Mammoth Mountain: Beginning mountain bikers welcome

By Richard Irwin, Staff Writer

Beginning mountain bikers should head over to the Discovery Zone to learn the skills they’ll need on Mammoth Mountain. The Pioneer Practice Loop is an easy quarter-mile loop that can build riders’ confidence in being able to handle the mechanical marvels that are today’s mountain bikes.

The Adventure and Discovery trails match a mellow slope with smooth turns and surfaces. Both are great beginner trails served by the Discovery chairlift behind the Main Lodge.

Once the beginner trails are mastered, riders move up to the Explorer Trail with its banked paver turns, slightly steeper pitch and skills park. This park introduces riders to the man-made features on the trails, from small drops to rainbow bridges.

Every Saturday, Woolly, the mountain-biking mascot — joins the riders on the Discovery Trail headed for the Adventure Center. How the rider in the bulky woolly mammoth costume can see where he is going is beyond me, but it is hilarious fun.

The Bike Park closes in late September, but it goes out with a bang with the Mammoth Kamikaze Bike Games Sept. 18-21. The ultimate mountain biking event features pro GRT downhill, the Kamikaze Downhill, enduro, gravity fed cyclo cross, cross country, dual slalom and kids races.

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Mammoth Mountain: Bike park offers 80 miles of single track

By Richard Irwin, Staff Writer

Mammoth Mountain’s Bike Park boasts 80 miles of single track. With a vertical rise of more than 3,000 feet, the resort offers 3,500 acres of riding.

More than half of the 42 named trails can be handled by beginner and intermediate riders. Another third are reserved for advanced riders, while 20 percent is recommended for professional riders only. They can all be reached from the Panorama Gondola.

Some of the downhill trails have developed a cult following. Some brave riders take Kamikaze, the first trail dating back to 1987, which sends them barreling down 2,000 feet of fire road from the summit to the Main Lodge.

The Twilight Zone ski trail has carved-out berms and pavers. Then there’s Pipeline, a trail with many man-made features including dirt jumps, wooden ramps, trestles gaps and a great step-up jump.

A little less harrowing is Beach Cruiser, a wonderful 4-mile intermediate track. It climbs through large Lodgepole pines before looping around Reds Lake for a long roller coaster ride back to the Main Lodge.

Then there’s Paper Route/Skid Marks/Manzanita, the intermediate course used for the resort’s 8/24 Endurance Race. This rolling loop offers fast downhills and technical sections, as well as a couple switchbacks at the far end. (This year’s race, originally scheduled for this weekend, was cancelled.)

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Mammoth Mountain: Ventura family rolls Off the Top

By Richard Irwin, Staff Writer

Visitors can take the gondola up to the peak for the scenic view, and some passengers bring their mountain bikes along. Once on the top, mountain bikers can go rolling down the steep slopes, navigating around the boulders that are usually hidden deep in the snow.

A Ventura family rolled their bikes off the gondola, ready to tackle the mountain. The Boudreaux clan, including mom Tina, her husband and their two teenage sons, Tyler and Trevor, had spent the morning riding around the lower trails and were ready for a big ride.

“It’s really, really fun so far,” said Tina Boudreaux. “The weather is perfect.”

The adventurous family was going Off the Top. That’s the name of the intermediate trail zigzagging down the back of the mountain. Just as it does for ski trails, the resort has classified the bike trails from beginner to expert.

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Mammoth Mountain: Dodger the Bulldog frolics in the snow

By Richard Irwin, Staff Writer

Mammoth Mountain can be a lot of fun in the summer if given a chance. I’ve only been there skiing in the winter — it is one of my favorite ski resorts — so I didn’t have a clue about what it offers in the sunny summer months.

To my surprise, there were still patches of snow on the 11,000-foot summit. Which made for some fun for Dodger, a burly English bulldog, who hadn’t seen snow before.

The Shryne family of Whittier brought Dodger along with their sons, Nathan and Brady. The family of four was vacationing at nearby June Lake to get some trout fishing in, and decided to take a break and visit the mountain.

“I wanted to show them the great views, and show Dodger some snow,” said Joe Shryne.

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