Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Article Part 2

Just south of Guadalupe are rolling farmlands. We got a strong odor of broccoli harvest and enjoyed the views of the lush, green hills dotted with ancient outbuildings. This is the flattest part of the route, and we were zipping along with almost no vehicular accompaniment. There was a nice highway patrol man who pulled over three vehicles in 10 short miles of riding, and I only think we saw about five total vehicles. I guess everyone who passes through the area must take the speed limit as more of a suggestion.

We were approaching the outskirts of Old Orcutt (our designated lunch stop) when we received a call from my parents. They had just arrived at Jack’s – the restaurant where we were going to refuel. We told them we were about 10 minutes out.

When we arrived at Jack’s, they had already commandeered a table outside. It was just warm enough to enjoy the patio and sun. We made our drink orders while perusing the menu. My husband and I decided breakfast for lunch was the order of the day and had some of the most decadent homemade cinnamon bread French toast I’d ever seen. It was caramelized to perfection and struck me as somewhere between French toast and a cinnamon roll. Mom and Dad shared a burger that looked to be an entire side of beef with a diet cola, of course. We’re still teaching them the fine art of fueling for a long tour. I did inform them that there would not be a steak dinner that evening, as they needed to replenish their glycogen stores. After a hearty and delicious lunch, we were ready to start the climbing. The Orcutt grade was first up.

As you leave Old Orcutt, the climbing starts almost immediately. The good news is that Highway 1 widens out to have a 10’ shoulder at that point. So, the high-speed traffic is much less nerve wracking. The Orcutt grade is very gentle and typically has a tail wind, as it did on this particular day. So, we zipped right to the top with little effort. My parents took a bit longer as they do not have such a benefit from tail winds on their low-slung trikes (the flip side being that they do not suffer as much from head winds).

Instead of following the typical coastal route of turning off on Highway 135 to the Harris grade, we continued on Highway 1 toward Vandenberg Air Force Base. My parents had a fear of Harris Grade and thought the other route was easier. We’d never used that stretch of road before, so it was an opportunity to try something new. We had another grade on Highway 1 before a long descent into a tree-lined valley. It was quite beautiful, actually, and I was glad to have a chance to see this new stretch. After zipping through the valley, I could see a long and steeper climb of about a mile reaching in front of us. It was only about 5-7%, however. Near the bottom of the hill, we came across a gentleman pushing a 20 year old hard tail mountain bike, fully loaded, with a trailer behind piled about eight feet high with pots and pans and dog food and a dog. His shirt said “We’re from Everywhere”. He asked if we’d throw him a rope and give him a pull, which was funny, since we were only going about eight miles per hour at the time. But, I suppose to him, it seemed we were blazing with speed.

We had a brief break at the top of the grade where my dad cracked open a cold, refreshing diet cola and prepared for the final run into Lompoc. We turned off to roll past the federal prison – a stretch a cycling friend of my parents had recommended. I was happy it was a weekend day. That would be a pretty heavy stretch with freight during the mid-week.

In Lompoc, we secured accommodation at the Holiday Inn Express. Everyone had a shower and then we headed out for a hearty dinner at Burrito Loco. On our previous trip down the coastal route, we ate lunch there. It was one of those times that I was so hungry that it seemed like the best food I’d ever eaten. It was still good this time – especially the salsa. I love the feeling of a hearty meal at the end of a long day of cycling – eating when truly hungry and feeling truly satisfied. It is a joy.

We called it an early night and enjoyed a long sleep in the pillow-filled, over-stuffed bed.

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