It’s cold and grey this morning as I climb out of my tent and go in search of coffee. Once again, I’m up at 5am and when the sky finally lightens up, I’m pretty well caffeinated and very well fed.
As we start out, I keep hoping its going to warm up. Once we start up the hill into the town of Solvang – this hill was more fun yesterday when we were going down – my legs finally wake up and I’m almost ready to start the ride when we pull in for a coffee and Danish at the Bulldog Cafe.
This place was recommended by someone last night as a place that likes and supports cyclists and once we get inside we see that to be true. There are pictures of just about every famous racer on the walls.
As we begin to enjoy our coffee (again, not complaining about the caterer’s coffee, this is just SO much better) the owner comes over and starts talking to us. After chatting for a bit she asks us how far we’re going. When we reply Ventura, she says “that’s it?” Um...it IS 86 miles away you know...
Turns out she hosts several of the racers during the Tour of California and from the team’s spring training camps so she’s used to real racer type cyclists that probably log hundreds of miles in the surrounding countryside. Ok, so we’re not as bad-assed as we thought...imagine that...
Too soon we need to leave the comfort of the coffee shop and get the day started for real. We pedal out of town on Alisal Rd and alongside the golf course before the climbing begins. I feel pretty good and as we get to the top we catch up to Gail and Bill on the tandem and the rest of the gang. I’ve never ridden a tandem, and I can’t imagine pedaling one of those things up any type of major hill, yet they do it and make it look fairly easy.
The roads outside of town are what seem to be old farm roads. They’re in pretty good shape and have hardly any traffic at all. This continues for a while until we come to Hwy 101. It’s here that the ride goes from laid back to very intense as we jump onto Hwy 101 and begin racing cars and trucks downhill at freeway speeds. At one point I get blown a little off course and get to experience the stay-awake bumps CalTrans has carved into the edge of the highway. In a car, they’re annoying, on a bike…well, I’m pretty sure my fillings came loose.
We follow Hwy 101 for a good part of the day and once again, the guys are keeping a pace that is above my comfort level (I really need to find slower friends) and I spend the day hanging on. They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and I’m not sure which option I’m hoping for...
As we come down into Santa Barbara we stop and eat at a little place right on the beach. The most amazing tacos I’ve had in a long time. (again, could be a result of having been on the bike all day)
From here we ride along the beach for a ways, then cross the freeway and turn south down through Santa Barbara and into Carpinteria where we stop for an ice cream at a Fosters Freeze. I haven’t had Foster’s Freeze since I was a kid and it’s every bit as good as I remember.
From Carpinteria it’s back over to the coast where we ride along the beach for quite a ways, eventually ending up on a multi-use path that takes us to our camp for the evening.
After dinner, we head across the street to the Marriott where several in the group are staying - evidently the lure of a hot shower and a real bed was too much to bear – at the Marriott we relax in the bar, drink beer and recount the adventures of the week...tomorrow is the last day and the final push into Santa Monica.