So I went on another one of the "must-rides" in SoCal . . . the Cannell Plunge. This ride is VASTLY different from the SART that I rode a couple weeks ago. This is a shuttle ride, unless you're a beast or glutton for punishment. It's very appropriately named "The Plunge" as you descend approximately 5K feet over the last 8 miles of the trail. That is not a typo . . . 5K feet over 8 miles. Yes, its steep. Yes, its fast. Yes, its fun.
After the ~60 minute shuttle, you arrive near the summit. I say "near" because there's an optional shoot to ride from here that takes you up to about 9,900 feet of elevation . . . I forgot to mention, the air is a little thin up here. This is a view from the parking/drop zone:
And another, non-panorama:
I have to apologize in advance, but my pictures are few and far between . . . I tried to remind myself to stop and take pics, but its hard to do when you're a) having fun and b) riding chunk. What they DON'T tell you about this trail is that it is pretty damn technical. There are multiple prolonged stretches of trail where you are riding down a dried alpine stream bed, littered with boulders, roots and all sorts of things to throw you off line. And then there's the cows. Yes. Cows. (they're small in the pic, but there in there . . . at least a dozen).
There's also a couple pretty nasty climbs, however, they are early on in the trip which is good because you're fresh and ready to go . . . bad because you're still over 8K feet and breathing just ain't the same at that elevation. This is after one of them . . . pretty solid rest stop that has clearly seen similar weary bikers:
And here's another . . . this was a somewhat technical section with some pretty nasty exposure:
The trail is generally well marked (so long as you pay attention to the signs/arrows), but there are a couple confusing spots. I'd definitely recommend going through this route with someone who knows the way. There's only a couple significant turns, but if you miss them . . . . well . . . lets just say you're a long way from nothing out there.
There's an abundance of scenery, thats for sure. I called this the "Pots O' Gold"
And yes, it was a BIG meadow:
There's lots of this (crappy pic):
And this (see the sand? There's LOTS of it on this trail. And I mean LOTS):
Portions of the trail are very buff, fast and flowing (it seems that this is what MOST people show of this trail). There's one section in particular that was just so much fun traversing through a wide open meadow thats lush, and green RIIIIIIGHT before you hit "the Plunge," which is essentially dropping you back into the desert.
Here I am, contemplating life:
Then comes "the plunge" . . . . not a lot of pics along the way here. Again . . . 5K feet . . . 8 miles . . . you do the math.
All in all, its an excellent ride and well worth the trip. What we did, is make a weekend out of it that included an extended stay in Mammoth Lakes to hit the bike park, which is ALSO awesome fun. I'd recommend this ride to any intermediate or advanced rider, but its definitely not a beginner's route. Its long, so come prepared with spare parts, tubes, food and water . . . you'll need it. All of it.
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