The clouds persisted. That displeases vacationers, but cyclists revel in it. Cool cycling is good cycling.
As we broke camp, I asked David, one of the other riders, to check the pressure in my tires. (Note to self: Pack a pressure gauge next time.) He did so and topped them off.
But no good deed goes unpunished. I passed him on Highway 101 about an hour later. He was seated next to the shoulder, removing the tube from his rear tire.
“Need help?” I asked.
“No,” he answered. “It’s a flat, but I’ve got what I need to repair it.”
“Sorry this happened to you.”
“Yeah. This is only my second flat in the last thousand miles or so.”
“You’ve been fortunate.”
“Not really. The first one was fifteen minutes ago.”
I bade David goodbye and good luck, then rode on, wondering how I’d dodged the road rubble that had spoiled his morning.
The signs indicate north-south, but that part of the coast is actually east-west. The highway closely follows the coastline, and it took me up and down only a few dozen feet at a time as I rode. The inclines are gradual and the pavement mostly even. My right Achilles tendon still bothered me, but riding flatfooted relieved some of the pressure and gave that part of my leg a break.
At Isla Vista, site of a mass shooting in 2014, the map took me off the highway and onto a bike route that got more scenic and less urban until well into Santa Barbara. I rode through the campus of UCSB; the route wasn’t always evident, but it was better than plying Highway 101 or Hollister Avenue all the way into town.
Past the university, along Atascadero Creek, is an extended bikeway that any city would be lucky to have. I rode it to meet, dine and stay with dear college friends I hadn’t seen in thirty years. They grew up in Lompoc and I told them I’d cycled through there a few days before.
“You rode up Harris Grade Road??!!” they gasped, doubling the question marks and exclamation points.
Yep. It’s what you do.