Another weekend, another training ride.
The White Mountain Double would have been the ideal training ride for the 508. It’s hot, windy, has big long desert alluvial fan climbs, and a big mountain climb as well. But this weekend was my son’s weekend to move into his dorm, so if I was going to get some training in this weekend, I’d have to do it myself. He was moving in Sunday at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, so I mapped out a ~200 mile ride from Ventura to SLO. I would have liked it to be longer, but I needed to get to the hotel reasonably early and be of some use lifting boxes and the like the next day.
Here’s the route I mapped out.
Except for the stint from Gaviota to Solvang, I had cycled all of the route before. My plan was to start at Ventura at 4AM. That meant an early rise for the 1.5 hour drive to the start, but I planned to get home early enough to do all the preparation well in advance, so it wasn’t too bad.
The weather was going to be warm, but not hot. My sole concern, weather wise, was the wind. There was a wind advisory along the coast, and stronger than usual winds inland:
I was going to try to stay in the hills for some shelter from the wind, but there were two sections that were going to be windy: (1) the long slog along Interstate 101 from Goleta to Gaviota … no cover at all, and (2) the farmlands of Santa Maria. Still, it was likely going to be windy on the 508 too, and this is what training is about.
So I rose at a little after 2AM, donned the bike shorts, lotioned up, made myself some coffee and hit the road for the drive to Ventura. I really like driving at late-night or early morning hours. Gotta watch out for the drunks (the statistics are astounding), but at least the roads are empty.
I got to Ventura, found a safe place to park the car, and as quietly as possible, set about to head off. I hopped on the bike and downshifted.
It took a while for it to sink in. I upshifted. Downshifted.
I had adjusted my rear derailleur a couple of days ago. At the end of our 260 mile ride the weekend before, my rear derailleur went out of adjustment, and when I got around to fixing that, I was shocked at how badly out of adjustment it was.
Now it was all clear. It was so far out of adjustment because the cable was breaking and perhaps hanging by a thread. And the thread had snapped.
I dunno why I trouble myself with this sort of thing, but I got to thinking. Is this good luck (after all, it could have happened at a place 100 miles into my planned ride … far more inconvenient)? Or is it bad luck (why the HELL didn’t it snap when I was adjusting it at home)?
I don’t carry spare cables with me, so I was stuck until I could find a bike shop. I don’t have a smartphone, so even that wasn’t going to be easy. And finding one that opens early? Good luck with that.
I put everything back in the car, and set off in search of a phone book. As luck would have it, I didn’t go more than a few blocks before I saw it … “Avery’s Open Air Bicycles” … and open at 9AM. I wasn’t going to do much better than that!
So I resolved to ride around in the flats around Ventura until they opened. I drove out to the harbor area to start, hopped on the bike, and headed off. Of course, I was in the smallest cog of the cassette, making the gear much higher than I wanted, but I reasoned that it would also be good training.
My satisfaction lasted about 5 minutes. That’s when I realized that the cable housing was coming loose and the remote gear adjuster had fallen off in the darkness. I managed to find it, but resolved to change plans. I was going to wait until the bike was fixed.
So what did I do with the 5 hours I had to wait for the bike shop to open? Eat. Drive around. Call my buddy Bill and tell him he was right about the cable. He advised me to change it soon, but my plan was to have it changed with a complete overhaul, to be performed when I was tapering.
Well, it gets worse than that. I guzzled coffee. I got a cinnamon donut and an egg-Mc Muffin. I drove my Subie on marvelously empty roads. I watched the sun rise.
I visited the spot where an entire family lost their lives in a landslide at La Conchita.
Eventually, it was time. The shop opened, and they cheerfully took my bike under their wing. Getting the plug out of the shifter wasn’t easy, but they changed both cables, and I had a nice conversation with them. Turns out my cable housing should be replaced soon, and my rear derailleur hanger was also out of alignment. But the mechanic did a great job.
It was now 10:15. Waaaay after the time I intended to start. So where do I start from? I decided to start in Carpinteria. That eliminated all the climbing from Ventura to Ojai and over Casitas Pass, but I had to cut something short.
I drove to Carpinteria, parked the car, and got on the road at about 10:45. Waaaay late. On the up side, the weather was nice, and the wind was behaving itself, more or less … and it was a beautiful day. I made pretty good time up Highway 192. Pretty close to paradise up there.
At one point, I was riding up a steep hill, and I noticed an older woman sweeping her porch. A 30ish man was next to her on a small motorcycle, and she commenced whacking him with the broom. Hmmm.
