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UPDATE: 2018 Caldera 250/500 and new 150 Dates and Info

Updates on the 2018 Caldera 150/250/500:

  • The Grand Depart date is set for Friday, Sept 28, 2018 @ 7am.
  • This year is a “Northern Year” – meaning, we’ll be offering the Northern 250 loop at the Grand Depart along with the full 500 loop.
  • New for this year, we’ll be offering an even shorter 150 mile route that should be attractive for those are limited on time or don’t feel up to the longer distances for any reason.
  • Registration is now open – hope you’ve been training – if not, start now!
  • All other Caldera info – click here
  • There are a couple route changes to maximize new singletrack that’s become available, but other than that, not much about the routes are changing.
  • Official 2018 gpx files should be available around first week of August to registered riders.

 


2016 Caldera 250/500 GD Recap

The 2016 Grand Depart went down on Sept 24, with an official start time of 7:02am.  A combined 17 brave souls set out for glory.  This year marks the first running of the Northern 250 loop (which is actually about 317 miles).  Each year, in addition to the full 500 option, we will alternate between doing the Southern and Northern loops (in 2015, we did the S250).  My favorite thing about the Caldera and bikepacking events in general is the camaraderie that bonds the people that partake.  I love seeing friends old and new, and watching everyone push themselves through their limits.

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A few thoughts to ponder:

  • Full Results Here
  • It’s now official, the best bike for this ride is a plus bike of some sort.  They excel in the pumice and soft sections, and riders who are on them are definitely hiking less than traditional mtb’s and fat bikes.  Riders with the most success were using 1x drivetrains with a 26 or 28t ring in the front and 42 or bigger granny in the rear.  Tires are still personal preference, but something with strong sidewalls is key.
  • Adrian broke the 5 day barrier on the 500 and Tony set the inaugural course record for the Northern loop – both guys live in Bishop.  I met Adrian at the finish line cheering on Arthur last year, and he said he wanted to do it next year.  Here we are.  Congrats!! I met Tony on the Sierra 7500, and he slowly got the itch… now with the S250 and N317 and Stagecoach 400 under his belt, he’s a bikepacking vet!
  • We still are waiting to see a female complete any of the routes… come on ladies!!
  • A super cool dude who’s been in a Tour Divide movie and a Trans Am movie and has a bikepacking resume longer than the Torah bailed after 220 miles.  Yes, this course is brutal at times.  And rewarding like no other at times.
  • If your mind isn’t right and you don’t embrace pushing your bike through sand, you probably should choose another route.  This is the Eastern Sierra.  It is what it is.  Rarely a free mile on this course, but every footprint or labored pedal turn leads to magical views.  The pain fades.  Good memories last forever.
  • So stoked the KC, Pat, and Kyle met eachother and wound up having fun choosing their own adventure.  I’m stoked that Devin chose this as his first multi-day bikepacking adventure.  I hope it’s the first of many.  I can’t believe Hunter made it as far as he did on the fat bike with 10lb tires 🙂 – when we saw him pushing his bike up the 395 to June, he was toasted!!  Ha hahahahhahaa!!!
  • I hope people continue to ride the Caldera in it’s entirety, or in bits and pieces, however they see fit.  Get busy living or get busy dying.

Until next year… here are a few pics.  If you search #caldera500 in instagram, you can find more…  If you have some, send em my way and i’ll add them to this blog so they live forever in Caldera lore… To all the 2016 riders, thank you for riding.  Recover well… and start thinking about the next adventure….

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Alex, up in Coyote Flats with a sheep’s head strapped to the bars.  YES!

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Oneof the horrendous silty, sandy washes on Dobie Meadows Rd heading towards Bodie.

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Art and Jason sipping the best beer ever!! Caldera IPA at the finish line

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Dazed and confused.  One of my favorite portraits ever.   Hunter around mile 270.

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Aaron Johnson caught this one of Blake descending into Big Pine on Day 1.  

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Devin’s sunrise view from his bivy spot just below the summit of Mt. Patterson

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Alex and Matt on top of the world.  

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Adrian at the finish line after crushing the 500 course

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Tony coming through the line after 317 miles

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Alex descending Desert Creek with fall colors as vibrant as his helmet!! — Sweet pic, Matt 🙂


Big Friggin Loop Registration OPEN

Go here to register for the 2016 Mammoth Lakes Big Friggin Loop (or Mini Friggin Loop) – It’s on September 4th at 7am.  The route will be basically the same as in years past, but we might make one or two small tweaks.  The gpx tracks and cue sheets will be sent out a week or so in advanced to registered riders only.  Gonna be a blast!!  Don’t know what the MLBFL is?  Click here to learn about it.

 


2016 Caldera 250/500 and Big Friggin Loop Announcement

Okee dokey.  GD for the Caldera 250/500 is gonna be on Saturday, September 24th, 7am.
 The “Big Friggin Loop” and “Mini Friggin Loop will be on Sunday, Sept 4th if you wanna mark your calendar for that too – same course, but we’re putting an aid station up at minaret vista)
caldera registration will open officially in june
the 500 course is basically the same
the 250 course will be the northern half this year, and we intend to alternate north/south each year
because of that, both the 250 and 500 will start out to the north this year from mammoth, adding a little mileage to the 500… which will pass through mammoth at the 1/2 way point before heading south for the lower 250…
this is just the preliminary email… more info to come as we get closer… but mark your calendars now… and get your time off work now… hoot!!
from here on out, i’ll only be sending caldera updates to the official “caldera” email list only, so as not to bombard everybody – if you’re on that list, you’ll have just received a duplicate email… if you’re not, and want to get on it,let us know

Caldera 250/500 – Race Diary of the 2015 Grand Depart

“Confronted with the petty concerns of my ordinary life, I feel empty, as if I am wasting a priceless gift, the brief time that is allotted to each human for creativity… Can this longing and restlessness be the price that mortals pay for daring to trespass in the houses of the Gods? Mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambitions to achieve. They are cathedrals, grand and pure, the houses of my religion. I approach them as any human goes to worship. On there alters I strive to perfect myself physically and spiritually. In their presence I attempt to understand my life, to exorcise vanity, greed, and fear. From the vantage of their lofty summits, I view my past, dream of my future, and with unusual acuteness I experience the present moment. I celebrate creation, for on each journey, I am reborn.”       – Anatoli Boukreev / Above The Clouds

A motley bunch. The 2015 Caldera 250/500 starters (sans Keith - who hadn't showed up yet, and sans George - off to the side talking to Matt Lee on the phone about his Spot issues).

A motley bunch. The 2015 Caldera 250/500 starters (sans Keith – who hadn’t showed up yet, and sans George – off to the side talking to Matt Lee on the phone about his Spot issues).

