USARC’s annual fundraiser “Peak to peak”
The Peak to Peak Pedal is a life-changing event, not just for the cyclists, but for those whom the ride supports. Children (and children at heart) with disabilities learn to face challenges and develop important skills through the programs of the United States Adaptive Recreation Center (USARC), programs supported by events such as the Peak to Peak Pedal
DAY 1 – Big Bear to Barstow – 59 miles
Day one begins before dawn as vehicles laden with bicycles, gear, and excited cyclists roll into the Bear Mountain parking lot. After being registered, fed, and the obligatory group photos, riders begin their adventure with an eastern traverse through the scenic Big Bear Valley’s crisp morning air, followed by an exhilarating, winding descent into the warming high desert. As the sun rises, so too will the road, ascending and crossing Goat Mt. Pass before a long cruise into Barstow. Hot showers, cold beverages, introductions and a hearty meal at the verdant park should ease any first-day pains.
DAY 2 – Barstow to Ridgecrest – 84 miles
Day two, the longest of the ride, wends its way out of Barstow, past lumbering freight trains and westward through vast expanses of the open Mojave desert. Occasional headwinds are minimized as new friends work together, urged on by one another, and the seemingly waving Joshua trees.
With the right turn at Kramer Junction comes a steady ascent toward the weathered and rusted mining town of Red Mountain, followed by a big descent and the day’s big climb. After surmounting this challenge, riders catch their first glimpse of the Sierra’s southern flanks as they enjoy a downward sloping finish to Ridgecrest.
DAY 3 – Ridgecrest to Diaz Lake/Lone Pine – 80 miles
Day three departs Ridgecrest and, after turning north at Inyokern onto a quiet country road, riders ponder the incongruous scenery of surprisingly green farmland next to sand dunes and tumbleweeds. Picking up Hwy. 395, they pass jagged escarpments on their way up, up, up, and into the bottom end of the Owens Valley. Blue, reed-bordered lakes, ruddy ancient cinder cones, and golden sage compliment the Sierra’s bleached flanks as the highway rolls onward to Diaz Lake (near Lone Pine). Below Mt. Whitney’s granite spires, a refreshingly cool dip in Diaz Lake dissolves the day’s sweat and grime, and riders soon drift into sleep by the soft orange light of a crackling fire.
DAY 4 – Diaz Lake/Lone Pine to Bishop – 60 miles
On day four, dawn paints the mountains a pinkish-orange as riders are greeted with a high mountain calling card, cold air from the “lower 48’s” highest peak drifting down into the basin. No hurry to rise, even with its gentle rolls, this penultimate day has a negligible elevation gain as it heads toward Bishop. Paralleling the spectacular Sierra Crest, the day’s route passes historic Manzanar, fish hatcheries, hot springs, and cattle ranches on its way to Bishop. Weather permitting, the relatively flat terrain serves as a comparative rest day for the physical and mental challenges to come.
DAY 5 – Bishop to Mammoth Mountain – 52 miles
Leaving Bishop on this fifth and last day, the route meanders past gurgling streams and under massive shade trees through the farmlands of Round Valley. The upward snaking old Sherwin Grade affords panoramic vistas from every turn, serving as a delightful distraction from the task at hand. Shimmering aspen groves afire with fall colors are interspersed among towering pines and putting cobalt Crowley Lake behind them, riders are greeted by a welcome sight, Mammoth’s expansive slopes. A few more turns up one last climb and suddenly it’s champagne, cheers, and tears of joy as everyone dismounts for the final time, having completed an adventure they will never forget. Dinner and lodging will be provided at Mammoth Mountain that night.