#5 Tour de Big Bear
E T Russell ____ Early
Saturday August 2nd morning, the Tour de Big Bear was off to a great
start with a race of pro-cyclists peddling their competitive sport uphill in
the San Bernardino Mountains. Approximately 2000 cyclists enrolled in the 5th
Annual Tour de Big Bear and were present for the endurance races. Many of them
were repeat highly-qualified athletes who had acclimated to the high altitude
A chain of events began with truck drivers on the Interstate
10 being blinded by blowing sand. High wind-storms along I-40 caused chain
reaction collisions with at least 10 semi-trucks and four autos involved in the
incident. Reports were that the incident resulted in nine people injured but
none were critical. Caltrans closed the interstate route in both directions
near Fort Katie for several hours to clear the wreckage. The incident caused a
delay in traffic that had the Big Bear Valley as their destination and allowing
cyclists to travel safely, too.
The unusual ‘El Nino’ stormy weather challenged the event
workers, participants and their support teams attempting to prepare the
athletes for the unpredictable. Weather in the San Bernardino valley and
Redlands was in the high temperatures; but as travelers approached the
mountains, temps lowered and thunder and lightning storms were intermittent
throughout the weekend.
Not to mention the grueling physical efforts the cyclists’
bodies endure but the added temperamental weather made Saturday’s race a
difficult one to complete for some of them. Before noon there were several reports
of single cyclists experiencing symptoms related to hypothermia that were dealt
with on individual basis. Soon the number of complaints grew, causing a greater
concern for their safety.
The Tour’s climb is something the cyclist’s teams do their
best to prepare ahead of time, as well as possible. Water stations are
strategically located along the routes that also provide some shelter, energy
snacks, etc. The Big
Bear Pilots Association manned the aid station at Onyx Summit. At that site, it
was reported that thunder, lightning and rain was heavy and consistent for
about five hours, with visibility at about 25 feet.
Many people were experiencing various states of hypothermia.
By 12:40 P.M. medical aid calls went out requesting assistance for a ‘mass causality
incident’. Big Bear EMT’s & FireFighters,
San Bernardino County Fire and other emergency personnel responded quickly to
alerts of Tour de Big Bear cyclists dropping out of the race in the Barton
Flats area on State Route 38. There were some forty patients treated, with no
serious injuries. Some of them called ‘time-out’ and were transported; while others
injured cyclists had their bikes transported to the Village of Big Bear Lake
either by private vehicles or on a truck board.
The Tour de Big Bear over all was a success in many ways, in
spite of the storm’s hesitation. The restaurants, resorts and businesses were
busy with visitors and welcome the event to schedule in the future.