We’re Southern California cyclists so we’re used to nearly perfect riding conditions throughout the year. But when the temperature drops in the winter, or we seek adventures in more extreme environments, we remember the badass adage, “There is never bad weather—only poor clothing choices.” We could not be more stoked about the choices we made in creating our Eastern Sierra collection. Why? Because the weather is never going to give you an excuse not to ride again!
In early September we gathered members of the Eliel Factory Team to ride the terrain that inspired our 2019 Eastern Sierra collection. We wanted to step out of the comfort zone of the Pacific Coast and test ourselves in the mountains. We piled into the Eliel Team van and headed to the rugged eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Our first stop was Lone Pine, an iconic frontier town along the historic gold prospecting and trading route. Over beers at our cabin the first night we discussed the upcoming adventures—riding on tarmac and dirt—to parts of Sequoia National Forest, ascend Mount Whitney, and head further north towards Mammoth Lake on the edge of Yosemite National Park.
The Eastern Sierras landscape offers truly epic riding. Sagebrush covered valleys extend for hundreds of miles with just a single road winding its way through the desert terrain. Headwinds were brutal on us here. As we ascended from the valleys into the foothills through bristlecone pine forests and juniper, immense panoramic vistas opened as we took hairpin turns. And always arching above us were towering granite peaks. And this was just the first day.
Riding in this vast landscape from the morning until evening, the light shifts dramatically splashing stunning waves of sunrise gold, bright emeralds, and cobalt on the mountain ridgelines and the valley floor. Silhouettes here are long and sharp on the arid landscape.
Each morning as we were kitting up there was a sense of anticipation for the day’s quest. Over coffee we’d discuss our rough idea of the route, but of course the map—meaning the Wahoo route—is not the territory. As soon as we were pedaling we found ourselves letting go of the planned route and were open to discovery. When someone wanted to take a gravel road that wasn’t on the day’s plan, we all were up for it. When another rider wanted to lollipop on a gnarly single track around glacial lake, “hell yeah” was the response. Though the oxygen was thin, the mountains gave our legs added energy for the adventure.
Our days in the Eastern Sierras were long as we connected dirt, forest roads, and highway sectors. This is a sparsely populated area and we rarely saw any vehicle traffic on the road, and only a few 4x4 trucks when we were off road. We weren’t collecting K/QOMs but rather we road together as a crew. We tested ourselves, no doubt, but we also took in the natural beauty, stopped for lunch at stream crossings, and rolled well into the twilight that brought an inner stillness and introspection. The evening’s campfire and hazy IPA—because SoCal craft breweries can’t be beat—was the most important part of our recuperation for the next day.
Riding in the Eastern Sierras became a journey with no specific objective, apart from adventure itself and sharing with compadres. It was as if the mountains had instructed us to ride not to any specific route or itinerary, but rather simply to pedal, and be present, in whatever astonishing and testing terrain we found ourselves.
The rugged granite peaks, panoramic vistas, and color palette of the Eastern Sierra mountains was the artistic inspiration for our 2019 Fall/Winter collection. The 2019 Eastern Sierra collection has everything you need to ride through Fall's varying conditions. Shop it today here.