Love that quote.  Fitting as the Caldera 250/500 route has now been tested by the first batch of guinea pigs!  We’ve been objectively claiming that this would be one of the toughest pound-for-pound routes around (if not the toughest) – and one of the most beautiful.  Now that the dust has settled, and the lab rats have chimed in – we are definitely not liars.  Below is a brief, informal race journal I kept as I spoke with riders and stalked blue dots (and one pink).  If you’re lazy to read past this point, here’s the link to the Race Results and Arthur’s Strava File and the Rigs of the Caldera article in Bikepackers Magazine – those should give you some insight as well.  Salute! –ps, sorry for not giving photo credits – thanks to all who contributed!

The START:

Get busy living, or get busy dying.

Get busy living, or get busy dying.  (left to right – Jeff, Matt, Isaac, Art, Danny, etc)

Forest (left) and Blake - ready to rock.

Forest (left) and Blake – ready to rock.

The Sombrero Mafia - Jeremy and Meade Plum

The Sombrero Mafia – Jeremy and Meade Plum

Tony and Zak

Tony and Zak

The one and only Kevin Hinton throwing gang signs.

The one and only Kevin Hinton throwing gang signs.

Art and I. Hoot!! -- with Beth and Nate lurking in the BG.

Art and I. Hoot!!

DAY 1 – 9/18/15

After a nice gathering at Gomez’s for some mexican food the night before, chilly 40 degree temps and uber clear skies greeted the riders at the 7am start in Mammoth.  Some last minute Spot Tracker issues were handled, and we sent off the eager bunch at the official start time of 7:14am.  The GD’s only singlespeeder, Keith Richards-Dinger, drove up, still in jeans, just as the group was about to depart.  Being a veteran, he didn’t worry.  He parked the car, changed, and it took him about an hour to get into the fold. The riders quickly sorted themselves out as Blake Bockius, Arthur Kopatsy, and Isaac Chilton found their way to the front of the charge.  The first “course hiccup” was a mistake on my part that accidentally took a short jaunt on local photographer, John Dittli’s property.  Luckily, he was there, and knew about the riders via Facebook, and helped everyone down the 0.5 mile route change that kept everything kosher and off a hillside that he’s been nurturing.

John Dittli's note left for any straggling riders - disaster averted.

John Dittli’s note left for any straggling riders – disaster averted.

As night fell, the fastest riders made it into Big Pine before the gas station closed to resupply before climbing the Inyo Mountains.  Blake and Arthur set a blistering pace for Day 1.  Most others camped somewhere in the Coyote Flats, choosing to wait until sunrise and ambient light to handle the tricky, steep descent to Big Pine.  Country Kitchen, and a nice big brekky was the ticket for many 🙂  The climb up Horton Creek to the day’s high point up Coyote tested riders’ grit and was a humbling reminder to all riders that this route is no joke.

Meade and Jeremy cruising right along.

Meade and Jeremy cruising right along.

Matt, passing Tom's Place on the Bucksaw!

Matt, passing Tom’s Place on the Bucksaw!

Nothing like some fresh, filtered crick water.

Nothing like some fresh, filtered crick water.

But first... let me take a #selfie - Kevin coming out of the Tungstens towards Coyote

But first… let me take a #selfie – Kevin coming out of the Tungstens towards Coyote

Marbles already lost. Coyote.

Marbles already lost. Coyote.

Grubs at Bishop Creek Lodge

Grubs at Bishop Creek Lodge

Zak on his trusty Gnarvester, climbing up Coyote at sunset

Zak on his trusty Gnarvester, climbing up Coyote at sunset

Tony's bivy on the first night. The views don't suck.

Tony’s bivy on the first night. The views don’t suck.

Blake, riding through Big Pine on the first night.

Blake, riding through Big Pine on the first night.

Country Kitchen in Big Pine became the brekky spot for most.

Country Kitchen in Big Pine became the brekky spot for most.

DAY 2

Crazy happenings.  Isaac Chilton forgot to turn his tracker on, but finally got it back on when he hit Bishop.  Tony Symanovich had weird tracker issues as well, showing he was up near Reno.  But he contacted us later in the day and confirmed he was still riding with Zak Tourville and was in good spirits.

Forest in Redding Canyon.

Forest Baker in Redding Canyon.

First place rider pulls out:

Blake Bockius continued his fast pace with Arthur Kopatsy nipping at his heals.  Everyone seemed to be settling into a nice groove, when reality struck.  Even though he riding fast for “this route” – it was nowhere near as speedy as Blake was anticipating, and he realized he wouldn’t be able to finish the route in time to get back his work on time.  From first place, he was officially the first rider to pull out from the race in Bishop at 1:11pm.  He debated switching over to the 250 route, but did not have the track loaded.  After struggling with the options for a bit, he decided to just pull out and come back and tackle the full 500 when he has more time.

Although unofficial, it appears (according to his blue dot) that George Reynolds left course before the Coyote climb on Day 1, and took the road into Bishop, bypassing a large section of the course.

Hike-a-Bike much? Isaac's shoes.

Hike-a-Bike much? Isaac’s shoes.

The next to withdraw, was Kevin Hinton.  He had an unfortunate mechanical while navigating some techy singletrack during the Inyo Traverse.  He broke his derailleur in no mans land and was forced to abandon.  Shortly thereafter, I got a call from Forest Baker, who was riding at a solid pace and had just arrived in Bishop.  The hike a bikes had gotten to him, and he pulled out as well.  Keith Richards-Dinger, the lone singlespeeder also notified me that he was abandoning the 500 and would continue on the 250.  The Caldera route is breathing fire and showing it’s true colors.  By the end of Day 2, Arthur was leading the charge, getting up towards the Glass Mountains, while Keith, Zak, Tony and Isaac were readying for the Volcanic Tablelands.  Matt Reynolds made it to Bishop.  Art de Goede, Danny Kaukola, Meade Plum, Jeremy Plum and Jeff Brooks stayed at various spots in the White Mountains for the night.  15 year-old Meade Plum continued plugging away with her dad Jeremy, making it to route mile 133 before bedding down for the night.

Zak on the Inyo Traverse

Zak on the Inyo Traverse

DAY 3

With renewed vigor, many were up and riding by 4-5am after just a few short hours of sleep.  Arthur Kopatsy made his way into the Glass Mountains before the crack of dawn, while Keith, Zak, Tonny, Isaac, and Art de Goede grabbed some shuteye in various areas of the Volcanic Tablelands, or what Keith called the “sandpit from hell” when I cheered him on as he exited that section.  Arthur continued past the turnoff for the 250 in the Glass Mountains and rode strong all the way to the steep climb into Bodie where he took a break and waited for the heat to subside before tackling it.  He would up making it to Bridgeport just before sunset.  What a blistering pace he’s been keeping!!  As of Day 3, he’s the only 500 rider that’s passed the 250 turnoff.

