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

Archive for October, 2013

Fat Bike Mammoth Meeting Notes: 10.21.13

Fat Bike Mammoth Meeting Summary: 10.21.13 / 6pm at The Clocktower Cellar

15 people attended (even without free pizza and beer).
Our meeting was mostly a “round table” discussion.  This is my interpretation of the discussion.
– What do we want to stand for/ accomplish as a group?
  • Stewards of the land – volunteering, trail work, etc – offer man-power and expertise to stewardship efforts (ex. MLTPA Summer of Stewardship Trail Days)
  • Advocates for maximizing mountain biking trail access
    • (examining, improving, and inventorying existing trails/ short term)
    • (hopes of expanding trail systems throughout the Eastern Sierra, creating new trails/ long term)
  • #RIDEBIKESWITHFRIENDS – Spreading the stoke of riding bikes – group rides, grassroots races, socializing with like-minded people, making friends, social events, etc – maximize enjoyment of the trails we have now, while trying to improve our riding opportunities for the near and long term
  • Create and nurture a mountain biking community in the Eastern Sierra
With this input, Jen Girard is working on making a “Mission Statement” for the group.Should we keep “Fat Bike Mammoth” as the group name, or create a less confusing, more general “mountain biking” name for the group?  Maybe have “Fat Bike Mammoth” be a sister group to the bigger “mountain biking group”?
  • This one was tough.  Lots of pros and cons on both sides.  Good discussion, stoked on all the input.  I’ll start with the pros for changing the name:
    • Many people don’t know what a fat bike is
    • If they do know, they assume you need a fat bike to be affiliated with us
    • They don’t necessarily associate a fat bike with a mountain bike
    • Some people have expressed confusion about what the group is about, because they think we’re only about riding fat bikes on snow
    • We might be losing possible members/supporters because of this confusion (i.e. mountain bikers that assume we’re only about fat biking
    • Mammoth is narrow.  Eastern Sierra has a broader reach.  Maybe something with Eastern Sierra in the name would be better.
  • Pros for keeping the name:
    • It’s already established.  The USFS, BLM, etc recognize us as a legitimate advocacy group based on our trail work efforts at the Lower Rock Creek Trail Day, etc.  A website is established, as well as a logo, and a brand.
    • The content of what we do will allay confusion over time.  (the more we do mountain biking rides, events, advocacy etc – the more people will understand that we are a year-round off-road cycling group)-
    • The name is catchy, intriguing and memorable.
    • Fat bikes are any bikes fatter than a road bike, so it includes mountain biking.
    • The name doesn’t mean anything – if it’s a good group, word of mouth throughout a small town will spread it.

anyone that wasn’t at the meeting who wants to chime in, now’s the time…  no vote was taken or anything like that… but it seems the majority of people wanted to keep the name as is and continue on the path we’re on now

We spoke about our pending “Special Use Winter Fat Biking” permit application – more info should be coming in by week’s end letting us know if the permit will be accepted (if so, it would allow 4 fat bikers and 4 guest fat bikers access to a few groomed osv trails for trail impact analysis that could lead to getting the forest order amended).  Jon Widen (groomer for the orange diamond trails that MMSA accesses will be involved in the analysis – he grooms the trails daily and will be able to make observations on fat bike trail impact)
We touched on the Fat Bike Summit on January 24-25 in Ogden, UT.  Hunter and I are going.  Anybody else interested in riding fat bikes and meeting with land managers from around the country who want to join, let me know.
We touched on efforts Justin Walsh is spearheading to sanction Rattlesnake Gulch Trail up by Conway Summit.  Fat Bike Mammoth will try support the effort in any way possible
We touched on the possibility we’re looking into of re-opening Mammoth Scenic Loop Trail as a non-motorized trail (since it began as a mountain bike trail years ago before it was shut down).
We touched on organizing carpooling and group rides down in The Buttermilks/ Tungsten Hills during winter.  These trails are on BLM land and they’ve expressed a willingness to improve this trail system for mountain biking – so we’re gonna try and scout/ ride this area with BLM reps to see what we can do.
We need have somebody spearhead the effort to help identify closed (previously opened to motorized traffic) trails that would be good candidates to rehabilitate into singletrack mountain bike/ non-motorized trails.  This involves connecting with Marty Hornick (USFS Trails Supervisor in Bishop) and looking at maps, taking scouting drives, etc so we can make recommendations that would help us improve possible bikepacking/ adventure cycling routes connecting different areas of the Eastern Sierra
We discussed a short-term trail maintenance project: Removing a big log that just fell across Starkweather Trail and giving the trail a “once-over” since it hasn’t seen any love in a while.  Jon Widen and I are going around lunch tomorrow to saw the tree.  We’ll try and coordinate another day (soon, before it snows) to “clean it up”.
We discussed temporary signage opportunities that would make bike routes like “Inyo Craters Loop” possible to navigate.  Maybe start with one trail, forest service would supply us with the “brown square” signs that would be “p-touched” with “Inyo Craters Loop” – this would be temporary and functional for now, until “permanent” signage would replace them.  General consensus was that something is better than nothing, and if we can improve the signage for free right now, we should do it so people can get out and confidently ride more terrain.

