Friday, September 21, 2012

Welcome to Duchie's Wild Animal Kingdom

Friday Sept 21, 2012  Santa Maria to Solvang

Today was the day I remember reading about in the literature from America by Bicycle, conveniently ignoring the mileage from all the other days (60, 70, and 80 miles +). What a chump I am, I only paid attention to the 39 mile day! The weather today was perfect for riding, high 50's with little to no wind when we started and mid 80's by the end of the ride.  We left Santa Maria a little later than usual because of the "short" mileage today.  I think I'm beginning to sound like them...them being the other riders on this trip.  If you think about it, 40 miles is 65 km and that's basically our house to Keele and King Sideroad and back...certainly not around the corner but out here on the road, distances are a matter of perspective.

Last night at RAP (the daily discussion of the next day's route and ride) we were warned that we might see tarantulas crossing the road today. Yeah, tarantulas. The monster-sized version of a spider. Needless to say, Mark didn't sleep last night worrying about this possible encounter.

So, we hit the road around 8:30. Mark kept his eyes more focused forward than he has for the other 1,200 miles we've ridden so far. We rode for about 17 miles through mostly farm country and more vineyards. Then I heard Mark yell "tarantula", and the next thing I know, he's down on the ground (safely, with another rider watching for traffic on this empty road) with his camera taking this picture.

                             Mark Koltz on the ground - look at the size of that Tarantula...

I was watching these two brave guys on the ground, watching out for cars lest someone damage the $10,000 worth of bikes lying on the road when a bunch of other riders came upon us.  Phyllis (the rider with the high calorie counting Garmin I spoke about/coveted in a previous blog) informed us of something she learned watching the Nature channel.

Imagine Mark's reaction upon hearing the following in a thick Minnesota accent.  "They can jump you know."  Needless to say, Mark and Mark didn't need any further prodding to jump on their bikes and high tail it out of there.
Mark and I cycling away from the Tarantula!!!
That whole Tarantula encounter got Mark and I thinking about all of the animals we've seen or others have reported seeing on this trip.  They include whales, sea lions, seals, elk, deer, goats, sheep, coyote, wolf, long horn steer, cattle, horses, donkeys, wild boar, every dog and cat imaginable, squirrel, skunks, possum, gophers, buffalo, snake, frog, lizards, turtle, pelican (technically not an animal, and yes for some reason Mark and I have been fighting over whether to include pelican on this list) and now a tarantula.

The rest of the day was spent cycling on mostly quiet country roads through more wine country.  We stopped at Fess Parker's vineyard and tasted a Chardonnay.  Mark took this picture of me at the top of a little climb overlooking another gorgeous vineyard, perhaps the prettiest vineyard we've seen yet.

After a little while longer we arrived in Solvang which is the town they visited in the movie Sideways.  It's kind of a faux Danish tourist trap outpost north west of Santa Barbara with wine tasting spots throughout the town.  They have windmills and Clydesdales here too. Here's a picture that gets it all in.

Tomorrow we head for Oxnard but before we get there, we will pass through Santa Barbara.  Maybe we'll see Oprah there...I hear she's got a great house in Santa Barbara and loves it when smelly cyclists in spandex just knock on her door. Check in tomorrow. Another 80+ miles and close to 4,000 feet of climbing (the last of the big climbs for this trip). To quote Billy Crystal from the movie City Slickers " ass hurts just watching it...".


  1. Love the Colgate shirt. You are keeping the children close to your heart. The Tarantula resembles the family

  2. Arlene says......I HATE SPIDERS, any species thereof. Again another incredible act of courage, or nuttiness (not sure which). Now the Vineards are another story.Have a glass or two for me. Your journal brings back great memories for me of Joe's and my drive down the California coast many decades ago. The cypress tree you took a picture of, I did a painting(one of the few still hanging). see ya soon.