Saturday Sept 22, 2012 Solvang to Oxnard
Mark and I didn't miss home or his office today. That's because we often have roof leaking issues at the house and Mark's office (or should I say his former office...). We were sound asleep at about 4:45 this morning when we were awoken by the sound of rushing water. We turned on the bathroom light to discover water pouring out of the fan vent in the ceiling of the bathroom. We felt right at home! Ahhhh, home sweet home on the road. Speaking of home sweet home, we are staying in a major dump tonight. A major dump. We have a new word for "dump" on this trip. A "dump" is now called a "Guadeloupe". I'll explain when I get home. Suffice it to say, it's a reference to a not-so-nice town in California we rode through the other day.
Mark started riding this morning from Solvang around 7:15. I chose to take a ride in the van to the first SAG stop 20 miles up the road. Today's total mileage was to be 81 miles and I felt that missing the first 20 would be OK with me, especially since the first 20 miles was, you guessed it, climbing!!! Lots of climbing, like 1,300 vertical feet in the first 20 miles. Karen and Barb were in the van with me and we talked about this trip and the challenges it poses. They both feel that this is a very tough cycling trip, maybe even harder than the cross country trip. They would know, having done both for the last 15 or so years. I also talked to Jim separately and his feeling is that this is much tougher than the cross country trip (comparatively on a day-to-day basis) due to the amount of climbing relative to the mileage.
Mark and I met up at the SAG around 9:15 and then headed up the remaining couple of climbing miles together. Once we reached the top at about 2,200 feet above sea level, we began the twisting part of today's title. Boy did we twist. The route down took us along some winding roads barely wide enough for one car. At various points on the decline, we stopped to rest our hands from braking and to allow our brakes to cool off. Mike our tour leader mentioned that at certain points the grade was in the 20's. That is hard to picture, put it is really steep. For those of you that know the Crestwood Hill down to the bottom of the Glendon Campus, that hill is 12-14%, so these hills were twice as steep. We're talkin' steep! The twisting road crossed back under itself at more than a 180 degree angle. It was exciting and challenging at the same time. Once we got down most of the way we were in Santa Barbara and the neighbourhoods got progressively richer. I didn't see Oprah but I'm sure she's sorry she missed us. These are a couple of pictures Mark took as we were twisting down to Santa Barbara.
After making our way to the 2nd SAG, we followed the Route sheet and ended up on a 4 mile stretch of Highway 101. This is where the shouting part of today's ride comes in. This road was like driving on the Don Valley Parkway (don't read this part Mom!). There was a wide shoulder and a bike lane but it was so loud from the cars and trucks, I could only hear Mark if he shouted. I'd prefer if I never have to ride on a road like that again but it was the only way to get to where we needed. So we did it, as did everyone else. We survived to tell the tale.
After our adventure on 101, we ended up on a coastal road in Ventura. I was cycling, oblivious to our surroundings when Mark yelled out to me. He thought he recognized the hotel immediately to our right and the overpass to our left from somewhere but he wasn't sure. Then all of a sudden he yells – Little Miss Sunshine! Remember the hotel they were trying to get to for the "Little Miss Sunshine" beauty pageant in the movie of the same name? They were on the highway overpass and couldn't get off because they couldn't slow down in their VW van. We rode right by that today as well as the pier that Steve Carell (Frank) and Paul Dano (Dwayne) walk on. During their walk on the pier, Dwayne talks about how frustrating it is to be a teenager. His uncle Frank offers him some advice from Proust –"it is your suffering, not your happiness that defines you as a person". I think this is a very interesting philosophy given what we've been doing these last 3 weeks. Very interesting.
Something I forgot to mention yesterday. As we were riding through the vineyards, I received a shout out for my Colgate cycling jersey. I'm 2,000 miles from Colgate and a rider going in the opposite direction recognized the logo and the jersey!!! Cool don't you think? Anyway, there are only 2 more riding days left and they are definitely the easiest days of the trip. About 50 miles each day, with minimal climbing and lots of ocean scenery. The weather on this trip has been ideal and looks to continue for the rest of the way. I haven't talked about the weather too much, because I didn't want to jinx it, but boy were we lucky. No rain, just a little coastal mist/fog, and almost entirely favourable winds. Thank goodness. This ride was tough enough without having weather to contend with!