"Not all those who wander are lost." – J.R.R. Tolkien

Archive for February, 2015

Caldera 500 – Eastern Sierra Bikepacking Route Announcement

After a mapping, day dreaming, and beer drinking between bike folk, we’re stoked to officially announce “The Caldera 500”.  Mark your calendars now.  The revolution will not be televised.  The official Caldera 500 Page is up and running and full of all the info…

Grand Depart of the inaugural “Caldera 500” will be on Friday, September 18th, 2015 at 7am.

Umm.  Yeah.  So what exactly is this caldera deal?

We’ve got a 500 mile (give or take) loop around, over, and through one of the the most majestic, geologically rich regions in the world.  To get through said 500 mile loop, you’ve gotta earn it with 70+k of climbing.  Ride start/end is at 8,000′ with much of the route at 10-11,000′.  95% on dirt.  This ain’t a sag supported, aero tucked, bottle handup, strava sort of affair.  This is a soggy chamois, brown teeth, hallucination-inducing HAB fest, that will take you through heaven and hell on earth. Loose screws are a prerequisite.

So, yeah.  That’s it.  Make sure you follow this blog (sign up box to the right) if you want to stay in the mix on this event, and all other stuff we get huffy about.

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Ride Report: Gull Lake Loop – June Lake, CA

If you are new to mountain biking, or want to take a short ride while spending the day in the beautiful town of June Lakes, this is a great ride for anyone.  It’s mostly fantastic singletrack, offering up nice views of Gull Lake and the June Mountain Ski Area, and even slithers its way through a small aspen grove. This loop can be done in both directions, but the trailhead near Gull Lake Park is easier to find for your first time – so counter-clockwise is how we describe it here.  It’s mostly flat, with just a couple short/steep efforts.  If you’re looking for more riding nearby,  check out the Yost Trail.  While in town, don’t forget to grab a beer at June Lake Brewing and a kailua pig burrito from Ohanas – just a couple blocks from Gull Lake.

  • Ride Type:  Loop (counter-clockwise as we describe it, but it can be ridden both ways)
  • Difficulty: Non-Technical, Easy with Minimal Climbing
  • Time of Year: Summer and Fall (sometimes late Winter or Spring – depending on snow pack)
  • Terrain/Conditions: Mostly smooth singletrack with a little doubletrack and a short stretch of pavement through the campground.
  • Access: From Mammoth, take Highway 395 north for 20 miles to the southern turnoff for the June Lake Loop (Hwy 158).  Drive for a little over 2 miles, through town.  You’ll see signs for Gull Lake leading you down to the right.  Once you reach Gull Lake Park on Granite Avenue, park by the tennis courts and the playground.  The trailhead / ride start is directly across the street where you see the trail going steeply up the hillside.
  • Length: 1.9 miles
  • Approx. Time: 1/2 hour
  • Lowest Elevation: 7,623′
  • Highest Elevation: 7,711′
  • Total Elevation Gain: 103′
  • Bike Recommendation:  This can be ridden with pretty much any off-road bike.
  • GPX File: Available by contacting us

Turn by Turn (in miles):

0.0 – Start up the steep climb.  Don’t be discouraged.  It looks like a long hard climb, but after 20 yards you make a left turn and it flattens out.
0.5 – Continue straight, merging with the doubletrack trail, and heading up a short climb.
0.7 – Go left on the singletrack
1.0 – Reach an intersection with a fire road. Continue straight (you must curve to the right for 10 feet).  After a short stretch, you’ll reach a blockade that only allows bikes and hikers.  Descend here, and then go right at the T.
1.2 – Veer left at trail split, go over the bridge and pop out on pavement.  Continue on the road to the left, taking you through the campground.
1.5 – The pavement turns to dirt and you pass a bunch of cabins. Continue straight on the dirt road.
1.7 – The wide dirt road narrows to singletrack.
1.8 – Go left, staying on singletrack.  After a short, windy section, you emerge in the Gull Lake Marina parking lot.  Continue riding straight out of the parking lot.  It turns into Granite Ave.
1.9 – Turn left, staying on Granite Ave.  The park is on your left, and the loop is complete.  Do it again!!

Gull Lake Loop - Map

Gull Lake Loop – Map

Gull Lake Loop - Elevation Profile

Gull Lake Loop – Elevation Profile

A gorgeous view of Gull Lake and the surrounding mountains.

A gorgeous view of Gull Lake and the surrounding mountains.

Some fast flowy singletrack through the meadow.

Some fast flowy singletrack through the meadow.

A fun, twisty section through a small aspen grove.

