Cyclists Ride 3 Day Fundraising Journey for Athletes with Disabilities by Ryan Sykes

The Sierra Cycle Challenge is a fully supported 3 day bike ride benefiting Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra (DSES) and covers nearly 150 miles of California’s Eastern Sierra. The riding route is a fully paved surface which winds through the mountains and high deserts to the east of Yosemite. It begins in the town of Mammoth Lakes, in the Footloose Sports parking lot, and eventually circles back around to complete the journey at the same location. Cyclists included athletes with disabilities using adaptive equipment and all involved were passionate fundraisers supporting DSES.

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The evening before the Challenge commenced, all of the riders and support personnel gathered together at the house of Maggie Palchak for a carbo load dinner. Each rider was also given a “Swag Bag” containing a DSES riding jersey, DSES riding socks, and a handful of other miscellaneous items that were generously donated.



We gathered up in the parking lot of Footloose on the morning of July 25th. Many of the riders I recognized from the previous year. Everyone got together for a group picture before we headed out. I don’t think that I will ever forget the Mammoth Chief of Police, Al Davis, wearing his badge and utility belt with his gun in his riding gear. Haha, it was going to be a great day! With a Police escort out of city limits, the 2015 Sierra Cycle Challenge began! Although, the beautiful scenery sure takes your mind away from the 55 miles of spinning. We peddled past the Whitmore Hot Springs and cruised into the small town of Benton for a perfectly placed rest stop. Now it was a short push down Highway 6 to our first campsite. I personally love this spot! It’s actually not a campsite, but someones back yard. It’s a very relaxing location.

It’s an ideal spot to recuperate after a long day of riding. Dinner arrived just as we put the finishing touches on our campsites and showered up for the evening. After dinner a few people gathered up in the campsite to reflect on the day.


Bats were out in full force due to insect larvae hatching from the nearby water ski lake, which also gave us something to talk about. By 9 pm, everyone had turned in for the night. Soon enough, the sun crept back over the mountain tops and Day Two was about to begin.


Today we were riding to the town of Lee Vining. The route was well planned and each moderate incline had a matching decline. Just like your momma always said, “What goes up, must come down”. There was also a nice little stretch through the valley that didn’t want to end. No, it just seemed longer than it actually was. Plus it afforded you the opportunity to theorize the true true meaning of life…


Shortly after sailing through the mellow flatlands, we climbed back into the gorgeous mountain range. What a welcomed sight that was! The mountain floor desert is neat, but the ever changing landscape that the rise in elevation brings, quickly brings a smile to my face and almost makes me feel like I’m riding through the pages of a Hallmark Calendar. We soon made our way to the Lee Vining RV Campsite and set up for the night. After a quick rinse off, massage therapists worked their healing magic on any aches and/or pain that we had gathered thus far. A wonderful Surf n’ Turf dinner was BBQ’ed up for us by the Mammoth Rotary Club. Another great ending to a great day.



Now we were on the home stretch. Although the home stretch was laden with hills. The DSES SaG (Support and Gear) vehicle brought up the rear to help any rider make it through the tough spots.

DSCN0098Seriously though, we are riding on roads that seem to be almost out of place because of how majestic the surroundings were. So really, how hard can it be?! Do you know how many people would kill for this experience?! At least these were a few of the things that cycled through my head as I climbed the hills. Then came the big downhill. It was like a scene of Endor in Star Wars! I kept waiting for little Ewok’s to come jumping out of the overhanging trees. It was such a cool spot! We soon gathered back up at a large intersection and made our final descent back into town.

Meet up

As I coasted into the Footloose Sports parking lot, I was already constructing my training regiment for next year. Only 362 more days to go!

Click Here to learn more about the Sierra Cycle Challenge.

Click Here to receive furture DSES Updates.


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