He responded by pushing her, and calling her all kinds of awful names. He got more broom action in return. It was still going on as I wheeled away.
You see something like that and wonder about the backstory. My guess is that it was something akin to mammismo … tension from a son living at home far longer than he should.
Anyway, I stopped at the Jack in the Box in Goleta for a couple of chicken sandwiches and water. I ate one, shoved the other in my jersey pocket, and pushed off to fight the winds between there and Gaviota.
And there were none! One nice thing about this section, is that the passing cars actually create a tailwind. I flew through this section at 20+ MPH. Yes, it’s long, but at that speed, it goes fast.
A problem, though. I started getting cramps in my left calf. And I was out of Endurolytes! I decided to get some Tums in Buellton … hopefully they would help.
There is a rest stop just where Highway 101 curves and heads inland. I planned a water stop, but that didn’t go well. The maintenance guy explained:
“I think the pipes are broken.”
“How about the water in the bathroom sinks? OK to drink?
“You might if you were out of water and looking at a long hot climb.”
He shrugged. I still had half a bottle left, so I filled the other with the sink water, munched down the other chicken sandwich, and headed out to face the Gaviota tunnel.
I had never ridden though the tunnel, but knew others that had done so. They opined that it wasn’t all that bad … and not as bad as it looked. It’s one of those places where there are warning lights you can activate to warn motorists that there is a bicyclist in the tunnel.
Nice, but being a motorist myself, I know how much people pay attention to signs like that. I also know that no one takes their sunglasses off when passing through a short tunnel.
This was not going to be fun.
To my utter relief, I noticed that there was a sidewalk that looked safe enough. I hoofed it through. Take a look at this and tell me … would you ride through this?
From there, it was a moderate and warm climb over the pass and into Buellton. To my dismay, there was plenty of wind on this side of the pass. And it was, as predicted, from the Northwest. I stopped at the CVS for some chips, batteries, and Tums.
After a short, tailwindy sprint to Solvang, I headed up into the Santa Ynez wine country. Nice place to ride a bike, but a lot of the roads are crappy. It’s a moderate uphill, and the winds, while reasonable, were in my face much of the time. It was exhausting.
On the plus side, I saw some bison and other cool stuff.
Again running out of water, I stopped at the Fess Parker winery. There was a live band, and a lot of inebriated people about … almost all taking cabs. They sure looked like they were enjoying themselves. And the sausage to pie ratio was ridiculously favorable. Watching them party, I got to thinking … why the hell do I kick my ass doing this stuff?
That question was still in my mind when I hit the road for the rest of the climb.
I’ve done the descent from the “summit” many times before on the Solvang double, and it’s really kind of sweet. You pretty much FLY all the way down to the little burgh of Sisquoc. But today, there was the little matter of that headwind, and I had to pedal hard all the way down. Oy.
Along the way, I went by one of my favorite local landmarks … the Sisquoc Church
The bottom of the descent left me in the flat farmlands around Santa Maria. Now this was going to really suck. I would lose whatever cover I had from the wind, and have to pedal directly into it for a good 30-40 miles. I had planned to get some water and food at the Sisquoc Grocery store.
Unfortunately, it was out of business. Doh.
Back into the wind … which indeed sucked. But I forced myself to drink and to gum down as many Cilf bars as I could, and with the food and water, I started to recover. By the time I left that windy plain, I actually felt a bit rejuvenated.
I pulled into Nipomo just as the sun was setting, desperate for something to eat. I found this place.
I’ll bet their tacos were good, but the kitchen was closed. All they had was snack food, so I got some caliente peanuts and chips. There were a few locals hanging about, and when I looked in the trash can, I think I figured out why.
Coming from a long line of alcoholics myself, I know what it means when people drink 40 ouncers. Yikes.
From there, I swept down into Arroyo Grande and through some pretty dark roads. You know, I like riding at night. There is a sense of adventure about it. The roads are quieter. You KNOW that every motorist out there thinks you’re nuts.
I like it a lot more when I’m not alone though. And Saturday night, I was most assuredly alone. I was making pretty good time, though. I had definitely recovered, had an appetite, and was drinking often. Things were clicking.
I pulled into San Luis Obispo at about 9AM … much sooner than I thought. As bad as I felt back in the wine country around Solvang, in the end, I went about 150 miles in pretty short order and had averaged over 16 MPH.
One more training ride, then it’s taper time!