(September 10 – written by Dave)
We only rode 26 miles today but it was harder than either of us expected it would be. We had to climb over 3,000 feet in that short distance, making it as much climbing as the other day when we climbed over Tioga Pass. Temperatures were in the high 90s all day, making the four separate longish climbs we had to do even more challenging.
Traffic was not too bad and for the most part highway 49 has a good shoulder. The hillsides have definitely changed from redwoods and pines we saw up in Yosemite to the typical western Sierra foothills of oak trees and manzanita bushes. Where there are no trees, there is grass. And this time of year that means brown grass, even with all the water from last winter. Our ride took us across several ridges, with the uphills giving us plenty of time to check out the new scenery, when sweat wasn’t dripping in our eyes.
We pulled up after only about 10 miles, sort of out in the middle of nowhere when we saw a hand-made sign advertising Mariposa Coffee. We were greeted at the driveway by two dogs, one big and very vocal, the other big enough and chiming in with his own barks. The owner came running out and said that they don’t bike. We kept our bikes between us and the dogs until they finally settled down. Naturally, by the time we left, the dogs were our best friends.
As for the coffee shop, what a find it turned out to be. The owner, Gerry Caputo, has been out here for 28 years roasting his own coffee. He started out doing it just for the establishments up in Yosemite but now he ships coffee worldwide. He was just getting ready to roast a batch when we arrived so he took a break and made us a fresh pot. He says that not many folks actually stop by the place and certainly no bikes ever stop there. The inside of his shop had that magical fresh roasted coffee smell – slightly sweet with a hint of chocolate. He made a Kona blend which was great. Then he got back to his roasting, quickly flash roasting about 8 kg, then turning the crackling beans in a special rotating basket.
He claimed that his method of roasting is rarely used but produces the best coffee and without the production of any carcinogens, which other methods create. The theory is that he can drive out more moisture than other methods with his technique as well. Who are we to argue, you gotta think he’s worked a few things out doing it that long. And it was quite dramatic watching Gerry spin the special basket out in front of his shop. We were due to buy more coffee in Oakhurst today so it worked out great that instead we could take a pound of his fresh roast. He had some very firm opinions about roasting and making coffee, as all coffee experts seem to (hmm, Chris?!). You can check out the company at Marraposa.coffeecompany.com
When we finally tore ourselves away from Gerry’s place, the heat had really come up and we had to see about getting over those hills. It was hard but we made it with only one more stop. We had cold drinks about 5 miles from Oakridge at a small mini-mart. The place was kind of dodgy – you can tell these things when only one car in the carpark has matching side panels. And we were not happy to see the one matching car leave. We were the only clientele in lycra and certainly “under inked” for the setting. We did not linger.
The last 5 miles were rough, more climbing, no shoulder and lots more traffic. We passed the HQ for one of the big fires still burning in the area, which generated plenty of additional traffic. We survived.
Our last stop of the day was the big strip mall right in town. We had the choice of three major grocery stores so instead we hit the all you can eat buffet at Round Table Pizza – I know – normally yuck. But hey, we were hungry and it is fun watching the workers wonder where to skinny cyclists are putting all the food as we make too many trips to the salad and pizza bar (all you can eat pizza, salad and drinks for $7.99!). We parked out bikes out front and the “Alaska to Argentina” flags drew a lot of attention. Several folks talked to us about the trip and were amazed. As noted, I don’t think skinny bicycle riders are the normal Round Table clientele.
We made it to the High Sierra RV park just about as the temperature peaked. We snagged the last shady spot, right on the Fresno River banks. It sounds a little idyllic but it was still really hot, even in the shade. I earned good husband points by doing laundry and walking up the closest servo for 44 oz cold drinks. Dinner was scrambled eggs with fresh made salsa. For the distance we rode today, you’d think we probably ate too much. I’m not so sure, those were some tough hills.
Tomorrow we are heading to TrImmer Campground on Pine Flat Lake. There is supposed to be something like 4,500 feet of climbing so we’ll see if really make it that far. Temps are supposed be up there again so we could call it a day at Auberry. Time will tell…