HAB hell

HAB hell

More hike-a-bike near Casa Diablo. Zak is a boss! But look at that view!!

More hike-a-bike near Casa Diablo. Zak is a boss! But look at that view!!

Zak Tourville was riding strong but withdrew before the Glass Mountains climb, and rode Benton Crossing Rd and Highway 203 back to Mammoth – he needed to be ready for work the next day.

This photo says it all. Zak's mug after tackling the Volcanic Tablelands climb.

This photo says it all. Zak’s mug after tackling the Volcanic Tablelands climb.

First 250 Finishers:

  • Keith Richards-Dinger came in at 9:18pm on Sunday night 9/20/15 – giving him first place and the inaugural course record on the Caldera 250 with: 2 days, 14 hours, and 4 minutes – and he started the race late as he couldn’t get to the start line in time to begin with the rest of the riders.  I was at the finish line waiting for him, and we took him to my house for a warm shower and bed.  His only request, milk.  He drank a lot of milk.

    Keith, in my cozy house just after finishing.

    Keith, in my cozy house just after finishing.

  • Isaac Chilton and Tony Symanovich rode most of the last 25 miles with each other, and came through the finish line together at 11:26pm with official time of: 2 days, 16 hours, and 12 minutes.  Unfortunately, both were having tracker issues, and I had no idea they were gonna finish that quickly – so I missed them at the finish line 😦

    Isaac in the Glass Mountains.

    Isaac in the Glass Mountains.

Jeremy and Meade Plum, Jeff Roberts, Matt Reynolds, and Danny Kaukola spent the night in Bishop, with hopes of getting an early start to the beat the heat.  Danny broke his seat post clamp and has been trying to fix it with hose clamps, as the bike shop in Bishop is closed on Sunday.  Arthur Kopatsy rode into Bridgeport to bed down for the night- smoking fast.  Looking forward to tomorrow!!

Danny, still sporting a smile after losing his brand new Garmin and snapping the bolt on his seatpost clamp!!

Danny, still sporting a smile after losing his brand new Garmin and snapping the bolt on his seatpost clamp!!

DAY 4

Sadly, we got the announcement that Meade Plum and her dad, Jeremy are withdrawing.  The hike-a-bike took a toll on her, and her achilles are very swolen.  What a trooper.  She made it to approximately route mile 161 and over 16,000′ of climbing.  WOW!!  Kudos to Meade!!!

Art de Goede was off to an early start, making his way up through the Glass, looking strong.  Matt Reynolds and Jeff Roberts left Bishop nice and early to hit the Volcanic Tablelands.  Danny Kaukola couldn’t get the hose clamps to work, so he’s off to the bike shop to get it repaired, and should be off and running soon.  He’s also been having spot trouble, but is keeping in touch via texts.

Jeff, taking a break in the Volcanic Tablelands.

Jeff, taking a break in the Volcanic Tablelands.

Arthur Kopatsy left Bridgeport very early and is continuing to ride strong!!  By 10:30am (as I write this), he reached the town of Belfort at 10,200′ on his way up to Mt. Patterson (the high point for the whole route).  He’s currently at route mile 313 and still the only rider past the 250 turn off!!

10:30pm – update:  Danny Kaukola officially scratched earlier today from Bishop, citing losing too much time trying to fix his broken seat post clamp.  Only 4 remaining riders on course.  Arthur Kopatsy has pushed past Walker and is now heading south with around 120 miles to go.  Art de Goede is resting up in a motel in Bridgeport, getting ready for the Sweetwaters tomorrow!  Jeff Brooks and Matt Reynolds are camping in the Glass Mountains around route mile 208.  Might see some finishers tomorrow!

Arthur Kopatsy on the top of the world. Mt. Patterson summit - High Point of the whole route.

Arthur Kopatsy on the top of the world. Mt. Patterson summit – High Point of the whole route.

Memorable blue dot moment.

Memorable blue dot moment.

DAY 5 (7am)

still on course:

Arthur Topatsky (31 year-old from San Francisco)- on pace for a sub 5 day finish on the 500- like a boss!- he had an amazing day yesterday – making it up and over Mt. Patterson (the Sweetwaters) and continuing out of Walker, and south towards Sonora Pass – he’s looking strong as he heads southbound at route mile 376 – some might say the toughest parts of the course are behind him, but he’s still got a lot of hardship ahead.
Art de Goede (56 year-old from Arroyo Grande) the only other rider that braved out the 500 course – he slept in a motel in Bridgeport at route mile 284, a little over a day behind Arthur.  He just started up the road towards the Sweetwaters – good luck!!
Jeff Brooks (53 year-old from Rocklin)
Matt Reynolds (46 year-old from Truckee)- they camped in the Glass Mountains last night, and seem to be hanging together.  Slow and steady for these two.  They are at route mile 209, near the 250 turnoff and have potential to finish the 250 later today.

5pm update:  Jeff Brooks and Matt Reynolds have finished the 250.  They came in together at 4:13pm for an official time of 4 days, 8 hours, 59 minutes.  Sweet!!  There are no remaining 250 riders on course, and there are now officially 5 finishers of the 250.

Salute to success - Matt and Jeff at the finish of the Southbound 250

Salute to success – Matt and Jeff at the finish of the 250.

That leaves Arthur Kopatsy and Art de Goede as the only remaining riders on course  – both trying to slay the 500 dragon.  Arthur is still making a charge to finish under 5 days, and with the pace he’s keeping now, it’s gonna be really close.  He’s currently heading towards Virginia Lakes and the drop to Lee Vining.  Art seems to be about 2 days behind Arthur, looking like he’ll get to Walker this evening.
DAY 6 (12pm):
History has just been made.  The first person has just finished Caldera 500 route.  Arthur Kopatsy crossed the finish line at 11:41am for an official course record of 5 days, 4 hours, 27 minutes.  All I can say is WOW!!  The bar has been set mighty high for future Caldera riders.  He kept virtually the same pace that Keith Richards-Dinger had on his 1st place finish of the 250.  Arthur said he received a lot of trail magic from hunters and hikers along the route, and had a lot of expletives to share towards me, but overall, the smiles and sense of accomplishment far outweighed any other emotions.  While riding towards Sonora Pass at night, through the Pickle Meadows area, he was suddenly approached by a Marine convoy, with soldiers out on a night training mission, using infrared goggles – they stopped and chatted, and that was just one of many memorable stories from Arthur 🙂  I can only imagine how that encounter felt in the delusional state Arthur was in at that point.
8pm update:

That leaves one rider on course.  Art de Goede.  He crossed the Sonora Pass, and 250 finishers Matt and Jeff greeted him with cheers and encouragement at Leavitt Meadows campground, where they said he was in good spirits and just charging along.  He made it to Obsidian Dome campground, where it appears he’s bedding down for the night before heading out to Molybdenite Creek tomorrow.  Good luck, Art!!  We’re all pulling for ya!!

