Buellton to Santa Maria, CA

Today’s temperature was much milder, although the ride was still a challenge. We visited a few of the places and roads we saw on the West Coast tour, and even made it back before dark again.

We had another early morning to try to use all the sunlight. We were headed towards an on time departure when Anne noticed my rear tire was kind of soft. Fortunately the kids were still in the room hypnotized by the TV, so Anne and I could fix the flat. Still, that’s why we aim aggressively, so even with delays it’s still a reasonable time.

Yesterday it was already warm at 7:00 when we rolled out. Today it was in the 50s, a promising start. Ruth complained about being cold even in her jacket and gloves, but refused to put on more clothing so there wasn’t much to be done.

The morning consisted of a general downhill along Santa Rosa Avenue, with a couple of decent climbs to keep it lively. The weather stayed cool, and we were often in the shadows of the hills the road ran along. Farms (mostly vineyards) surrounded us where the terrain wasn’t too rugged. The climbs were work, but the grade wasn’t punishing and the temperature stayed moderate. I think Anne made a secret goal of not walking, and succeeded. We played 20 Questions. Ruth had the best selection, a hot air balloon.It made for an excellent morning.

We caught up with our old friend CA 1 and followed it down into Lompoc. We stopped briefly at the gas station next to the hotel we stayed at on the Coast tour and grabbed some cold drinks for lunch. Anne found us a playground just a few blocks off our route. It was a little early, just shy of 20 miles in and with most of the climbing ahead of us. But we wanted to give the kids the opportunity to run around, and Anne was concerned we wouldn’t find good turnouts today.

After lunch we rode through Lompoc. It seemed much smaller this time, but last time was at the end of the ride, when every mile is longer than the one before it. We caught up with CA 1 on the north side of town, with a brief detour through Vandenberg Village, including another not-too-painful climb to the suburbs. We saw a low flying airplane, which a few seconds later Ruth called out had dropped some skydivers.

Back on CA 1, in freeway mode. It can be a bit disconcerting to have 65+ mph traffic a few feet away, but with a good shoulder it’s all good. Plus, the cars deliver a nice breeze. We took Harris Grade all the way through on the Coast tour. It was nice to take a different route this time. CA 1 passes through Vandenberg, but it isn’t obvious. Mostly there’s just a few buildings in the distance and an occasional radar dome.

We had a nice smooth descent, followed by more climbs up and over two ridge lines. It had properly heated up by now, but we got a nice breeze most of the time. Nobody walked, but we did stop periodically for water and food. Once nice feature of freeways is that the grade is usually pretty moderate. Semis don’t like 8-10% grades either.

We eventually made it to the last summit and dropped down to CA 135, also in freeway mode. Anne had selected a frontage road for us to ride on. It can be hard to tell whether the frontage road will be better or worse. Sometimes they choose annoying hills (less earthmoving needed) or are in poor condition. We considered what to do, but selected the frontage.

It was a good choice. It looked like it ended up being less climbing past ranches and cool rock formations.

We finished by riding through Old Town Orcutt (really cute, like a canonical black & white film era main street), then past too many fancy looking houses, and sped the last mile or so to the hotel.

We were too tired to go swimming last night, so wanted to do it tonight. Max was totally uninterested, but we convinced him to come sit in one of the chairs, bundled under the bike blankets, and watch. He seemed to enjoy himself.

It was a short tour, but a nice one. Today was much better than yesterday, mostly just because the heat waited until afternoon to crank up. We got some complaining from the kids, but they were cooperative for the most part. We got to see a few familiar places but also explore alternates. Even though we didn’t do any training (heck, I’ve been lucky to bike commute once a week the last few months), but still pulled off the rides without major malfunction.

Now I am tired, and I don’t even have to set an alarm. I’m excited.