Monday, August 24, 2015

Carpinteria!

Mary and I traveled to Carpinteria (Carp) for some beach time, pedaling, and visiting friends. This was our fourth visit and our longest at 8 days.

The evening of our arrival was your typical summer dusk at the beach in Carp. Mild temps, small waves, and a thinning mellow crowd.

and another great sunset.

Sunday afternoon we spent "out on the town." First we met our friends Camille, Sue, and Rick at the Figueroa Mountain Brewery for a little music from the Ventucky String Band, then a little wine at the Oreana Winery across the street, and topped it off with a spectacular dinner at The Lark

The band.

Camille.

Rick and Sue.

Monday was penciled in as a day for a long ride for me. Starting in Carp I headed over Casitas Pass under a cool, cloudy sky to this view of Lake Casitas.

I pedaled through the little berg of Casitas Springs to Sulphur Mountain Road. I started out with a bit of trepidation since I was on my road bike, but the dirt was pleasantly firm so I kept climbing.

After about 45 minutes I figured it was time to turn around for the jarring descent.

Which proved to be not too jarring.  Near the bottom are some oil seeps. Not sure whether they are natural or not, but pretty weird. Where does it go when it rains? Likely right into the Ventura River!

By the time I got back to Lake Casitas the clouds lifted making for some fine scenery and super pleasant temps for riding.

Tuesday was a day for a light spin, playing in the surf, topped off with yoga and some great Thai food up in Santa Barbara.

Wednesday was bike day again.

Rode from Carp up onto Foothill Road. Lovin' the oak!

Then up to East Mountain Road. My water bottles were nearly empty as I approached the big climb of Gibraltar Road, so I was getting worried I'd have to descend into Montecito to top them off when I found this great little fountain by the side of the road. Yep!

The climb of Gibraltar Road is amazing. Continuously steep, but not brutally steep, newly paved, NO traffic, two other riders, warm verging to hot, but with a breeze and a little shade. I loved it!

At the top I reached the junction with Camino Cielo and enjoyed wonderful views towards Santa Barbara.


and the wild, rugged San Rafael mountains to the northeast.

Camino Cielo follows the ridge west for around seven miles offering fun rolling riding in a spectacular setting. This is the view back.

I descended Painted Cave Road which proved to be great fun. Twisty, technical and steep.

I rode that road down to the namesake park.

Impressive cave paintings!

Thursday Mary booked us a trip out to Santa Cruz Island.  The trip started out with about an hour of rough seas. Surprisingly rough! We were headed almost dead into a strong wind with swells running up to 8 feet or so. We were up on the second deck and spray was routinely going up and over us. 

We were quite happy to enter the sheltered Scorpion Bay near Elephant Rock. 
 
It took a bit before our stomachs settled down and our land legs firmed up beneath us. When they did we set out for a hike up onto the headlands.

Scorpion Bay with Anacapa in the distance. The temps were nice, but it twas blowin' a gale here!

Pleasant hiking.

 Looking straight down at kayakers. This would be us in another hour!

 Kelp!

 Mary!

Back to the visitors center.


Friday we took it pretty easy with an early morning stroll on the beach, a light spin and more great beach time at Carp.



We were in the Carp bike shop, Rincon Cycles, and noticed this flier.

So, we did it! Mary rode the metric and I rode the hilly century. Real fine riding. It lived up to its name too. Just as we reached the turnaround, the temps were getting toasty, but the return route was right along the coast with a nice cool breeze. A tailwind cool breeze at that!

The next morning we packed, dipped our toes in the ocean one last time, and hit the road. Returning home to mid 100 degree temps and smoke was a little rude, but that's summer in the big O valley.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Crusher in the Tushar Trip

Mary and I made our annual pilgrimage to the Tushar mountains for the Crusher in the Tushar bike race. We're hooked. The fine scenery, the super hard, well organized race, the cool, high altitude air all keep us coming back.

This was my third go. Click here for my description of the 2013 event - which was nothing short of magical.

Thursday before the race Mary and I took a little spin to check out conditions.

Conditions were perfect!

In fact delightfully perfect!

Saturday was race day. Oddly, I wasn't nervous. I trained well, my body felt good, and I knew what lay ahead.

I stayed nicely tucked in the main pack all the way to the beginning of the steep parts of the first climb. I rolled over the top feeling like a Paris Roubaix champ. I then bombed down the descent of the Col 'd Crush, only slowing a bit after seeing a seriously messed up guy sitting by the side of the road.

I got into a decent little group on Highway 89 and rolled into Circleville feeling fine. The challenging  "Sarlacc Pit" went down steady and smoothly.

Then the Col 'd Crush absolutely crushed me! Maybe I had a little hunger knock. I definitely had a stiff back, and the legs were starting to quiver. Three times I dismounted to regroup, which seemed to help as my power #s would improve for a while only to gradually dwindle again.

I arrived at the main aid station an absolute zombie, but I ate more, drank more, stretched for a few seconds and remounted. Slowly, but surely life returned to my body and the steady stream of riders passing me slowed to a trickle.

At last I rolled onto pavement and made the final push to the finish line. "Sprinting" from the drops.

and collapsing on the tarmac!

Thanks to Mary, my sister Margaret, and race volunteers I was up and "with it" in no time.

A bit later we were all stoked to see my buddy Chris finish.

All smiles!

More smiles. Beer helps.

Back at camp it was all about Champagne and Bocce Ball.

and a glorious sunset to top it all off.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Bodie and Soul

One more big ride before the Crusher. This time on the cross bike!

I got an early start from Bridgeport and rolled north on Highway 182 along the scenic East Fork of the Walker River crossing into Nevada shortly before leaving the highway for dirt.

Shortly after leaving the highway the road crossed the East Fork. The Sweetwater Mountains in the back.

 Further along, the road briefly rejoins the river in this beautiful stretch.

Mt. Grant among the morning haze.

Near the junction with the road up Bodie Canyon I stopped at Fletcher Spring to refill my bottles with fresh, cool water.

The long, steady climb up Bodie Canyon was a real joy.

Ruins under wild rose.

Arriving finally at Bodie. The finest ghost town in the Eastern Sierra if not the entire west.

After a brief stop to admire the ruins and enjoy the mix of European and American tourists I climbed up the Masonic road into the high country of the Bodie Hills.

Flowers were in pleasant abundance including this creamy lupine.

Real nice views up high.

and lush, high meadows.

The top of the long plunge down Aurora Canyon towards Bridgeport with the Sierra in the background.

Thankfully the road was well graded and quiet.

Eastside gravel bliss!