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White Moutain Peak via Silver Canyon Solo failed attempt on open gate day
White Mountain Peak via Silver Canyon, Mountain Bike
White Mountain Peak from Bishop via Silver Canyon Rd, 14,246'

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You are here: Home : Mountain Biking Last Updated on 09/05/2006    
Diff: Rating 10/10
Scenic: Rating 9/10
Tech: Rating 4/10
White Moutain Peak via Silver Canyon
         Solo failed attempt on open gate day
Location: White Mountains, White-Inyo Range, Central California
Region: White Mountain Peak
Total Distance: 60 Mi
Elevation Gain: 13,000 Ft
Season: June-Sept
Type: Out & Back
Start Elev: 4,500 Ft
Peak Elev: 13,200 Ft
Total Time: 12 hr
Time In: 9 hr
Time Out: 3 hr

Peak List Peak List
Peak Name Elevation
White Mountain Peak 14,246 Ft

Ride added by
on 09/03/2006
Driving Directions
From southern California, take Hwy 395 north to Bishop, CA. By Vons, make a right onto Hwy 6 and go a few miles to Silver Canyon Rd on the right. Make a right and drive to the first stream crossing. Park and camp here at a small area off the right of the road.
Ride up Silver Canyon Rd to 4S01. Make a left and follow the signs to White Mountain Peak trailhead parking. Continue past the gate to Barcroft station and continue on the same road to the summit.
Got up at 3:30am and had some breakfast, a bag of noodles with teriyaki sauce and maybe 24 oz of gatorade. Started riding at 4:30am in the dark with my stupid headlamp on and helmet hooked on my 25 lb camelbak. It was a warm morning (and night with mosquitos in the bed of my truck), heard on the radio it was 48 deg low the night before but it felt warmer that that, was not cold like it was last year. I carried my bike across all the stream crossings to avoid getting my drivetrain wet.

About a half mile into the ride I realized I forgot my sunglasses and turned around, costing me 10 minutes from my original 4:20am start.

Bike felt light, I felt strong, felt good. Rode approx 85-90% of Silver Canyon Road. The only portions I didn't ride were the 2nd switchback with the slab dropoff, another steep eastern section futher up and a small portion of the last long switch back at the top. Rode it all in my granny ring (22-34) and 2nd lowest gear (the upper 4.5 miles).

Pack was very uncomfortable and heavy, back and butt pain from very early on. Eventually could not sit down very well. I haven't ridden with a pack all year which was a mistake to try and do this with a 25 pounder on.

I had the first sunlight on the last switchback of Silver Canyon just before it goes into the shady forest area so I did not put sunscreen on until I reached White Mountain Road. Got to White Mountain Road at 8:30am with 8.92 miles on the odometer and a 2:30 ridetime. The odometer did not record anything below 1.5 mph so 2:30 ride time does not include the walk time and the overall distance is ~9.5 miles so I walked about 0.6 miles of the 9.5 miles roughly. Now that's putting it wrong because the first 5 miles is totally rideable, it's the last 4.5 miles that is the difficult stretch with 1000' of gain per mile, so I walked about 0.6 of the last 4.5 miles, not bad compared to some of my other rides up Silver Canyon, I was happy with that much riding. I reached the first switchback at ~1:30 ridetime at 6am. I recorded the final stream crossing at exactly 5.00 miles into the ride, accounting for me resetting my odometer with the false start. The part of the 4.5 miles that I did ride, I rode normally at 2 to 3 mph.

By the time the sun came out I was on the last switchback of Silver Canyon. By this time I think I had eaten 2 Gu packs, a clif bar, a PB sandwich, some low sodium wheat thins and a couple granola bars and nearly 3 liters of Cytomax. I had been sweating quite a bit riding up Silver Canyon, which I was not happy about because I didn't bring anything with much salt in it. About the same time the sun came out I started not feeling so great and started moving slower. I tried to fix myself up with some Gu and food thinking it would pass but I never recovered. I got to white Mountain Road at 8:30am and put on some sun screen and started riding. In the past, I know I usually middle ring a lot of this road and regain power after feeling like crap up the last part of Silver Canyon, but today I was in the small ring and lowest 3 or 4 gears for most of all the climbs. I had no power and could not seem to recover or gain any power. Every climb was horrible, I was walking a lot of mellow climbs, for two reasons, 1 - I had no power, 2 - I couldn't bear to sit down and spin a light gear with the saddle sores and camelback rubbing my spine.

