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Tehachapi Gran Fondo sees huge turnout

More than 700 bicyclists launched out of the starting line Saturday, Sept. 13, kicking off the City of Tehachapi's inaugural GranFondo.

Riders participated in four different races, from the 97-mile GranFondo that tackled Bear Mountain, Keene and Sand Canyon to the 16-mile FunFondo for avid bicyclists wanting a less challenging day.

According to Michelle Vance, the race coordinator, Saturday's event marks the first in what will be an annual tradition.

"We want a safe, amazing ride and people to experience Tehachapi," Vance said. "We want to place Tehachapi on the map as a cycling destination in every sense of the word."

Vance said that the event saw a swell of last-minute entrants prior to the event's start.

Tehachapi and Kern county residents, people from all over California and as far away as Santiago, Chile, participated in the event.

The main course -- the GranFondo -- took riders on a 7,288-foot vertical climb from Downtown Tehachapi west all the way down to Keene then up the hill again to Golden Hills, Alpine Forest, Bear Valley and Stallion Springs before heading back and east toward Sand Canyon and circling back to the finish line on Green Street.

The MedioFondo, a 67-mile course, shared the same route as the GranFondo, with the exception of Sand Canyon leg. The PiccoloFondo included a 36-mile loop through Tehachapi, Golden Hills and Stallion Springs without crossing into Bear Valley. The FunFondo, by comparison, was a simple breeze the circled Tehachapi and Golden Hills in a 16-mile loop.

Community Emergency Response Team volunteers from Stallion Springs and Bear Valley, along with officers from the California Highway Patrol, the Stallion Springs, Bear Valley and Tehachapi police departments, and Kern County Sheriff's Office provided traffic assistance throughout the entire course. Residents from the entire Tehachapi area pitched in by staffing rest stops where riders could get food, water and use the restrooms.

Tehachapi resident Cory Lockwood finished the GranFondo course in just under five hours, with a time of four hours, 54 minutes and 34 seconds and a front tire that was nearly flat.

Lockwood, 25, called the course one of the more challenging ones he's tackled. He added that he had trained for six weeks leading up to the event.

"I trained harder than I thought the event would be," Lockwood said.

Vance, the race coordinater, expects to grow the GranFondo even more next year; this year's event went beyond the 650 riders she initially anticipated.

Timed results for all four courses can be found at http://racewire.com/live_results.php?id=3694#Gran Fondo

Tehachapi Gran Fondo sees huge turnout