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Old 07-24-07, 09:40 AM   #1
blue_nose
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Ride report up White Mtn to the Ancient Bristlecone Forest - long

Just back from a week up in the Sierra Mountains. My wife and kids and I spent a few days in Yosemite, through the Tioga pass and spent a couple of days in the Eastern Sierra’s. We spent most of the time hiking with the kids, but I did bring my bike with me and got in a few rides throughout the week. The day before we headed home, my wonderful wife sag’d me up White Mountain to the top of the Ancient Bristlecone Forest - one of the passes of the Everest Challenge. Below is my ride report and some pics. I really enjoyed this climb and would rank this as one of my favorite climbs that I have ever done. I hope to do this again in September as part of the EC, and hopefully it will be much cooler. Apologies for the length.

The climb starts just outside of Big Pine (just south of Bishop) and climbs 24 miles up Hwy 168 to just over 10,000 feet. Last year I camped with a buddy and we took our mountain bikes all the way to the summit which is 14,000 feet. I didn’t fair to well in this ride and suffered from the altitude and got quite sick on the descent. Here is my ride report from last year: White Mountain ride report

This year, I opted for the road bike and hoped not to experience any of the drama of the previous year. We camped the night before north of Bridgeport a couple of hours north of the ride start. Unfortunately, there was a fire off the 395 that closed to road for a few hours and we were delayed getting to start of the climb. I was worried about the temperatures during the ride and wanted to get an early start – strike 1. We were also diverted from getting an early meal, so I had lunch in Bishop about 45 minutes before the ride – strike 2. When I started the ride it was 99 degrees out, which is way hot for a coastal boy like me. Although the temperature was not ideal, I figured it would start to cool as I ascended the mountain.

The ride started with a short flat section and then quickly turned up the mountain. The temps started to climb steadily and within the first 30 minutes I felt like my helmet was going to pop off the top off my head. As soon as the road turned upwards I hit a bit of a headwind and it literally felt like I was sucking air directly from a hair drier. My wife was following behind in our car and passed me letting me know the temperature had increased to 102. By the time I passed her at the next pull-out the temp climbed to 104. I rode slowly past my wife and rode for another 10 minutes. The road was pretty steep and I felt like I was riding in an oven, my heart rate was really high and I was suffering. My wife pulled along side and let me know that the temp was now up to 106 and proceeded to let me know that she thought that this was stupid, dangerous and offered a few other words that cannot be repeated on a public forum. She asked me to get in the car and drive up the mountain to where the temps would be more manageable. I told her I was going to go easy and try and nurse my way up this section. This was really tough, the climb was not that difficult, but I was in total temperature management mode. At the next turn out I caught up to my wife and got off the bike. I felt like if I took another pedal stroke I was going to completely over-heat. I got in the car for a few minutes and had as many AC vents as possible pointed at me. I drank a bunch of water and then got back out on the bike, much to the disappointed of my wife who was still lobbying for some hill repeats near the summit instead. The next couple of miles were pretty much the same. I drank a ton of water, rode at a frustrating slow pace and just tied to manage my body temp.

Eventually the temperature dipped below 100 and slowly started to decline. When I crested over 7,500 feet there is a bit of a flat section and I actually started to feel cool. I pulled over for another bottle and the temp was down to 90 degrees. After I hit the 8,000 foot marker, there were a series of pretty steep switchbacks to contend with, but I was feeling a little better as the temps were much more manageable. I eventually passed my wife who had pulled over to the side of the road to document me going into 5 digits of elevation. This is the highest I have been on my road bike

I pulled into the parking lot of the Bristlecone Forest, cleaned up and forced down half a turkey sandwich. I actually felt pretty good, and we took our kids on a small hike to an old mining entrance and took a few snaps of the park we had not seen before. My wife dove down the mountain and the turkey sandwich I had eaten was churning like a washing machine in my belly. I will spare anyone reading the details, but let’s just say I have been on this mountain two times and both times I have not been able to keep down my lunch. At least I am consistent

My wife thinks that I was probably suffering from a bit of heat stroke, but I teased that she just drives too fast on the switchbacks and I got car sick. All kidding aside, I am blessed to have such a great wife, as there was no way I could have done this ride without her SAG support. I can’t imagine it can be too much fun yo-yoing up a mountain at 10 miles an hour. I went through nearly a gallon of water during the ride. Also a big plus on this ride were the other cars that passed me along the way. I think just about every car slowed down and yelled out some form of encouragement. When the temps were really high, a few cars that did not realize that I had a support car actually offered me some of their water.

