Day 15: Tulare, CA to Ridgecrest, CA, 206 miles today/ 4,750 total
Today was either the best day yet or tied with Day 13. If the road
quality had been better, it would have been the best riding day overall.
Fires again complicated a visit to Sequoia National Park. We decided not to visit the visitor center as that was too far north and would have made a very long day. We started up route 190, but found that was closed by fire. Backtracked to near Porterville and then let Miss Garmin find the back roads to Hot Springs road to head to Sherman Pass road for our traverse of the Sierra Nevada.
What a ride! Other than almost uniformly poor road surface (was I ever wishing for Alpine road quality!), the scenery and twists and turns were fantastic. It took us nearly six hours to cover 206 miles and all but 60 of that was in second and third gear. From the climb through the foothills, to the Sequoias, to the Sherman pass at 9200', to the high plateau, to the descent down the desert landscape of Nine Mile Canyon, just a superb display of God's creation.
My wife took 94 pictures and several videos. I will have trouble picking out 10 to attach to this post.
The only downers were the rough roads littered with sand washes sometimes across both lanes, loose gravel and some larger softball sized rocks on many corners, one big dip I never saw coming and my first LT failure. The failure may be related to the dip, but I don't think I hit it that hard. When we stopped for coffee after getting to Ridgecrest, my wife noticed oil on the front wheel. Sure enough, the right fork seal is puking oil. This bike hasn't made it through even one of its ten years without some significant failure and this year is now no exception. Hopefully, the leg will retain enough oil for the next 4,000 miles to get me home without ruining the fork bushing.
I very nearly visited RDL for a new saddle, but decided before dropping a grand on new seats I would see if I could get through this trip with no failures. If I did, I planned to order an RDL this winter. Now, I plan no further investment in the LT and will start looking for a new ride in the next year or two. I want a bike I can ride at least 10,000 miles between failures.