It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a bit now. There’s only one time of year that you can successfully climb all the way up to the top of Mammoth Mountain on a bike without pissing off downward-bound riders, being a douche bag for even trying, and/or getting your pass pulled. It’s in this shoulder time of October, between bike season and ski season. After the Mammoth Bike Park has closed, you don’t have to worry about getting your pass pulled or getting run over by 3″ Michelin DH tires from a full-faced clad warrior on 9″ of furious travel. Just you and mama nature. Now we’re talking. But…
Mammoth is notorious for October snow storms. This year was no exception. Between October 5-8th, we got a couple feet of snow on the mountain. It was good snow, too. Powder Dan and Dan McConnell hiked Cornice and had sweet boot top pow all the way down, and never punched through. That hyped me up, so I did a sunset hike up and boarded down with my bike lights in the dark- super sweet!! Anyhoo, the point is, the resort has been covered in snow- and my narrow window to ride to the top has been closing. Luckily, it’s been pretty warm, and I’ve been keeping an eye on the snowpack… which has been melting pretty decently. There’s still plenty of snow in the trees, and certain aspects. Screw it, I might have to go out of town for a couple weeks of work, so it’s was now or never… yesterday I decided to follow pimpology rule #1: “Hit it and quit it, don’t baby sit it.”
My route was a little roundabout with many detours due to snow, and I selfishly wanted to enjoy some fun, that wasn’t necessarily the most direct route. I made my way up the Lake Mary Bike Path to Kelly Rd, and dipped down to Eagle Lodge… and the adventure began. Up Juniper to Paper Route, over to Downtown (which I rode up- another perk of the park being closed). Once I hit Main Lodge, there was too much snow on Beach Cruiser, so I rode up the rode until the Ranger Station at Minaret Vista, then turned up Mountain View. I had to “freeride” some sections to stay out of the snow, and still wound up hiking through some snow, but not too bad. Linked up to Beach Cruiser and the trail was pretty nice out to Red’s Lake… which is what I was hoping for.
Once I got past the Chair 14 Outpost, and gained some elevation, there was more and more snow as I started up Off The Top. I figured it would’ve melted more, since the sun hits the backside of the mountain so much… but not so. Lot’s of hike-a-bike through snow drifts. So much, that I decided to break off to Kamakaze when I got the chance. Maybe since it’s a big open fire road, the snow will have melted more? Nope. But at least it was a little steeper pitch, so hiking it I was able to gain elevation quicker. There were a few sections that I could ride, and my 33:17 gearing had my legs screaming by then. Soft dirt, with a steep pitch were not ideal. But hey, I chose this torture. Get over it. Finally reached the upper junction with Off The Top, and I jumped back on it, and had relatively smooth riding all the way up the switchbacks to the top… other than snow on all the paver turns, it was awesome!!
Made it to the top. Super stoked. Sick views the whole way, and other than a few mountain employees that looked at me with disbelief, it was just me and Mammoth. Hard to think that in a couple weeks this place will be covered in white again, and my bike tires won’t touch it for 6 months.
So yeah, what goes up must fly back down Kamakaze, through the snow… so much fun!!! Downhill mountain-biking through snow is almost as fun as skiing or snowboarding it!! Slipping and sliding… reminded me of glissading in the Mammoth Crest back in June… anyhoo… Dropped into Uptown… which is such a great, flowy trail to ride down… tacky singletrack to finish the ride, and no worries of upward-bound riders… Yet another perk of the park being closed. That’s it. Done and doner. 3,500′ of climbing over a 14 mile ascent. What’s next?