Friday’s AToC was amazing!

The motor crew rolled out of our hotel in Bakersfield at 6:00 without coffee or breakfast.  Most of us don’t know enough about California geography to understand that we were headed over a pass and down into the desert, but that is where we went, right through Mojave, the town.  We also weren’t aware of the desert winds – the wind was so strong that we had to lean the bikes into wind for miles!  Reports were that the sustained winds were 55+ with significant gusts – not my idea of fun.  The desert was amazing in the early morning, but the wind required lots of concentration on the ride rather than enjoying the scenery.

The race rolled out at 9:30, our earliest start of the week.  The road was either up or down for the entire 135 miles.  The route took us through several forest fire burn areas.  The stark ugliness of the blackened trees was contrasted by the purple and orange of fresh ground vegetation returning – I’d need my sister Kathy to help put names on these super hardy plants.  There is an amazing high country plant that has a many feet high flower, which was in full bloom – apparently not concerned about the fires at all!

Next we headed onto the Angles Crest and onto the Rim of the World – this means more mountains, different fantastic rock formation, long climbs, quick descents, vistas of the valley below and on, and on.  We finally made it to about 8,000 feet where there was still LOTS of snow on the hills.  This stage included seven King of the Mountain climbs and then they tossed in a couple of sprints as well.  We had seventeen riders abandon the event and eleven more took too much time to get to the finish and were eliminated from the race on the time cut.  This was the hardest stage I’ve ever been involved in.  I’ve never gone from the desert to a high mountain lake in one stage of a race!

Our day ended with another hour on the bikes riding to our hotel — at least the hour took us down to warmer weather for our Saturday morning transfer.  I was so tired that I literally collapsed in bed!  What a day, what an experience!  This will make work at the Washington Navy Yard seem pretty dull.

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