Home to Santa Fe Station
Wednesday April 3rd
Mileage estimate: 25 miles from home
We wanted to make this a no car trip, so I started riding at 7:30 from my home in Poway and met Dennis about an hour later. We rode together through Kearney Mesa, Linda Vista, Old Town, then straight down Kettner to the Santa Fe Station. Our train departed San Diego at noon, but we wanted to allow some safety margin in case of mishaps. We absolutely didn’t want to miss the only-once-a-day train going all the way to San Luis Obispo. As far as I know this is furthest you can go North from San Diego on Amtrak without having to box your bike. There were seven spaces for bikes in the baggage car on the Amtrak 777 this day.
Instead of finding someone to take our picture, I shot our reflection in a store window.
We rode down Kettner Boulevard to Santa Fe Station in downtown San Diego, to board Amtrak 777 to Guadalupe California, the start of our tour. The bicycle gods smiled down on us so we arrived more than an hour early. We decided to saunter down to the waterfront to check out the views.
Another gorgeous day and an auspicious start to our first “Three Amigos” tour. We met up with the third “Amigo” when the train stopped at Solana Beach.
Paul joined us on the train at Solana Beach. He was in good spirits as were we all.
All Aboard! We had a 15 minute stop over at Union Station Los Angeles
Guadalupe to Santa Maria
Wednesday evening April 3rd
Approximate Mileage 15
We arrived in Guadalupe on time 7:43 PM. We left the train, and started riding North, but we were supposed to be going South. About a mile down the road we realized our error, because our route slip showed a turn at .6 miles. It was already getting dark, when we left the train. It was still dark when we rode the 8+ miles to Santa Maria and our first hotel, dodging broccoli in the roadway. This is a very rural area, so there is very little ambient light. We had lighting on our bikes. Paul’s was super bright, blinding my mirror riding in front of him. Dennis’ light appeared to be more yellow, don’t know how well it lit the road. I have dynamo lighting with Busch & Muller front and rear lights and ride with confidence. I always have lights and don’t give it a second thought. I can see the road and am visible too. I never have to think twice about my lights, they are on all the time. I augment my dynamo tail light with a Portland Design works tail lamp. The only think I don’t like about PD tail light is that it can be hard to turn on and off with long finger gloves. The road where traffic was looked rough, but the wide shoulder where we were riding was smooth. No pictures of this part of the adventure, because it was at dark.
Town and Country Hotel
The Town and Country Hotel in Santa Maria turned out to be a very bad choice. The rooms were filthy and a couple of the “Amigos” had dirty towels. In the morning as we were leaving one of the other guests asked if we had bed bugs. Fortunately we didn’t get any of those. The “breakfast” for guests consisted of some plastic wrapped “honey buns”. We couldn’t get out of there fast enough.
Santa Maria to Solvang
Thursday April 4th
Approximate mileage: 42 Miles
The weather report predicted 40% of showers. Shortly after daybreak there was a light mist, which made the pavement wet, but not enough to run off. That was the 40%. As the day progressed, the weather got more glorious. Our first stop was for breakfast at Coco’s for breakfast. Then we headed for our next destination Solvang.
The weather kept getting better as we rode along. Here we stopped at a farm to take a break, shed some clothing and continue on our ride.
It can be a challenge to photograph the vistas. Foxen Canyon Road runs through a rich agricultural area where there are a lot of fruits and vegetables growing. The mountains are visible to the North and East. We saw crops of lettuce, broccoli, strawberries and others. There were grapes, we were heading toward an area of wineries as we started climbing toward Solvang.
Lot’s of smiles as we rode along.
We spent so much time taking pictures we hardly made any forward progress for the first few hours. It seemed we were stopping every 10 minutes to take more pictures. The scenery was that beautiful.
We turned a corner and saw the Garey Store and Deli. This store seemed to be thriving and neat as a pin. We saw others along the way that were closed. It made me wonder how much longer these small stores will survive. The slowing economy is always hard on small business. I wonder how many families it takes to support this small store?
This old building is slowly returning to the earth it sprung from. The adobe walls at the bottom are eroding. If no one intervenes, one day the building will collapse. We could see what appeared to be lime plaster still on the walls above the lintels. Could this be a house from the Mission period? Interesting to look at and lots more questions than answers.
The beginning of wine country, vineyards and vistas. The motor traffic was exceptionally low. We might ride for an hour and not see a car. Every once in a while a car or truck would come along to remind us we weren’t in bicycle nirvana, just close by. Most of the traffic was driving the highways, we tried to avoid them as much as we could.
Did I mention vineyards?
