About a month ago I received an email invite from Ryan Wilson to join in with a small group riding Kings Canyon Loop. I had never really ridden with Ryan and had no idea what Kings Canyon was, but seeing so many of his bitchin photos in the Western Sierra on Instagram was more then enough to lure me into a day of riding. What I didn’t know was that this guy goes out on some REALLY HUGE days to take these shots of scenic wonder and most of the time he does it alone.
My alarm went off at 4am (on a fucking Saturday), and after meeting up with Ryan and Mike we threw bikes in the back of my truck and were on our way… for about 30 seconds! Ty at GSC had recently gifted me a tailgate cover for shlepping mtb’s around, so I asked my buddy Mike if it would be cool for road bikes and he said yes. Mike is an engineer, so I figured he would naturally know the answer to questions like this. Then we got on the freeway and one of the bikes immediately starting floating about 3 feet from the bed of the truck! Holy shit was that scary, but at least it was Mike’s bike doing the floating.
Three hours later we arrived at the base of the mountains on Highway 198 and met with the rest of our group. I’m usually game for just about anything that happens on a road ride, but when we started pedaling at 9am Ryan said “we better really get going now or we’ll be riding home in the dark” I was a bit rattled. I nervously laughed and looked at him waiting for a laugh or some sign that he was joking. Ryan just smiled and said “OK, lets go” and I felt a giant hole in the pit of my stomach (the pit could also be from the lack of breakfast food in my belly…Ryan’s fault).
1 minute and 27 seconds into the ride Mike flatted…
37 miles and 8,000ft of climbing later we were only 4 hours into our ride. It was at this point that I realized this was going to be a day equal parts tough as it was long but at least we were in good company riding through amazing scenery and the weather was perfect…then it got cold! It was really cold. Giant clouds came barreling in and none of us were prepared. I would venture to say that I was least prepared in the group & had to stop a few times on the descent sections from shaking uncontrollably (this was wild).
Ryan planned a shit ton of detours/stops to see lakes, domes, the biggest tree in the world (General Sherman), trees you can ride/drive through and some amazing views. We spent the bulk of the day shivering and taking in beautiful sights. The Seqouia covered climb up Whitaker Forrest is easily one of the most beautiful I have ever seen and the 25 mile snake descent down the 198 is hands down the most fun EVER on a road bike.
The day was filled with a perfect mix of both Type 2 & Type 1 fun. Type 1 fun is generally the type of fun that you realize you are having in the moment, for example you are flying down a fun twisty turny decent and say to yourself “Oh Boy Oh Boy! This Is Fun”.
Type 2 fun on the other hand is usually the type of fun that you trick yourself into thinking you’ve had after you’re done feeling miserable. An “Epic” ride is usually a good mix of both Type 1 and Type 2 fun. The Kings Canyon Loop ride is easily Epic with a huge mix of both.
Oh, and we road the last hour back in the dark.
Check out our route at Strava.