Saturday, September 22, 2012

Ride the West - Day 21, Solvang California to Oxnard California

Another great cycling day was accomplished today. We started out from Solvang, a Danish style town in Central California. Last night for dinner, we had a smörgåsbord, which I liked. Some of the other riders were not too thrilled, but you can't please everyone all of the time.

Leaving Solvang

Today we started out with a long climb starting after a few warm-up miles. This was to be one of the last real climbs of the trip, as we only have 2 days left and I think we will be mostly riding along the coast. Joe and I rode the day together and near the start of the climb, we saw our first tarantula crossing the road. We had to stop and get a photo. They are quite fast and can jump, so we didn't dare get too close.

Tarantula sighting

We continued up the long climb and I went on a bit ahead. I missed the turn that takes us off the main road to the closed road that we were supposed to take. Joe yelled at me and also called my cellphone, but I never heard either. The limits of friendship can be defined by whether one is willing to chase the lost soul up a long hill of climbing. Joe drew the line there. There would be no chasing me down. I have to admit, I wouldn't have chased Joe up the climb either if the situation was reversed. I noticed that I missed the turn after about 1/3 mile and rode back down to the correct turnout.

Still climbing

After a few more miles of climbing on the closed road, Joe and I reached the top. The descent was supposed to be steep and very technical, with lots of turns along the way. It turns out that the descent was broken into 3 parts, that got us into the outskirts of Santa Barbara. The 1st part was steep and only about a mile. We had to be braking hard the whole way down this part, as the road was poor. Once we made the turn to the 2nd part, we were on a busy road, but able to cruise along at 40 mph until we hit the 3rd and final part.

Standing at the edge of the cliff overlooking the roads to Santa Barbara

The 3rd part of the descent was incredible. The twists and turns were extreme, with some 270 degree turns. There were road signs that said 5 mph maximum and they meant it.

One of the many steep turns on the descent

These turns were on sharp slopes that would have been over 30% down. The views along the route were outstanding. All in all, it was a memorable descent.

View from the descent

Joe and I then rode through the streets to get us onto the bike path that helps to get us partway into Santa Barbara. It's a pretty city with lots to do and has a beach. The water temperature here, is the starting point where it is acceptable. This is where the warm water that flows up from the south and the cold water that flows down from the north meet. Anything south of here is swim-worthy.

Along Cabrillo Blvd, in Santa Barbara

After riding along Cabrillo Blvd, which runs along the ocean through Santa Barbara, Joe and I caught up to Toronto Mark (who left Solvang 45 minutes early), “The Duchess” (who rode in the truck until the climb was almost over) and Karen Bauer (who works for ABB). Karen joined Joe and me and we headed off at a quick pace. We came across the Santa Barbara Polo Club, which was hosting a polo match, so we stopped and talked with the locals who were eager to explain the game.

Watching a polo match

After leaving the polo game, Karen, Joe and I rode to the 2nd SAG and refueled. By this time we were in Carpinteria. Joe and I headed out and found that part of the ride was along the bike lane of the busy highway 101 itself. It was noisy as the cars and trucks sped along beside us.

Bike lane along the busy Highway 101 South

It wasn't long before Joe and I were back on the much more quiet Route 1, also known as the Pacific Coast Highway. Along this route, many camper trailers like to line up and park there for days or even weeks at a time. It is unofficially known as Redneck Riviera. You could smell the burgers cooking as you rode by.

Redneck Riviera

One item on my wish list for this ride was to eat at In-N-Out Burger at least once. It's been a 1300 mile search, but we finally found one when we were entering Santa Barbara. However, it was too early to eat, so Joe and I skipped it. I was hoping that we would find another one sometime, as they are kind of rare. As we entered the main strip in Ventura, Joe yelled out and sure enough, we saw it in front of us. I had the Double-double with cheese and a chocolate shake. The wish was satisfied as was my now full stomach.

Finally -- yumm

After this well received lunch, we rode the last 12 miles to the hotel in Oxnard.

Let's see what tomorrow brings.

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