Written by Jose R. Mendez Friday, 29 July 2016 00:00
I'm from the flatlands down here in southern GA and to be honest I have NEVER been out West to ride. Business, yes. Riding, no.
So finally I made it out there with my son and had a chance to see what all the hoopla is about. I would like to highlight three things about riding on and around Mammoth Mtn...
I'll start with number 1. ;-)
Elevation. Holy crap that place is way up there. Our room was already at 8300ft above sea level! Being new to this lack of oxygen thing I did not truly understand the real effects of it. Yeah, I knew it's harder to breathe, especially at effort, but I did not think I'd be gasping like I was. It really just puts the brakes on you. I never knew walking up stairs could be so difficult.
2: The climbing was incredible. Over several days we had a great diversity of rides. But having 10 mile long stretches of basically nothing but climbing was amazing. Great training and the views at 10K were incredible. I can see the appeal to living in such a place, even if it gets way too darn cold most of the year! At least for a southerner. Our rides took much longer than we anticipated because we seemed to spend most of our time taking pictures. The sky was deep blue, the temps were in the 70s, and the roads, paved or dirt, were just too fun. We took our mtn bikes so everything was arguably a little slower but it did give us the flexibility to go on trails and off road at any time. Topping out at 10K feet, I wasn't sure if I was gasping at the views or the lack of oxygen. Either way, al the climbing was worth it.
3: One of the benefits of being at high elevation is that so much of it "is all downhill from here". We managed to make our way to the Mammoth Mtn trail system and rode the the Shotgun downhill section and the famed "downtown" trail. Downtown is a trail that while some pedaling is required, you start high and end low-ish. So basically super fun flowy trail for miles. If I wanted to nitpick I'd say I am not a fan of all that loose sandy soil that really begs for 2.3+ tires with nice big knobs; which I didn't have. I guess I'm just used to real dirt and GA clay which hooks up to like nobody's business! Still, amazing riding and a new experience for us flatlanders for sure.
So all in all we rode a couple hundred miles over the week, climbed over 10K feet, and did some of the most fun training rides I have done in years. Really reminds me why I do this stuff. If you have never made it out there do yourself a favor and schedule a trip. Iit may not be perfect but it sure felt like it got darn close. I WILL make a point to ride out that way again soon.
Now I am back at 300ft above sea level, dealing with 95F temps and 90% humidity. Home sweet home.
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