Matt and Jeff tracked down Art and gave him some encouragement at Leavitt Meadows.

Matt and Jeff tracked down Art and gave him some encouragement at Leavitt Meadows.

DAY 7 (10pm)
We’ve been watching Art move along all day – continuing his steady, un-waivering pace.  He started the morning at the Molybdenite singletrack and made his way down to Buckeye, up and over Twin Lakes, through Dunderberg, to Virginia Lakes.  He dropped down into Lee Vining  and is sleeping just passed Lee Vining near Williams Butte.  Another solid day on the bike for Mr. de Goede!!
DAY 8 (6:45am)
Art just started moving again.  I can only imagine the beautiful sunrise he had from his perch above Mono Lake.  Crossing fingers that he’ll be crossing the finish line today.  I’m sure that’s motivating him and pushing him past his limits right now as he makes his way towards Parker Bench and the descent to Silver Lake and the June Lake Loop.
6:00pm – Update:

He’s all done.  Art de Goede crossed the finish line at 5:35pm.  Only the 2nd person to complete the full 500.  His official time is 7 days 10 hours 21 minutes.  That makes 7 finishers out of 16 starters.  That’s a wrap for the inaugural running of the Caldera 250/500 – hope to see y’all next year!!

He did it! Art de Goede finished the 500!!

He did it! Art de Goede finished the 500!


Caldera 250/500 – Usher is IN!

The Caldera 250/500 start list is blowing up.  I’ve you’re registered, check your email – we just sent out the GPX tracks and cue sheets.  If you didn’t get it, shoot us en email.

20+ people have already indicated their desire to seek the pain cave in the endorphin forest.  And we’ve hit the mainstream!  Who woulda thunk that bikepacking would cross over to hip hop icons and teeny bopper heart throbs.  Usher just hit me up and said he’s gonna crush the 250 and is training hard right now.  He said he’s even gonna work some lyrics into his next single… “What up Habeggar, zig zaggin Coyote Traverse, lungs implodin, best bring a nurse, better yet a hearse don’t need no baggage I’m packin, not heat, just 4 liters, try to step i dare ya, i’ll make you my biatch Caldera…”

Also, Taylor Lautner said he’s gonna do the full 500 to get in shape before the filming of Twilight 7 in October.

60k of climbing ain't ish

60k of climbing ain’t ish

So yeah..  if you haven’t registered, get on the list.  Only registered folks will receive gpx, cues, and official updates.  Here’s some more general route info and other stuff:

  • Stats and Scoop – The 250 is identical to the 500 until it splits apart towards the end of the Glass Mtn Traverse and makes its way back to Mammoth.  Topofusion is telling us these stats:
    • 500 = 480 miles, 65k climbing
    • 250 = 256, 31k climbing
  • Bears – always a potential concern in the Sierra, so bring some paracord to hang food if you’re camping in a potential bear zone – or at least sleep away from your food.  Otherwise, nippy dogs or grumpy bulls are probably a bigger threat.
  • Toughest sections – Probably Coyote climb, Volcanic Tablelands to Bodie, and the Sweetwaters/Mt. Patterson climb
  • Longest stretch without water/resupply – Volcanic Tablelands to end of the Glass Mtn traverse — that’s one tough section with only a water tank for sheep at the start of the Glass climb and a creek in Taylor Canyon or Adobe Creek.  Camel skills required.
  • Water filter – definitely.  Lots of natural water opportunities on most of the route, and in some places, your only option.  CARRY A FILTER.
  • Terrain – lots of climbing, lots of descending.  Mostly doubletrack, some stellar singletrack, some fireroad miles, and not so much pavement.  Volcanic dirt in spots, soft and moto’d out in spots, which leads to…
  • Bikes/tires – run whatcha brung – but fat tires are good.  2.35-2.5’s seem good – my 29+ is gobbling it up.  so yummy.  comfy hiking shoes = important.
  • As always, feel free to contact us at any time, for any reason 🙂

Caldera 250/500 Registration Opens Now

Okee dokes.  With the Caldera 250/500 exactly two months from today, we figured it’s time.

Click here to register.  We are capping the Grand Depart at 45 participants.  Honestly, we have no clue how many people will be interested in this sufferfest/magical carpet ride – but we’re covering our arses.

  • If necessary, riders will be wait-listed in the order their registration was received, and bumped up in line as people back out.  Kinda like flying stand-by.
  • Want to ride the route, but not available for the GD?  No problem, but you’ll still need to register for an Individual Time Trial – only registered folks will receive gpx tracks, cue sheets, route updates, and be considered “official finishers”.
  • If the registration form is confusing, or you have any questions at all – please don’t hesitate to Contact Us or post in the comments of this blog post.

We’re hoping to send out the gpx tracks and cue sheets for both the 250 and 500 around August 1st.  We’re doing our best to make sure the tracks and cues are accurate and 100% legal, so it’s likely there will be some updates after the initial release – but all in all, the route is done.  Let’s get excited like the Pointer Sisters!

I'm about to lose control and I think I like it.

I’m about to lose control and I think I like it.

 


Fun in the Summer – Calendar, Updates, ETC

mountainbike

Man, it’s so fun seeing all the mtb buzz in town this week for natty’s and all summer long – hope everybody is enjoying it!!  Here is some important stuff – spread the word:

1.  TODAY/TONIGHT (tuesday, 7/14) – High School MTB “Ride With a Pro” followed by pizza and Singletrack High Movie Screening.  Register at Canyon Lodge 3-4pm, ride from 4-5:30 followed by pizza and screening up at Grizzly Theatre.  FREE for all kids ages 10-18.  please spread the word to anyone you know with kids – lets get them out there on bikes and get stoked to ride!!
2.  good luck to everybody racing in Natty’s – i’ve got two words for ya: GET SOME!
 
