Today ended up more exciting than I had expected, as we said hello and goodbye to some favorite highways, had fun with glass, plus fire!
Our ride started with a close ride-by of the Santa Barbara airport. We got a good look at small jets charter and private jets loading passengers.
Then we took a series of meandering paths towards central Santa Barbara. The Obern Trail featured a to-scale model of the solar system drawn on the pavement over a few miles.
We took State Street through downtown, which had enough traffic to make things interesting, and lights timed to catch us at every one. There was a bus which kept leapfrogging us, then stopping in the bike lane just ahead to drop off passengers.
We came out and rode near the waterfront for a while. We had planned to take a path, but condo construction hid the entrance. There were enough runners and people on rented bike-like contraptions to make me happy to be on the road.
We followed on frontage road for 101 for a while. The kids enjoyed the Amtrak trains running on the parallel tracks. We started up the reasonably steep Ortega Hill, and got a good chunk of the way up before realizing we were supposed to be on the much gentler hill of a bike path. So much for that climb.
We stopped in Carpinteria to eat lunch. First we tried the library, but there wasn’t any seating. We started following a state park sign, but found a playground first. We had to circle the block to find the entrance. We sat on the grass and ate while the kids played.
Back on the road, we prepared for the final climbing bit of the day, but it turned out to just be an oversized overpass. It got muggy and overcast, which meant my super sweating powers were no longer effective at cooling.
We had to say goodbye to our friend US 101 for this tour. First, a quick kiss as we rolled down the onramp, then immediately popped back off at the next exit. Then, a prolonged hug as we got on the bike path that runs parallel. While riding on a freeway is okay as long as it has decent shoulders, the path was a lot nicer. It ran between the highway and the ocean, and variously offered beach views or that of the waves crashing against the rocks. Plus, we felt able to stop, unlike on freeways.
Then we witnessed the rebirth of Highway 1, although the signs emphasized it’s PCH incarnation.
There was a very long stretch that was signed for single lane, with flaggers. We were the last ones let through, but by the time we got to the other side, there was no flagger. There was also beach parking along the way, which was still open. It was very confusing. I don’t know what happened to the cars behind us. Maybe they’re still there, waiting.
We took another bike path which led us to Ventura’s main beach, where it became a big messy bike/pedestrian tourist loitering zone, with no signage on where to be, so everyone was everywhere. It was kind of painful. I’m a bit worried since out next biking day has a lot of similar paths, and it could make it a very long day. At least we’re avoiding weekends.
At the south end there were bizarre concrete tube restrooms and foot washes, for people coming from the beach.
On Harbor Street, just a few miles from the end, things started going wrong. We came to the narrow bridge across the Santa Clara River, but found the separate bike lane hung off the side. On it, I heard Anne call out “glass!” and immediately it crunching under her wheels. Then, the cyclic hiss of air escaping from a rotating tire. We deal with glass on the road many times a day. We go around what we can, and pray to the bike gods when we can’t. So far we’ve been lucky on this tour. This time, they decided to teach us some humility.
I told Anne she had a flat on her trailer wheel, but I thought we could make it off the bridge. By the end, it had just gone down to the rim, but at least we had a little more space to work with, and wouldn’t be blocking other bikes. We pulled off the shoulder onto the embankment, popped off the wheel, and got to work. Working together, and when Ruth entertaining Max, we got the glass sliver out of the tire, put on a spare tube and pumped it back up pretty quick.
Then, getting over the curb, I realized Ruth’s derailleur was going to catch. So we lifted that trailer over. Meanwhile, Anne discovered that a very dead possum, of the flat and dry variety, had gotten entangled in her spikes. She managed to get it free, making neat noises in the process. Then, just kill any momentum we might be regaining, Ruth declared she needed her jacket. While putting it on, she said, “Look what I found!” holding up a strap. We determined it was a redundant one for her water bladder that unclipped itself. Anne stowed it to be fully resolved later.
We made it into Oxnard, then Port Hueneme, through commerical and residential streets. As we pulled into the hotel, surprisingly tired for what should have been an easy day, we saw construction crews working on the second floor. Then I noticed plywood doors, red and yellow notices taped up near the doors, and most concerning: blackened walls. They were cleaning up after a fire.
It turns out just twelve hours earlier, the motel was burning. Now there’s an army of workers literally scrubbing the exterior walls, others putting up temporary doors. Only a few rooms are damaged, no one was seriously hurt (management said nobody was hurt, but news reports claim two people taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation) and the rest of the hotel is still open. I’m sure we could have found another place to stay tonight, but I’m glad we didn’t have to.
Even though it’s sometimes a squeeze to fit all our gear in the variously sized and shaped hotel rooms, we always keep a clear path to the exit. This was a good reminder why.
Tomorrow is our last rest day before completing the tour. Ruth’s activity request is a ride on the 50¢ merry-go-round outside the dollar store. I’m hoping we can do better than that.