Lone Pine, day four of the 2010 Specialized Ride to Vegas. Buoyed by memories of last year's express train South (the first handful rode the 104-mile stage in 3 hours and 47 minutes) today's sandblasting saw the winds exact a little revenge... six and a half hours worth to be exact. It's been a harder ride this year. Today was tough, but not all punishment. Early in the morning they hit the big descent to Bishop in relatively calm air and hit 60 mph in all manner of tucks, bar straddles, under hand aero grips and knee locks. The collective yippee is still out their somewhere picked up by the afternoon's jetstream it's somewhere over the Northwest Territories now. What a difference a year makes.
Saturday the group shook off the numbness of a chilly night in tents by tackling 4.5 miles of 18% Sonora Pass just two miles from their cryogenic sleeping bags. After a tiny respite the pass kicked again with another 3.5 miles of 17% (data courtesy of Lee's iBike app). I've never seen anything like it... well actually I have, this year's Tour, Stage 12 Bourg-Peage to Mende ended with the 3.1km Jalabert Climb to the aerodrome, but that thing was an appetizer compared to this beast which just cried out for a chair lift. Our bunch soldiered up and over the 9624 foot summit for a hot wheel track descent (with the occasional wandering cow for interest) to Highway 395 and a right, down to Mammoth. I said down, but what I really meant was IN, because they got clobbered by a hot headwind the whole way. Norcal Bikesport's Glen Fant summed up the day with an emphatic one finger salute at the finish that would have made Mark Cavendish proud.
I'll sign off now. Tomorrow we climb into Death Valley. Trust Specialized's Nic Simms (superman below and I might add one of the greatest living shadow puppeteers) to come up with the perfect summation. If the wind blows tomorrow like it did today... "there will be tears before bedtime." Let's hope not.