Everest Challenge Trip, Bishop, CA
October 4, 2007
· Three road rides, approx. 143 miles, 20,000+ feet of climbing, in ~10 hrs riding time
· Five MTB rides in NV and CA, 133 miles, 16.4hrs, and uber amount of climbing
· Six racers in Everest Challenge, two riders for MTB riding after race
· Weather ranged from below freezing with snow to sunny and 80F during day
· No flats, mechanicals, or mishaps, except for a nutritional failure and a physical problem during EC race
Friday, Sept. 21
Recovery Road Ride in Bishop
trip was a long time in the making. A
pre-shipped road bikes out to
The eastern Sierra’s. Lots of snow cover that fell in last day or two.
Ride group heading south on Bishop side street.
After a short test spin, Dave and Rich decided to continue riding further, heading a good ways up final climb of stage one. The rest of us jumped into one of the minivans to survey the first couple climbs of the Saturday’s stage. The first climb was huge, over 20 miles, and it gained nearly 6000ft. Some rollers along the way increased the total climb. Views were stellar everywhere.
Part way up
Descent into a ravine while still
Approaching Pine Creek summit, climb #2 in first stage. This turned out to be climb #3 with alternate course.
Everest Challenge: Stage 1
Saturday, Sept. 22
92.5mi, 6:14 ride time
After our driving tour, we had a good dinner and hit the sack early. The forecast for the next morning was bleak, 10-15” of overnight snow down to 7500ft, 80% chance of rain in the valley on Saturday, and chilly temps. Overnight, it stormed something fierce. Heavy rain, hail, and lightning in Bishop. It woke all of us up. Getting up in the morning, the rain had stopped, but everything was wet. The mountains were much whiter than the day before. Tom had gotten up at about 4am to eat at Denny’s so that his food would have time to settle before his 6:30am start. We ate at Denney’s much later than that and waited forever to get served. No surprises there. There was no immediate rain in the area, so we had our hopes up.
A complete race report will not be given here (follow this link). I did not finish the first stage, cramping up severely just before the finish line. It never poured on our race, although we did encountered brief sprinkles a few times. This was barely enough to make the roads wet one time. But we stayed dry and bikes stayed clean for the most part. That was a huge relief.
View from hotel balcony pre-sunrise on race day (slow shutter speed, no tripod).
From food station near final climb of stage 1, looking up climb towards finish about 1km away. It snowed heavily shortly after taking this photo. This is just above 9000ft.
Everest Challenge: Stage 2
Sunday, Sept. 23
40.8mi, 3:08 ride time
So stage 1 was a disaster for me, but I was not going to let my destroyed legs keep me off the bike the next day. After dropping racers off at the start in Lone Pine about 15 miles away, I went back to the hotel and stewed over not racing. Sunday was a beautiful day. The vertical not covered on Saturday would be made up by extending one of the climbs up and over the mountain pass a short distance before turning around and coming back up and over. The last climb of stage 2 would be the biggest in this year’s EC, gaining over 6200ft net in 20 miles to 10,100ft elevation. When I dropped the other guys off, my plan was to do some easy spinning in town to work out the knots in my muscles from the severe cramping episode the day before. But it was too nice, so I loaded the bike up in the van and headed back to Lone Pine to ride up the finishing climb. I figured I had low gears, all the time in the world, and I could just soft pedal up it. Then I could wait for the others to finish their race and take lots of pictures. Going was tough at first, but half way up, most of the knots were working out and I could put out enough power in short sleeves to keep warm.
Starting area of Stage 2. The first climb of stage 2 goes right up the mountains in the distance.
Couple miles into final climb of race.
First food stop setting up on final climb of race.
A tight squeeze spot where road briefly goes down to one lane.
The dreaded switchbacks. The climb was persistently steep in this section, but it was a blast to descend.
A very steep spot just before wonderful vista pull-off on the left. Two local riders out for a ride are just cresting this steep pitch.
Just about to the finish looking back down. Bits of snow in the shadows here.
Looking in upward direction from same
spot of photo above. This is right
around 10,000ft level on
And the sign...
The finishing food station just past and below the finish line. Nobody has made it up yet other than a couple local riders. Very cold here. I made it up in short sleeves but needed to quickly get into my long layers. I still shivered a bit in them.
Another shot of finish after several racers have come up. Clouds would intermittently move through and the temp would drop dramatically.
