Dolphins and oil wells

Day 28: Refugio Beach to Carpinteria State Park

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A late start this morning was made later by the discovery of a second flat, this time on the back wheel. However, the annoyance proved to be a blessing: While fixing the flat and cleaning off the rim, I discovered a fine crack near one of the spoke holes. The guys at the Escape Hatch in Brookings had warned me of the Mavic rim, that they had a nasty tendency to separate right down the middle. They knew of a woman who had a rim come apart during a high speed descent and was badly injured. So I knew what I was looking for, and found it. Unfortunately replacing the wheel will need to wait until LA, a day and a half from here.

I rode on cautiously but made good time, with flat terrain on the Santa Barbara coast. Fun to cruise along, no large hills to surmount. Checking out the sights, arriving at Carpinteria mid afternoon. A long beautiful beach, and then – a pair of dolphins fishing close to shore – what a joy to see! Miraculous, considering how we have threatened them with net fishing, oil spills, reduced fishing grounds. In the distance are many oil platforms, farther still the Channel Islands. I might catch a boat out to the islands, camping in the National Park which has been established there.

Something else I noticed: an acrid smell. Last year I remember smelling it right at Refugio, and thought it must be the oil drilling. But then I noticed it today when the wind shifted from west to east. It is the smell of LA, the huge city, 22 million people using cars, trucks, trains, and any number of polluting industries and power plants. Funny, LA actually smells just like New York City. The metalic smell is a bit of a shock, after cycling 1100 miles in mostly pristine air, save the occasional smoke belching diesel truck or old car.

From here on the landscape will shift from open highways and sagebrush covered hillsides to the cityscape of freeways, airports, malls, condos, and industry. I’ll be hugging the coast of course, with boardwalks such as the marvelous one in Santa Barbara or riding bicycle lanes beside the freeways, like in this video:

Riding through large cities is tiring and stressful, starting and stopping, unable to keep a pace. But the destination is near: San Diego is only 200 miles away.

Here’s a brief video of the dolphin pair. Sorry its shaky – I was excited and filmed while running down the beach. If you look carefully you can see them surface and spout. So beautiful.

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