26/10/2013 PEDAL ALL DAY SOLO, DAY 5 Solvang, CA

Day 5 of an 800km Solo Cycle along the California Coast for Macular Disease

My few km’s that lead me to Solvang the day before had been a tad tedious on the up hill. But, without any major disruptions, the diversion of our route to Solvang allowed us to again experience the wonderment of this strange town.

By morning the tinsel lights and all those warm cosy interiors were gone. But the weird charm wasn’t any less effective. David spent some time fine tuning my gears before I entered the chilly & foggy descent from Solvang.

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The weather had proved cold on every morning, but warmed by about 10am. Fog met me every dawn, and Id grown comfortable riding through the residue.

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Within an hour the fog cleared allowing me to carve a space on the road where no shoulders existed. A few high rocky corners left me exposed but, again trusting I was visible i my pink Rapha Gilet, I rode on. Dave stayed back to refuel and pick up more supplies. Meanwhile, I had arrived down the mountain and entered the freeway when my bike decided to get my first flat.

I was out of service but as I’m pretty handy with a tire lever no hiccups were met. I retrieved the finest of metal strands wedged inside the tire itself. No tweezers were at hand, and it took 5 minutes to extract the darn thing by pushing it through with the lever.  I use Gators on my bike for the strength and puncture resistance. With only one flat occurring the entire trip, and knowing I’ve traveled through mounds of broken glass, I’m pretty satisfied.

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Dave found me in time to pick up the old tube, give some water, and get verbally accosted by a cop who rightly couldn’t understand why, at the widest part of the shoulder, we hadn’t totally pulled off ‘his’ freeway. My reply was quite simply, ‘We are idiots.’ Unable to argue with that he chatted a bit and advised us to move away from the traffic, and bid us luck for the ride. That was our fourth meeting with a nice cop who was wooed by our convincing appearance of idiocy. My riding on freeways marked ‘no cyclists’ also proved effective in quickly summoning cops. All in all, they were rather charming and very lenient.

Almost at the 550m Elevation point outside Solvang

Almost at the 550m Elevation point outside Solvang

Dave stuck with me a while and took some shots while I climbed a grade 2 then 3 then 4 hill of 8km. I ran out of water half way, and I would have stopped for more if I hadn’t seen the awesome descent that fell for 11km’s.

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Confident I could travel nearly as fast as a car down this one, I took on the curves with gusto. Words are pitiful at describing the intensity bought by such power in speed. The rush of sweeping down the mountain was close to the most pleasurable moments I’ve had. Comparatively sitting in a car totally sucks. You miss the air whooshing through your ears, the wind pushing you from either side as you turn, feeling the muscles while maintaining that tucked position, the cold, and the closest feeling to flying you can have. There is also the satisfaction that the hill you just threw your guts up for has made the incredible views possible. For every up, there is a down. And when I got to the bottom of this particular descent, I hit Santa Barbara and promptly got lost.

After half an hour I found Dave. As I resigned to navigational hopelessness he promptly took over. Never have I been so bad at reading a map. Luckily I was allowed to simply concentrate on riding. I rode through beaches at Santa Barbara, with no time to smell the coffee.

I rode along the freeway with the coast on my right. The beaches and the coastal rocks had by now become familiar. Finally reaching the skirts of Ventura was a blast. The last 20km’s was pure Oceanic cycling that I took on as hard as I could turn the pedals. A flat highway bore streams of cars 3 lanes thick, with a decent shoulder to safely accommodate a pace line of cyclist. RV Campers lined the beaches to my right. I passed a few and got tailed by a triathlete who screamed a complement to me. It was something about being ‘amazing’ unquote, but I’m not one to brag…

Anyhow, we got to the Ventura RV Camp in good time, and settled in to the domestics of washing clothes and cooking.

Cruiser Friendly Ventura RV Camp

Cruiser Friendly Ventura RV Camp

A quick word on Cycling Garments: I wear Rapha gear not only because most of it was kindly provided for this ride. My items are comfortable, designed specifically for women, wash incredibly well, and last. If it failed in any of these features I wouldn’t wear it. Sitting in a saddle for up to 9 hours and having to put up with substandard gear is not something I’m willing to compromise on.

My wish list included:

2 Souplesse Jerseys

1 Classic Jersey

1 Cyclocross Jersey

2 Classic Womens’ Bib Shorts

Merino Arm & Knee Warmers, Leg Warmers, Neck Warmer

Wind Jacket & Rain Jacket & Gilet

Caps, Socks & Womens’ Touring Gloves

Oh, and Chamois Cream. lots of it thank you

This park had a breeding population of bike riders, none of which were roadies. I was so out of place atop my stunning Dedacciai in my regal Rapha I may as well be riding a camel. Safely in the comforting arms of Ventura RV Camp we ventured to the local shopping centre, a stones throw away. We grabbed supplies and, by now, a habitual beer & apple cider. On the way back a bevy of cruisers lit the place up like a Christmas tree. The feeling that we were closer to the LA Coast was strong. And I realised that I only had one more day of riding to accomplish my goals to spread the word and raise money for those affected by Macular Disease. I think on the help of the supporters. Not only all those at home who had helped raise funds but also the companies who supplied their wares for the fundraiser.

After a beer, and yet another incredible meal concocted by David the chef, sleep hit me like a hard cold slap. Before I was aware it was time to pedal all day again.