Life’s wildest adventures always start with that one word. After that, all that’s needed is momentum and flexibility. Just last week, a phone meeting with a coworker about the unseasonably warm winter in Mammoth led to a loose plan to hit the road. Could I make an impromptu solo journey to explore trails, unwind in the geothermal springs of the Eastern Sierra, hoist a few pints with the Kitsbow clan, and properly launch our new Icon LTD in the volcanic landscape that inspired its creation? Yes. Would I like to take the Kitsbow Sprinter on a roadtrip? Hell yes.
After only a day of prep and planning, the Sprinter was eastward bound – since the Cyclocross National Championships were taking place in Reno that day, a long detour was in order to catch some high-level racing. Several hours of mindless freeway cruising ended at Peavine Mountain, a trail system near the race venue where a brief blast of sagebrush-lined singletrack soothed my roadworn soul enough to go socialize and watch the battle for the Men’s Elite title.
Afterwards I met some friends for burgers, met some other friends for roller skating, and then pointed the Mercedes behemoth southward and rolled into the night.
I woke up roadside to a brilliant sunrise illuminating Genoa Peak, then drove over snow-dappled Monitor Pass, past aspens that parted to reveal butter-yellow, rust-red, and oregano-green Mono Valley. At Bridgeport, I took a detour to serene Twin Lakes for some trail time.
Starting from the desolate off-season lakeside camp, I started pedaling up Horse Creek and didn’t stop for over three miles, up 1475 feet, past awestruck European climbers in full winter kit, past the snow line, past frozen waterfalls and severely tight switchbacks, until I hit Hoover Wilderness.
I disembarked from the bike and hiked to an open creekside meadow and basked in the views of the looming snow-covered Matterhorn Peak. Then back to the bike, back to the Sprinter, and onward to Mammoth.
Mammoth Lakes is a hard-working, hard-partying resort town. During my sampling of watering holes, I met folks who worked on the mountain as ski patrollers, wildland firefighters, mountain bike guides, and ski instructors. No pretension, just real mountain people. My hosts Kevin and MJ, both part-time Mammoth locals, gave me a solid sense of what goes down after the ski day comes to a close: great beer, bar games, and a real sense of community among the locals.
It wasn’t easy to stick to low-elevation trails in the shadow of Mammoth Mountain, historic birthplace of skinsuit-wearing, Kamikaze-bombing, modern American DH. But with the mountains covered in white stuff, I made my own fun by pedaling moto trails to Shady Rest, across town to a formidably icy Mammoth Rock Trail, then hitting the 395 South to soak in some mineral-laden, geothermally-heated earth juice.
Next on the agenda: who doesn’t love a treasure hunt? We celebrated the arrival of the limited edition, Inyo-inspired Icon V2 by hiding a Yeti Rambler bottle in the obsidian- and granite-flecked landscape at the Lower Rock Creek trailhead. Whoever found the bottle (with a winning ticket inside) would win a peerless Pendleton® built for mountain biking.
After hiding the bottle, I dropped in to LRC with a dumb grin plastered on my face throughout the eight-mile descent. Creekside canyon cruising, flowy bermy goodness, and incredibly technical big-rock moves are all on the menu at LRC.
When I made it back to the Sprinter, I happened to meet the winner of the treasure hunt: a Mammoth local named Brett riding a bikepacking rig. Great guy. He was stoked to win, and I was stoked to meet another member of the Kitsbow squad.
The next day was a blur of blacktop as the Sprinter and I hightailed it back to our corner of Northern California. Where will the Sprinter go next? As long as we keep momentum and stay flexible, adventure is ours for the taking. We just have to say yes. See you out there.
Photo 6 by Mitchell Quiring
All other photos by Nicholas Haig-Arack
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