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Cycling from Los Angeles to Mammoth Lakes, CA

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Cycling from Los Angeles to Mammoth Lakes, CA

Old 08-21-20, 05:20 PM
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PilotBodhi
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Cycling from Los Angeles to Mammoth Lakes, CA

Hello! I am new here, but I am a frequent road cyclist and ride mainly throughout the San Fernando Valley and Ventura County. I ride a 2020 Trek Checkpoint SL5 with flat and clip-in pedals. I was wondering if I could get some opinions and thoughts on a ride that I have always wanted to do, which is from Los Angeles to Mammoth Lakes in the Eastern Sierra mountain range. So far, my plan is to bike the 300-mile journey over three days, each averaging roughly 100 miles. I would be doing this ride in the spring next year when it is much cooler, and I would leave for each leg of the trip in the early morning to conserve time. Here is my trip plan:

1st Day: Ride from Van Nuys (San Fernando Valley) to Mojave, California. This leg should be about 89 miles, which would take me out of the SoCal mountains and into the high desert. I would use the Sierra Highway along with the 14 freeway.
2nd Day: Ride from Mojave to Lone Pine, California. This will be the longest leg, at about 110 miles. A chunk of this ride is downhill, so it should be relatively reasonable to do in a day. I would use the 14 freeway and highway 365, the eastern sierra highway.
3rd Day: Ride from Lone Pine to Mammoth Lakes. This leg will be just about 100 miles, using highway 365 most of the way and including the infamous last trek up into the mountains where the town is located.

Let me know what you think, or if you know someone who has done this ride. Thanks!
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Old 08-21-20, 05:59 PM
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Post this over in the SoCal threads of the Regional Boards and you'll probably find some riders who know the roads / routes.
Knowing what I know of that part of the state, I advise you be sure to get accurate info on the elevations and wind conditions on your route.
If you regularly ride the Valley, then you know what temperatures you can expect in the high desert en route to the Sierras.

Also, do you plan to drive this route on a scout trip before committing to it as your ride route?
Scouting is hugely helpful for planning your ride and I think it adds to the fun and adventure of something like this.
Good luck, be safe.
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Old 08-21-20, 06:32 PM
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I have been to the Lone Pine <---> Mammoth Lakes Region dozens of times for fishing, hiking, camping, sightseeing and road cycling. You must really love the high desert to consider the ride from the SFV to Lone Pine. IMO the scenery does not become scenic until you hit Olancha and the south foot of the Eastern Sierra. I cannot comment on the roads until you hit Bishop. I have ridden Hwy 395 from Bishop to June Lake Loop and it was in good condition with a very wide shoulder for most of the way. I have been caught up in road repaving twice so you should keep that in mind. There is a better back roads route that I have not tried but will next trip.
https://ridewithgps.com/routes/17148690

The concerns I would have is the weather and wind. You are completely exposed and might be a long way from shelter so you will be on your own. I do not think you will have access to bike parts/consumables between Lancaster and Bishop. Bring everything you will need to be self-reliant. You will encounter at times significant tractor/trailer and high speed traffic as well if that concerns you.
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Old 08-22-20, 12:02 AM
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the shoulders are generally wide along the 395 north bound but so is the headwind. heading northbound is windy af.

lone pine is nearly 4,000 ft high. it's higher than the approaching desert/roads/hwys from the south.

if you have a car and are willing to drive up to the sierras, that may be preferable.
if you are looking for flats/flattish roads to ride, you can do better. if you are looking
for world-class climbs, you would be hard-pressed to do better. the owens valley is a gateway for a dozen+
brutal climbs...all 5+ miles or more. bishop is a good, central hub for the climbs with plenty of support and
most of those climbs within an hour's drive...and a few can be attempted from your lodging.

if you're set on doing 300 miles or so...i'd consider driving/transporting up to the mammoth lakes area and riding
north from there to lake tahoe and back. less windy and more scenic but still very little bicycle maintenance/repair-related
support except in lake tahoe and mammoth.

riding completely around lake tahoe nets you about 80 miles.

i like riding crazy rides but the drag from the sfv to olancha (as CAT7RDR mentioned) is boring af with lots of big rig traffic
and even more wind. i wouldn't do it unless absolutely necessary .

Last edited by ooga-booga; 08-22-20 at 12:19 AM.
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Old 08-22-20, 05:51 AM
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You will need to be prepared for multiple flats from wires separating from truck tire retreads. I would bring four tubes, patch repair kit, tire boots and a spare tire to be on the safe side. The 60 miles from Mojave and and the intersection with Hwy 395 has at times tremendous wind gusts. Services are sparse once you leave Mojave until you hit the first rest area in Coso Junction. There is a gas station across from the rest area where you can stock up on snacks.