3.  Sierra 7500 Redux – 27 and 50 mile course — registration is open and free, we’ve got a handful of people signed up already – this ride will get you fit!!.  Click here to join the madness on August 16th.
4.  Caldera 250/500 Update — I’ve been fielding a bunch of emails lately about gpx, cues, etc — everything is pretty much done for both routes – gonna be finalizing in the next couple of weeks.  I’ll write up a detailed blog post with much more info soon – it’s happening yo!!
5.  Mammoth Lakes Big Friggin Loop – mark your calendars now for Sept 6th.  the best 50 mile loop of Mammoth singletrack is back.  new for this year – the “Mini Friggin Loop” – still finalizing it – but if 50 is too much for ya, this will be a great route.  We’ll cut down some of the stuff in shady rest, and lose the san joaquin ridge climb, etc – goal is to make it around 25-30 keeping all the best elements… stay tuned…
calendar of upcoming local riding –
ride hard, smile harder.

 


Caldera 500 Update – Throwing a 250 Option in the Mix

excuse

It is true.  After consideration, mucho feedback and input, we’ve decided to make a ~250 mile route that’s basically the southern half of the Caldera 500.  Guess what we’re calling it?  Yup.  The Caldera 250.  The Grand Depart will be the same for 250 and 500 riders.  The routes are identical through the Glass Mountain Traverse, at which point 500 riders continue north, and 250 riders head west and back to Mammoth.

Our hope is this will be a viable option for riders with time constraints or who might not want to commit to the full 500 for whatever reason.  Spread the word!!

More riding.  Less couching.


Are you Kidding me? This is gonna be INSANESWEET!!

The Caldera 500 route is coming along sweet azz sweet.  September 18th is still a ways off, and we’ll probably go quiet for a bit after this update – just figured we’d throw a quick shout.  The southern half of the route is pretty much dialed in.  We’ll have to wait a couple months for snow to melt out of the Sweetwater and Glass Mountains to finalize a few bits on the northern half of the route.

Preliminary Map of the Caldera 500

Preliminary Map of the Caldera 500

All in all, Topofusion is telling me that we’re at 500.89 miles with 71k climbing at the moment. Maybe that’s accurate.

We posted a “Photo Gallery” page with a few images to give a little idea of what to expect on the route – we’ll be adding more pics soon.

We also posted our “Rules Page” – give that a looksy as well.  It’s a work in progress, and I’m sure it’s gonna ruffle some feathers – but hey, we’re doing our best to make this fair and keep with the spirit and principles of self-supported racing that have inspired us to create this route.

What else?  We’ll make a sign up page probably around July 1st.  We’ll probably recommend a $25 donation to Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra (where I’ve volunteered for the last 6 years and seen so many smiles).  We will limit the field – probably to around 50.  Who knows, we may only get 5 people to show up, but just in case… Oh yeah, we’ll be on trackleaders.com, and SPOT Trackers will be available to rent.

Okee dokes.  That’s it for now.


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.


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

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…

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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.


Road Trip – Global Fat Bike Summit 2015: Jackson, WY

Alan's Mountain Biking Adventures

For the 2nd year in a row, I jammed out to the Fat Bike Summit with a crew from Mammoth.  Last year, it was in Ogden, UT – read about it here.  This year, it was at Snow King Resort in Jackson, WY.  For those that don’t know, Snow King is the O.G. ski resort right in the heart of Jackson that opened in 1930.  Gets overshadowed by Jackson Hole Resort 12 miles up the road – think of it like June Mountain compared to Mammoth Mountain, except you can night ski for $25!

Rolling from the Antler Inn to Snow King - let the Summit begin! Rolling from the Antler Inn to Snow King – let the Summit begin!

Anyhoo, jumped in the turbo diesel Jetta Wagon with Jen and Dan at 5:30am.  Bikes and skis and fritos and tangerines packed.  Wyoming bound.  After driving about 4 hours each, and Dan only stalling 3 times, we hit the town square.  Checked in…

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Ride Report: Casa Diablo Overlook – Mammoth Lakes, CA

This is a fairly strenuous 10-mile loop that is just across the highway from Mammoth Lakes.  It starts with a nice climb behind the geothermal plant, giving you an interesting perspective of the area.  Long before the geothermal plant was built, this area was called Casa Diablo.  At one time, there were hot springs and an active geyser here.  It was a stagecoach stop around 1880, and tourist attraction in the 1920’s.  Even earlier than that, Native Americans had an obsidian mine here.  As you’re riding, look around at all the whitish areas on the slopes, created from geothermal activity of the Long Valley Caldera.

Archive photo of Casa Diablo tourist area and geyser in the background

Archive photo of the Casa Diablo tourist area and geyser in the background

Another shot of the old Casa Diablo Geyser

Another shot of the old Casa Diablo Geyser

Eventually you reach Antelope Springs Road and continue climbing this graded road before making a a right for a gorgeous descent down into the valley below.  The views of Mt. Morrison and the Sierra Crest are magnificent.  Before long, you turn right again, and start the climb to the Casa Diablo Overlook.  As you get near the top, you’ll be riding over lots of beautiful obsidian.  From the top, you can look west to Mammoth Mountain and see the geothermal plant below.  You can look to the south to see Crowley Lake and Doe Ridge, while to the east Hot Creek and the Long Valley Caldera are visible.  It’s a magnificent viewpoint and well worth the effort.  Afterwards, you complete the loop with fun descent including some rarely ridden singletrack (super fun, with a couple bits of hike-a-bike).

A very similar route, that is longer and has some more climbing,  is the Little Antelope Valley LoopBig Smokey Loop and Little Smokey Loop are also related to this ride, and can be combined for an epic day in the saddle. Confused?  Contact us and we’ll dial in a ride to suit you.

Overall, the terrain can tend to be on the sandy side in sections (especially in the summer), so this is a great ride for fat bikes or 29+ bikes.  You can do it on a regular mountain bike, but be prepared for some sandy hike-a-bike sections.

  • Ride Type:  Loop
  • Difficulty: Non-Technical, moderate to strenuous climbing with a couple short, steep spots
  • Time of Year: Spring, Summer, Fall (possible in Winter/depending on snow pack)
  • Terrain/Conditions: Mostly smooth double-track and fire road with some soft & sandy sections.
  • Access: From the junction of Highway 203 and Highway 395, go east on the 203 (away from Mammoth) towards the geothermal plant.  Make a right turn on Old Highway 395.  After approximately 0.2 miles look for a dirt parking lot on your left.  Park here, this is where the ride starts.
  • Length: 10.0 miles
  • Approx. Time: 1.5 – 2.5 hours
  • Lowest Elevation: 7,106′
  • Highest Elevation: 7,924′
  • Total Elevation Gain: 1,449′
  • Bike Recommendation: Fat Bike or 29+ because of the sandy sections, but any mountain bike will suffice.
  • GPX file: Available by contacting us

Turn by Turn (in miles):

Since this route isn’t signed, and it makes its way through a spaghetti network of OHV trails, we’re not going to post turn by turn directions.  We’d prefer you contact us for the gpx track/ map, which will set you up for success.

