Fall Favoritism in Owens Valley

It’s no secret that California is home to some exceptional bike riding. It doesn’t matter if you’re a roadie, a gravel grinder, or a mountain bike park rat, there’s something for everyone in the Golden State. My romping grounds of choice happen to be a quick, three-hour drive from my home in Los Angeles. After catching up on work Thursday morning, I left my home and headed north on the 395 to Lone Pine, California where I’d spend the next two days riding my newly retrofit Firefly. Kyle and I rode these roads last year and I spent the whole summer planning a return.

Arriving at my campsite with about three hours of daylight left, I hopped on my bike for what I thought would be a warm-up ride up to Whitney Portal Rd from camp but the bike and my legs felt so good that I just kept going. Racing the setting sun over Mount Whitney and its neighboring peaks, I quickly realized that it was getting colder and I had forgotten my jacket and gloves at camp. Onward and upward. Summiting the road just in time to watch the valley below get engulfed in the shadows from the Eastern Sierra uplift. That descent was more than decent and it took hours until I could feel my hands again.

Before leaving, I posted on my Instagram stories that I’d be in the area and was down to meet up and ride road bikes. Leaving details fairly vague, I posted a photo of one of the beautiful switchbacks on Horseshoe Meadows. I didn’t exactly want to flood of people but figured those who were in the know would know what area I was referring to. A few messages back and forth later, I met Izzy, whose dad owns a house on Whitney Portal Road, just outside of Lone Pine and above Alabama Hills, where I was camping.

Izzy and I climbed Horseshoe Meadows at my ultra chill pace, which Izzy concluded was about 30 minutes slower than his normal pace. I’ve never been a climber and for me, the beauty of these sorts of rides is more than enough reason to take my time ascending such a formidable beast. We descended back to town, where we ate at the local Mexican restaurant and I turned in for the night, knowing that I had to head home in the morning…

I hoped you enjoyed this brief story and gallery as the weekend comes to a close. For a more in-depth look at this region, check out our post from last year.


See my routes on Strava – Whitney Portal and Horseshoe Meadows – and follow Izzy on Instagram.

13 responses to “Fall Favoritism in Owens Valley”

  1. Harry says:

    These images are always too much yet never enough! Amazing

    • John Watson says:

      I wish I shot more but I was glad to get some time on the bike without the pressure of documenting the weekend. I love it so much out there!

  2. Sattelfest says:

    Wow. This firefly looks gorgeous!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Ryan says:

    Toyota for scale. wow.

  4. Ian Carr says:

    How’s that roof rack tent?

    • John Watson says:

      It’s really awesome. It clamps directly to the rain rails, specifically for the 80 series. It weighs 110 lbs, just a little more than the my Frontrunner rack, but is more aerodynamic and doesn’t cause the truck to teeter when I’m out wheeling in a rock garden. It’s not as roomy as our Tepui, but it was perfect for me on the weekend and you can get into it from the sunroof.

      I had to return it yesterday though. Bummer!

  5. stateofnonreturn says:

    Been inspired by your Eastern Sierras photos for a long time and finally got to drive past south of June Lake a month ago. The pictures don’t even do justice, the mountains get truly incredible!


  6. Scott says:

    I don’t know why, but that guardrail shot just makes me think of something that would have been featured in an ad for the Salton Sea in the 50’s. Love these galleries!

  7. Bill Meadows says:

    best place on earth….. just got back from a week up there.