As mentioned, a scout trip by car would be a wise investment. As Ooga mentioned world class alpine climbs can be accessed from Lone Pine all the way up to Lee Vining with Horseshoe Meadows, Onion Meadows, Whitney Portal, Glacier Lodge, Lake Sabrina/South Lake, Mosquito Flats and Tioga Pass. PJAMM has a nice summary: https://pjammcycling.com/zone/51.Owens%20Valley .

Last edited by CAT7RDR; 08-22-20 at 06:08 AM.
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Old 08-22-20, 06:35 AM
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Hi I live in Simi valley that woulds be one hell of a ride sounds doable but I would give myself 4 or 5 days to to do that ride . sounds like fun
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Old 08-22-20, 07:56 AM
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Old 08-22-20, 09:56 AM
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Originally Posted by CAT7RDR View Post
You will need to be prepared for multiple flats from wires separating from truck tire retreads. I would bring four tubes, patch repair kit, tire boots and a spare tire to be on the safe side. The 60 miles from Mojave and and the intersection with Hwy 395 has at times tremendous wind gusts. Services are sparse once you leave Mojave until you hit the first rest area in Coso Junction. There is a gas station across from the rest area where you can stock up on snacks.

As mentioned, a scout trip by car would be a wise investment. As Ooga mentioned world class alpine climbs can be accessed from Lone Pine all the way up to Lee Vining with Horseshoe Meadows, Onion Meadows, Whitney Portal, Glacier Lodge, Lake Sabrina/South Lake, Mosquito Flats and Tioga Pass. PJAMM has a nice summary: https://pjammcycling.com/zone/51.Owens%20Valley .
Add Westguard PAss/Bristlecone Pine Forest in the White Mountains to CAT7RDR's list. Starts at the north end of Big Pine and goes up (and up, and up) from there. No services (or water sources, you'll have to do water drops prior to the ride) once you leave the Big Pine area.

Also second that its very windy (especially in spring)and boring as heck through the desert along highways 14 and 395. If you really want to ride 395 in the Owens Valley I'd suggest maybe center yourself in Bishop and ride down to Lone Pine and back (desert-type landscape), then up to Mono Lake and back (trees and altitude), a few days for each. Really pretty countryside
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Old 08-24-20, 01:03 PM
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I've made that drive too many times to count. I wouldn't think that would be a fun bike ride, since you're basicaly riding along-side cars going 70-90 mph for most of the ride. Also, as mentioned above, the winds along 395 can be absolutely brutal. Sometimes the cross-winds are so bad that you have to really fight with the steering wheel (and I drive a 3-ton Land Rover). Three times, the winds were so bad that they did damage to my car. Twice, the wind blew pieces of firmly-affixed exterior trim pieces off of my car. Once, the wind created so much pressure that it blew the lid off of my Yakima Skybox roof carrier. (That was scary as hell because it sounded like an explosion and left debris scattered along 395.) I've seen lots of cars suffer wind damage on that road.

I like the recommendation of driving to Bishop or Lone Pine and biking from there.

Also, I'm not sure what you mean by "spring," but they can get massive snow storms in the Mammoth area any time through May (May storms are fairly rare, but April is not). This year, Mammoth received almost 5 feet of snow in April (granted, that's at Main Lodge, not in town.)
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Old 08-24-20, 04:04 PM
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I just threw it on RWGPS and it came up 370 miles and 21,000 feet of climbing (probably because it defaults away from the roads you plan to ride). I don't see any real downhill anywhere in there. That would be a hell of a 3 day ride!
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Old 09-06-20, 05:14 PM
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There is an alternative to driving. Take the Metrolink to Lancaster and then take the Eastern Sierra Transit bus to anywhere it stops (some stops need to be requested 24 hours in advance). There is a bus that leaves Mammoth Lakes every weekday (i.e., not weekends or holidays) morning for Lancaster. It leaves Lancaster at 2 p.m. to return to Mammoth Lakes. Similarly, there is a bus that leaves Lone Pine for Reno every morning, returning in the afternoon. The schedule shows a couple of other buses running between Lone Pine and Bishop and Bishop and Mammoth Lakes in the middle of the day.

www.estransit.com
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Old 09-14-20, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by sslonkosky View Post
There is an alternative to driving. Take the Metrolink to Lancaster and then take the Eastern Sierra Transit bus to anywhere it stops (some stops need to be requested 24 hours in advance). There is a bus that leaves Mammoth Lakes every weekday (i.e., not weekends or holidays) morning for Lancaster. It leaves Lancaster at 2 p.m. to return to Mammoth Lakes. Similarly, there is a bus that leaves Lone Pine for Reno every morning, returning in the afternoon. The schedule shows a couple of other buses running between Lone Pine and Bishop and Bishop and Mammoth Lakes in the middle of the day.

www.estransit.com
Genius. Thanks, never knew of this option. You're making me consider a bus-up and bike-down trip. Be leisurely, take the camping gear and side roads. Ooh, gonna have to go look at maps.

I've done Los Angeles to Mammoth, but I took the long way around: Up and down the west side of the Sierras and over Tioga Pass. I took about 3 weeks!
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