Lake Isabella Circuit

Today started out backward. Mario, my Cuban pal who runs on Cuban time, was up and ready to go at 7:00am. He was not known to wake by 7:00am when he was employed, and since he has retired 7:00am typically is a chronological dream realm.

I, on the other hand, was up but not ready to go at all. I used to be at work no later than 7:00am and would be at 7:00am ride starts on weekends. Excuse coming – I had spent most of the previous day taking care of stuff instead of packing for this trip. That included picking up at Best Bike Zone a new set of Mavic OpenPro wheels for my Litespeed bike, along with rim tape and a new chain, and then installing all of those items. Later, I drove to San Luis Obispo to pick up Mario and his bike as he arrived by train from LA. By the time we got back to my place I was too pooped to pack, leaving that for the morning and delaying our departure for a week long trip riding in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California.

The first place we drove to was Kernville, north of the lake. We kitted up, got our bikes ready and started a clockwise loop around the lake. Here is Mario at the start, still wearing those Cat-Ears.

Mario and the velobum wheels

Mario and the velobum wheels

The lake is getting boney dry during this extended drought in California. The Kern River still flows steadily into the lake from the north, and there seems to be a decent amount of ground water for meadows on the east side of the lake where we found cows and llamas grazing, but the lake level is way, way down.

We saw a few boats in the water, but it looks pretty dangerous with old drowned trees that used to be well submerged now visible above the water. The main boat ramp on the south shore looks like an abandoned airstrip since so much of it is above the water line. The dam almost seems redundant. Hopefully winter storms will replenish the snow pack in the mountains as well as the lake level.

Mario has been losing weight steadily since retiring, while riding more, and consequently is getting ferociously strong on the bike. During the last five miles back to Kernville he was putting me in the pain place trying to stay on his wheel. I’m wondering perhaps he was just anxious to get to Kern River Brewing Company for a cold draft to quench his parched throat.



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