Fire in the Hole

Yesterday evening the devil sat on my shoulder and whispered in my ear, “Ride to my postpile tomorrow, you won’t regret it.” This morning I passed the thought on to Mario and we succumbed to the temptation. Up Minaret Road from Mammoth Lakes, past Scenic Loop Road and onward to the big ski lodge where the wooly mammoth statue presides over the parking lot.

Continuing up we passed the spur road to Minaret Summit and got the go sign from the ranger at the Devil’s Postpile entrance station – no fee for cyclists, woohoo! Then down, down, and more down on Postpile Road into the hole where the devil installed his lavatic outcropping, spectacular views in every direction. Too bad the road was so tight, twisty and bumpy. We couldn’t just let the bikes run and maximize our enjoyment, especially while thinking about the payback climb.

At the bottom of the road we were not yet at the postpile. We had to don our cleat covers and push the bikes along a dusty, rocky 4/10 mile path to reach the natural wonder. But we didn’t regret it, and Mario even wore a thematic jersey for the ride. Some older readers might recall a 1973 musical release by the Brit group Led Zeppelin that was titled “Houses of the Holy.” The cover art for the album had ethereal children climbing a similar rock formation in Northern Ireland called “Giant’s Causeway.”

For your consideration:

Lucky for us, the fires near Yosemite have not made an appearance in this area, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t feeling heat. During the long climb back out of the hole, on this clear and calm day, the sun was burning the backside of my black cycling shorts. The steep pitch of the climb and the thin air made me go to my ultimate granny gear for most of the ascent, a 30×27 combination, but that makes for slow going. Seemed like the devil was chasing me with a blowtorch on my tailbone.

We got around the last curve on the upslope, so I shifted to a stiffer gear and muscled my way up to Mario, who was ahead of me for the entire climb. We rolled together past the entrance station at the high point and fist-bumped a successful ride. Back down past the wooly mammoth and to the condo for cold beer and hot tubbing!

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