We discussed, brainstormed upcoming events

  • MTB rides in Bishop throughout the winter
  • Full Moon Bike Ride (might be able to coordinate with MMSA to ride up to Minaret Vista and then have food/drink at the Yodler – Caroline Casey is checking into it) – also brainstormed Tamarack, Rock Creek Lodge, McGee Creek – if you have thoughts, please share
  • World Fat Bike Day on December 7 – Trying to coordinate a demo day for fat bikes.  Get a manufacturer to send us 10 demo bikes, getting MMSA to allow us to ride a few groomed snowmobile trails – I’ll be working with Jon Widen on this one.  Will talk to QBP or smaller manufacturer (Borealis, etc) to sponsor the demo…
  • Throwback grassroots race of the Sierra 7500
  • Double High Five Why Ride/Race
  • Coyote Traverse
  • Glass Mountain Traverse
  • Mono Lake Fat 40 Loop
  • Sand Canyon, Wagon Wheel, Lower Rock Creek Super Enduro
  • Bikepacking Overnighters
  • Saturday Morning Group Rides during Summer
  • Some type of event in June Lake Area (Justin and Sarah)

Then we discussed IMBA and the options/ pros and cons of becoming a chapter – consensus was that we’re not quite there yet.  We need to establish our group, and what we are.  Baby steps.  Way too early to think about dues, non-profit status, etc

Drink Beer.  Good Times.  #ridebikeswithfriends

40 Miles of Fatty Fun: Mono Lake Loop Ride

Alan's Mountain Biking Adventures

“Flat” rides usually kinda suck.  Just my opinion.  I wanna be going up or going down with emphasis on the later.  F-L-A-T equals B-O-R-I-N-G.  Tedious, mundane, monotonous, stale… whatever you wanna call it.  Especially on a singlespeed, where you just spin out while your buddies are clickin’ away up to the big ring.

Ah ha!  Revelation.  Fat bikes take the “flat” out of flat rides.  Rides that were once impossible on mountain bikes, or considered drab and toturous if possible, have the possibility of being enjoyable with 4 inches of tire and 5 psi of pressure.

A couple years ago, I never would’ve considered riding my bike around Mono Lake.  It’s sandy.  It’s mostly double track and forest service roads.  Pretty much deal killers for a singletrack snob.  I don’t know anybody that enjoys walking their bike through beaches and dunes.  Yeah, I know… it’s a gorgeous lake.  But that’s…

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2nd Time is the Charm – Coyote Traverse Done and Doner

Alan's Mountain Biking Adventures

I’ve been thinking about this ride since back in March when Hunter and I tried it on the fat bikes.  Unfortunately, after post-holing through hip high snow for hours, we had to turn back.  Read about that knuckleheaded expedition HERE.

So yeah, I tend to get slightly obsessed with rides I don’t complete.  Luckily, it doesn’t happen often.  Only other DNF I’ve had is the Santa Fe Big Friggin Loop (I got through the first 8k climbing before double flatting, and having a bottle drop get lost/stolen, so I had to call it a day – but that’s a whole other story).  Hunter and I agreed to revisit Coyote in Sept or Oct, when the weather and conditions were more conducive to riding bikes.  So here we are.  Back at it.  Yahoo!!  This time, we decided to host a group ride through Fat Bike Mammoth and got a couple…

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Mammoth Lakes Big Friggin Loop – Cold, Windy, Awesome!

