Dave’s American diary – Bakersfield to Yosemite


The second leg of my journey was much more straightforward than the first and everything went swimmingly.

Where the first leg was stop start, with searches for different locations and stop-offs causing a few difficulties, the second was serene.

While that was probably because I didn’t have jetlag it was also because there weren’t any obvious stop-offs along the route, or so I thought from the UK in front of a computer screen

Needless to say that was completely naïve and wrong of The Bike Insurer’s route planning team and I!

The ride from Bakersfield to Yosemite was absolutely stunning and as a rider you can’t ask for better conditions.

Before you reach Yosemite you ride across vast expanses and plains. Coming from the UK they’re completely alien and yes, if you rode through them all the time they might become a bit dull, but for me they were definitely different and definitely cool.

Also surprising for UK riders is the complete lack of road debris and potholes. I rode almost 300-miles and don’t remember swerving around a pothole or plastic bag or glass on the road.

The only real concern was bison and cattle – lined up in the plains either side of the road – running in front of me.

Yosemite rises

But as you ride up to Yosemite National Park, and into the mountains, the scenery just gets better and better.

I left Bakersfield early and planned to get to Yosemite before lunchtime – safe in the knowledge that the location around my hotel would keep me and my camera busy – but being a snap-happy photographer my plan fell by the wayside.

With about 60-miles to go to Yosemite the landscape really changes and is breathtaking. I think I stopped about every five minutes with another location, another site or another bit of nature catching my eye and the lens of my camera.

Cattle on plains between Bakersfield and Yosemite

That meant I got to my hotel and Yosemite later than planned but it was definitely worth it.

It’s a ride I’d advise anyone to do, particularly if you come from the UK, because the landscape is just so different to what we get at home.

The Lakes, the Cotswolds and many rural parts of Scotland and Wales are undoubtedly beautiful, but the rugged landscape and size and scale of Yosemite dwarf our UK equivalents.

Riding through Yosemite gives some amazing views

And when I arrived at my hotel, right on the Merced River, it got better again.

My apartment has a balcony that looks out on to the river and within short rides there are countless different locations that kept me busy all day.

Riding through Yosemite gives some amazing views

As a photographer there are few places that compare to Yosemite and the same can be said as a motorbike rider.

As well as the scenery (I think I’ve mentioned that the scenery is pretty good!), the roads are also perfect for riding.

Gentle climbs, sweeping bends and smooth roads take you through the park and despite concerns regarding snow on the road, conditions were perfect for riding – a lot of credit needs to be given to the Sierra Conservancy for the quality of road.

I hope that’s clear from all the photographs I’ve taken – it was really difficult to cut down the images to what’s in our Facebook album because you can’t take a bad photo in Yosemite.

The Merced river flowing fast in Yosemite

What I’ve learned

The downside of getting out on the road early to reach Yosemite (and it’s not really a downside because it was worth it!) was not seeing Bakersfield but our plan was always to get to Yosemite as early as possible.

I’m getting between 180 and 190 miles per tank, which I think is good bearing in mind the weight I’ve got on the bike. And the price of fuel has also been a nice surprise at about $13 a tank.

One issue I have found is that a number of petrol stations have been closed when I’ve found them. That’s completely understandable because it’s low season here and traffic is low but it has led to a bit of squeaky bum time.

I’d advise topping up as often as possible and don’t let your fuel run too low. I did that yesterday and placed quite a lot of trust in the ‘Miles Remaining’ figure.

After re-routing to a petrol station, only to find it closed, I had a mild panic and fortunately the figure displayed on my dashboard was spot on and I managed to find another petrol station before I ran out.

Top up often and don’t let your petrol fall too low – it’s obvious but when you’re travelling in isolated places it’s a lesson you don’t want to learn through experience! This was one of my major worries ahead of the trip but it still nearly caught me out.

Tomorrow, I’m off to San Francisco and I cannot wait.

You can see a full album of photos from this leg of my journey via the link.

Next page: Dave’s American diary – Yosemite to San Francisco