Casa Diablo Overlook Ride - Map.

Casa Diablo Overlook Ride – Map.

Casa Diablo Overlook Ride - Elevation Profile.

Casa Diablo Overlook Ride – Elevation Profile.

Descending towards Mt. Morrison and the Sierra Crest.

Descending towards Mt. Morrison and the Sierra Crest.

Casa Diablo Weather Station

Casa Diablo Weather Station

View from the overlook to Mammoth Mountain and the geothermal plant below.

View from the overlook to Mammoth Mountain and the geothermal plant below.

Views towards Crowley Lake and the airport from the couch.

Views towards Crowley Lake and the airport from the couch.

I love this couch that someone strategically placed up here.

I love this couch that someone strategically placed up here.

Looking back from the couch towards the radio towers.

Looking back from the couch towards the radio towers.


Ride Report: Little Antelope Valley Loop – Mammoth Lakes, CA

This is a strenuous loop that is just across the highway from Mammoth Lakes.  If you are looking for something different, want to give your lungs some work, and enjoy serenity with outstanding views – give this ride a shot.  If this ride is intriguing to you, but you want something a little shorter – try the Casa Diablo Overlook Ride – it’s very similar.  You can also tack on a little more climbing to this ride by including the short (but steep) out and back to the Casa Diablo Overlook.  If you want an epic day in the saddle, Big Smokey Loop and Little Smokey Loop connect with this route as well.  Confused?  Contact us and we’ll dial in a ride to suit you.

The Little Antelope Valley loop has three main climbs, and each is rewarded with spectacular views and smiley descents.  You start with a mild climb to get your blood pumping as you make your way around the backside of the the local geothermal plant.  As described in the Casa Diablo Overlook Ride, this is where Casa Diablo once existed.  From there, you continue climbing towards Little Antelope Valley before a speedy descent towards the valley floor.  You’re greeted with views to the Chalk Bluffs and Long Valley Caldera as you descend.  You then head south and climb some more, before the views open up again and you descend on the west side of the Hot Creek Gorge (should be short for “gorge”ous).  After making your way past an active geothermal pool (“The Jacuzzi) one last climb awaits.  The ride finishes with a short but sweet section of rarely ridden singletrack.  This last piece of ST is mostly rideable, but you’ll probably have to dismount once or twice – during a tight switchback and some techy bits.  Next thing you know, you’re back at the car wishing you took more photos.

Overall, the terrain can tend to be on the sandy side in sections (especially in the summer), so this is a great ride for fat bikes or 29+ bikes.  You can do it on a regular mountain bike, but be prepared for some sandy hike-a-bike sections.

  • Ride Type:  Loop
  • Difficulty: Non-Technical, Moderate to Strenuous Climbing
  • Time of Year: Spring, Summer, Fall (possible in Winter/depending on snow pack)
  • Terrain/Conditions: Mostly smooth double-track and fire road with some soft & sandy sections.
  • Access: From the junction of Highway 203 and Highway 395, go east on the 203 (away from Mammoth) towards the geothermal plant.  Make a right turn on Old Highway 395.  After approximately 0.2 miles look for a dirt parking lot on your left.  Park here, this is where the ride starts.
  • Length: 14.7 miles
  • Approx. Time: 1.5 – 2.5 hours
  • Lowest Elevation: 7,070′
  • Highest Elevation: 7,727′
  • Total Elevation Gain: 1,782′
  • Bike Recommendation: Fat Bike or 29+ because of the sandy sections, but any mountain bike will suffice.
  • GPX file: Available by contacting us

Turn by Turn (in miles):

Since this route isn’t signed, and it makes its way through a spaghetti network of OHV trails, we’re not going to post turn by turn directions.  We’d prefer you contact us for the gpx track/ map, which will set you up for success.

Little Antelope Valley  Loop - Map.

Little Antelope Valley Loop – Map.

Little Antelope Valley Loop - Elevation Profile.

Little Antelope Valley Loop – Elevation Profile.

Antelope Valley Road covered in some fresh snow.

Antelope Valley Road covered in some fresh snow.

One of the many fantastic views to Mt. Morrison and the Sierra Crest.

One of the many fantastic views to Mt. Morrison and the Sierra Crest.

A little geothermal well we've named "The Jacuzzi" that you'll pass along this route.

A little geothermal well we’ve named “The Jacuzzi” that you’ll pass along this route.

Hunter enjoying some of glorious views along the Little Antelope Valley Loop.

Hunter enjoying some of glorious views along the Little Antelope Valley Loop.


Ride Report: Wagon Wheel Trail – Near Mammoth Lakes, CA

Wagon Wheel Trail is a fun little piece of trail that descends rapidly from Swall Meadows Rd. until it connects with Lower Rock Creek Rd.  As the name suggests, it used to be an old wagon trail that has deteriorated over the years.  It can get loose and sandy in sections.  There are also extended sections of slickrock and various rock gardens that make this very fun on a full suspension rig.  Not many people climb it, but if you’re a climber who likes some technical challenge with a bunch of fun slickrock step-ups, give it a shot both ways.  Most people connect it with the Sand Canyon Trail to add a little more descending and mileage. Since it’s only 2 miles, and it’s over pretty quickly, it’s not usually ridden on its own.  It’s often gets overlooked by the nearby Lower Rock Creek Trail, but if you’re shuttling LRC, it’s worth it to hit Wagon Wheel either before or after, since you drive right by it.

  • Ride Type: Point to Point – as described here
  • Difficulty: Intermediate/advanced descending skills required. Some technical rock gardens and sandy sections.
  • Time of Year: Late Spring (once snow melts off), Summer and Fall – sometimes rideable during Winter as well, depending on snow pack.
  • Terrain/Conditions: Mostly singletrack, with some deteriorated doubletrack.
  • Access: Heading south on Lower Rock Creek Road (also called Old Sherwin Grade on some maps), turn right on Swall Meadows Rd.  Drive approximately 0.15 miles and there will be a dirt pullout on your left.  The trail starts here.  It is unsigned.
  • Length: 2 miles
  • Approx. Time: 10-20 minutes
  • Lowest Elevation: 5,274′
  • Highest Elevation: 6,192′
  • Total Elevation Loss: 879′
  • Bike Recommendation: Full-Suspension MTB is best, but hardtail will work as well, or a fat bike
  • GPX File: Available by contacting us

Turn By Turn (in miles):

0.0 – No directions for this one.  Simply stay on the trail until it ends by merging with Lower Rock Creek Rd. after 2 miles.  If your shuttle ride is waiting for you, jump in.  Otherwise, ride back up the road, or if your lungs and legs are up for it, ride back up the trail.

Wagon Wheel Map.

Wagon Wheel Map.

