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Mountain-biking Friends Take on Mammoth
October, 2018 - Issue #169
courtesy of Shutterstock
courtesy of Shutterstock

Three thousand, one hundred feet. Seventy miles. Seven pitchers. Six guys. Three days. One question.

That's a rough accounting of the recent expedition undertaken to Mammoth by a group of mountain-biking friends - James, Mike, Jason, Todd, Tony and me.

Before we take apart the numbers, we first have to thank James. Because without him, this trip wouldn't have happened. Sure, we all thought a long weekend bombing down Mammoth's groomed bike trails was a great idea when he pitched it. But he did all the work. Booked the condo, researched the tickets, organized planning meetings and even drove there and back. So, thank you James! And, thank you to our wives, who graciously agreed to cut us loose for a long weekend.

"The Intermediate trails handed us enough challenge and variety that we didn't need to go looking for more ADRENALINE. From the long straight-aways on Off the Top, to the tight switchbacks on Midtown, to the fast and flowy Beach Cruiser, we all found sections we loved - and sections that pushed us."
What makes Mammoth such a premier ski destination also makes it a must-ride mountain-biking Mecca: miles of groomed trails, gorgeous scenery, convenient access to the mountain and gravity. That's where the 3,100 feet comes in. The gondola carries you to the top of the mountain and gravity does the rest. But you better hold on tight, because it can be unforgiving. Just pick a trail and go.

There's Kamikaze, which started as a race course for one of the oldest downhill races, and mellower options, too. Almost half of the mountain's 84 miles of trails are labeled beginner or immediate. It's accessible to everyone, from the novice to those tuning up for the Red Bull Rampage.

Our group stuck to the blue trails - Intermediate - and took seriously the Expert and Pro descriptions warning of "elevated risk of injury or death from falling." Sure, the lawyers insisted on that language, but looking at those trails from the gondola, it was easy to see the mapmakers weren't exaggerating.

Frankly, the Intermediate trails handed us enough challenge and variety that we didn't need to go looking for more adrenaline. From the long straight-aways on Off the Top, to the tight switchbacks on Midtown, to the fast and flowy Beach Cruiser, we all found sections we loved - and sections that pushed us.

More than once, that push became a shove. A couple of us, me included, found ourselves in the dirt, wondering what just happened. Aside from scrapes and bruises, no serious injuries resulted.

Over the course of three days on the mountain, we all rode at least 70 miles, while James and Jason pushed 100. Which means we rightfully earned the seven pitchers of Mammoth Brewing Company's finest varietals that we sipped during our two nights dining there.

Yep, you read that right. Of all the dinner choices in town, we opted for that one twice. With a lively outdoor patio scene, fine selection of beer and delicious food by The Eatery, it's the type of place that keeps you coming back. If you only go once, however, get the Damn Good Burger. It's a half-pound of grass-fed beef topped with smoked Gouda and dressed in house sauce and bacon red onion jam. It lives up to its name with every juicy bite.

Ride. Eat. Sleep. Repeat. That was our routine, punctuated by restorative visits to the hot tub. We stayed in the St. Anton condos, near Canyon Lodge, and it proved to be the ideal location. In the morning, we coasted downhill to the Village where we picked up the shuttle to the Main Lodge. And when we finished for the day, we rode directly back via Downtown to Gopher Trail to Big Ring.

So those are the relevant stats from our weekend. Did I forget anything? Oh yeah, that one question. So who among us will be the first to tell his wife we're planning to ride in Utah next year?
Eric Harnish lives and rides in Castaic.

BIKE IT!
Mammoth Bike Park
mammothmountain.com

Mammoth Brewing Company
mammothbrewingco.com

St. Anton Condos
stantoncondos.com
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