Saturday, May 17, 2014

Day #12: Salty Goodness

Today's Route: Tehachapi, CA to Lake Isabella, CA (65 miles)
Total Trip Miles: 574

When we left Tehachapi this morning, the moon was still shining in the sky. What a beautiful view to start the day!

The morning sky over the Tehachapi Mountains.

And the wind turbines were still turning. I just learned today that the Tehacaphi-Mohave area is one of the world's largest producers of wind-generated power. No surprise there! In addition to wind turbines, we've also seen lots of solar panels on our ride. Southern California makes the energy-efficient girl in me quite happy.

About five miles of our ride today was on State Highway 58. Here's the sign we passed as we entered the on-ramp:

Bicycles prohibited.

Generally speaking, bicycles are prohibited from traveling on highways unless there is no other reasonable means for a bicycle to get from point A to point B. In this case, there were no other reasonable means. The addendum notes to our maps confirmed that bicycles are indeed allowed on this stretch of the highway and that the California Department of transportation would be removing this sign. The removal, apparently, has not yet happened.

We passed through the town of Caliente, which was true to its name, as Alex's bike computer once again registered 100 degrees.

Approaching Caliente.

You'll notice two things in the above photo.
  1. The train. This is part of the famous "Tehachapi Loop." The loop is considered to be one of the seven wonders of the railroad world. The loop is a three-quarter mile-long spiral of railroad track, which lessens the grade for the trains as they traverse over the Tehachapi Pass. Built in the late 1800s, the loop will cause a train exceeding 4,000 ft in length to pass over itself.
  2. The square-shaped contrail in the sky. Our route yesterday took us very near to the Edwards Air Force base. Apparently, many of the Air Force stunt planes do their training from this base. We're assuming the contrails are from the stunt planes.
The town of Caliente used to be a bustling tourist location, with a population of more than 10,000 people. Today, the town's only feature is the United States Postal Service office, with lobby hours from 7:30 am to 11:30 am, Monday through Friday. The other buildings in the town, which all look as though they had been deserted many years ago, had for sale signs out front. We took advantage of the town's only feature to have our second breakfast in the shade. Passing though Caliente sure did make us feel as though we had slipped backwards in time about ten decades.

Caliente's only feature.

We reached the top of the second of our three climbs around mid-afternoon. The heat was unbearable, and we were parched. Fortunately, there was a Trading Post at the top of the climb. It was the only establishment around for miles. We stopped in for cold drinks, and we enjoyed the refreshing shade and breeze from the front porch.

A most perfectly situated Trading Post.

We were glad to see the official Adventure Cycling Association's Sierra-Cascades route sticker on the door of the Trading Post. This is the second place we've noticed the sticker.

The Sierra Cascades sticker.

There was a "Loose Gravel" sign on one of our descents today. The gravel was part of an effort to fill potholes along the road. The gravel was quite painful to ride through, as our tires, traveling at fast speeds, kicked up the gravel against our legs.

The little bits of gravel on my froggie feet.

A washing of my froggie feet at the end of the day yielded some colorful, chocolate-like water.

Like chocolate for (dirty laundry) water.

We had originally planned to do about 48 miles today and about 2,500 feet of climbing. This plan would have involved stealth camping in the middle of a mountain range. Alas, Alex is in need of a rest day -- one in which we do no riding at all. So, we decided to ride an extra 17 miles, which involved an extra 2,500 feet of climbing, so that we could spend our rest day in a town.

We're once again staying in a motel, as Alex is seeking comfort in an effort to kick his head cold, sore legs, and saddle sores in the butt.

Today's ride ended up being one heck of a long ride. The climbing was tough today, but I really enjoyed it. I loved seeing the cattle resting beneath the trees on the side of the road, with no fence separating the cows and the road. I loved the feeling of riding in the refreshing shade of the occasional tree. I loved the breeze that would arise every now-and-then to whisk the heat away from my body. And, of course, I loved the well-earned descents.

At the end of the day, my face was quite salty. It looked as though I had closed my eyes, held my breath, dipped my face in a bowl of water, and then dipped my face into a bowl of coarse sea salt.

A very salty face.

Climbing is mostly mental; ninety-nine percent of the climb is mind over matter. But my salty face reminds me that at least some of the climb is physical. It's good to be reminded that touring is beneficial to both the mind and the body. Yeah for salty goodness!


  1. Sarah - I'm having a ton of fun reading along! Two questions. Where's the rain? Isn't bike touring all about the rain? Second, where's the ice cream? You need more ice cream!

    1. Andy!!! So glad to see that you're reading the blog! Rain? I know not what this is! Ice cream? I know what that is, but that's waaaay to heavy to be sitting in my stomach if I need to hop on the bike. Hope the wedding planning is going well! Definitely keep the Sierra-Cascades ride in mind for the future--you'd love it!

  2. I am very impressed! The ret day will do you both good. Looking good lady, even salty!

    1. Thanks, Tony! I hope you're getting lots of riding in as well! :)

  3. I am pretty sure Alex is not agreeing with you about climbing is 90% mental hardship and so do I...You are making this whole thing look easy.

    1. Indeed, Alex gets gets annoyed when I say, "It doesn't even feel like we're climbing!"


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