Thursday, May 7, 2009

Article Part 3

We rendezvoused at 8:00 am the next day for breakfast, with a goal of rolling out about 10:00 am. The hotel had a decent breakfast spread, and we were able to stock up on enough calories to see us through lunch. My husband and I headed over to the local grocery deli to procure four sandwiches for lunch – knowing that it would be too many hours before we could reach a lunch spot.

The four of us headed out from Lompoc together. My mom and dad were still feeling good. My dad was having some knee pain, so I suggested he check his cleat position to make sure his knee and foot were properly aligned. We took off at a mellow pace at the bottom of the grade headed to Gaviota pass on Highway 1. The morning was beautiful and calm. We previously had not traveled this section of road since we routed through Solvang on our last tour down the coast. About 5 miles up the road, we came across another cyclist heading out from his van with his wife and daughter running SAG. We chatted for about 10 minutes and then continued on. By the halfway point, we hadn’t seen my parents in a while, so we pulled off on the side of the road in a sunny patch with a guardrail and enjoyed a snack while waiting. About 20 minutes later, we were regrouped and headed up the pass again. We passed some pretty farmhouses and vineyards. There were cottonwoods filling the canyon – still golden in color, even though it was late December. And, the recent rains had painted the hills a rich green color – a rarity in the inland part of Santa Barbara County.

We had another regroup at 10 miles. My dad’s knee was feeling much better since adjusting his cleat. I was happy to hear that news. Just after we started up again, my husband ran over a huge tack that went through the tire and sidewall. Knowing we had a long, high-speed descent coming up, we were not happy about the sidewall puncture. But, we sent my parents on ahead and proceeded to fix the tire. We booted it with a couple layers of booting material (Tyvex left over from shipping envelopes or race numbers). It took about 30 minutes to do it right, but gave my parents a good head start on the last five miles to the pass.

We caught them with one mile to go. I could tell they were starting to bonk as we arrived at the top of the pass (our designated lunch stop) and waited nearly 15 minutes for them to arrive. It had been three hours since leaving Lompoc, and we’d only covered 15 miles. I knew we would need to push, as it was 1:00 pm, and we still had 30-35 miles to reach Santa Barbara before dark. We had a quick lunch and headed down the pass. We were leery of the junction of Highway 101 and Highway 1. But, we barreled ahead. It turned out my fears were unfounded, as there was little traffic. The descent was lovely, and we had a little headwind, so we could slow ourselves down nicely by sticking out our elbows.

It was a beautiful, clear day as we hit the long coastal run on Highway 101. I’d never ridden that particular section and was worried about noise and traffic. But, there were reasonable gaps in the traffic where we could talk. And, the shoulder was plenty wide to avoid the cars. Shortly after starting south, I got a flat tire on the rear, which again gave my parents a chance to catch up a little bit. After fixing the tire, we continued on with a clear view of the Channel Islands in the distance – what a beautiful day! It was one of those clear views you can only get after the rains wash away the California smog. Our tour could not have been timed better.

My husband and I were making excellent time with the help of coastal tailwinds. So, again, we were quite a bit faster. We stopped at Refugio State Beach for a snack break and a chance for them to catch us again. We regrouped and had approximately two hours to complete the last 20 miles to Santa Barbara. We decided we would not regroup again until the end. We put our heads down and headed quickly to the Goleta exit where bikes had to leave the freeway. We did not know the exact location of the restaurant where we were meeting. But, fortunately, we had a GPS unit that was able to guide us there. At about 4:30 pm, we arrived at the Elephant Bar next to the Santa Barbara airport.

I ran in to change clothes. When I emerged, my aunt and uncle (my dad’s brother and wife) pulled up with my dad’s truck and their car. I started loading stuff in the truck while my husband went in to change. We were just finishing up as my parents arrived – at 5:00 pm straight up. That could not have been planned closer to the minute. My aunt, mom, husband and I went in to put our name in for a table while my dad and uncle loaded the rest of the equipment in the truck and locked everything down.

We enjoyed a hearty meal in celebration of our accomplishment and toasted my parent’s success with big glasses of ice water (and diet cola, of course). During the short, one and a half hour ride home, we marveled over all that we miss while speeding down the road in a car, and how much we enjoyed passing slowly through familiar territory on quiet back roads.

My parents are currently in the midst of a nine-month training plan to ready themselves for their first long tour. We will cover approximately 300 miles in 8-9 days, and will love every minute of it. I rediscovered my love of cycle touring and shared the love with my parents. That was my Christmas gift to all of us.


Jackie said...

Ah yes, ain't it grand? Loved reading about your trip.

On my first solo tour I hit 50-60 mph headwinds getting to Lompoc (took a year to recover my neck strain), and the next time was even worse but a gas station guy in Santa Maria (turn left from Guadalupe) clued me into Foxon Canyon Road, Los Olivos and the San Marcos Pass (camp at Lake Cachuma) straight down into Santa Barbara. Try it next time, you'll love it!

chatterbox said...


How did you feel about descending San Marcos pass? I've driven it several times, and it did not inspire confidence about descending on a bicycle. Last time we did the trek, we did go past Lake Cachuma, but then diverted onto Old Stagecoach Road or something like that and then climbed Camino Cielo and descended Painted Cave Road into town (stopping at the painted caves on the way).