A fun, twisty section through a small aspen grove.


Ride Report: Sagehen Summit Loop – near June Lake, CA

This loop is an oldie but goodie that we originally came across in the guidebook – “Mountain Biking the Eastern Sierra’s 100 Best Trails”.  The tread is 4×4  doubletrack and dirt roads (with a short bit of pavement at the end) and tends to be soft and sandy in spots.  Although it can be frustrating at times on a mountain bike, it is very enjoyable on a fat bike.  It’s hard for me to imagine mountain bike pioneers doing rides like this in the early 90’s.  But it’s definitely motivating, imagining them slogging through some of the beachy bits as my fattie floats over everything 🙂

From Highway 120, you climb steadily towards Sagehen Peak, and roll through a beautiful aspen grove (stunning when the fall colors are turning).  There are marvelous views of Adobe Valley and the Glass Mountain Ridge and you can see all the way to the White Mountains as you start curving eastbound.  When you turn north and descend into the valley, the views are again outstanding as you make your way across North Canyon Creek towards the last pavement climb back to your car.  If you are seeking some stellar, buff singletrack, you will not get that on this ride.  However, if you are in search of solitude and some of the amazing views that define Eastern Sierra adventure riding, this ride will please you and then some.  

  • Ride Type:  Loop
  • Difficulty: Non-technical, moderately strenuous climbing
  • Time of Year: Spring, Summer, Fall (possible in late Winter/depending on snow pack)
  • Terrain/Conditions: 4×4 roads and dirt roads (soft/sandy in sections) with the last 2.6 miles on pavement.
  • Access: From Lee Vining, head 5 miles south on Highway 395 to the Junction with Hwy 120 towards Benton.  Drive past the Mono Mills historic site and continue all the way to the top of Sagehen Summit (there is a sign).  Park off on the dirt at the junction with froad 1N02.  The ride starts here.
  • Length: 17.2 miles
  • Approx. Time: 2 – 3 hours
  • Lowest Elevation: 7,283′
  • Highest Elevation: 9,031′
  • Total Elevation Gain: 1,896′
  • Bike Recommendation: Fat Bike or Plus Bike (29er or 27.5 with 3″ tires).  You can do it on a traditional mountain bike as well, but it’s not as enjoyable through the sandy sections, and you might be hiking your bike at times.
  • GPX file: Available by contacting us

Turn by Turn (in miles):

0.0 – Start heading south on the wide dirt road 1N02 towards Sagehen Meadows.  You’ll have a gradual climb with some steeper bits mixed in.
4.0 – Reach the high point of the ride.  Yahoo.  Get some rest on the peaceful descent towards Wild Horse Meadow.
4.5 – Stay on 1N02 towards Johnny Meadows.  You’ll stay on 1N02, continuing past the junction with Johnny Meadows Rd
7.9 – Left on 1N02T
8.1 – After a short descent, go left at the T. You are now on 29E104 (called 29E03 on older maps).
10.0 – Continue straight, the road turns into 1S15A
11.8 – Creek crossing
13.3 – Continue straight
13.9 – Another creek crossing, then continue straight passed the old corral
14.6 – Go left on Hwy 120, and enjoy the final pavement climb back to Sagenhen Summit.
17.2 – Ride ends.  Drink beer.

Sagehen Summit Loop - Map

Sagehen Summit Loop – Map

Saghen Summit Loop - Elevation Profile

Saghen Summit Loop – Elevation Profile

A quick stop in Sagehen Meadows before continuing towards Sagehen Peak (visible to the left).

A quick stop in Sagehen Meadows before continuing towards Sagehen Peak (visible to the left).

Great views of the valleys near the Glass Mountains.

Great views of the valleys near the Glass Mountains.

Taking a quick break before continuing towards Johnny Meadows.

Taking a quick break before continuing towards Johnny Meadows.

Views towards Granite Mountain and Cowtrack Mountain with the Bodie Hills beyond.

Views towards Granite Mountain and Cowtrack Mountain.


Ride Report: Tobacco Flats – near Mammoth Lakes, CA

In the mood to pedal hard and be rewarded with stellar views?  If so, this ride is for you.  If building lactic acid up in your legs isn’t in the cards, don’t bother.  Tobacco Flats is a beautiful area accessed off of Mt. Morrison Rd.  As you ride up the canyon, you’re confronted with Mt. Morrison straight ahead, McGee Mountain to your left (you can see portions of the road that switchbacks its way to the top) and Laurel Mountain to your right.  We call this ride a “Tootsie Roll Loop” because you have out-and-backs at both ends, and a loop in the middle.  Towards the end of the strenuous upper out-and-back portion of the ride, you are rewarded with a rare perspective of Convict Lake at an overlook point.  Take a moment to soak it in.  Then it’s just a short burst to the top of the climb before turning around beginning the invigorating descent.  Before you know it, you’ve dropped 1,600′ and are back at your car.  Fantastic!

