Onion Valley Personal Record (PR)


TRAINING GOAL– Monthly fitness test on Onion Valley Rd (tempo/threshold)

BIKE SETUP – 53/39 Dura-Ace 7900 Wireless SRM Crankset and 11-28 Cassette.

On 9/17 I climbed Onion Valley Rd to a Personal Record (PR) of 1 hour 44 minutes.  It’s a 13 mile climb that gains over 5,000 feet in one solid shot.  There are no flat spots or dips in this climb which makes this an extremely hard climb. Take for example Mount Palomar — after climbing a 5 miles you get a 3/4 mile flat section before beginning the final 6.7 miles at 7% to the summit.  Or Mosquito Flat where you have a .9 mile dip 8 miles into the climb and a couple sections of fairly gently grades.  Or Ancient Bristlecone/White Mountain were about 8 miles into the climb you have a 1 mile flat section before continuing on White Mountain Road to the 10,000 foot summit.

On 9/16 I climbed Mosquito Flat to a Personal Record of 2 hours 27 minutes.  I was going good but I knew I had at least one more climb to do.  I also climbed Pine Creek a 7.5 mile climb that was steeper than I remembered it.  It’s important to mention what I did on 9/16 because I was surprised how well my legs recovered overnight.  I felt really good on Onion Valley.  How good?– I kept easing the pace because I thought I would blow up.   I eventually fatigued but even looking at my Training Peaks chart you can see the Power curve (Yellow Line) is pretty consistent.  I am happy with the consistency and I don’t think I have more than another 5 minutes to cut off this climb — this season.  I would need to train a lot more drop some weight and try again next year.

Notice sustained sections above 9% and no dips

Notice the Red section shows higher cadence for same or more power

George Vargas sets Personal Record on Onion Valley 1 hour 44 minutes.  Consistent improvements since June

MFRA from Training Peaks WKO 3.0

Training Peaks Graph for Onion Valley Rd PR

RED- Heart Rate

PURPLE- Temperature

GREEN- Cadence


GREY- Torque

BLUE – Speed

ORANGE- Elevation


Data for Onion Valley Rd PR

Most Difficult Climbs in California:

1) Onion Valley —               DONE 6/10/10 !!

2) Horseshoe Meadows — DONE 6/10/10!!

3) White Mountain–          DONE as part of Everest Challenge Stage Race

4) Sherman Pass–             DONE 6/24/10!!

5) Whitney Portal —         DONE 6/10/10!!

6) Mount Baldy–               DONE- too many times to mention

7) Shirley Meadows–        DONE 6/24/10!!

8) South Lake–                  DONE as part of Everest Challenge Stage Race

9) Mount Palomar–           DONE 6/06/10!!

10) Mosquito Flat–           DONE 09/02/10!!

Additionally, here is the list of the 10 toughest climbs in the US.

Below is a list of some of the top cycling climb bike rides that are listed in the bookBest Cycling Climbs In The US. The book lists the 100 toughest USA road bike climbs from 1 to 100.

  1. Mt Washington, NH
  2. Haleakala, HI
  3. Onion Valley, CA
  4. Horseshoe Meadows, CA
  5. Mt. Equinox, VT
  6. White MTN, CA
  7. Mt. Baldy, CA
  8. Mt Graham, AZ
  9. Mt. Lemmon, AZ
  10. Palomar Mountain, CA

Onion Valley Road is compared to Mt Ventoux, France

Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 8.15.04 PM


Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 8.19.39 PM

And now for something silly– Ever since I purchased Felicia I have been outfitting her with all the latest and greatest gadgets.  But one thing I have left off of her on purpose.  On everyone of my race bikes I always have a Superman figurine on the seat stay cluster.  My reason for leaving the Superman off is I just didn’t feel like I was in good enough form to put Superman back there.  But after a successfull todays of training and two PR’s on two very tough climbs I think Felicia is finally ready to get her Superman.

1 thought on “Onion Valley Personal Record (PR)

  1. George,
    nice analysis/review of repeat rides. I like comparing routes that I repeat to track progress. Looks like you’re doing well with increased power and work with decreased HR. I noticed there is 10% decoupling, although your graph shows that your power and HR look pretty steady through the climb. I’m just starting to look at decoupling, and haven’t made up my mind on how useful that is yet. Overall I’d say your pacing looks pretty good.

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