Wagon Wheel Elevation Profile.

Wagon Wheel Elevation Profile.

A dusk ride down Wagon Wheel Trail.  Gorgeous views to Round Valley and the Tungsten Hills near Bishop.

A dusk ride down Wagon Wheel Trail. Gorgeous views to Round Valley and the Tungsten Hills near Bishop.


Ride Report: Winter Snow Riding in Rock Creek Canyon

Come Winter time, Rock Creek Rd. is plowed so you can drive up 6 miles past Tom’s Place to the East Fork / Sno-Park area.  This plowing is paid for by the fees collected at the Sno-Park.  It costs $5/day to park or you can get a season pass for $25.  It’s well worth it.  Don’t even consider poaching unless you want bad karma and a $94.50 ticket.  Beyond the Sno-Park, Rock Creek Rd. is gated shut and it’s open to nordic skiers, snowshoers, and other non-motorized Winter users looking to access backcountry skiing, etc.  Rock Creek Lodge remains open with limited hours during the Winter, and often shuttles people to/from the lodge via snowmobile.  Note: Snowmobiling is NOT allowed other than in conjunction with the lodge’s operations.  Once there’s enough snow, they also groom the road and a small network of nordic trails with fresh corduroy under permit from the Forest Service.  They offer great dinners and xc skiing – you should check it out.

So how does all this relate to fat bikes??  In two ways:

First, there is a summer trail that travels along the creek, all the way to Rock Creek Lake.  In the Winter, it gets packed by snowshoers and hikers.  When conditions are right, it’s one of the best snow singletrack trails you’ll encounter in the whole region.  Lots of small bridges, some technical sections, but mostly smooth, flowing goodness with a remote feeling you don’t get here in the busy season (the campgrounds that the trail passes through are bustling all Summer long).  Because it’s never groomed, it remains legal to fat bikes all Winter.

Second, there’s a window every Winter (in recent years, a fairly large window) where Rock Creek Rd has enough snow to ski, snowshoe, fat bike, etc – but not enough to groom.   During this time frame, when the road is packed via human and snowmobile power, it is legal to fat bike.  Just like everywhere else in the Inyo NF, once grooming has commenced for the season, fat biking is explicitly prohibited. 

In some parts of the Inyo, there are online grooming reports, like this one – which helps keep track of legal fat biking opportunities.  There is no online grooming report for Rock Creek Rd.  We recommend riding the snow singletrack, but if you intend to ride on the road, please call Rock Creek Lodge to confirm whether or not grooming has begun for the season. .  They are super friendly and well-versed in fat biking.  They’ll let you know the grooming status and if conditions are welcoming to fat bikes.  There might be times when it is “legal” to ride, but they’d prefer we don’t based on conditions – PLEASE RESPECT their requests.  We want to foster a good relationship with the lodge and all user groups – so please ride RESPONSIBLY and LEGALLY.

In addition,  if you do ride the road, make sure to extend courtesy to all other user groups, stay to the right, and in snowmobile tracks when possible.  Stay in control, and use proper etiquette when passing other users on the descent.  Basically, use common sense!!

Ok.  So now that all that jazz has been discussed, get up there.  It is stellar.  Definitely worth the half hour drive from Mammoth and $5.

  • Ride Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Mostly non-technical (some rock gardens and many bridges keep you on your toes), moderate to heavy exertion based on conditions
  • Time of Year: Anytime after it’s snowed and been human-packed for the singletrack portions, and before snow grooming has begun on the Rock Creek Rd. portions
  • Terrain/Conditions: Singletrack / Wide road
  • Access: From Mammoth, take Highway 395 south approximately 19 miles, and exit at Tom’s Place.  Drive up Rock Creek road approximately 6 miles to the Sno-Park at the winter road closure.  Park here, put $5 in the envelope at the kiosk, and put the stub on your dashboard.  
  • Length: 9.8 miles
  • Approx. Time: 1.5 – 2.5 hours
  • Lowest Elevation: 8,865′
  • Highest Elevation: 9,743′
  • Total Elevation Gain: 927’′
  • Bike Recommendation: Fat Bike only with 10psi or less tire pressure
  • GPX File: Available by contacting us

Turn By Turn Directions: – We are not listing directions for this one.  We’d prefer you get the GPX file from us so we can discuss the route and current conditions.  We are privileged to ride in this area, and need to make sure it’s ridden responsibly and legally.

Rock Creek Canyon Map.

Rock Creek Canyon Map.

Rock Creek Canyon Elevation Profile.

Rock Creek Canyon Elevation Profile.

Rock Creek Sno-Park

Rock Creek Sno-Park

Don't forget to pay your $5!

Don’t forget to pay your $5!

Taking a break at Rock Creek Lodge

Taking a break at Rock Creek Lodge

Along the singletrack trail to Rock Creek Lake.

Along the singletrack trail to Rock Creek Lake.

Peaceful and beautiful - taking a break near Pie in the Sky

Peaceful and beautiful – taking a break near Pie in the Sky

A snow-covered Rock Creek Lake in the background

A snow-covered Rock Creek Lake in the background

The road from Rock Creek Lake to Mosquito Flats.

The road from Rock Creek Lake to Mosquito Flats.


Fattie Style Singletrack Snow Riding on Uptown Downtown Loop

Alan's Mountain Biking Adventures

Yesterday was blast and day of firsts for many Fat Bike Mammoth peeps.  Last year, a couple of us started snowshoe “fatpacking” the 4.25 mile Uptown/Downtown loop (up to the Earthquake Fault and back).  Then we’d reap the reward of our efforts by riding bikes on the glorious snow singletrack.  This year, we’re doing the same thing except for one extra ingredient – a local friend and Fat Bike Mammoth’er is now renting bikes 🙂

Getting ready to roll out in the Community Center Parking Lot Getting ready to roll out in the Community Center Parking Lot

*PLUG – if you wanna ride a fat bike, give Jen a call/text – she’s got the goods – 760-914-0675

Sooo… instead of just two or three of us getting the stoke of riding the shreddiest snow singletrack around, we were able to share it with 12 people yesterday!!  That may not seem like a lot, but for a small mountain biking/fat biking club…

View original post 315 more words


Ride Report: Laurel Settling Ponds Loop – Mammoth Lakes, CA

Cruising around the Laurel Settling Ponds is a peaceful ride to do pretty much year round.  It’s nice in the Summer on dirt, and it’s usually rideable in the Winter on snow with a fat bike (trucks and snowmobiles tend to pack this area out nicely).  The views are spectacular in every direction – Mammoth, The Sherwins, Crowley Lake, The Glass Mountains, etc. and the settling ponds themselves are very scenic.  It’s pretty mellow cruising, with hardly any elevation gain.  Great to take the dog on a leisurely outing.  If you’re looking for more, you can link this the Sherwin Creek/Mammoth Creek Rd. ride.  There’s also ample opportunity to explore the many forest service roads in this area, and you can head all the way to Convict Lake.  Contact us with any questions about putting a great ride together.

