June 20: Turlock to Mariposa, 66 miles

When I first planned this trip back in April, I hadn't cycled much since October the previous year and so was quite conservative about the route, with two short and easy days planned before the big climb up to Tioga Pass. Now that it was June, Mike and I were in pretty good shape and wondered if perhaps the mileage for these two days was too low, and if we hadn't already made reservations for Mariposa and Curry Village we should have perhaps tried to cycle all the way to Yosemite on day two. However it turned out being conservative was a very good idea after all, as these two supposedly easy days turned out to be two of the hardest of the trip.

Like all the days, we left early and had an enjoyable morning ride. We had breakfast in Merced and the rest of the day should have been a short (37 mile) and pleasant ride to Mariposa. I didn't have a topo map for the region but as Merced was at 167 feet and Mariposa at 1790, it seemed it woud be a climb but not a very big one.

What we didn't count on was how hot the Central Valley can get, even in the morning, and how exposed the roads are, with almost nowhere to stop in the shade. The climb into and out of Catheys Valley was especially painful, and we were exhuasted on arrival at Mariposa, even though it was only early afternoon. It was nice then to relax in this very pleasant town.

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