TOC Camp Stage 5: Visalia to Bakersfield

150 150 Rich Strauss

The riding does not suck in California

Theme of the Day: Yeah, no, this stage is boring….let’s do something epically cool!

Summary: Coach Rich leverages his knowledge of California’s best roads to create a custom stage — a climb through Sequoia National Forest, max elevation of 7300 feet, then a descent down the Kern River to a sprint finish just outside Kernville!

The Full Run Down: It seems that most years the Tour includes a stage that is less than exciting, meant to put in the miles between points A and B. Last year it was a mostly flat and windy stage across the Central Valley…which we skipped, opting instead to ride through Fort Hunter Liggett to the coast and back, one of the most scenic rides in California. This year it was Stage 5 from Visalia to Bakersfield. A little weary of the time pressure of being chased by the Tour and so close to the Sierras and epic riding, we pulled ourselves off the course and rode through Sequoia National Forest to Kernville instead!

The plan was simple: drive out of Visalia and into the mountains until the GPS said we were at about 3500ft elevation. Jump out of the vans and climb south on Hwy 190 and the Western Divide Hwy through Sequoia National Forest, over 7300ft elevation and through the Trail of 100 Giants. Descend down to the Kern River and finish up in Kernville before our drive to Monrovia, Rich’s home outside LA.

The ride, the scenery, and the relaxed timeline of the day was just what we needed to recharge our heads, if not our legs. The campers still got in X and Y, but the views were worth the work. The A-Group had fun attacking each other into the wind on the run into Kernville before an impromptu final sprint before the vans, which were conveniently staged at a general store offering tri-tip sammiches, milkshakes, and the Tour live on TV!

Coach Rich, after having cycled and moto’ed much of central and southern California, from SanFran to San Diego, declared this to be the BEST ride he has ever done. Period. Enjoy the pictures below!

Stage 5, DIY, Map and Profile on

Stage 5 Pictures and Video

Nemo, INSIDE a tree on the Trail of 100 Giants

More fun with ludicrous big trees...

Dan Socie, Coach Rich, and Trent "Drillbit" Prough at a roadside waterfall, elevation ~7k feet.

Sequoia National Forest, 7k feet elevation, and the road to ourselves!

Quick regroup on Western Divide Hwy before the descent to the Kern river

Waterfall, upper Kern River

Campers watch the final minutes of Stage 5, live, while enjoying tri-tip and shakes

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