Does the same cliché spoken by many mountain climbers apply when a cyclist climbs a mountain because it is there? I think perhaps it does.
Over the past four days, a group of cycling enthusiasts tackled some of the hardest climbs in the entire United States-- if not some of the hardest climbs in the world. Why you ask would one seek out to climb over 30,000’ feet in less than 4 days? Why would one endure the staggering heat of the Owens’s valley while seeking to climb over 6,500’ to summit White Mountain Road at over 10,000’ high?
To some it’s a mystery; to other’s it’s the challenge and the rewards that come with it. To talk about this area of California doesn't do the area justice. Indeed, if you want to learn more about this area, you can just as easily read Cadillac Desert. I think it's much more interesting to learn about this fine place in the world by meeting the people, the SV fan club if you will, who just spent four days with us at SV: Travel.
Allow me to introduce you to the 10 riders who “conquered” the high mountains of the Eastern Sierras of California this past weekend. These are the ten riders who joined us on our semi-annual trip to one of the world’s great wonders -- to cyclist and to all who visit this incredible area.
First and foremost, coming all the way from Dallas ,Texas, is Kevin, avid cyclist and Ironman tri-athlete whose most challenging hill climb is the overpass near I-35. Wanting to test the limits of his physical and mental abilities, Kevin came to the Eastern Sierras with his game face and Texas twang.
Recent graduate of his first double century, Dean, who returned for his second consecutive year, came bad to experience the “glory through suffering," a phrase we don't use loosely here at Studio Velo. If Dean says there's pleasure in suffering, there must be just that (see below).
Bill, the only Studio Velo client to join us for each and every Eastern Sierra trip since our first trip 3 years ago, never seems to get enough of "its magestic beauty and kick-ass challenging climbs. Both match anything I have ever done in the past and both take my breath away," he reminds us. No one knows this place better than Bill and it will never be the same without him.
Brian, Muir Beach resident and daily bike commuter nearly every day to San Francisoc, comes for the inherent “challenges against the most demanding climbs in the world.” To our dismay, he sure makes it look easy, taking the KOM each and every day with a smile on his face and a homemade vegan bar in his pocket!
Steven, having heard about these trips for years, he sought out one of the most demanding trips in an effort to see how hard he could push himself. After day two, he shared “After doing over 9 Ironman races, this is the hardest thing I have ever done.” Well, if doing something this hard makes him look this good climbing up White Mountain, then he probably needs to come back. Well done Steven.
Video producer and world traveler, Scott joined us from Scottsdale, AZ – a nine-hour drive up to Bishop. Ready for the heat but perhaps not the hills, Scott was introduced to the “big boy” climbs of the Eastern Sierras. And he did them in style and grace.
Steve, soon to race his first Master’s Cat 5 road race this coming weekend, sought out “the best way to reset his fitness bar” while at the same time learning what it means to really suffer on the bike…. with a smile on his face and full of Pie. Raising the bar, while raising a fork.
Taylor dreamed of riding in the Alps one day. Notwithstanding the need to travel so far, he sought out what are actually harder, steeper and longer climbs than some of the most infamous Europe has to offer. With a little bit of welcomed coaching and encouragement by the SV Team, he thrived and thanked us for it.
SV:Travel veteran, Dillon, wanted something new, something more challenging than all of the great rides he has done before. Though a 7-hour drive stands in the way for most weekend riders, Dillon “begged” for something his legs never knew they could conquer. His favorite climb, and what he called “epic” not only for the climb itself but the scenery that surrounds it, is White Mountain, a climb that leads you into the heard of The Bristle Cone Pine Forest, home to the oldest trees on earth.
Testing himself to his limits and perhaps beyond, Dave was, as he put it so kindly, “inspired by not only his fellow riders, but by the sponsors of the trip.” On SV: Travel trips, it’s never about age, but rather about spirit, enthusiasm and desire. Dave has all three.
An eye “wide opened” by the beauty and grandeur of this area, Luke, SV mechanic and SAG extraordinaire for this year’s trip, has already begun planning a return trip. He'll be bringing his fishing pole and downhill bike!
Living vicariously through Luke, of course, the entire group of this year’s Spring Eastern Sierra Cycling Adventure hopes he gets some pie… high in the skies of beautiful California.
Scott & Chris – SV Guides