Some came to burn off a hangover or get their New Year’s resolution off to a good start, while others used the opportunity show off the new biking gear they got for Christmas. They all came to get some exercise and take part in what has become an annual ritual for local cyclists, the Kern Wheelmen’s New Year’s Day bike ride.
Between 150 and 200 riders gathered at Beach Park on Monday morning to make the trek to the top of Round Mountain and back. Riders headed east on the Kern River bike path, across Gordon’s Ferry Bridge, then east along the river on Round Mountain Road and up to the top of the climb that affords views of Lake Ming, the Panorama Bluffs and, on a clear day, the Temblor Range, which defines the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.
The ride has its genesis in the early 1980s, when a small group of friends got together for a New Year’s morning workout. Soon thereafter, the Kern Wheelmen put it on the calendar as one of its annual events.
Besides getting the word out to the local cycling community, the bike club enlists volunteers who provide hot chocolate, cookies and other snacks at the top of the climb.
Afterward, the majority of the riders turned around and headed down the hill and back to Beach Park, completing the 34-mile round trip. A few of them, looking for a few more miles, elected to continue on and ride the entire 38-mile Round Mountain Road loop, returning to town via North Chester Avenue.