The cycling world is coming to realize that it's not a race until a certain Tehachapian shows up.
Long-time resident Cory Lockwood has captured the title of King of the Mountain every year since the inception of Tehachapi's GranFondo five years ago.
As a pro-path athlete, he has since gone on to compete in 187 races, winning first place seven times including the highly coveted Redlands Bicycle Classic on March 17.
"I am really proud of him," said Michelle Vance, district manager of Tehachapi Valley Recreation & Park District and organizer of the annual GranFondo. "I think it's really great that he took his cycling to the next level. I feel that the GranFondo acted as a catalyst and showed that he is really talented."
As a member of the Semper Porro team, Lockwood's Redlands win was a major victory for the pro-cyclist. It was a five-day, stage race that passes through Redlands.
"It's a very tough race," said Lockwood. "A lot of notable, professional teams show up. It would be one of the biggest — if not the biggest — race in California."
According to cyclists, the Relands Bicycle Classic is also considered as one of the top five or six biggest races in the country.
Lockwood said he has participated in the Redlands race since 2016, but 2019 was his first win in the team event. Lockwood said he trained for the race with the 2015 winner, Paul Abrahams.
Said Lockwood of the Redlands race, "The final stage, where I did the breakaway on Sunset Loop, is a no-joke race course ... it's a hard one to do because you're either 100 percent on in the climb, and then when you come down the downhill, it is so fast and technical that you can't not concentrate for the entire time. It's very hard."
Abrahams told Lockwood when he first started training for the Redlands race that someday he would win the race.
Said Lockwood, "But it took me three or four years longer to get to that."
Semper Porro — which translates from Latin as "Always Forward" — is a team that Lockwood and his teammates have been building from the ground up with the intention of taking it all over the world and in hopes of someday winning the Tour de France.
"The ethos of Semper Porro is rooted in the concept of always moving forward, long-term development, and relentless attention to detail," reads the team's website at semperporro.com.
Said Lockwood, "We have athletes that we are putting together very specifically built through mindset, nutrition, fitness, specific equipment — all geared towards winning races."
Semper Porro teammates include Joey Bacala, Justin Poulson and Innokenty Zavyalov.
"Cory is one of those people that uplifts everyone around him," said Bacala. "Not necessarily in a direct way; it's just that his energy and resolve to always improve inspires and motivates those that get a glimpse of his process."
Bacala said he has learned a lot from Lockwood.
Said Bacala, "He has taught me so much about attention to detail, meticulous planning, and how to apply good process to so much more than just racing bikes."
According to Poulson, Lockwood is not only a teammate, but also a fun person to be around.
"He is the physical representation of 'getting the job done.' He holds the standard for us and it means a lot to have someone like that to look up to. Occasionally, we butt heads, but the best part about that is we’re always pushing each other forward. With each disagreement, we both learn something and become better than what we were before it," said Poulson.
Asked if he would be participating in the Sept. 14 GranFondo to defend his title for a sixth year, Lockwood said there was a chance he would be there, but it would depend on other factors.
Said Lockwood, "There's also a chance that I will be over in Yorkshire doing world championships. I want to see if I can win the national championships this year again."
But for now, Lockwood said the plan is to take Semper Porro from an elite team to a pro-continental team.
After that, the world is his oyster.