Here I am in front of River Bench Vineyard & Winery
Something seems to be killing off the ancient oaks that dot the hillsides of the Central Coast. Some on-line research turned up an article that seems to implicate the California oak moth. This particular tree is next to a gate, so trampling the ground around it’s roots could have been a cause. I noticed the ground around healthy trees is mostly fluffy and not at all hard packed.
Views like this are part of the reason we stopped so many times. It’s so nice to just take time to savor the moment. This is what it means to get away. This was along Foxen Canyon road.
There is a historical landmark showing where the ruins of the Benjamin Foxen Adobe is. The date is 1837. So now we know how the road got it’s name. There was nothing to see but a mound of dirt. The adobe has returned to the earth.
We had been climbing steadily and it seemed like a good time to eat some lunch. We stopped here and had a picnic in the shade. The timing couldn’t have been better. When we left the Winery we started the steepest part of our climb that day, right before we headed down the hill to Los Olivos.
Here’s the view at the summit before heading down Los Olivos.
The bicycling gods designated me the recipient of the only flat tire. This was just before we turned into Los Olivos. About an hour after we fixed the flat we were in Solvang looking for our Hotel. We stayed at the Viking Motel in Solvang. It was neat and clean and the peak of our trip. We had so much fun here, I forgot to take any pictures. It’s the only motel this trip I would stay at again.
Hangin’ out in Solvang
Friday April 5th
Approximate Mileage: 25 miles
We came to the consensus that we weren’t prepared to ride the entire 50 mile ride I had planned for Friday. We decided to ride over to in Buelton. We rode through the Chalk Hill Road in Solvang.
Along the way some animals caught our eye. There was this herd of topiary horses.
This is no bull. There was this long horn steer.
There were fancy gates to ranches and ranchitas.
Just outside Peasoup Andersen’s is this sculpture in a small park. To the South is Avenue of Flags. We rode down Avenue of Flags until it turned into Santa Rosa Road. We rode a mile or two down Santa Rosa Road then decided to turn around. The wind was blowing 15 or 20 mph directly in our faces when we rode down Santa Rosa Road. We sailed back up the road when the wind was at our backs. According to my GPS we rode 15.5 miles. Later in the afternoon, Dennis and I rode over to Hans Christian Anderson park and up to a hill on the north side of Solvang, adding probably another 5 miles.
We also spent time visiting the Old Mission Santa Ines in Solvang.
Here we are, all three in front of the sanctuary at Mission Santa Ines.
Solvang to Santa Barbara
Saturday April 6th
Approximate Mileage: 39 miles
Saturday we got an early start. We tried not to spend quite so much time stopping and taking pictures. We got to Lake Cachuma in a little over an hour. Traffic picked up steadily as we rode South East toward Santa Barbara along route 154. Watching cars, keeping ourselves safe in 55 MPH traffic allowed us almost no chance to see sites until we exited on Stage Coach Road. Suddenly we were in a different world where there were hardly any cars at all. We were back to almost nirvana. Although the grade was steady uphill, because it was built for stagecoaches, not cars, the grade is good for bicycling.
At the time of construction, it was completed in 1964, the Cold Spring Arch Bridge was one of the longest steel arch bridges built in the United States.
Our next stop was The Cold Spring Tavern . “The Cold Spring Tavern was built in the 1860′s as a way station to serve the travelers on the new “turnpike” over the San Marcos pass that was constructed by Chinese laborers to ease transportation over the mountains. Passengers boarded stagecoaches that were very uncomfortable and they endured dangerous roads and the inevitable highwayman to make the trip over the pass.” For us it was a perfect stop after a long climb up Stagecoach Road.
If you look closely you can make out the Cold Springs Arch Bridge and Lake Cachuma in the background behind Dennis. We pedaled all the way up there, from below the lake. Someone at the Cold Springs Tavern suggested we ride El Camino Cielo. We tried, but the road became impossibly steep with our touring loads and after so many days and hours riding. We did make it about one or two miles up the road before turning back. We could see why the road was recommended, the views of Santa Barbara and the Channel Islands were phenomenal.
Santa Barbara home
Sunday April 7th
Approximate Mileage: 25
Dennis and I opted to take the 774 Amtrak to Solana Beach at 9:25 instead of the 768 that left at 6:45. Paul took the earlier train. We had a nice breakfast at IHOP and then pedaled around Santa Barbara seeing the sites, especially along the harbor.
We departed the train in Solana Beach and rode home through Del Mar and up the Highway 56 bike path. Here’s the last photo of Dennis in front of the Poseidon in Del Mar with the famous smoke stack in the background.
The three amigos had a great time and we’re already making plans for our next trip. Looking forward to our next adventure.