It started with a climbing accident that left local climber and teacher Jim Barnes too injured to climb for a while.
Things did not improve when he stepped on a stingray and his foot got infected.
Not only couldn’t he climb, he couldn’t walk very far.
For a man accustomed to constant physical activity, it was a time of sheer frustration.
He decided to hop on a road bike and that’s when the love affair started.
“I loved the effort of the climb and the thrill of the descent,” he said. “I started climbing every hill in the area, and then I decided I wanted to do the Everest Challenge ride, six weeks out.”
He complete the challenge and came in third for his age group.
“After the race, I set my sites on climbing every hill in the [Eastern Sierra],” he said.
Over the next several years, Barnes rode every paved road in the Eastern Sierra, much of it alongside his friend and climbing partner, Nate Greenberg.
From the crazy climb up Nine Mile Canyon in the far Southern Sierra to Lake Tahoe’s Rim Trail, the duo attacked every road they could over the years.
A few years ago, they decided to write a book, which is now on the shelves of Mammoth’s own, independently owned bookstore, the Booky Joint.
Called “Road Biking California’s Sierra Nevada The Best Rides From Lake Tahoe to Mount Whitney,” the book details 48 different rides that span the breadth and width of the Sierra, with a decent majority of them concentrated in the Eastern Sierra.
It’s a detailed book, full of observations, gorgeous photos and precise directions for the cyclist including elevation gains and losses. It’s well-designed, full of clean graphics, courtesy of Greenberg’s,skill with maps and GIS data (Greenberg works for Mono County in the IT Department) and the kind of details cyclists need to know to stay safe on a ride.
Best of all, because of all these attributes, it could easily double as a driver’s handbook to the U.S. 395 corridor. Even long-time locals will find something in the book they didn’t know.
The book’s easy-to-follow directions and locals’ take on some of the most iconic landscapes in the region—from the sweeping views up Convict Canyon to the stunning ride/drive up the Whitney Portal Road—is a good introduction to both riding and driving the Eastern Sierra.
“I really think the Eastern Sierra is the best place in the Sierra to bike,” said Barnes, who heads out of the area next week for several years of schooling.
“I am headed back to the Tahoe area for school but I did some of the rides again and man, the traffic—you just don’t get that here. What’s lacking here in mountain biking is really made up for in the skinny tire rides out there,” he said.
And that’s why he will be back after his schooling is done, he said.
Road Biking California’s Sierra Nevada can be found at the Booky Joint in the Mammoth Sierra Mall (near Vons).