The DIRT Dad Fundo Across America- Day Three

Groveland to Lee Vining, California

“The best rides are the ones where you bite off much more than you can chew, and live through it.” – Doug Bradbury

The Queen Stage! The ride from Groveland to Lee Vining through Yosemite and over the Tioga Pass was one that I had circled in my mind. The queen stage of a world tour usually comes in the final week, but as the route played out mine came in the first three days.


I knew it was going to be a turning point. If I could get over the Sierras and put the day behind me I had a chance of actually doing this thing. To be honest, I had serious doubts.  

Now everyone who enters the Yosemite National Park West Gate will know! When my ride partner DIRT Jason Long and I rolled through the gate already with a few thousand feet of climbing in the legs and 10,000 more to go, I didn’t know.

The climbing was slow, but steady, and by setting out early cars and the hot sun were not a factor. The scenery was beautiful and there was plenty of time to become immersed in the enormity of the world around us, with a few glimpses of color.

Some days you eat the bear, and some days the bear eats you. Today I think it was a combination of the two. That BIG black bear was quite a sight to see.

The few short downhill rests were appreciated and I made the most of them.

Road construction on a couple of miles towards the summit of Tioga Pass forced me into the RV for a stretch. Uncle Rudy negotiated a U-turn on the narrow park road with a steep embankment on both sides to warn me of the danger ahead.


The DIRT Dad Fundo support crew worked harder than I did to make this day happen. I can’t say enough, but without the help of my wife, Kristin and Uncle, it wouldn’t have happened. Cycling can be a selfish sport and today it was all take and no give by me.

After a short moment to catch my breath in the thin air at the top of Tioga Pass I was able to manage a smile and reflect. My legs were screaming but the sense of satisfaction numbed the pain. After 14 “Garmin Climbs” that essentially amounted to 60-miles of uphill and over 6-hours of climbing I had crossed the first major obstacle of the trip. I might do this!

The view from the saddle as I bombed the 10-mile descent into our destination of Lee Vining. The payoff wasn’t quite worth the investment this time, but it was close.

Lee Vining was a sleepy tourist town with a few restaurants and shops but no traffic light. What it does have is an awareness that it is the last stop before entering the East gate of the park and the $8/gallon for premium unleaded is an indication.

The first RV park experience for Kristin and me was a basic one. It seems they didn’t reinvest the tokens required for hot water in the shower on infrastructure. By the way, I haven’t had a warm shower since we got on the road and I don’t care.

About the DIRT Dad Fundo Pledge for Day Three—Sonny Valone

Sonny is my best friend! He has always been there for me with loyal support and unconditional love. Most of what I am today is because of his influence on my growth as a man. We have shared everything in every way through the spectrum of emotions. It is a nice feeling knowing that there is a guy in your life that will always have your back—right or wrong and no matter what! I needed him today. 


Amount Raised to Date—$1,228


Thank you, Brother!


Now off to Benton, CA!

To support Chris in his effort to raise awareness of The DIRT Dad Fund, the non-profit he created to assist members of the worldwide cycling community, check out this link to learn more. 

Find out where you can pledge a donation and subscribe to The ZOMs newsletter to follow along on the journey. 

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1 year ago

Thanks for sharing your experience. Love the ride reports. Hope you had a great time in California! Safe travels to Uncle Rudy, Kristin, and you.

Drew Maier
Drew Maier
1 year ago

That is some ride! Congrats to you for getting over that massive climb!

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