  • Ride Type:  Tootsie Roll Loop (Loop with out and back at each end)
  • Aerobic Difficulty: Steep climbing is strenuous, strong legs and lungs a must
  • Technical Difficulty: Non- technical
  • Time of Year: Summer and Fall (sometimes late spring – depending on snow pack)
  • Terrain/Conditions: Mostly doubletrack – gorgeous scenery.
  • Access: From the junction of Highway 395  and the 203 at Mammoth Lakes, drive south on the 395 for 5.2 miles and exit at Mt. Morrison Rd.  Drive 0.2 miles and turn left at the cemetery.  Drive another 0.1 miles and park near the Snowmobile Information Kiosk next to the green building.  The ride starts here. 
  • Length: 8.5 miles
  • Approx. Time: 1.5 – 2.5 hours
  • Lowest Elevation: 7,026′
  • Highest Elevation: 8,417′
  • Total Elevation Gain: 1,647′
  • Bike Recommendation:  This can be ridden with pretty much any off-road bike, although fat bikes and plus bikes seem to enjoy the potentially soft conditions the best.
  • GPX File: Available by contacting us

Turn by Turn (in miles):

0.0 – Ride start.  Head south on the pole line dirt road from the Snowmobile Information Kiosk.

0.8 – At the junction, continue straight/right and start climbing towards the west.
2.4 – Continue straight.
2.6 – Continue straight.  Shortly after, reach a 4-way intersection.  Go right, continue climbing
2.8 – Veer right at the Y.  Continue climbing.
3.3 – It flattens for a brief moment.  Enjoy the break, continue straight, and climb some more.
3.8 – You reach a flat open area.  The best viewpoint for the Convict Lake is here.
4.0 – Reach the end of the trail.  Time to start the descent, back the way you came.
4.2 – Pass the Convict Lake Lookout again – make sure to take a photo if you haven’t already!
5.4 – You reach the 4-way intersection where you started the “out-and-back” at mile 2.6.  Continue straight to finish off the loop.  Buckle up for a fast and beautiful descent!!  Stay on this road as it loops around to the north right above Highway 395.
7.7 – You reach the junction from mile 0.8.  You’ve finished the loop, now turn right to start backtracking to your car.  One short, steep climb and then the final descent to the finish.
8.5 – Ride ends at the Snowmobile Information Kiosk.  Pat yourself on the back.  Great ride!

Tobacco Flats Ride - Map

Tobacco Flats Ride – Map

Tobacco Flats Ride - Elevation Profile

Tobacco Flats Ride – Elevation Profile

Riding up through the flats towards Laurel Mountain

Riding up through the flats towards Laurel Mountain

A great view of Convict Lake and Laurel Mountain from the overlook

A great view of Convict Lake and Laurel Mountain from the overlook

Descending back toward Crowley Lake and the Glass Mountain Ridge.  You can see some snow-capped peaks in the White Mountains off  in the distance.

Descending back toward Crowley Lake and the Glass Mountain Ridge. You can see some snow-capped peaks in the White Mountains off in the distance.


Keeping it Fat in the Tetons and Grand Targhee

Dirty Teeth – Alan's Mountain Biking Adventures

Grizzly territory. Grizzly territory.

The opportunity to ride fat bikes in Grand Teton National Park doesn’t present itself that often, so I jumped at this chance.  Teton Mountain Bike Tours led a group ride in the National Park as part of the Fat Bike Summit.  Local advocates are vying for more winter riding opportunities alongside snowmobiles in GTNP and in Yellowstone.  But for now, fat bikes are limited to plowed roads that cars can drive on.  So as far as riding goes right now, the terrain is nothing amazing – but you’re still in the Tetons, enveloped by some of the best eye candy that Mother Nature has ever created.

Riding on one of the plowed roads in Grand Teton National Park.  Notice the socked in cloud layer. Riding on one of the plowed roads in Grand Teton National Park. Notice the socked in cloud layer.