Tom finishing up his race.
Rich approaching the line and even smiling. That’s just not normal.
Dave finishing. He does not look happy.
And myself. Disappointed I didn’t finish, but happy to be up here.
covers the race. I never got to see
two of the climbs from stage 2. Maybe
next year. After feasting in Bishop
and sleeping in the next morning, we packed up the bikes. We dropped them off at a FedEx/Kinko’s in
Epic MTB Ride #1
Tuesday, Sept. 25
Tahoe Rim Trail/Flume Trail
29.8 miles, 3:48 riding time, 4:24 total time
Rich and I went back to Flume rentals about 9:30 to pick up our bikes and begin the ride from right there. I had originally planned to do a slightly bigger Mr. Toads Wild Ride loop, but Rich really wanted to hit the Flume Trail loop again. He had been out there several years ago. The change in plans was fine by me, and the Flume trail was the one I most wanted to hit while out there too. I’ve wanted to ride it ever since reading about it maybe 7 or 8 years ago. My legs were still in sad shape from cramping incident during race, but I survived. Temps started out with frost on car in the morning warming to around 60F at 9000ft in the afternoon.
started up the
Climb up to the Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT).
The TRT above
Rich on TRT descending north of Marlette Lake
Getting into the tight stuff.
Other side of the squeeze.
Some more exposure.
Views were tempting, but best enjoyed after stopping in sections like this.
Rich on the TRT.
Epic MTB Ride #2
Wednesday, Sept. 26
Downieville XC Loop
41.5 miles, 4:30 riding time, 5:30 total time
our Flume Trail epic, we headed to
With full Camelbaks and a large water bottle on the frame, we headed out initially on the paved Rt 49. After 6 miles of gradual climbing, we picked up the dirt FS-93 fire road. This climbed earnestly for 14 miles. Yep, we had to climb for 20 miles before we got to anything that resemble a trail. This resulted in a net gain of about 4200ft. But total climbing for the ride was much greater than this, as there were other large descents and climbs before we got into the singletrack. From the saddle, we took FS 93-31, then FS 93-3 to pick up Big Boulder Trail. An insane descent ensued, using every bit of suspension my FSR had to offer. Baby heads, loose slabs of rock, sand, gravel, anything but firm buff soil to ride on. After crossing Pauley Creek, and equally insane climb ensues. This seemed to go on forever, maybe not quite as gnarly, but lines had to be carefully picked on this climb lest you spin out. But finally after reaching the top of this one, climbing for maybe 3 hrs, were at the top at last.
ride back down to Downieville was one of my best 15
miles on a bike ever. Nearly all down
hill, buff and scary fast at times, tight switchbacks at other times, and
fear of death ledges along the river.
We took Big Boulder Trail down to 3rd Divide, then
turned up 3rd Divide for just a bit to pick up the upper end of 2nd Divide
Trail. This was the nicest part of the
ride for me. Nice views of the gorge,
but lots of exposure. Not all down
either, but mostly. 2nd Divide pops
ride on scenic Rt 49 along
Rich climbing on the very long FS 93 fire road.
Further up FS 93 on ridgeline. Many areas here had these bands of funky fluorescent green moss wrapping around the trunks.
Craggy peaks called Sierra Buttes. This might have been from FS 93-31.
Nearing finish of climbing to top of Big Boulder Trail.
Beginning of miles and miles of descent nirvana. Top of Big Boulder Trail. Thousands of feet of drop back to Downieville. Yummy...
One of the more exposed parts near
top of Big
A fine specimen of old growth.
This might have been 2nd Divide Trail.
Exposure on 2nd Divide.
Probably 1st Divide Trail here, as river is now on right side. Smooth, fast, but quite exposed in spots.
More 1st Divide Trail with stream far below.
A nice vantage point...
and going over the edge here is not an option.
Final shot of Downieville ride.
