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Mark Mayo

Tioga Pass from Long Beach, CA 9/2/10

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Mark Mayo

One of the joys of owning a motorcycle is taking solo trips to a beautiful place like Tioga Pass in the Eastern Sierras. With the 2004 BMW R1150RT packed with gear I hit the road at 5:00 AM from Long Beach, CA. Traffic is not my favorite, so leaving in the pre-dawn took me though the West side of LA, the San Fernando Valley and to highway 14 without a hitch. Everyone wanted to move so I moved along at a good clip. Since the Mammoth/Virginia Lakes area and Tioga pass can be chilly I wore a Gerbings heated jacket liner instead of the stock liner and this was needed once I hit highway 14 through the canyons; nice to make the right choice for comfort. The trip was about 90 miles to Mojave and allowed me to fill up with gas, have some water, change my clear visor to a tinted visor and removal or some liners etc. As I reached Mojave the sun was just starting to peak through.


The winds farms were turning, but not enough to shake the bike. The trip home was not so gentle as far as wind was concerned.


I camp at Jawbone Canyon with my friends sometimes and I target shoot as my friends ride dirt bikes. This sign was worth a U turn to share it. I hear the place is famous for music and fun times.



The open road at dawn just seems more beautiful and the lack of cars and highway patrol friends is a plus too.


The trip goes through Red Rock Canyon making geology come to life in a colorful way.




In am not a desert “fan” when I compare it to the views of the mountains or along Pacific Coast Highway, but this was great.


After a stop at Lone Pine for gas, I usually stop in Bishop even though it is only another 60 miles because of this bakery. I was going to pass it one time and traffic stopped right near it; the cinnamon smell enticed me to stop. Now, I stop each time - I suggest you do the same.



Even a gas station in the Bishop area has a nice view.


The Owens Valley has great sights with blue clear skies, crystal clear water and snow capped mountains in the same view.


Highway 395 is so close to the mountains that you need to resist the temptation to look too much and crash the bike (I tried not to look honest). The snow has lasted through September this year in some areas.



Climbing near Mammoth, the scene changes from desert to evergreen trees. The bike likes to climb – a lot. I have never liked climbing in a car or truck as much as on my RT.




Finally, I arrived at Highway 120 to Tioga Pass and Yosemite. It had taken almost 300 miles to get here and I was not tired, but rather refreshed and happy to see this sign.


Now the climb starts toward the gate of Yosemite and the bike likes to climb in 4th or 5th gear.


Cars seem to sense that I would like to keep going so they usually moved over to let me through. I did not tailgate to get this assistance – it was just a courtesy. This seemed to happen all day.

Lakes are part of every ride in the Eastern sierras; they are everywhere!



I guess I needed to show you my ride. I bought it used with 18,000 miles in April of 2009. I had not driven a motorcycle since 1973 when I sold my Honda 750 Four. There are 12,000 more miles now and it runs even better than when I bought it.


The great views were around each corner.



The bike liked the altitude and ran effortlessly at almost 10,000 feet due to fuel injection and good engineering.



I did not enter that park since it was Labor Day weekend and instead made a U turn and went back down toward Mono Lake. Any view of mono Lake is spectacular.


Before heading toward Virginia Lakes for some work on a friend’s cabin, I stopped for lunch at the Whoa Nellie Deli. They have amazing food and even live entertainment on Thursday and Sunday evenings. You can gas up, eat and listen to good music. There are colorful people there and many from distant lands with tales to tell.



It did not get any less wonderful as I continued north toward Virginia Lakes.



The ride home started around 5 AM in Virginia Lakes. There are no pictures because I was tired after two LONG DAYS of work helping friends build their cabin. It was very dark except where to moon came through so I used a LED headlight to pack the bike and connect my suit to the bike. Last time I was here, bears ransacked the cabin right where I park the bike so that was on my mind as I worked. The trip down to 395 is a bit tough since I was sleepy (a bit) and had not had my morning coffee (necessary). I rode more slowly than usual and watched for deer and bears. I did not have any owl attacks this time and made it to 395 safely. Soon after hitting the highway it got cold. I kept adjusting the suit with each hill. I stopped and put on some glove liners to help my heated grips. That seemed to help and climate faded from my thoughts and I again just enjoyed the ride. When I passed Bishop the temps climbed and stayed hot until I hit the SF valley. The Bead Rider seat cover helped a lot to cool my not so iron butt.


I can’t wait to do this trip again. My friends own condos in Mammoth and cabins in Virginia Lakes so it will happen.



Edited by Mark Mayo

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Nice ride tale. Thanks for the pictures. I like the 395, very festive.

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Woah Nellie is pretty good and interesting, for a gas station.

thanks for the pics.

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Nice Mark. Really nice. Gotta get there.


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Good job Mark, thanks for the pics. If you haven't been on 120 east of 395, check it out next time. The dips will put a huge smile on your face!

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Mark Mayo

I will try 120 and a road to Benton that goes back to Bishop. So many roads to ride and so many fish to catch...

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Good job Mark, thanks for the pics. If you haven't been on 120 east of 395, check it out next time. The dips will put a huge smile on your face!


That and some of the very best go fast twisties, with zero traffic, you will ever find!!!!! :grin: I will be on them again in another couple of weeks. HWY 120/Hwy 6 is by far the best way to cross Nevada. :clap:



BTW, nice pics :thumbsup:


Edited by rad

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Hey Mark, I made the same trip on Aug. 17 - left 4:30AM from Long Beach to Mammoth, then Tioga Pass to Mariposa via Yosemite valley. Your first few pics look like my pics. Pretty bloody nice!


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Wow, this is what I miss so much about motorcycling in California.


The greatest ride I ever enjoyed was a ride from Marina del Rey in Los Angeles, to the 49r Ralley in Sonora, CA in May 2005. Since Sonora was close to Yosemite, I took the opportunity to tour that park. Wow! And then I rode the Sonora Pass, which took me up to almost 10K' above sea level, to 395 and then on to Lake Tahoe. Like yours (your RT is *beautiful*!!!), mine ran like a champ through all those conditions. I will never forget that ride; it was incredibly beautiful. So all your comments about the beauty of the mountains, the trees, the lakes, are right on the money.


My Trip to Yosemite


I also miss the nice, local eateries you discover on such rides. Places like the Woah Nelly Deli are peppered all over the Sierra Nevada Mountain ranges. Nice nice places where you just want to relax, meet other people and especially other riders, and just enjoy life.


This Ride Tale makes me long to be in California again. Nice report :thumbsup: ... :cry:

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Beautiful landscapes! Thanks for sharing!


One day I'll get a chance to ride out west. :)

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I went up there Saturday. And into the park from the east on Sunday.

I stopped at the gourmet gas station, but didn't try the food.

They have a nice view of the lake from that station.



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