Onion Valley Road


I was back in Lone Pine this “weekend”.  I write weekend in quotes because currently my days off are Thursday and Friday and that is my weekend.  Not the traditional weekend but it is two consecutive days off.  Lone Pine has become my favorite place to escape city living.  A small town with great people and some of the best climbing for cyclists California has to offer.

When I visit Lone Pine I stay at the Whitney Portal Hostel.  I am now a repeat customer with three great visits in the last six weeks.  The hostel is  conveniently located at the base of Mt Whitney.  You can make reservations at (760) 876-0030.  Rates are reasonable and it is a nice clean place where you meet a lot of interesting people.  I highly recommend it.


6 hour mountain training ride.  78 miles with 7800 feet of climbing.  High temperature while I was still riding was 105F.  Personal Best Onion Valley Rd (1:47). Partial climb of Horseshoe Meadow.


My goal for Friday was to get in as much climbing as I could possibly achieve before the heat would be too much.  Lone Pine had been in the high 90’s for the past week but it was forecasted to be over 100 F on Friday.  I rolled at 630am and headed North on Hwy 395 towards Independence.  It took less than an hour, 48 minutes,  to travel the 16 miles required to reach Independence.

Sunrise on the Eastern Sierras

Onion Valley Road really starts off as Market Street.  I made the left turn and began the long., 13 mile,  hard climb up to the Onion Valley trailheads.

If you’re not careful you’ll miss the turn to the hardest climb in California


Make your turn at the Post Office

Look for the road and the switchback- there are a series of switchbacks

Look for more switchbacks

I didn’t notice the well on my first ascent back in June. But you have to get to the to the trailhead to refill your bottles.

Felt F2 with Di2 and new 7900 wireless SRM Power Meter

I thought this was funny.

Onion Valley Climb

Ok now it’s time to geek out.  I did a Personal Best on the Onion Valley Rd climb.  Nothing really exciting to the real climbers out there but it was a another milestone for me as I get my climbing legs back.  On this trip I installed an 11-25 cassette.  I remembered how much I suffered on the climb with an 11-23 cassette on my first ascent of Onion Valley in June . Armed with a 25T cog and a little better fitness I was able to increase the following metrics:

I was still grinding way too much and the 12% grades had me standing way too much to keep  my momentum up.  Notice the grey line on the power chart goes up as the power goes down.  That grey line is torque and it really shoots up when the grade is steep.  You’ll notice my power and cadence go in the opposite direction — as in down!  Next time I climb Onion Valley Rd I will take an 11-27 cassette and see if I can improve the average cadence and average power by spinning a little more.

Power and Heart Rate of June 10 and July 9 compared

Cadence and Speed June 10 and July 9

Onion Valley Grade Analysis

Onion Valley is one hard climb.  Just look at the chart from mile 3 to the top at almost mile 13.  It stays in the 7.5% to 10% grade range for almost 10 miles!!  With the only exception being when it pops up and over 10% grade.  Onion Valley gains over 5,000 feet in those hard miles.

Onion Valley Road compared to Mt Ventoux, France

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2 thoughts on “Onion Valley Road

    • Richard,

      Thank you for reading my blog. How did you come across my blog?

      The well is at the top of the climb. It is located about 30 meters from the 9200 Elevation sign.


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