California's White Mountains are home to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, and some of the oldest living things on earth, including Methusela, a bristlecone pine tree that is estimated to be more than 4,800 years old. Another destination in the White Mountains is the namesake White Mountain peak, which rises to 14,252 feet and is the state's third tallest peak — and the only 14er in California that is accessible by bike.
Path buyer Brian Blair had his sights on White Mountain for several years, and this past weekend, he finally made the trip to the summit from Schulman Grove on his Moots Cycles drop-bar mountain bike.
The route to the top starts with 18 miles of rolling gravel road and ends with a steep 6-mile double track ascent that is at times rideable, but often requires a good old fashioned hike-a-bike. The total trip from Schulman Grove was 48 miles, with 8,000 feet of gain.
Along the way, Brian saw one of the area's two bighorn sheep herds. Wildfires across the state made visibility and air quality less than ideal, but through the haze, Brian was able to enjoy the view from the top.
Because there was nowhere to refill water on the route, Brian carried as much as he could on the bike, including a 100-ounce bladder inside his Revelate Designs framebag and two large bottles housed in cages on the bike's fork legs. He also brought a repair kit, Garmin InReach Mini, a headlamp and several hours worth of food, including GU Energy's Roctane gels, GU chews, Floyd's of Leadville CBD gems, Huma gels, peanut M&Ms and a couple of slices of homemade pizza.
The trip took about seven hours, and as Brian said, was "uphill both ways". It was his longest ride on dirt in a while, and the climbs on the return were longer than expected.
But the opportunity to stand on the summit of a 14,000-foot peak and then ride down was well worth the hard effort and long day in the saddle!
Brian's Moots is a titanium softtail 29er, currently built up to handle rowdy mixed-surface terrain. It has Teravail mountain bike tires, a vintage Gravity Dropper seat post, extra-wide 52-centimeter Salsa Cowchipper bars, and a Redshift ShockStop suspension stem. It has a SRAM Apex 1x11 drivetrain with a 32-tooth Wolftooth Components chainring.
Check out the video to see all the details about Brian's Moots build!