I kept riding/walking. I really started feeling weak on the paved road climb to 11,000 ft. I know this road is super steep but I had no power any way I look at it. I was riding the road in granny ring, zig-zag style probably as slow as a walk. I wasn't out of breath or affected by altitude, HR was fine, but my legs would not put out any effort. I was very tired and sat down at the break in the road climb for a few minutes, felt like sleeping, laid down in the road for a few minutes then ate a clif bar and a Gu and dragged myself to my feet.

Now all I could do was walk. One thing was for sure, it was much hotter than normal out here. Usually it is cool up here, but it felt very hot even at 11,000'. I tried to ride and was just too weak. I was dragging myself to walk. I did ride one portion of the steeper dirt after the paved climb, rode by 3 cars coming down with people cheering me on, but I didn't have the energy to even acknowledge them. I asked some other guys driving by if they had any salt. No luck. Bottom line, I don't think a few mg of sodium from the food and cytomax was enough to attempt to replace what I had lost going up Silver Canyon. Now altitude diuresis was making me dehydrated, which would seemingly increase relative sodium levels, albeit low sodium and dehydration is not better than just low sodium alone. But I felt to replace the fluid loss at an adequate rate to alleviate dehydration would cause sodium levels to fall too much... I couldn't replace the sodium because I didn't have any... stupid, but I resigned myself to stop working hard with a goal of getting to Barcroft instead of the summit.

Unfortunately, I had not done any rides over 4 hours this whole year, well maybe one or two late in the winter, but still that was 6 months ago. I've been riding a lot though, usually 10-20 hours/week recently and have decreased dietary sodium intake to as little as possible (with modern foods, this is still a lot). I've found that lower sodium intake makes me more efficient on the bike and in less need of sodium replacement on the bike. It seems to me that the body simply uses sodium more efficiently when intake is below the RDA, BP is reduced, swelling is reduced, hand edema is reduced when running/hiking, high altitude induced swelling is reduced. It seems however that with this ride that extended beyond 4 hours in time and effort that my new plan didn't work quite right. Maybe that wasn't even it, maybe I was just tired, who knows. I only got about 2 hours of restless sleep the night before. Whatever it was, I had little desire to go on or even be out there, but I did.

I kept riding. I rode by the hiker gate (open gate day today) and stopped for something more to eat. I got on the bike and pedaled strong up to Barcroft, not that I felt any better, I just wanted to see how I responded and there were 4 guys on bikes gaining on me from the hiker gate. I quickly put a huge gap on them, probably half hour from hiker gate to Barcroft. I got to Barcroft, talked to a WMRS guy and felt tired but reasonably good. I continued riding up the steep road past Barcroft after about 15 minutes of standing around. Feeling fatigued, I walked the upper portion of the climb to the observatory. Then I rode down the grade, sat down and ate another PB sandwich and some wheat thins and put on my arm warmers and a fresh coat of sunscreen on my face and legs and rode pretty strong up the other side, felt okay.

As I approached the end of the gradual climb, fully thinking that I would turn around at the end of that before it drops down to the switchbacks up White Mtn, I started feeling more and more fatigued. Eventually I just was in too much pain from sitting and fatigued on the rocky climb and I just walked it slowly. I think the sudden increase in fatigue was the "end-is-near" fatigue, I knew I was not going to the summit and thus had no need to be in any type of rush.

I stopped at the high point at 13,200 ft where it was a little chilly, not bad, and put on my leg and arm warmers and stood around for a few minutes. Then I started riding back, no need for the warmers now except to block the sun. I rode most of the way, rode the hill back up to the observatory pretty strong but weak, rode the downhill from Barcroft to the Gate which is flying fast. After the gate I tried to big ring the hill up the other side and soon was paying for it, off my bike walking up a mellow climb.

For the most part I walked all of the rest of the climbs out of there. I didn't see any reason to ride, I had pleanty of time before dark, it was too painful to sit down with the unrelenting pack weight and I didn't go much faster by riding over walking. The last hill which is a nearly 1000' climb was tough, I walked probably 90% of it, only riding the very mellow grade sections. I even walked the little hill from White Mtn Road back onto Silver Canyon Road. My legs did not want to work. Even walking was getting tough, not tiring, just something my legs didn't want to do.

