Days 23, 24 • March 24, 25, 2012 • Pismo Beach to Lompoc • 48 miles
Lauren and Shawn invited us to their site for breakfast– an awesome egg/steak/veggie scramble. We provided more tea and some instant oatmeal which didn’t even budge the needle on the reciprocation meter. After breakfast we took a stroll along Pismo Beach with them and their two dogs and Lauren and Zoe discussed geometry. Lauren shared her mnemonic for remembering the meaning of “parallel”: the two l’s in the middle of the word are.. parallel! . We had a lot of fun hanging out with these guys, thanks Lauren and Shawn for the hospitality!
As we were preparing to ride into the late morning breeze another camp site mate walked up and offered Zoe and me each a Spam and egg sandwich. I must admit I was a little tentative about this meal—perhaps I’ve seen too much Monty Python– but it turned out to be quite tasty. Maybe we’ll add Spam to our meal selection though I suspect the quality of the sandwich can be attributed more to the cook than the Spam. Before we left he and his wife stocked us up with some canned goods for the road which was very nice of them.
All this food may seem a little excessive but it came in handy today as the light breeze quickly turned into a raging headwind. We needed all the energy we could get. Early in the ride we began getting passed by a long succession of cyclists. Time for conversation was limited as the early riders whizzed past us but we pieced together that they were on the return half of the Solvang 200, an annual double century out and return ride. So these cyclists passing us already had over 100 miles under their belts that day. And pass us they did. First the racers with their team jerseys and featherweight bikes. Then folks on heavier touring bikes. Then the tandem brigade. Then the riders new to a double century and loving it followed by the new double century riders wondering why they ever signed up for such punishment. Even a couple riders hanging on after completely bonking. Eventually the sag wagons with bikes on top and bodies inside. It seemed like we’d seen the entire field approach in our rear view mirrors, pass, and fade in the distance. At one point I had the bright idea that we’d take advantage of a checkpoint to take care of an emergency potty break until I remembered the one universal rule of organized bike rides: long bathroom lines. We hit the gas station instead.
By the time we reached our last climb of the day we were on our own and out of daylight. About twelve miles out of Lompoc we hit the base of Harris Grade Rd at dusk. This road felt like a miniature version of Bogus Basin road in Boise. We pedaled up and back down a significant grade mostly in the dark. The building storm clouds blocked any moonlight and about the time we reached the top it began to sprinkle rain. This was the first and hopefully last time we’d be caught out after dark but it was actually the most pleasant portion of the ride that day with minimal traffic, good road, and a single steady climb to overcome. We could have stealth camped among the no trespassing signs but we thought it would be better to slap on the lights and make it to a motel in Lompoc. When we began the descent we punched up the nearest motel on the phone and fell into the Comfort Inn on the edge of town.
We’d seen this ominous pattern before—the switch from tail winds to head winds meant a storm was coming. The next day dawned clear enough but we took our time getting going to see how the weather would shake out. When we finally hit the road we made it as far as a Subway shop on the other end of town before the sky opened up into a torrential downpour with heavy winds. We entertained ourselves while waiting out the storm by watching the radar image on the phone. It was an intense storm for about a half hour and then settled in to a steady rain the rest of the day. The trikes were nice and dry under a convenient awning until the rain exceeded the capacity of the gutters and formed a new flow of rain water directly onto my trike. When dusk was nearing we made a dash for the nearby River Bend Park and set the tent up in the rain. $5 hiker/biker rate per tent (not head) in a very nice campground operated by the city of Lompoc. The next morning the campground host remarked that he had never seen a nine-year-old so cheerful about setting up a tent in the rain.