Alan's Mountain Biking Adventures

It’s been a long time coming.  We finally had the Inaugural Grand Depart for the MLBFL on Sunday, Sept. 29th.  Ten brave souls showed up in the Footloose parking lot at 7am.  One of them, Michael Kelley from IMBA, came to do the first leg of the course and show support – but everybody else had the goal of completing the full meal deal.  And guess what?  Not a single person bailed out – what an achievement!!  Times varied from around 6 hours to 8 hours.  It was cold.  It was windy.  Lots to whine about… however, nothing but smiles and positivity in the group.

I came up with a rough version of this 52 mile, 6000′ of climbing mtb route last year.  Unfortunately, because of work and all that type of nonsense, it didn’t come to fruit until this year.  I rode the Sedona Big Friggin Loop and…

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Ride Report: Mountain View Trail – Mammoth Lakes, CA

Mountain View Trail is one of the best (if not the best) public mountain bike trails in the Mammoth Lakes area. There’s an ample amount of stellar singletrack, and some wider jeep roads/ doubletrack as well. You get some great views and open vistas, and lots of forested twisty riding through the trees. It’s really a gem. It can be a little confusing, as there is also a Mountain View trail at the Mammoth Mountain Bike Park. The trail I speak of here, stretches from the Earthquake Fault parking area to just below Minaret Vista (or Minaret Summit, same thing). Many people ride this as an out and back (which is described here). It’s a great way to earn your turns. However, Mountain View Trail is also in a perfect spot to connect with many other trails, creating all types of different loop options. For example you can combine it with Uptown / Downtown, Starkweather Trail, Hard Core Trail, Inyo Craters, Double High Five Y, etc. Contact us if you’re curious about putting together some fun loops.

  • Ride Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Moderately strenuous climbing and mostly smooth descending with some sandy spots and a few technical sections.
  • Time of Year: Summer and Fall (sometimes late spring – depending on snow pack)
  • Terrain/Conditions: A mix of singletrack and jeep/ 4×4 roads
  • Access: From town, drive up Highway 203 towards Main Lodge of Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. Make a right turn at the “Earthquake Fault” sign. Park in the lot. Ride back down towards Highway 203 and you’ll see the trailhead sign on your right.
  • Length: 10.6 miles (5.3 miles each way)
  • Approx. Time: 1.5 – 2.5 hours
  • Lowest Elevation: 8,548′
  • Highest Elevation: 9,163′
  • Total Elevation Gain: 1,049′ (851′ going up, 198′ going down)
  • Bike Recommendation: XC Mountain Bike, Fat Bike
  • GPX File: Available by contacting us

Turn By Turn (in miles) for the ride UP:

0.0 – Start at the Mountain View Trailhead. Head straight up the doubletrack. Have your climbing legs on.
0.85 – veer left
0.95 – veer right
1.28 – good luck on this steep, sandy climb!!
1.5 – merge with double track, go right
1.89 – after descending and the sweeping right turn, go left at the dry creek. don’t go directly across the creek (that’s what the ATV’s do). look to the left and you’ll see a trail that crosses two bridges to get across the creek. that is the trail
1.95 – just after crossing the dry creek, go right at the singletrack marked by two wooden posts. there is no sign here (hopefully the sign will be replaced soon).
2.55 – right at junction
2.85 – go right, enjoy this part of the trail. it’s awesome!!
5.3 – reach the upper trailhead. you might want to keep going to Minaret Vista to check out the views, or try the Starkweather Trail (if it’s open), climb Hard Core, or connect with Beach Cruiser, or other resort trails. Otherwise, take a breather, and head back the way you came:

Turn By Turn (in miles) for the ride DOWN:

0.0 – head down Mountain View Trail from trailhead
2.25 – veer left at Y
2.6 – go left, continue on Mountain View Trail
3.28 – go left at T, towards Dry Creek. Then veer right. You’ll go across 2 bridges and
then veer right on fire road to start climbing. This is an important junction. You need to go right and start climbing up as you curve around to the left. If you start going left/down the road, you’ll be going completely off track.
3.93 – go left on singletrack, marked with a small Mountain View Trail sign – don’t
miss this turnoff!!
5.3 – stay straight and merge with pavement. Make a left and ride back up to your car.

