Day Seventy-Two

Bakersfield, CA to Lost Hills, Ca

The flatness of the central valley made this a pretty easy day. Aside from a light 10-15 mph headwind for much of the day, the only challenge today was California's sub-par state highway system.

My general plan was to skirt the west side of Bakersfield and make my way northwest to Lost Hills, the last town with motels on the west end  of the  valley. I headed west on broad White Lane, a six-lane boulevard with bike lanes. Since I left around 10:30, I completely missed rush hour, so the street was almost empty. Buena Vista Road and Stockdale Highway also had bike lanes, but as I left the city the road narrowed considerably, with hardly a shoulder to speak of. Looking at the map again later, I saw that I would have been much better off taking Allen Road up to Santa Fe Way. Anyway, I rode out to SR 43 and headed north. There were a fair number of trucks and no shoulders. It was déjà vu, and I was kicking myself--I should have learned my lesson after SR 184 yesterday. It seemed to me that a state highway with the white line running down the outermost edge of the pavement was pretty pathetic. It was as if CalTrans only cared about freeways. Fortunately, history continued to repeat itself--the road widened just two miles down at the SR 58 intersection, much as SR 184 did yesterday at the SR 223 intersection.

As I headed north toward Shafter, I had the " Theme From 'Shaft'" going through my head. I decided that if I saw a Frosty King restaurant there I'd stop for lunch. Just south of town, SR 43 turned onto Santa Fe Way, which, as one might suppose, ran parallel to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks. There was indeed a Frosty King in town, so I parked my bike and went to the window to order.  They made a good burger, but the best part of my meal was the huge (size " small" ) butterscotch sundae I had for dessert.

I was making good time. I'd been riding for two hours and already covered half the distance to Lost Hills. At the edge of Shafter a sign said that it was eight miles to Wasco, but it was more like six. Wasco was a center for rose growing, and SR 43 was lined with sweet-smelling rose bushes at the south end of town. At the north end, I turned left onto SR 46 toward Lost Hills. I stocked up on water since there were no services for the next 20 miles and it was hot. At first, SR 46 was a Texas-style highway with wide, paved shoulders. However, a little more than halfway to Lost Hills, those shoulders narrowed and eventually disappeared. The road zigzagged, and I saw a scattered stack of drywall that a truck apparently lost on the curve. That was really sobering because if a truck lost its load like that while alongside me, I would surely be killed.

I had to sweat out the last three miles to Interstate 5 with no shoulder. Most of the truckers were considerate enough to give me some space. At the interchange a new city had practically sprouted with several gas stations, motels and restaurants. I checked into yet another Motel 6 (five nights in a row) and got into my room by 4:00. Although it hadn't seemed like a hard day, I fell asleep for a couple hours. When I woke up, I showered and walked across the street to a truck stop for dinner. I had the southwestern chicken, a boneless, skinless breast covered with cheese and BBQ sauce. It was pretty good. I went to Wendy's for a Frosty, usually my favorite fast food dessert, but for some reason it was disappointing.

Totals for the day: 54.02 miles in 4:08:01 for a 13.1 mph average.

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