Epic MTB Ride #3
Thursday, Sept. 27
34.5 miles, 4:01 riding time, 5:00 total time
We would need an early start on this ride in order for Rich to get his bike back to rental shop in time. He flew back the next morning. I had a lot of uncertainty in how long this ride would take. It was less miles, but so many reports warned it takes longer than you think due to a lot of climbing and the technical, risky nature of the trail. It is rumored guys got caught in darkness out here and had to spend the night in the woods (there are animals that eat humans out here – bear scat was all over the place). We didn’t anticipate roughing it overnight in the woods, but we had a schedule to keep.
we got started around 8:30am with full Camelbaks
and extra water bottle each. The ride
begins with some steep dirt road climbing on N. Bloomfield Rd, picking up a
really sweet singletrack trail called Rim Trail around the Malakoff Diggins site for 3 miles, then resuming climbing on
one-lane Relief Hill Rd. The Rim Trail
was a nice early morning treat. Buff
stuff without too much climbing. But
about half way around on it, something very big went crashing into the brush
right in front of me. I suspect it was
a bear. I made a racket to make sure
it kept going. Eventually the
up the South Yuba River Trail at the trailhead near
Starting out on South Yuba River
Trail, the more technical section near
Typical bench-cut ledge on S. Yuba.
Rich pondering the depths of this very deep pool in the S. Yuba River. No room for error here. Stop before looking.
Most of the rivers around here had a green tint to them, but the S. Yuba in particular had an iridescent green glow too it.
More skinny ledge on the S. Yuba.
Magical green swimming holes.
The water might have been 10-15ft deep here, yet crystal clear.
My favorite view from the ride. Click on this photo to open a large panoramic view. View at 100%, full screen, and pan around. Taken with Panasonic Lumix FX-100, three stitched exposures at ISO100.
From same vantage point above, capturing a bit of the trail surface.
MTB Riding, Day #4
Friday, Sept. 28
Hole in the Ground Trail
17.0 miles, 2:19 riding time, ~3hrs total time
Tahoe Rim Trail
10.5 miles, 1:15 riding time, ~1.5hrs total time
was 30-40% chance of rain in the forecast this day. Skies were mostly cloudy. I dropped Rich off at the airport and
headed back west on I-80 to
The middle section of the ride was very technical. I could ride all of it, but for me to carry speed would entail considerable risk. I was riding alone and had two expensive cameras with me. Lots of slick rock, ledge stair step drops, loose switchbacks, washboard coming into switchbacks, it was all there.
The descent finished out on a section called “The Steps.” These were first rail road tie erosion control bars, but spaced closely enough together that you’d be hitting more than one at a time. There were also some very big, steep rock bars too with loose dirt in between. I had trouble controlling my speed on this stuff and ended up walking a segment. I didn’t want to break my digital SLR camera (that’s my sorry excuse anyway).
bottoming out at the bottom of the steps, climbing on gravel road and some
more singletrack begins. I didn’t
study the topo of this ride, but it descending a
long ways down the west side of
Hole in the Ground climbing switchbacks with moss-ringed trees.
View of Castle Peak (9100ft) from
Beginning of Hole in the Ground singletrack descent. It was fast and swoopy here, but not for long.
Continuing Hole in the Ground descent.
Looking back up Hole in the Ground.
The trail became many miles of rock garden like this. All rideable. There were lots of slickrock side features that others appeared to play on.
Self portrait on Hole in the Ground loop.
I took a short spur to see
A nice meadow near the lake just before wrapping up the descent on the “Steps” section.
being early in the afternoon, I just could not bring myself to calling Hole
in the Ground the last ride of the trip.
I had several hours before the rental bike had to be back. After wolfing down a large sandwich at Quiznos and picking up a grande
Starbucks, I was good to go for at least a little bit more. I drove up Hwy 431 from
It was extremely windy this afternoon, and so far the threat of rain held off. I had to brace myself to take pictures from the ridgeline. It was also very cold up here, maybe only in the 40’s. I wore long layers, two up top including wind breaker. Could have used an ear band. Lots of riders were out on this, despite being a Friday afternoon. The scenery was spectacular almost everywhere. I only had about an hours’ time, so I turned around just over 5 miles out on this trail. Not stopping to take pictures on the way back to the car was nice on this flowy trail.
Tahoe Rim Trail from Hwy 431.
View along TRT. Trail actually cuts through the center of this image but not visible without blowing up high-res photo.
Other riders shredding on TRT.
Different view of
trip overall was a success, despite my race being a major
disappointment. I haven’t decided yet
whether I’ll come back to redeem myself in the Everest Challenge. It requires a pretty big time commitment, logistically
is tough to get self and bike to, and requires a season long focused training
regimen. I would do more mountain biking around
now color another state in on my map of states I’ve
Compiled by Doug Jansen