Mountain View, lower trailhead

Mountain View, lower trailhead

Some sweet forested singletrack

Some sweet forested singletrack

Mountain View Climb - Elevation Profile

Mountain View Climb – Elevation Profile

Mountain View Descent - Elevation Profile

Mountain View Descent – Elevation Profile

Mountain View Trail Map

Mountain View Trail Map

Ride Report: Starkweather Trail – Mammoth Lakes, CA

The descent down to Starkweather Lake is one of the best sections of singletrack in the area. It’s 2.5 miles of rollercoaster trail bliss. The climb back up is grueling and unrelenting, but we feel it’s worth “earning your turns” for this one. There’s only one catch – this trail is closed to bicycles most of the year. You can usually only ride for a portion of May or June and September – October. If the shuttle bus is running to Reds Meadow, it’s closed to bikes. This means it’s usually only legal once the snow melts in May or June, before the shuttle starts running for the summer – or after Labor Day when the shuttle shuts down at the end of Summer. It changes from year to year, so make sure you’re not poaching before you jump on this trail.  Combine with Mountain View, Hard Core, or the Double High Five Y if you’re up for it.  You can also shuttle it if you just want the downhill jollies without heaving up a lung.

  • Ride Type: Out and Back
  • Difficulty: Moderate descent. Difficult, grueling ascent.
  • Terrain/Conditions: 100% singletrack
  • Access: From town, drive up Highway 203 towards Main Lodge of Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. Continue past Main Lodge and go all the way up to the turnoff for Minaret Vista (just before the Forest Service kiosk to go down to Reds Meadow). Make a right for Minaret Vista, and then another quick right and park in the dirt lot. Ride back to Highway 203 and cross the road at Forest Service kiosk. The trailhead is right next to the kiosk, and you’ll see the sign a few feet up the hill (see photo).
  • Length: 5.0 miles (2.5 miles each way)
  • Approx. Time: 1 – 2 hours
  • Lowest Elevation: 8,011′
  • Highest Elevation: 9,168’′
  • Total Elevation Gain: 1,213′
  • Bike Recommendation: XC Mountain Bike
  • GPX File: Available by contacting us

Turn By Turn (in miles): No directions necessary. No trail intersections. Just take Starkweather Trail all the way down to the lake. There are a few small creek crossings, switchbacks, and a couple mildly techy sections to keep your speed in check. The dirt is mostly packed with some looser pumice spots sprinkled around. For some reason, most people ride the road to get back up. I guess the climb up the trail can be intimidating, but honestly it’s not that bad. At least as not as bad as climbing Hard Core/ San Joaquin Ridge. We prefer to stay on dirt when possible, so back up the trail is the way to go!!

the trailhead sign, just across from the Forest Service kiosk

the trailhead sign, just across from the Forest Service kiosk

A view of Starkweather Lake through the pine and fir trees

A view of Starkweather Lake through the pine and fir trees


Starkweather Trail Map

Starkweather Trail Map

Starkweather Elevation Profile

Starkweather Elevation Profile

Lower Rock Creek Trail Day – SUCCESS

This year, National Public Lands Day fell on Sept. 28th.  We had the opportunity to collaborate with USFS, BLM, Friends of the Inyo, and IMBA to do some much needed trail work on the bottom section of Lower Rock Creek Mountain Bike Trail.  Lots of awesome people showed up, chomped on bagels, donned work gloves, grabbed McLeod’s and loppers, and got working.  In addition to a ton of brush clearing work, tread was improved in a few areas (the non-technical parts), and rotting bridges were repaired.  The trail was so overgrown in parts that you could not see the line at all, and a couple low-hanging branches were poised to bang your noggin (unless you’ve got wicked bike limbo skills).  All in all, the trail is gonna be riding much better now…

Anyhoo, after all the sweat and toil, sandwiches were devoured and washed down with a keg of Paranoids Pale Ale that Mammoth Brewing Company was so generous to donate.

Thank you to everybody that put this event on, and all the volunteers that spent their Saturday with us.  You Rock!! Can’t wait for the next one…