Friday’s post took me over an hour to prepare. It takes time to resize and optimize photos, then write, proofread, have Donna proofread and finally publish. By the time I posted, the morning was getting away from me.
I mounted the new Continental GP4000 IIs rear tire on Donna’s bike – twice! I had to do it twice because of a moment of brain fade. These tires are directional – they’re designed to roll one way. I found the arrow on the sidewall showing the direction it should roll, but I had the orientation of the wheel wrong. I installed the tire, pumped it up, then saw my mistake. So, I took it off and did it over again. By the time I removed her aero bars (they aren’t allowed in mass start races) and cleaned and lubed the chain, it was 11:30am.
We had an appointment to pick up a rental car at Enterprise at noon. I didn’t get to the HWH check valve project. We picked up the car, had lunch back at home, then headed out to do some sightseeing.
First we drove to the Tehachapi Loop. This is a marvel of engineering. Generally, railroad gradients are aren’t steep. They are usually less than 2.5%. There are a few grades in the USA that exceed this, but the steel rolling stock of a train isn’t designed for climbing or descending a steep grade. In addition, trains are heavy and grades increase the power requirement to pull the load. On many grades, helper engines are employed. The steepest grade on any railroad route determines the power requirement. Higher power requires additional engines and fuel. This increases cost.
The freight train route from Bakersfield to Tehachapi Pass averages 2.2%. At one point, near Keene, the railroad track makes a loop. The helix-shaped railroad track is nearly three quarters of a mile long. Trains enter a tunnel, then roll around the loop passing over the tunnel. The train gains 77 feet of elevation through the loop. My camera didn’t have a wide enough angle to capture the entire loop.
We arrived in time to see a train pass through the loop. Trains more than 4,000 feet long cross over themselves. This route, linking the San Joaquin Valley with the Mojave, is one of the busiest railways in the USA.
From the Loop, we drove back to Tehachapi on Woodford-Tehachapi Road. Our goal was to drive the bicycle course Donna would race on Saturday. The course has a number of turns. For someone unfamiliar with the area, it can be confusing. I had to pull over and look at the map several times as we drove the 37-mile distance. At one intersection, the course crosses itself.
On Friday night, Donna prepared salmon with a rosemary-dijon sauce, forbidden rice, sauteed artichoke hearts and green beans for dinner.
Saturday we were up before dawn. Donna ate breakfast and we had our coffees before we headed out at 6am. We found a place to park near the starting point of the race. I always like to arrive a little early and avoid having to scramble to the starting line.
I set Donna’s bike up and pumped up the tires. She had time to warm up before staging at the starting line.
After the race set off at 7am, I drove back to the RV park. At 8am, I walked over to the airport cafe for breakfast. We’d heard the cafe was excellent. I enjoyed the view, watching gliders towed down the runway and taking flight behind a Piper Pawnee piston-powered airplane. At least I think it’s a Piper Pawnee. There are at least three of them here. They were originally designed for agricultural use as crop dusters. They make a great tow platform.
The cafe wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. My breakfast croissant with egg, ham and cheese was mediocre. The service was slow and the coffee I ordered turned out to be a styrofoam cup of tea!
At 9am, I drove out of the RV park onto Highline Road. The bike race passes by the RV park as the riders head east on Highline. I drove west and saw a few of the race leaders on the road. I stopped at the intersection at Tucker Road and parked. I watched competitors come past. I was beginning to wonder how Donna was doing. I expected to see her before 9:30am. She came by at about 9:40am and looked fine. I drove east to Curry Road and parked again. I got out of the car to snap a photo. I had to run across Highline as Donna was approaching faster than I expected.
I drove downtown and waited for Donna to finish. She left it all out on the course – she was done in at the finish line. I brought a small cooler with recovery drink and snacks for her. After a little recovery time, Donna told me of a couple of mishaps during the race. There were three races running concurrently, one was 97 miles (GranFondo), one was 67 miles (MedioFondo) and one was 37 miles (PiccoloFondo). They all started together, then the racers took different routes. The course had arrows at some of the intersections. Yellow arrows marked the 37-mile course Donna was on.
Shortly after the start, some of the racers were confused by a large sign with a yellow arrow on the side of the road. The arrow seemed to indicate a turn. Racers made the turn and Donna followed, although she knew it didn’t seem right. Around the corner was a steep hill. Donna quickly geared own and threw her chain. She stopped to re-install the chain as everyone realized they made a wrong turn. The sign was for a yard sale.
Later, about three-quarters of the way through the race, Donna came to the intersection where the course crossed itself. There was a sign there with yellow arrows pointing both ways. It said “Right First Time – Left Second Time.” This was the first time she saw this sign. In the heat of the race, riding with her head down, she didn’t know she had already crossed this intersection. She went right and began a long climb. After about twenty minutes of climbing, she realized that she had already made this climb once. She was going the wrong way! She turned around and got back on track. This extra hill climb, the toughest hill on the course, killed her race time and average speed. She still finished well though.
The town had a big festival for the event in the town square. The race organizers provided coupons for lunch and drink for the competitors. We found a table in the shade, which we shared with a local couple, Lindsey and Bailey, who had also just finished the PiccoloFondo.
I went to one of the food vendors, Red House BBQ, and got a brisket plate for Donna. The portions were huge and the food was excellent. The plate came with a mac and cheese side (which I ate) and dolmas. The brisket portion was so big, we brought half of it home with us.
Other than a quick run to Albertson’s for groceries, we spent the rest of the day kicking back. This early morning race stuff is tiring.
Today, I need find time to change the HWH check valves. It’s an NFL football day though, so I may put it off. Tomorrow, we’ll head south to Temecula.