A local bike shop mapped out a ride for us, the plan being to ride around Inyo Craters after riding up from town. We woke at 6:00 and got to the hotel breakfast bar before everyone else. Sorta-eggs, bacon, and caffeine served as fuel for the ride.
We found the parking area by the trail. Runners were already out and about on the dirt. Up we went, a steep, punchy climb on single track that led to two-track. At this point, 5 minutes into it, we weren’t sure if we were going the right way. The basic map with hand-drawn lines wasn’t giving us much confidence. Back down the trail we went, hoping to find a definitive route that would lead us to the signs that look like this:
Eventually, we were pedaling back up the same way that we had done at the start of the morning. We kept going on the forest road, grinding on loose, sandy Sierra back roads, which we’d end up doing for 3 more hours. Nevertheless, while up there, meandering in the direction of Inyo Craters, we reveled in the high Sierra solitude. We saw the Mammoth to June Lake signs, thinking that it would be a cool ride to do some day.
“You’ll come to an intersection that looks like a peace sign. Go this way,” the bike shop guy drew a line. We came upon it, and went that way.
Great. We finally were at a point on the map that we could pinpoint. More xc grind had me thinking that a fat bike would be nice to have. Following the brown signs with yellow bikes, we made turns here and there and then started going down. We stopped. A pick up truck came slowly bouncing down the road. The driver looked at our map. He couldn’t really decipher it, but did know that the hard road was at the bottom and that Inyo Craters was out there.
We went down. A man pushed a loaded-down commuter bike with “hybrid” tires up the two-track. Maybe he was going to camp out somewhere for the night. He was dressed in jeans, a t-shirt, and work boots.
We crossed the hard road and continued on the double track. It ended quickly. Another look at the map, and we decided to go up. We saw the brown signs with yellow bikes.
Then we went down, way down, and I nearly wrecked into a tree when my front wheel washed out/sank deep into sand. We regrouped, and pedaled on.
“That’s a lot of elevation that we just lost.”
“Hope we don’t have to climb back up that shit.”
Next thing you know, we arrived at a T with the brown sign/yellow bikes and arrows going both ways. We thought we were at the Inyo Craters loop.
“Go left on the loop,” the bike shop guy’s voice echoed in our heads.
We pedaled, and pedaled, not really going clockwise, but more like a twisting straight line in the direction of Mammoth Mountain, which we could see through the trees after a while.
“I think we turned left too soon.”
Not long after that realization, we stood by our bikes at an intersection of Mountain View Trail.
“How’d we get here?”
“Should we go up?”
We heard voices. A minute later, two downhillers come into view and stop to chat. We figured out where we were, and decided to take the single track off of Mountain View that leads into Uptown/Downtown.
The views were great. The pedaling was easy. The trail was not technical. It ended and we crossed the road into Uptown.
Uptown/Downtown, though fast and with all that flow, got boring, for me. How many swoopy turns can one do before it all feels the same?
Back in town, we made our way to the car, packed up, stopped at the brewery for lunch, and then got on the road to Sierraville.