Pictures below.

Last edited by blue_nose; 07-24-07 at 04:53 PM.
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Old 07-24-07, 09:41 AM   #2
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Smiling at the beginning:


I started right off the 395 and headed up Hwy 168. There is small two-mile section before the road starts to climb.


I am really suffering from the heat in this picture:


Cool shot where you can see the temperature outside and see me in front of the support car. The temp climbed to 106 shortly after my wife took this shot.

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Old 07-24-07, 09:43 AM   #3
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Cool shot using car mirror (tribute to chimivee):


Switchbacks never real come out properly in a photograph, but this one section provides a pretty decent illustration what they are like:


Good view of the Sierra Mountains in the background:


A little reprieve over this hill, before the switchbacks become pretty steep:

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Old 07-24-07, 09:44 AM   #4
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Holly long post Batman. These are the last two shots!

Crossing the 10,000 mark. This is the highest I have been on my road bike:


Here is the elevation profile for the ride:

Last edited by blue_nose; 07-24-07 at 09:52 AM.
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Old 07-24-07, 09:45 AM   #5
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Nice! I love the in-car shots.
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Old 07-24-07, 10:28 AM   #6
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That's beautiful, and looks like it would be a lot of fun in cooler weather.

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Old 07-24-07, 10:31 AM   #7
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Awesome, Gary. (sounds like quite the suffer-fest) Good job! I remember your previous report when you climbed it on your MTB. I'm definitely adding this to the to-do-when-cooler list.
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Old 07-24-07, 10:32 AM   #8
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Awesome looking ride. Love the pictures. I don't know how you handled that kind of heat. I am a costal SD'er too and I would have melted in that kind of heat.


Do you have any ride stats? Avg spd, total time, avg HR etc..?
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Old 07-24-07, 10:39 AM   #9
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nice ride blue_nose

What blood doping do you use?
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Old 07-24-07, 10:51 AM   #10
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Nice pics! Brings back some slightly painful memories. I did it in early June when I was up there for the Eastern Sierra Double, and luckily it wasn't nearly that hot yet; although the lower parts of the descent felt like a blast furnace. Must be great to have SAG on that! 2 water bottles was cutting it close for me. Should have ridden down it! You might have kept your lunch =).
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Old 07-24-07, 10:55 AM   #11
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I admire you, as we we're driving up & back to Tahoe for the Death Ride, a couple of weeks ago, I noticed the temperature as were driving, plus when we refueled in Bishop the heat was very noticable. Back in early June I climbed the 395 side of Monitor in the heat, 90-105, and I was toast after only 10 miles and 3200 ft of climbing. My wife sagged for me too, it sure helped.

Again, congrats on your climb.
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Old 07-24-07, 12:00 PM   #12
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Nice ride, brings back some painful memories
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Old 07-24-07, 12:52 PM   #13
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Do you have any ride stats? Avg spd, total time, avg HR etc..?
Here is my MotionBased activity for the ride. Pretty slow climb, but the heat really swamped me. My heart rate was also quite high, but I had some strange readings at the beginning that make the average a little higher than it was.

http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/activity/3377816

Ride time: 2hrs - 47 min
Distance: 22.9 miles
Avg speed: 8.2 mph
Avg heart rate: 162 bpm
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Old 07-24-07, 12:53 PM   #14
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everyone was up in the eastern sierra last week! the wife and i spent a week in mammoth. i took all my stuff(including a mountain bike), and rode a whopping ten miles.....this ride looked WAAAAY better, but also WAAAY hotter!
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Old 07-24-07, 12:56 PM   #15
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Nice ride, brings back some painful memories
What are the temps like in September when you have done EC OC Rodie? I don't think I could handle doing this ride in a race setting under the same conditions as last week?

Also, how many bottles do you go through during this climb? Do they have people doing pass-ups on the hill at any point?

