Beach, Desert, Beach


Day 35: Oceano to Refugio State Beach, 77 miles

Today’s ride crosses the Lompoc Peninsula.  I pass through Vandenberg, the only Air Force base which doesn’t have a runway.  Ground zero in the Cold War, Vandenberg is home of the Air Force Space Command and the fleet of ICBM’s.  Miles of desert, hidden out there are silos with thousands of weapons of unspeakable mass destruction, silent keeping vigil against the threat of other nations in the “nuclear club”.

I wake in a foul mood, sore, cranky.  Freeway and railroad noises have invaded my dreams, nightmares of arguing couples.  I don’t want to get up, not looking forward to the long ride today.

I get up anyway.  The air smells of burning plastic and septic gas.  Southern California. I pack up the bike and head out.  Easy riding at first, miles of farmland near Gaudalupe.  Dusty roads sting my eyes.  Highway 1 has no shoulder and lots of trucks.  I bear down and pedal through.  Hey, there’s an oil refinery too, where that burning plastic smell was coming from!


The long climb up Lompoc catches me off guard.  Why are my legs so tired, weak?  After 1400 miles shouldn’t this be easy by now? My mind complains, grumbling, yelling.  The highway opens to a freeway with broad shoulders.

I stop in Lompoc for my coffee.  This helps a little, and I use the buzz to power on.  Still 37 miles to go after 2pm, and I don’t want to miss the sunset!  The climbing now is moderate, miles of desert, sand dunes in the sky. This land is desolate, and I ponder that this is what Oregon looks like outside the Willamette Valley and Coast.  Land without water.  We are so blessed by the rains, but how many complaints will I have once I’m back in the drink?

Ah, the long descent down to Highway 101, and then out to Gaviota.  The ocean returns, a beautiful Santa Barbara coastline, vistas interrupted by oil platforms.  I ride the last 10 miles to Refugio beach. Ah, I will make the sunset, with time to set up camp.

The higher biker campsite at Refugio is one of the most beautiful on the whole ride, directly next to the beach, under tall palm trees. And the sunset today, Halloween, is stunning, beyond words. My mood approaches euphoria, with more than a little help from 77 miles of endorphins.

A couple from Santa Barbara chat with me about touring. I give them the blog address, feeling more comfortable sharing that ever before. I don’t know if my writing is interesting or “good enough”, but it is an expression of who I am, in this moment. And that is good enough.


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