Finally I reached Silver Canyon and begin the descent. Now I am riding a bike I have never ridden down this descent. My front brake lever starts to have less and less pull to it, Avid Juicy 7, hydraulic disc 6" F & R. It is so far out that I am gripping it with the tips of my fingers. I get of the bike, let the lever go and pull it again and it goes almost to the bar. I squirted the pads and disc with some water and it vaporized. I figured my pads must be gone, but sure enough they still looked fine, now the brake lever pull was back to normal. I started riding again and it quickly started happening again. I'd say I stopped at least a dozen times to squirt water on my brakes in the 4.5 mile descent. The last 5 miles isn't nearly as steep and there are the stream crossings to keep things cool. I was wishing it was raining so it would keep my brakes working and I wouldn't have to keep stopping.

As I descended I looked back up the mountain to some clouds that had been building since I had turned around at 13,200'. They looked like they were getting larger and darker.

When I got back to my truck I was just hot, my fingers were sore, my back hurt, I was fatigued, not really tired, just exhausted, but not tired, maybe a wired tired, but not plain tired. I'm always wired after a Silver Canyon descent, hard to not be. Glad to be back. Unfortunately, my speedometer sensor kept vibrating away from the magnet so I don't have any accurate ride data, the max speed that I recorded was 42.7 mph but that was only during the 20-some miles that it was turned on and working, I stoped caring about it after a while. The full suspension bike was faster going downhill than my hardtail and definately more comfortable, but the pressure rise in the shocks from the altitude made it a bit stiff at elevation.

All in all this was one of my top 3 worst days on a bike ever, excluding crashes and races. Kind of bummed because it started out real good, I felt strong. I think I worked too hard going up Silver Canyon and screwed the rest of the ride for myself. I felt so good going up Silver Canyon, I thought I might finish the whole ride in under 10 hours. I felt so good that I didn't even feel like I was working, but I was sweating a lot. Didn't even finish the ride. Glad I turned around where I did. Usually I could recover from feeling like this but not today. Carbs and hydration didn't do anything for energy level, so it was either just fatigue from lack of sleep, which I doubt because I am used to this with any of these types of rides or low sodium which seems the most plausible to me.

Drove home, home at 11:20pm.

All in all, here's what I ate and drank: On Bike:
1 28 oz cytomax, 1 scoop

In Bag:
100 oz camelbak, cytomax, 3.5 scoops
2 x 32 oz water
1 x 34 oz water
1 x 34 oz endurance gatorade, ice cold :)
1 x 12 oz water (the "oh shit, I'm almost out of water" bottle
Total: 272 oz
Drank: 100 oz + 1 x 34oz gatorade + 2 x 32 oz + 22oz of bike bottle (total: 220 oz). Used about 34 ounces cooling off my brakes. When I got back to Bishop I easily drank 64 oz and was still a bit dehydrated.

2 small peanut butter sandwiches, ate them all
3/4 box wheat thins, ate them all
6 clif bars, ate 2
10 Gu packs, ate 3
6 granola bars, ate 3
3 scoops cytomax powder, used none
Wish I had some salty chips or a turkey sandwich
Conveniently forgot my salt tabs and electrolyte fluid
Camelbak Peak bagger, Arm & leg warmers, nylon jacket, nylon shorts with zip off legs, heavy weight base layer poly shirt, bandana for dust.
Headlamp, 4 batteries, 2 knives, toothpicks, full compact first aid/survival kit with tire boot, TP, cell phone, sunscreen, maps, 2 tubes, 2 x CO2 cartridge and pump. No room for camera or desire to carry the extra weight. On bike: multi-tool, tire levers, another multi-tool, frame pump.
Looking at this list of what I ate, it's probably half the calories I would eat in a normal day sitting around doing nothing. It seemed like all I was doing was eating. I know I was very hungry for most of the ride back out of there, but heck, I was going so slow, what did it matter, a dry clif bar and more to drink did not sound good. I wanted some real food.

Preride: maybe 1/2 lb cooked noodles with teriyaki sauce (just a little for flavor), 24 oz regular gatorade.

Postride: Burger King, chicken sandwich, jr whopper, large fries, 2 x 32 oz sprite... what a healthy meal... I didn't want to think about eating the protien bar that I brought.

Day After:
Felt fatigued, back is sore, bruised and raw from the camelbak. Fingers are sore, face is hot. Legs feel fine, no soreness.

2nd Day After:
Time trialed with VVBC at Sycamore rocks, felt fatigued until I started riding, mild saddle soreness. Felt strong on the bike, legs strong, breathing good. Flatted after about 15 minutes and DNF.
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