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 other buddies to do it with us, and had a blast!! John, Jeremy, Jeff, Hunter, and myself. Gangster Squad.
The Coyote High Sierra Traverse is no joke, even under the best conditions. It doesn’t seem all that bad on paper. 4,700′ of climbing over 24 miles. Then you get a wicked 11 mile road descent into Big Pine to finish it off. No biggie, right? Wrong. The Coyote toys with you. It makes you climb and climb and climb until you’re at the point of thinking “What the fu*k am I doing? Is this fun?” and right then, it flattens out and shoves a sick view of the Sierras down your throat as you’re gasping for breath. Nothing like a wheezing smile at 11,000′ to keep ya moving forward. More views, now of the White Mountains, Bishop seems so far off in the distance. Spin around. There’s Mt. Tom. Spin around again. The Palisades. Is this for real? Yup. Now you’re thinking, “How is riding a bike so much fun, even when you’re pushing it?” You look around at your friends huffing and puffing, and the next thing you know you’re at the highest point of the ride, chomping on some almonds, and picking out peaks.
You’ve gained about 2,300′ in the first 6 miles. Nice to get a big chunk of the climbing done before the jello has set. After that, it mellows out, but you’ve still got a good amount of riding in front of you. The Coyote Flats are basically flat, but the sandy conditions keep you pedaling even on slight descents. You forget about that though, because you just keep looking around, at all of the majesty. You feel lucky. So lucky to be in awe of some of Mother Nature’s best work. I wonder what took me so long to finally make it up here. I’ve been living in Mammoth and mountain biking for 6 years now, and this scenery is up there with the Monarch Crest, Sedona, Hurricane, you name it… and it’s right in my backyard. P.S. – my wife is watching old episodes of Beverly Hills, 90210 while i write this… shout out to The Peach Pit! Steve Sanders and the power mullet what what?
So yeah, if you’re thinking of doing this ride, you can get out all the tech, cue sheet, gpx, etc from the Fat Bike Mammoth- Coyote Traverse Page. I’m not gonna give you a play by play… but the character of the ride changes dramatically once you hit Baker Cabin and cross Baker Creek. Good thing Hunter found the Crown Royal in the cabin and tested it out, because the last few miles going into Glacier Lodge were either hike-a-bike ups, or techy, steep, sloppy descents. These trails seem like they’re never ridden. Full backcountry expedition style riding here. The trail gets so faint, a GPS is pretty much a necessity… even with Jeremy’s navigation skills, and experience on these trails.
Anyhoo, finally made it to Glacier Lodge and descended to our car at Big Pine in huge winds… stopped at Burger Barn in Bishop, had a Ryan’s Goodieburger (mahogany smoked bacon and bleu cheese) with a vanilla shake (homemade ice cream). Recharged!! Back to the car… drive back to Mammoth – so stoked to have shared this adventure with friends, pumped up for more. More. More. #ridebikeswithfriends.