery behind the chapel

A serendipitous encounter in the middle of nowhere - meeting Jesse and Tim from Wisconsin who were riding to Yosemite
Climbing infamous Old Highway near Mariposa full of patchwork repair

Taking a welcome break at the top of Old Highway - break out the chairs and cold drinks!

Click on "older posts" below to continue tour to Part 2