Day Two: Near Simmler, California to Bakersfield, California - "Vibes" - CycleBlaze

From "Vibes"

By Jeff Lee

June 16, 2024

Day Two: Near Simmler, California to Bakersfield, California

I woke up with what felt like the beginnings of a cold: A slightly scratchy throat and a cough. I hoped it was just dehydration. I'd talked yesterday to Russell about the lack of potable water, and he told me that the problem was that salt had gotten into the motel's well. He mentioned something about  the "San Andreas Fault" causing the problem. 

I filtered, and drank, some of the water from the sink, but it didn't taste salty to me.

I eventually got everything packed up and went outside. It was cold this morning, and I put on my arm warmers.

It was a nice, cool Sunday morning. 

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I rode back onto 58. There was no traffic this morning at all, with the exception of two pickup trucks pulling boats, presumably to Soda Lake.

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CA-58 was very empty this morning.
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Morri NashThose fields were actually green two months ago.
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1 month ago
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I started a gradual climb, which I knew, from my study of the RideWithGps elevation profile yesterday, would soon become quite steep.

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The start of the climb.
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I rode the bike slowly up the winding road. I don't have a working speedometer on the bike, so I don't know how fast I was going, but it couldn't have been more than 4 mph. 

My climbing skills have deteriorated markedly in the six+ years that Joy and I have lived in flat Western Kentucky.

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I eventually reached the top, and the customary "Trucks Use Lower Gear" sign.

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I braced myself for a scary trip down - I'm a timid descender - but this one was very gentle, and even included some sections of very mild, short hills.

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After several mostly flat miles, I arrived in McKittrick, population 115, elevation 1,056 feet. McKittrick was the first real town since Creston yesterday. I wasn't too excited, though, since I'd already seen from Google Maps that the one store still in operation was closed on Sunday.

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While I stood in the shade outside the closed store, a man pulled off the road and asked me if I knew the way to Bakersfield. I just pointed and said "that way."

I always think it's funny when motorists ask me for directions, something which happens occasionally while I'm on bike tours. I think it should be clear that I'm just traveling through.

In McKittrick. Hopefully the Charles Schultz estate won't sue them for this flagrant copyright violation.
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I headed toward Bakersfield. I'd mentioned to various people  in the last few days that I would be going to Bakersfield, and no one had anything good to say about the city. The young woman at the store in Creston yesterday had made a face when I mentioned today's destination, and seemed to struggle to find an appropriate adjective. She settled on "it's an odd place." I felt like she wanted to say something more explicit, and derogatory, but  I didn't press her. Multiple other people the last few days had said Bakersfield was the "armpit" of California.

Obviously my expectations for my destination were low.

I headed toward the city on a very flat road. It was not scenic.

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Karen PoretThe nickname ( one of them, anyway) for Bakersfield is “Bako”. But, Buck Owens and Merle Haggard are country music legends known for their Bakersfield sound.
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1 month ago

I stopped in Buttonwillow, population 1,508.

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I looked for a place to get some food, but was repeatedly unsuccessful. I was bitterly disappointed that the "Frosty King", which was supposed to be open, was in fact closed. I really wanted a milkshake and fries.

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Mark BinghamWho's that creepy guy taking your picture???
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1 month ago
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I finally found an Hispanic-oriented convenience store where I purchased, and chugged, Gatorade, and ate some slightly spicy cheese things in the heating case. The young woman working there asked if I wanted to sit down, and brought me a folding metal chair. That was nice.

Back on the road, the scenery as I pedaled the very straight road into Bakersfield was not stunning:

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I zig-zagged through industrial and agricultural roads and streets before getting on a major road with a very well marked bike lane:

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I turned onto the Kern River bike path, then immediately stopped at a pizza place just off the path. I lingered there for a long time over a large cheese pizza. Earlier I'd reserved a hotel room five miles away, near the path, but I was too early to check in.

I ate all but two pieces of the large pizza, put the leftovers in a box, strapped it onto the rear rack, and rode on the path toward the hotel.

It was so, so hot now, at 3:00. And I'd heard several people talk about  how much cooler it was after last week's heat wave!

My cold symptoms, which now had included a runny nose, had gotten worse during the day, so except for a brief walk in the heat to buy ice cream, cough drops, and toothpaste, I stayed holed up in my room with the air conditioner running.

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Today's ride: 69 miles (111 km)
Total: 150 miles (241 km)

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John EganI hope you are feeling better today and that you enjoyed your exciting time in Bakersfield. I actually like the Central Valley - not so much the endless straight and flat , but the hillier eastern side. For decades I have said that the split in California is not between Northern and Southern, but between Coastal and Valley.
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1 month ago