Kamikaze Bike Days and new half marathon highlight next year's shoulder seasons

What to do about June and September, anyway?

These are the dreaded months of the so-called shoulder seasons around Mammoth, but a few impresarios this week made two bold moves to allay the impact of the awkward, seasonal downturns.

The first scheme begins on June 22, when Mammoth will host a Sunday half-marathon from Horseshoe Lake to Old Mammoth Road. It would star members of the Mammoth Track Club and top runners of the vaunted San Diego Half Marathon organization.

More than that, it would form the first bookend of the summer, well in front of the Fourth of July hoo-hah and offering something entirely different for the runner-friendly town.

The other bookend would fall in September. Under this scheme, the town, Mammoth Lakes Tourism and Mammoth Mountain Ski Area would combine forces to host the first-ever “Kamikaze Bike Days,” which would flank the High Sierra Century road cycling event.

Last Tuesday, four of the town’s more creative impresarios hatched the events. Mayor Matthew Lehman, Tourism Director John Urdi, MMSA executive Bill Cockroft, and Town Councilman Michael Raimondo will appoint task force members for the events in about two weeks, Lehman said.

Lehman said the Mammoth Kamikaze Bike Days will be unveiled at this month’s Interbike Convention in Las Vegas. Interbike is the premier cycling trade event in North America with more than 750 companies representing more than 1,200 brands.

“The Mammoth Kamikaze Bike Games is not strictly an MMSA event, but a coordinated effort,” Lehman said. “We hope that it will have a tie-in to the High Sierra Fall Century and we are working diligently on this, but this is not confirmed at this time.

“We are working with that event to see if we can coordinate efforts and make this a unique bike event that will draw visitors of all disciplines.”

Organizers say it may be as big as a five-day event.

“It will also have some musical elements,” Lehman said, “and hopefully a very big musical headliner to finish the event off with a bang.”

Many aspects of Mammoth Kamikaze Bike Days still are in the hopper, he said, but Cockroft and Urdi both are committed to the centerpiece of the event, which, of course, involves mountain bike races in the Mammoth Bike Park and its signature downhill run, “The Kamikaze.”

At one point in recent history, The Kamikaze was a regular stop for both professional and top amateur racers. Kamikaze is a three-and-a-half-mile mountain bike run down Mammoth Mountain on a dirt service road. Racers routinely used to hit 60 miles an hour at the NORBA races at Mammoth.

Another component, BMX bike tricks, also is being seriously considered, Lehman said.

“A BMX component is still on the table and still being discussed,” he said. “The location of various disciplines is in the works and will likely involve several locations around town and on the Mountain, likely Canyon Lodge.

“The skate park could be a possibility, too. Nothing is off the table for discussion, assuming permissibility.
“A committee/task force will be put into place within the next two weeks whereby a plan will be formulated and tasks will be assigned.”

The event would be coordinated by the Mammoth Mountain Community Foundation, he said.
“It will likely be operated under the foundation, so that there is a central hub of coordination and a returned benefit to the community in the form of charity, assuming profits can be made.”

As for the June half marathon, Lehman said the idea was to start at Horseshoe Lake. The runners would come out of the Lakes Basin and follow a course through town.

“This event will also have proceeds returned to the community in the form of charities,” he said.
Southern Old Mammoth Road would be “closed and animated” for the event, he said.

While the new track at Whitmore Ballfields does not directly tie into the event as it stands now, Lehman said he and others are working hard to find matchups.

“We are trying to make many efforts to tie our track into all running events for next summer,” he said. “One of the goals of the Economic Stimulus Council is going to be to work with lodging partners and other local businesses to drive sports camps and running programs all summer long.”

Whatever else comes along is fine, he said. But for right now, Mammoth has two new events for next year—one in the June slow season and one in the September doldrums.

“Both events have goals of bookending our summer season and driving visitation to Mammoth,” he said.