Wednesday, October 20, 2010

PCH Randonneurs Big Sur 600K - a Big Sur Adventure Part 2

Day Two arrived much too early. I got two hours of fitful sleep after a quick shower. Shaun and I agreed to meet at 7am to head out. What that really meant was meet at 7:15am, chat for 30 minutes as we set up our bikes and actually leave at 7:45!

The first part of the ride was the only real climb of any consequence for the day. Highway 1 winds its way up the San Julian grade before bombing down to Gaviota. This is a beautiful stretch of road...the climbing is mellow, the shoulder is wide and the traffic minimal. The brown and green pastures covering the hills to our left are in stark contrast to the taller peaks on our right. As we climb higher and higher, it gets warmer and warmer, and I am nailed with my one flat tire in one of the storm grates that periodically appear. I ride this section recalling fond memories of the California AIDS Ride 10 years drag queens to cheer you on during this ride!

We stop in Gaviota to fill bottles and take off extra clothing before continuing on the 101 into Goleta. Shaun and I played a bit of leap-frog through this section as my strength began to wain as we approached the Hollister exit. By the time we got off the freeway, I was definitely ready for lunch! We picked up a third rider here, Mike, and we found a subway sandwich place (not Subway) shortly after thereafter.

The sandwiches were delicious, but made me even sleepier! Shaun and I continued on through Santa Barbara, and by the time we reached the beach, I needed a nap! I snoozed under a palm tree for 10 minutes while Shaun read the Wall Street Journal. With promises of iced-lattes in Carpenteria, we headed off for the next, uneventful section of our trip.

In Carpenteria, we met up with a few other brevet riders who were also stopping for a drink. I gulped a large iced mocha latte, and filled my bottle with another one. Being only 50 miles from the finish on very familiar roads, I was definitely ready to go! A quick jaunt down the 101 freeway and through the beaches north of Ventura brought us to Ventura, and shortly thereafter, the Oxnard control. The riders were starting to pile up here, and were were soon chugging like a train across Oxnard, savoring the wonderful tail wind and the thoughts of pizza at Greg and Lisa's house!

A quick stop at the base of the Santa Rosa climb allowed us time to set up lights and get ready for cooler weather. Having climbed Santa Rosa Rd. many times, I knew each rise and fall in the road and floored it up the canyon, knowing my wife and kids were waiting for me at the end (actually, I was trying to go as fast as possible to beat them to the finish!). There's the high school...1/2 mile to Moorpark Rd. Left turn on to Moorpark Rd. up "the wall" and I am home-free! A fast ride down to Tierra Rejada, up and over the hill and I am bombing down Tierra Rejada towards the finish and the completion of my first Super Randonneur series (and the rights to wear the PCH Randos SR kit)! Missing the last turn was classic, given the number of times I've ridden this... Oh, there's the Jones' residence, replete with bicycles parked out front and Greg Jr. guarding the bikes and asking for tips! Woo hoo, another successful brevet!

Elevation profile of day two and the night loop to Buellton


Robert said...


Great journal about your ride.

I have one question, however. Why is it that most of these rides from the Central Coast to Santa Barbara/Ventura Counties tend to take the route that "shoots the gap" on US 101 through Gaviota, rather than riding through the Santa Ynez and over the San Marcos Pass? The climb over the pass doesn't seem to me to be as hair raising as the tight fit/freeway speeds on the 101 through the gap at Gaviota. Is there an alternate (ie. more protected) route between the US 101/Highway 1 merger and the coast that is not otherwise visable from the freeway?

benthead said...

Hi Robert,

I have never ridden the San Marcos pass, but I have heard that it is very dangerous. The road is narrow and there is heavy traffic, especially close to Lake Cachuma. The ride down the 101 isn't generally problematic. There is a wide shoulder most of the way down, and the views are nice. Here's another thought...going over Lake Cachuma, all of the services would be on your left, requiring you to cross the highway.