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

Ride Reports

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!

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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…

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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

Dirty Teeth – 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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