  • Ride Type: Lollipop (as described here – many variations exist)
  • Difficulty: Non-technical, mild exertion
  • Time of Year: All year (as long as trucks and OSV’s have packed the snow in the winter, you can ride with a Fat Bike)
  • Terrain/Conditions: 4×4 roads and doubletrack
  • Access: From the town of Mammoth Lakes, drive down Highway 203 towards Highway 395.  Just before getting on the 395 south, there’s a turnoff on Mammoth Creek Rd.  There’s a small parking area here, and oftentimes a Winter closure gate once the snow flies.  Park here and start riding south.
  • Length: 9.1 miles
  • Approx. Time: 1-2 hours
  • Lowest Elevation: 7,115′
  • Highest Elevation: 7,258′
  • Total Elevation Gain: 305′
  • Bike Recommendation: XC Mountain Bike during Summer/Fall or Fat Bike at low psi during Winter / snow
  • GPX File: Available by contacting us

Turn By Turn Directions (coming soon): – For now, just go out and explore.  It’s hard to get lost, as you can always see landmarks and you’re never far from Sherwin Creek Road or Highway 395.

Settling Ponds - Ride Map

Settling Ponds – Ride Map

Settling Ponds - Elevation Profile

Settling Ponds – Elevation Profile

Jen, cruising around the Laurel Settling Ponds on her custom steel 616 fat bike.

Jen, cruising around the Laurel Settling Ponds on her custom steel 616 fat bike.

A quaint little bridge that crosses over Sherwin Creek.

A quaint little bridge that crosses over Sherwin Creek.

Making some fresh tracks around the settling ponds.

Making some fresh tracks around the settling ponds.

A gorgeous view back to Mammoth Mountain

A gorgeous view back to Mammoth Mountain

The road less traveled - by bike.

The road less traveled – by bike.

 


Ride Report: Sand Canyon Loop near Mammoth Lakes, CA

This is one tough ride.  It takes the Sand Canyon Mountain Bike Trail, which is usually an epic shuttle ride, and massages it into one badass mamma jamma loop.  Start at Tom’s Place Resort and make the climb up Rock Creek Rd to access Sand Canyon.  After descending Sand Canyon you take Forest Road 4S54 to the left to complete the loop back to your car.  You’ll be ready for some post-ride beer and grub at the restaurant.  They also have great milkshakes.  Another great spot for some mid-ride yummies is Pie In The Sky at the Rock Creek Lake Resort.  Grab a slice before turning left at Rock Creek Lake and starting your final push up to the Sand Canyon MTB Trail.  From the top, it’s pretty much a bomber 4,000′ descent with great views in every direction before some tough and sometimes sandy climbing back to your car.  If you’re in the mood to explore and climb even more, you can take the Wheeler Crest Out and Back about 4 miles after you hit the dirt.  You can also include the Swall Canyon Trail, Wagon Wheel Trail, and Lower Rock Creek Trail for a custom loop of epic proportions.

If you have questions about any of this or tailoring a ride to suit you, send us a note.

Note:  Much of this ride is very remote.  Please be self-sufficient and carry plenty of water and nutrition as well as items to fix your bike in a jam.  Weather frequently changes as well, so be ready for anything!!

  • Ride Type:  Loop (there is also a Point to Point / Shuttle option)
  • Difficulty: Advanced descending skills and extra lungs required.  Some technical/ rock gardens and steep climbing/ hike-a-bike and sandy sections.
  • Time of Year: Late Spring (once snow melts off), Summer and Fall
  • Terrain/Conditions: Pavement climb, but mostly doubletrack/ jeep road with some singletrack
  • Access: From Mammoth, take Highway 395 south approximately 18 miles and exit at Tom’s Place.  Turn right on Crowley Lake Drive and park near Tom’s Place Resort.  Save the spots in front for customers that need it.
  • Length: 24.6 miles
  • Approx. Time: 3-5 hours, maybe more depending on skills and comfort level
  • Lowest Elevation: 6,568′
  • Highest Elevation: 10,224′
  • Total Elevation Gain: 4,339′
  • Bike Recommendation: Hard Tail or Full-Suspension MTB is best
  • GPX File: Available by contacting us
  • More info: Read Alan’s Blog on Sand Canyon

Turn By Turn (in miles):

0.0 – Start heading up Rock Creek Road.  It’s pavement, but don’t let that fool you.  You’ll be gaining around 4,000′ over 9 miles.
8.6 – Pass Rock Creek Lake Resort / Pie in the Sky on the right.
8.7 – Turn left at Rock Creek Lake.  Pass the bathrooms and continue towards the back of the lake.
9.1 – Reach the campground host on the right and some camping spots on the left.  You’ll see a green gate to your left.  This might be a little confusing, but go past the gate and soon you’ll start heading up a dirt road that’s tame at first, then becomes rocky and steep as it passes by some cabins.
9.3 – go left after a group of cabins when the road splits.  Then make another quick left and keep climbing.
9.84 – a trail joins in from the left – stay straight and keep climbing.  Breathe!
10.0 – if you clean this section, you’re a champ.  most likely you’ll be hiking your bike and looking back to the killer view of Rock Creek Lake
10.4 – you’ve reached the official trail sign/ start of Sand Canyon Mountain Bike Trail.  Sip some water and get ready to grin.  lot’s of descending ahead.  stay on the main trail
11.2 – cross the creek
13.2 – you’ll see the turn-off for the Wheeler Crest 4×4 Road to the right.  Keep straight, and get ready to climb a bit.
16.1 – stay on the main trail and rip the descent down the canyon – yahoo!!
17.5 – cross a small creek and then climb for a while10.4 – you’ve reached the official trail sign/ start of Sand Canyon Mountain Bike Trail.  Sip some water and get ready to grin.  lot’s of descending ahead.  stay on the main trail
18.5 – reach an intersection at Witcher Meadow.  continue on the main road, veer right and head down steep road towards a creek
19.8 – turn left on 4S54.  this is a power line road.  don’t miss this turn!
22.1 – continue straight, don’t go left on 4S54D
23.0 – veer right, staying on main road.  it then curves to the left, reaching pavement at 23.9 miles
24.6 – arrive back at Tom’s Place Resort

Sand Canyon Loop - Map

Sand Canyon Loop – Map

Sand Canyon Loop - Elevation Profile

Sand Canyon Loop – Elevation Profile

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