Even for Athletes, Mammoth Lakes is a Family Tradition
Jul 14, 2021
Mammoth Lakes is all about making memories and family traditions even for the endurance athletes that now visit the area for high altitude training. One such case is Ben Jacques-Maynes, professional road cyclist and 2014 winner of the King of the Mountains Jersey at the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado.
Ben visited Mammoth Lakes this summer to train for the Tour of Utah as well as the USA Pro Challenge, but it wasn’t his first time to the Eastern Sierra.
“My mom brought my brother and I out from Durango on a road trip in 1990 and we rode on the mountain and were instantly sold on being professional mountain bikers,” Ben said. “We raced in the Kamikaze Bike Games in 1991; it was our second mountain bike race ever and I’m not sure my mom fully understood what she had signed us up for.”
Ben and his brother came back every year after that until 2000 to race in KBG (being held Sept. 18-21 this year). It was 2001 that Ben made the switch and was signed by a pro road bike team, but the fun, flowing cross-country trails of Mammoth stuck with him and he is a frequent visitor to the area.
Now living in Santa Cruz on the coast and sponsored by Jamis, Hagens Berman, Sutter Home, Shimano, Rudy Project, Hincapie Clothing, Vittoria Tires, and Herbalife24, high altitude training is a must for pro athletes like Ben. Prior to arriving in Mammoth Lakes this year he had been in Bend, Ore. for some racing.
“Bend was a good stepping stone to Mammoth, altitude-wise,” he explained. Building up slowly to altitude can often be an easier way to cope with the thin air that often makes it a little tougher for athletes to push themselves hard when training.
“You have to acclimate to high altitude and then you can continue to perform at a high level. You can’t push yourself as hard here [right away] because it is so high.”
An athlete’s levels of output are much lower at altitude according to Ben.
“You have less output on a ride, but your metabolism is higher,” he said. “I’m hungrier here, but I’m trying not to eat more.”
While his visit to Mammoth this time around was purely a training mission, Ben now also visits with his own family, continuing the tradition.
“I love the hot springs, floating the river and visiting Devils Postpile with the kids,” he said. While in Mammoth Lakes this time around, he made use of his down time by building his 7-year-old daughter a bike [perhaps so she could follow in his footsteps someday!].
And the best part about training in Mammoth Lakes, other than the high altitude benefits?
“The grand vistas, crystal clear air and the perfect pavement,” Ben concluded.