Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Tour de Mammoth

Today I decided that touring Mammoth on a cyclocross bike was the best way to go. Well, actually, it was the only bike I had so I decided to try and make the best of it. I needed a big ride at altitude, so I made up a course using the two major road climbs and a bunch of trails I'd never been on.

In fact, I hadn't ridden much on these trails at all but they were rumored to be sandy and perhaps unsuitable for my steed. I figured that, in the worst case scenario, my bike was fairly light and carrying it would be good training. So off I went.

I tooled around town to warm-up and then hit the village to sniff out some trails. Found something called Uptown, which seems to head up, my intended direction. The trail was well worn single track and, I thought, had been planned very nicely. It was about as easy as a trail could be that would eventually climb 2,000'. I snaked up the hillside at a civilized pace until I hit the Mammoth bike park and a sign warning me not to enter without some sorta pass. So I hit the main road and climbed it to Mineret Summit (above pic).

I met an LA Tri guy up there and we chatted a bit about the club, his new place in Mammoth, triathlons, and my trepidation about setting off on an unknow trail with a bike that was still, to some degree, an unknown performer on such terrain.

The trail description promised it to be "advanced" with "steep drops" and "deep pumice". I was slightly worried and called Sandee to report my whereabouts should something go amiss and I not return.

However, a few minutes later I'd decided they were using a different assessment of the word "advanced", probably referencing it to tourists. The trails was nice tight singletrack and no problem for the CX machine.

5.5 miles later I popped by out on the highway and crossed back into the park (below the warning signs) and hit a trail named "downtown", which was more of the same. While you could certainly hammer this stuff a lot faster on a mtn bike it was pretty much just technical enough to make it interesting on my rig.

Back at the village, I headed up towards the Lakes basin and part II of my tour. The climb was fine, although it would have been a bit more pleasant without the constant headwind. At Twin Lakes I snapped a pic and then took off looking for a bike trail sign.

I found something called Vista or something, which was odd because it was entirely through trees and pretty much the only place around that DIDN'T offer a vista. That being said, it was a serpentine and non-sandy path through the pines and just sublime.

It dumped me on Old Mammoth Rd where about a quarter mile down there was another bike sign at something called the Mammoth Rock Trail. After the rock, this plunged down the west slope of the Sherwins towards town. The trail was fairly rocky and had a lot of deep sand and, truth be told, I would have had a lot more fun on a hippie bike. At least until the end where I hit a gravel road which took me back towards town, where burritos and coffee were waiting.

All in all, this was just about a perfect day out. I'm not sure what other rides the area has to offer but this has to be one of the best. I could not recommend it more highly.

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