Sonora Pass 2001 Home  Map
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Ron relishes telling the story of the hardship of camping out the night before our ride. We arrived at a campsite well after dark and we hurriedly set up a tent. The three of us laid out in sleeping bags and, according to Ron, minutes later I was asleep, head facing downhill, no pillow, snoring. Pat and Ron chatted a bit and made fun of me. Shortly after that Pat fell asleep, took up snoring himself and out did me on a decibel level. Ron relates that at one point Pat snorted so loud that he woke himself up. Ron said, “F**k you, f**k your brother. Give me the keys. I’m going to sleep in the car!” He managed to get three or four hours of sleep that night.


Saturday, July 8, we rose early and ate breakfast hopping around a campsite table to get warm, then drove to Donelle Point overlook, our Start/Finish.



We checked out the view, checked our bicycles and gear and pushed off. The first couple miles were a descent but we had gone less than a quarter mile when I felt the first rain drop hit.


I howled inwardly thinking of Ron’s aversion to rain. We pulled over to put on our shells and I expected a big discussion. Instead, Pat, the veteran, with a few flicks of the wrist had his shell out and on and pushed off down the road without a glance back. I had my shell on nearly as fast and looked at Ron shaking his out, looked at Pat disappearing down the road, looked again at Ron and then took off to catch Pat. My idea was to slow him down. Pat and I coasted along in the rain waiting for Ron. The rain stopped and we took off our shells. Still no sight of Ron.



We did the gentle climb up to Dardenelle and finally waited by the side of the road for the real climbing was about to start. Ron rolled up looking aghast and exclaimed “I may have met my Waterloo.” He was amazed at how little strength he had and he knew the real climbing challenges were to come. Pat reassured him that it was the altitude and he would improve as the day progressed. We pressed on.


The sign says 26%. I don't believe it. Maybe somewhere going around a hair pin turn the road has a 26% grade for a few yards, but I swear I didn't see it. However, from this point the serious climbing begins. The first notable climb is the Gunsight.



I rode right up the Gunsight with Ron not far behind. It was a serious gasper with no relief. It crests out at a deep notch, hence the name. We needed a rest at the top. Pat took it easy following us at steady pace.


Here he comes chugging his way up. Let me note that he has a triple chainring offering much easier gears than the doubles Ron and I were pushing.



Of course he’s smiling. He didn’t stop—kept going with us scrambling to follow.


It rained again. The sign says 8000 feet. That sign I do believe.



Ron muttered about the rain, the grade, the rash on his feet, whether he could complete this silly ride, the advisability of turning back, the reasons he rides a bicycle (not necessarily to suffer) and countless other things.