We started out our seventh day with breakfast at a Mexican-oriented bakery, where there were lots of scary-looking Mexican pastry items, but also bear claws and other more rational morning fare. Goleta is fairly highly developed, but downtown is completely dead on a Saturday morning, so we started off through the commercial streets with not much traffic to deal with.
Somehow the Big Macs seemed to have energized John; even after the big day we’d had yesterday, he seemed to have a lot of energy, while I was dragging hard. It must have been the special sauce. I sucked John’s wheel into Santa Barbara, where our main map (from Adventure Cycling Association) ended.
This fact led us to our runner-up in the “Local Color” contest, the Santa Barbara “Hot Spots” Visitor Information and Espresso Bar. We didn’t try the espresso. We did try to get visitor information–specifically, we asked where there were motels on the southern coast, which apparently doesn’t qualify as “visitor information,” because they didn’t know. They also didn’t have any useful maps. So we wandered up State Street and found a bike store, which is what we should have done in the first place.
I was still one pair of socks short, and John had been rhapsodizing about these Smart Wools all trip long, so I picked up a pair. They were OK. We also picked up a Santa Barbara cycling map, some edible energy bars and a few other odds and ends. Between all the various stops, and the slow start we had and the small breakfast, we figured we should get lunch before we got back on the road seriously, so we stopped in one of the cafes there for some light mid-ride refreshment. (We’d ridden about 9 km so far).
Thus refreshed, we headed south along those ridiculous Southern California beaches. John, as I mentioned, was feeling his oats, and I wound up sucking his wheel most of the day. At one point I noticed that my U-lock, which was stowed in one of those seat-post brackets, had rotated down and was dragging against the tire, to the point where the rubber had been worn through. I figured this accounted for my lack of energy, but rectifying the problem didn’t make me feel any faster; John pretty much dragged me through Summerland and Carpiteria. I think part of it was the route; it had turned flat, and alternated between commercial or frontage roads, and the shoulder of Highway 101, none of which makes for exciting riding, nor exciting photography for that matter–you’ll notice I didn’t take any pictures on this section of the ride.
Because we were in more highly developed regions, we started to see cyclists in large numbers for the first time on the trip, and while I was hoping for another wheel to suck, I realized that the rider you’re least likely to meet up with on the road is the one who’s riding the same speed you are. We passed quite a few, and got passed by a few more, but never ran into anyone we could paceline with. The riding remained utilitarian, and I remained slow as we went through Ventura (and I started getting stupid America songs stuck in my head, which didn’t help my energy level any). As we rolled into Oxnard, we started thinking about stopping for the night. Because we’d been unable to get visitor information from the visitor information center, we didn’t know if we would be able to find anywhere to stay between Oxnard and Malibu, a gap of some 50 km, and since we were already around 60km and coming off a big day, we didn’t want to chance it. So we decided to ride to the other side of Oxnard and then stop.
It turned out we stopped in Port Hueneme, a blue-collar town near a seaport and a navy base, and fortuitously found the undisputed winner for Best Motel; the Casa Via Mar Inn (and Tennis Club). Huge rooms. In-room kitchens. Free newspaper. Free breakfast–none of this “continental breakfast” cellophane-wrapped greasy danishes, but real pancakes and eggs! All this for $70/night. Unfortunately we hadn’t brought our tennis rackets to use the on-site tennis courts. (John and I have played maybe 25 games of tennis and he’s won 24 of them, but it should be noted that I won the last game we played. Hah.)
We walked out to a family-oriented Italian place, ate bread and pasta for four, and returned to watch the Yankees continue their domination of the baseball world. John had his first major mechanical problem, a popped spoke in his rear wheel. He had brought along a contraption called a FiberFix that uses a Kevlar string threaded through the spoke hole and clamped into a tension-adjusting barrel installed in the nipple hole. It’s sort of an ingenious design, allowing you to carry along something which can replace a spoke in emergencies, but takes up very little room. However, it’s a pain in the butt to work with and adjust. We managed to get the wheel straight enough to ride, and John decided he’d just finish the trip that way if it stayed true.
We watched the Yankees continue their dominance of everyone else who claimed to play baseball, marveled a little more at the size of the room, and got off to sleep.