Thursday, December 13, 2007

Stage 1 - Santa Clarita to California City

THE ORIGIN OF PEOPLE (Death Valley, California. Shoshoni)
Part 1 - Coyote had a home. He hunted rabbits to make a rabbit-skin blanket. When he had a great many skins, he started to make the blanket in his house. While he was working on his blanket, he saw a shadow pass the door. He went out of the door to see what it was, and saw a woman running. She had a rabbit's tail on her buttocks. He chased the woman, and she ran toward the west. Coyote ran fast, but could get no closer to her. He chased her to the ocean.

Considering that I’d have no sleep in the next forty eight hours, choking down three boiled eggs and two pieces of bread at four in the morning was not the best way to start the day. Right or wrong my rigid pre-race protocol had to be met; three years of training is a hard habit to break.

I looked at myself in the mirror and realized that I didn’t recognize the person I saw. An almost gaunt figure stared back with unfamiliar eyes. The person in the mirror told me I was ready for the 508. He told me that I would finish. “See yourself at the finish line” he said, “See yourself there, and see nothing else.”

The route for Mountain Section 1 climbs over the Sierra Pelona. The Sierra Pelona Mountains are one of the Transverse Ranges that are still rising out of the earth as a result of tectonic forces along the San Andreas Fault System. The easy climb pauses briefly at Elizabeth Lake (Elizabeth Lake is actually a sag pond in the San Andreas Rift zone) before Johnson Summit exits Porthole Ridge into the Antelope Valley.

Riding across the rolling terrain towards the Tehachapi Mountains was a pleasure. There was a cool headwind that was mildly annoying. But given the scope of the task yet to come, a little breeze hardly bears mentioning. My only significant memories of that featureless spin across the valley were the countless “Land for Sale” signs posted all along the road. I rolled past our support van and asked Desiree if we should look into retirement property; she laughed and told me that she had the same idea. Since I was born in Lancaster it would be just like coming home.

Approaching the Windmills Climb was an awesome experience. The east slopes of the Tehachapi are peppered with sparkling white wind generators and every one of them was spinning. I knew that there was a good reason for choosing the gap between the Tehachapi's and the Paiute's for a wind farm. The narrow valley creates a perfect venturi that down-slopes toward the east; good for windmills, bad for cyclists. I paid little attention to the climb; I was mesmerized by the churning blades spinning at every turn.

After the Oak Creek descent, it was just a quick little cruise through Mojave with a great view of the bone yard at the airport. Heading north out of town we rolled up into the Horned Toad Hills and then pedaled down the gently sloping remnant of an ancient alluvial fan to California City.

One stage down and seven to go.


Buckshot77 said...

Great reading, I can't wait for more!


Quella said...

Well said.