Bicycling in Yosemite

Bicycling the Yosemite Valley Floor

When Dave was here last weekend, he asked if I had uploaded all of my California photos to Facebook. The answer of course was no. Between Anne and I, we took many gigabytes of photographs on vacation. Many of these did not turn out well and you will never see them, but then enough of them did turn out OK. I plan on dribbling them out over the coming months. It was a great vacation and is well worth celebrating.

The picture with this post was taken on our one full day in Yosemite. We woke-up in the park and went to sleep there that night too. A joke that I have heard goes like this. A visiting tourist asks a park ranger this question, “I have only one day here in Yosemite. What should I do first?” The ranger answered the tourist in one word, “Cry”. There is a lot of truth to this joke. We only had two nights and two days in the park, so I know. The picture with this post was taken on the Swinging Bridge, near the end of our day.

We rented bikes in Yosemite and compared to my bicycle they left a lot to be desired. They were all fat-tire cruisers, with coaster brakes. If we had gotten there earlier, I did notice better bikes available when we turned ours in. Still, the valley floor is pretty flat, so the extra workout entailed by riding a cruiser was not much. The concession charge extra for helmets, hence the absence of lids above. No college graduates were injured in the making of this day. There is about 12 miles of bike path in Yosemite, which is pretty good as our National Parks go. Our nation’s national park system is not all that bike friendly. You can always bike on the roads, but you have to share these with the RVs too. Needless to say, bikes are prohibited on all hiking trails.

We used the bikes to get around to the sights on the valley floor. There are alternative forms of transportation. There is the prehistoric method, walking, but since we were time limited that seemed too limiting. There is the family car, but then parking becomes an issue and there are large sections where only handicapped licensed vehicles are allowed. Finally, there is the park’s bus system, which I recommend. On our first night in the park, we started with the prehistoric route and walked around. Then we got hungry, but most of the venues near us then were closed. We opted for the bus back to Curry Village, where we were staying. The buses are free. The drivers when time permits, give some excellent tourist advice. Did I mention that this hybrid ride was free?

The buses and the bike paths are artifacts of a smog problem that had developed during the summer months. With millions of tourists driving their millions of polluting vehicles smog developed in the valley floor. We were there during the middle of the week and before the summer season started proper. The only air pollution that we noticed was totally natural. It was pine pollen. When we were up in the mountains we could see the pine pollen clouds blow across the valley floor.

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