Ride Report: Silver Canyon to White Mountain Rd – Bishop, CA

Silver Canyon.  What a pain in the ass.  One of those rides that makes me second-guess riding a single dingle.  Even with a 32:20 gearing, there’s a lot of red-lining.  My heart and lungs were trying to rip through my jersey and puke phlegm on my leg warmers.  Actually a ton of negativity tends to swirl through your head on a ride like this.  You go from 4,100′ at Laws Museum to over 10,400′ at the junction with White Mountain Rd.  This 6,300′ of elevation gain is achieved over 11 miles of sustained fire road / double track climbing.  What is the reward?  I’m still trying to figure it out.  My mantra during the 1.5 hours of hike-a-bike after hitting snow for the last couple miles was, “I have my health and the love of my family.”  With that, everything becomes right again.  Of course, the solitude and spectacular views are second to none.  I guess for me, the satisfaction of completing one of the gnarliest climbs in all of California on the ss is rewarding as well.  The descent sure isn’t anything to write home about.  A brake burner and forearm shaker.  Just like Kamikaze at Mammoth Mountain – no wonder the Silver Canyon downhill was the original Kamikaze before it moved to Mammoth Mountain.  Like I said, total PITA.  I tried this ride a couple times in the last year or so.  Came up short both times.  The first time, I didn’t really know what I was getting into.  Geared 33:17 with the squish fork, I decided to do the ride on a whim on my way up to Mammoth from L.A.  I severely under-estimated it and wound up turning around at the gate around 7 miles in.  The second time was last February, and I just hit way too much snow so had to turn around about 8.75 miles in (read my previous blog post here, and see some more pics).  So yeah, completing it this time was definitely rewarding in that sense of finally “checking” it off my list.

View of the Sierras from the junction at White Mountain Rd.  Not too shabby!

View of the Sierras from the junction at White Mountain Rd. Not too shabby!

All you “Stravaddicts” out there – here’s the link.  I did it faster than anticipated, and was considering continuing up to White Mountain Peak.  Unfortunately, White Mountain Rd. was completely snow-covered- not even my fat bike would’ve been able to ride it because it was so deep.  So I just turned around, blazed down the way I came, thinking “Holy crap, how did I just ride up this junk.”  Got some gas at Vons (got $1.00/gallon with my rewards, yeah!) and then hit my spot, Raymond’s Deli for a gutbuster sandwich.

Note to self:  Please remember, you do not like this ride at all.  It’s purely a grunt climb, with no reward on the descent except for beating up your brakes and arms.  A year from now, when you forget how crappy it is, and decide to do it again, please refer back to this.

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7 Responses to Ride Report: Silver Canyon to White Mountain Rd – Bishop, CA

  1. Kathy Copeland says:

    Gnarly…I can’t believe you rode that road (and road is a way too civilized word for it!!)


    • Ben says:

      So YOU’RE SS Mammoth haha. Was just browsing the Strava “global heat map” and saw this road. Couple weekends ago I did Laurel Lakes 4×4 road and thought the same thing…and had to deal with lots of 4×4 traffic to boot. It wasn’t so much the steepness but the loose rocks everywhere. How does Silver Canyon compare? I love steep and hard, but its frustrating when your rear tire just washes out and you have to reset at 15% grade every 10 minutes. (PS The paved way up is pretty damn fun, but still damn hard)


      • ss29er says:

        Hi Ben,
        thanks interesting about the strava heat map – never heard of that… have to check it out. Silver Canyon is more rideable than Laurel. It’s non-technical and smooth for the most part. The first 7 miles are rideable with 8 creek crossings, and the last 4 miles get pretty steep and most people are dismounting for a bunch of it. You can descend the Old Silver Canyon mining road which is way more fun, and hooks back up with “new” silver canyon about 1/2 way down. If you really wanna punish yourself, you can combine silver and white mountain summit – i just rode that last weekend: https://dirtyteeth.wordpress.com/2014/09/02/white-mountain-peak-ride-silver-canyon-to-the-summit/

        not sure if you live in mammoth – but next sunday is the MLBFL – Mammoth Lakes Big Friggin Loop:

        i’ve got gpx files for everything as well… hit me up if you need anything or have any more questions #ridebikeswithfriends – thanks for the note!


      • Benjamin Raymond says:

        I saw. I wanna hit that up bad. I know the paved side of that rode from Everest last year. Won the cat 4. Just qualified for Leadville at Barnburner in Flagstaff. Pretty stoked to be mixing more MTB in with my usual roadie nonsense. Whatever, I enjoy it all on two wheels.

        I’ll be in Mammoth this weekend if you’re free, and next weekend with a teammate. Usually bring my road bike and MTB and mix it up. I tend to frequent Tioga for repeats, but this weekend I’m looking to put in a day up South Lake and Mosquito Flats. Everest is just around he corner. If you’re planning anything endurance related soon clue me in.

        Even if we don’t hook up to ride let’s meet up for beers or something. I’m up there all the time. Pass for both seasons.

        -Ben @benbikes4beer on Twitter and Instagram

        On Monday, September 8, 2014, “Dirty Teeth – Alan’s Mountain Biking


      • ss29er says:

        The MLBFL is on Sunday – it’s a good ass-kicker 50 miles, 6k climbing grassroots race… lots of singletrack with the hard core/San Joaquin ridge climb thrown in to separate the men from the boys. The course record is 5 hours 40 min. But nobody has really charged it yet- you should give it a go. It would be a good training ride for EC.

        Other than that, we are busy getting ready for meetings with the usfs re: new wilderness inclusions that would make a lot of trails illegal, including mammoth rock trail, sand canyon, and potentially silver canyon and a ton of stuff in the whites. Not good.

        Anyhoo, I’m always around for beer- I can give you some ideas for other great rides… I don’t do social media 310-801-9297 peace


  2. Pingback: White Mountain Peak Ride – Silver Canyon to the Summit | Dirty Teeth – Alan's Mountain Biking Adventures

  3. Pingback: Getting High on your own Supply: The Sweetwater Mountains Traverse | Dirty Teeth – Alan's Mountain Biking Adventures

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