Sometimes I think about how vast this state is and the difficulty of exploring and thankful events like the Grizzly Gravel Ride takes away takes away all that guesswork.
The Fresno Cycling Club does a fantastic job hosting local events with a community feel that binds with the tone set that everyone is out to enjoy these epic routes before gunning for PRs.
This spring Everyone Loves Raymond set a high bar in the foothills of the Sierra, but with summertime temps in September the Grizzly Gravel Ride averages riding at sea level.
Starting out of the town of North Fork not far from the geographic center of California, it’s hard to fathom that a twenty-five mile climb sounds like a pleasant experience.
The first five miles of this ascent is paved rolling up Malum Ridge Road and the initial pitch might be the toughest, but with momentum coming out of the Town Hall the worst is over soon.
Turning off onto Central Camp Rd is the start of the longest dirt segment of the day keeping a light, steady profile for the duration that raised some eyebrows with a prudent background.
While hard to find on maps, the Minarets & Western Railway served the logging industry that was only set up between 1921 to 1933 that was a spur off of the Yosemite Sugar Pine Railroad which part remains as a popular tourist attraction.
What this means for cyclists is a grade that averages under 4% that making it the easiest 4,700 feet of climbing I’ve recorded.
Turning off on the paved Beasore Road completed the last mile of the ascent hitting our second well-stocked pit stop of the ride that’s a Fresno Cycling signature!
Immediately we went into our second sectore of dirt, but as physics would suggest was of the downhill variety for eight miles punctuated by the pastoral Soquel Meadow.
Our last dirt section felt choppy in comparison since the previous was so exquisite as exiting out back onto Beasore Road you realize how great the ride had already been.
The finish was a lap mostly around Bass Lake with a choose your own adventure in stopping at the Beer station.
There’s always a danger of setting hopes too high for a Fresno Cycling event, but the Grizzly Gravel Ride again highlights why we love riding in the Sierra.