Day 21: Cuyama - Palmdale
Tuesday, September 27, 2005

106.97 @ 15.9 = 6:41'33, max: 44.6, trip total: 1646.5

sunny, "breezy", and beautiful - warmest day yet

cheese danish, chocolate muffin, ham, cheese, chips, oreo's, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, bean soup, bread sticks, chicken parmiagan, pasta, M&M McFlurry

EZ 8 Motel, $23.20 p/p

The bite of the cool air in the morning was minimal. The change was significant and the clear skies held promise for the day. Personally I was hoping for some heat. Some time to sweat out some energy and feel warm through your muscles. And it quickly warmed up- even in the half hour before starting to ride.

The time before riding is filled with route discussions, filling water bottles, eating some snacks, and packing the minivan. It's about a half hour of chill time and mental warm up. So we plan on starting at 7 which really means rolling out at 7:30 - 8. Today was no exception- even though we knew we had a tough day ahead. Well, a long day for sure. 100 + miles or so depending on where we actually ended up and how many miles the curves would add to the tally.

There was a stiff headwind with elevation increase for the first 20 miles. It was a hard way to get warmed up- hitting 10 mph on a seemingly flat road. Look at the following clips- looks flat. Looks pleasant. But totally frustrating. Reaching less than 10 miles in the first hour made the mental calculations miserable. 100 mile day = 10 + hours of riding. Not a short day. So there's a ton of climbing too. Hmm. Not a short day. There's got to be some downhills right? And a lunch break. Oh well, time to get back into the paceline.

video clip: headwind? looks flat to me »

video clip: focus to continue »

The route continued up the valley and we gained 1000 feet in about 10 miles. We were rising slowly and getting deeper into the foothills of the mountains. Hardly any traffic and plenty of photo opps that flew by- just not enough time to frame them right.

It rained over night - something that this area sees very little. So the rain really caused havoc on the river beds and run off. There were various flash flood areas under caution with running water - my bike is a muddy mess! ugh. We crossed each one just adding another layer of mud cake on my bike. A reminder each time of how I cleaned my bike the night before. It's hard to tell in the photo but my bike is black- now it was filled with mud in all the components. It's nice to have a well oiled machine on a long ride- but not everything goes along as planned.

After slowly climbing we hit our first major climb. It had a few switchbacks and the sun was hot - beating down on us. Our jackets wrapped around our waists we stood on our cranks as we pushed to the top. It was probably the highest point of the trip- about 6500 feet.

Full Size Panorama
Photo by Todd Lindeman, rider

Then on the way down the other side it was like a roller coaster. Up and down through a field of hills - like a maze trying to reach the other side of the mountain chain. But that would take another 20 miles before we made it out. Through this patch we passed Mile High Ranch which was only another reminder that we were breathing slightly thinner air. Anything to add to the challenge.

I think it was 2pm as we were wrapping up lunch -- only 40ish miles into the day. Did I mention it was excruciatingly slow today. The headwinds really picked up just before lunch and gave us a run for our money. Anyway, we had another 60+ miles to go. Time was ticking by.

And then came the wonderful descents- the rolling terrain - the tailwinds. It was like a totally different day. Right after lunch we rolled off 5 miles in less than 10 minutes! And mostly without even rotating the pedals. I think we almost started crying with joy. It wasn't all that easy but we did get some breaks. And we did get some more climbs but there was hope in the air.

It was a day of extremes. From the struggles against the wind to sailing down a mountain for 5 - 8 miles at a time without much effort. It was awesome.

And then at the end of the day we saw the desert floor. The flats beyond the mountains as we rolled into town. The contrast precise- huge mountains and flat desert just lying next to each other.

We all rode together as flew into Palmdale- averaging 30mph for the last 10 miles. To think we got in around 6pm- it was a long day but we could have easily been served a longer day. So all in all we felt great and felt lucky to be complete another day. All looking forward to the desert tomorrow. I'm sure this will bring it's own set of circumstances but we are ready for a new set.


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