Unfortunately, during our ride, we we socked in with cloud cover, and the Tetons never poked out.  About an hour after our ride…

View original post 507 more words


Ride Report: Moraines and Meadows Loop – Lee Vining, CA

This is one of the earliest “signed” USFS bike routes in the region.  These days, it’s rarely ridden and not many people even know it exists.  Did you know about this ride?  It’s mainly double-track and 4×4 roads, but this is still one heck of a rewarding ride!  Right off the bat, you get a great perspective of Mono Lake and Paoha Island as you wrap around to the south and get your legs warmed up.  Before long, you turn east, and start climbing toward Lower and Upper Horse Meadows.  Although this is a long, strenuous climb (as the elevation profile below will attest to), you get majestic views of the Dana Plateau and Mt. Gibbs to help you forget about your lungs and legs yelling at you.  Eventually, this climb ends and you turn to the south.  Now you’re stung with views of June Mountain as you start to drop.  Your climbing efforts are mostly done by this point.  As you wrap around Williams Butte, views of the Mono Basin hug you as you return every foot of elevation you took earlier.  You’ve gotta ride through a junkyard of sorts, before making the short climb back towards you car, and you’re done.  Good work!   Also close by are the Bennettville Ride, Saddlebag Lake Trail and the Log Cabin Mine Loop if you’re up for more riding. 

  • Ride Type:  Lollipop (loop with short out and back)
  • Difficulty: Non-technical, moderately strenuous with one sustained climbing effort
  • Time of Year: Summer and Fall (sometimes late spring – depending on snow pack)
  • Terrain/Conditions: Doubletrack, 4×4 roads
  • Access: From the junction of Highway 203 and 395 at Mammoth Lakes, drive north on the 395 for 25 miles.  Exit and go left on Highway 120/ Tioga Pass.  Drive 0.9 miles and look for an interpretive kiosk with a dirt parking area to your left.  If you look closely, you’ll also see an old Forest Service sign for the “Moraines and Meadows” ride.  Park here.  *Note: Mobil Mart (open seasonally) is a great spot for post-ride grub, and you pass right by it at the junction of the 395/120.
  • Length: 11.9 miles
  • Approx. Time: 1.5 – 2.5 hours
  • Lowest Elevation: 6,769′
  • Highest Elevation: 7,898′
  • Total Elevation Gain: 1,484′
  • Bike Recommendation:  Any off-road bike.
  • GPX File: Available by contacting us

Turn by Turn (in miles):

0.0 – Start eastbound and down on Highway 120, back towards Highway 395. Ride on the dirt just to the right of the road.  The dirt will start to curve right and turn into a pronounced double track.
0.2 – Veer right at the merger with a wider dirt road, 1N15 – You’ll have a mellow warm-up climb as you get some views of Mono Lake and Paoha Island.
1.8 – After passing some trailer homes, and possibly some sketchy barking dogs, you reach the junction at Horse Meadows Rd.  Go right and shift to an easy gear.  You’ve got some climbing ahead!
2.4 – Continue straight towards Horse Meadows and ride through Lower Horse Meadows.
3.6 – Pass a cool rock formation on left.  Get ready for the steepest section of the climb.
4.2 – Summit the tough climb, continue going straight.
4.4 – Make a sharp left turn on 1N06.  Continue climbing.
4.6 – Veer right at the intersection, continue up.  You’re almost to the high point as views to the south start to open up.
6.4 – Continue straight.
7.3 – Stay straight on 1N18
7.9 – Pass a junkyard and the dirt turns to pavement for a bit.
8.5 – Go straight on the dirt, (don’t curve right on the pavement)
9.8 – Go left on 1N16
10.1 – Go right, and retrace your steps back to the car
11.9 – Finish.  Nice job!
Moraines and Meadows Ride - Map.

Moraines and Meadows Ride – Map.

Moraines and Meadows Ride - Elevation Profile.

Moraines and Meadows Ride – Elevation Profile.

The old trailhead sign, which could use some TLC.

The old trailhead sign, which could use some TLC.

Close up of the map on the old sign - as of now, this map has deteriorated and is no longer there.

Close up of the map on the old sign – as of now, this map has deteriorated and is no longer there.

Mt. Dana and Mt. Gibbs greet you as you enter Lower Horse Meadows.

Mt. Dana and Mt. Gibbs greet you as you enter Lower Horse Meadows.

These signs are rare on these old rides - reminding you to take it easy just before a steep descent on a remote part of the ride.

These signs are rare on these old rides – reminding you to take it easy just before a steep descent on a remote part of the ride.

In the middle of the long, fun descent.  Stopping to take in the views of... blah blah

In the middle of the long, fun descent. Stopping to take in the views of the Mono Basin.

Keep an eye out for these signs and the route is pretty easy to follow.

Keep an eye out for these signs and the route is pretty easy to follow.