As you can see, I am pretty concerned about this climb. I didn't exactly fly up this hill and worry about hanging on.
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Old 07-24-07, 01:17 PM   #16
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Wow. I can't imagine climbing in 100+ degree temperatures.
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Old 07-24-07, 01:26 PM   #17
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Wow. I can't imagine climbing in 100+ degree temperatures.
I can barely imagine being outside in 100+ degree temps.
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Old 07-24-07, 01:54 PM   #18
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Here is my MotionBased activity for the ride. Pretty slow climb, but the heat really swamped me. My heart rate was also quite high, but I had some strange readings at the beginning that make the average a little higher than it was.

http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/activity/3377816

Ride time: 2hrs - 47 min
Distance: 22.9 miles
Avg speed: 8.2 mph
Avg heart rate: 162 bpm
Great report! Thanks for the MB link, it makes a nice fly by tour.
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Old 07-24-07, 02:02 PM   #19
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Cool shot where you can see the temperature outside and see me in front of the support car. The temp climbed to 106 shortly after my wife took this shot.
That pic really tells the story of the heat -- wow.

I love that area, but doing anything in that heat would be a killer.

That is so cool that the passing cars were supportive. Awesome.
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Old 07-25-07, 06:43 AM   #20
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Great ride. That looks like about ther same as Horseshoe Meadows that we did on Friday only we started at 6am. Isn't it great how it gets cooler and more inspiring as you go up. Bristlecone is next on my list.
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Old 07-25-07, 08:05 AM   #21
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Very cool! Your wife got some great shots... kuddos to her! Thank you for posting this
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Old 07-25-07, 01:08 PM   #22
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What are the temps like in September when you have done EC OC Rodie? I don't think I could handle doing this ride in a race setting under the same conditions as last week?

Also, how many bottles do you go through during this climb? Do they have people doing pass-ups on the hill at any point?

As you can see, I am pretty concerned about this climb. I didn't exactly fly up this hill and worry about hanging on.
Hey Gary,
The weather is much cooler in late Sept, it wasn't an issue, in fact it's pretty cold in the morning. I don't recall how many bottles I went through, but they have aid stations, and will give hand ups, if you don't want to stop. You wont really have to worry about hanging on, as the pack will be shattered by this point, you will be by yourself or with a small group, riding your own pace (whether you're at the front or back end).
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Old 07-25-07, 01:36 PM   #23
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I have to put in a plug for the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest itself. This place holds the oldest living things on earth, the Bristlecone Pines, some of which are thought to be more than 4000 years old! It's a fascinating place, beautiful and strange, right on the edge of life, as it were.

The self-directed hikes through the forests are amazing, and worth the time/effort it takes to get up there.

Some history: http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/inyo/recreat.../history.shtml



Plus, on August 5th, the High Altitude research stations will hold an open house.

http://www.wmrs.edu/community/open%20house/default.htm

It's the only time of the year that you're allowed to drive all the way up to the lower station (4-wheel drive recommended!), and then you can hike up to the summit station ifyou allow enough time. It's like the moon up there, and only a couple hundred feet lower than Mt. Whitney.





Basic information: http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/inyo/about/
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Old 07-25-07, 03:08 PM   #24
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Plus, on August 5th, the High Altitude research stations will hold an open house.

http://www.wmrs.edu/community/open%20house/default.htm

It's the only time of the year that you're allowed to drive all the way up to the lower station (4-wheel drive recommended!), and then you can hike up to the summit station ifyou allow enough time. It's like the moon up there, and only a couple hundred feet lower than Mt. Whitney.
I did this last year as part of taking the mountain bike to the summit. Pretty cool event and interesting to see what your pulse, blood pressure and other vitals are like at 14,000+ feet.
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Old 07-25-07, 04:01 PM   #25
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Hey Gary,
The weather is much cooler in late Sept, it wasn't an issue, in fact it's pretty cold in the morning. I don't recall how many bottles I went through, but they have aid stations, and will give hand ups, if you don't want to stop. You wont really have to worry about hanging on, as the pack will be shattered by this point, you will be by yourself or with a small group, riding your own pace (whether you're at the front or back end).
Thanks for the info Pat. Hard to imagine doing this climb after doing two large climbs earlier in the day and three big climbs the previous day. I guess that is why they call it The Haredest Two Day U.S.C.F. Race
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