The warm weather didn't stop 1,000 cyclists from rolling into Centennial Plaza early Saturday morning to participate in the 6th Annual Tehachapi GranFondo.
With five Fondos to choose from, cyclists lined up downtown at 7 a.m. for the start of the ride. As each cyclist crossed the finish line, they were presented with a finisher's medal, a bottle of water, a wet towel and a standing ovation from the Tehachapi Warrior Cheerleaders.
With Cory Lockwood bowing out of this year's ride, his undefeated title of King of the Mountain went to another Tehachapian, Ethan Zehr, 20, who completed the Keene climb in 22:05.
Zehr, who attends college in San Diego, said he returned to his hometown to participate in his fourth GranFondo event. Last year, Zehr said, he placed seventh.
Zehr said he received advice from Lockwood in previous years concerning nutrition and training for century rides.
"I race mountain bikes for college, and I have been training for that. I got a big race coming up in October, so I have been doing longer and longer rides," said Zehr, who rode for team Lehigh, where he works during his summer breaks.
"I've been telling him all summer that he is going to win this year," said Terry Moody, Zehr's boss at Lehigh.
Zehr said he got a flat tire on his front wheel, which almost cost him the lead.
"It almost didn't work out for me. I was pretty scared," Zehr said. "I started cramping up towards the end, too, so I was pretty worried."
Sunday, Zehr said, he plans to do a 20- or 30-mile recovery ride, followed by a massage.
Capturing the title of Queen of the Mountain was Jessica Wheeler, 48, of Bakersfield. Wheeler completed the Keene climb in 33:27.
Wheeler said this was her first year participating in the Tehachapi GranFondo.
"It was a great course and a lot of fun," Wheeler said. "I like it because it is a little bit smaller. We have done Mammoth and Solvang, but this one was cozy."
One noteworthy rider was Scott Ostrem of Bear Valley Springs, who rode the GranFondo on his unicycle. Ostrem got an early start, departing at midnight the day of the race, and crossed the finish line shortly before 2 p.m.
Michelle Vance, former TVRPD manager, returned to Tehachapi from Colorado where she now resides to volunteer as a ride consultant for this year's event. Vance, who originally planned to ride in the PiccoloFondo Plus, decided against it.
"The person who plans the party never gets to have fun at the party," laughed Vance, adding, "We are introducing people to cycling who have never ridden a bicycle before."
Presented by the Tehachapi Valley Recreation & Park District, the Tehachapi GranFondo was made possible by its many sponsors, including Kaiser Permanente.
Coming in first place for the FunFondo, an 18-mile course, was Justin Schweitzer, 51, of Bakersfield (males) and Terry Burton, 56, of Tehachapi (females).
Coming in first place for the PiccoloFondo, a 38-mile course, was Gianni Carpani, 71, of Sand Canyon (males) and Sharon Pierce, 60, of Bakersfield (females).
Coming in first place for the PiccoloFondo Plus, a 62-mile course, was Matthew Novak, 31, of Palmdale (males) and Bobbi King, 63, of Twin Oaks (females).
Coming in first place for the MedioFondo, a 77-mile course, was Jorge Tejada, 43, of Victorville (males) and Jennifer Cother, 38, of Bakersfield (females).
The overall times for riders of the GranFondo was not immediately available.
This story was updated to reflect the correct woman winner of the PiccoloFondo Plus after a change in who wore that bib number.