Headed out #246, making a right on Refugio and got a look at today's destination, the satellite group you may barely be able to see on the ridge. Passed Kalayra winery on the right, which sponsors a women's racing team. Windy day with winds 20-30mph out of the north, down here in the valley, up on that ridge?
After 4 stream crossings that had some running water but not too deep, over a few bridges, I reached the end of the paved portion of the road. It wasn't until then that I thought yesterday's rain may have had an impact on the road, smacked my helmet in disgust for missing the obvious but began the climb. Two years ago the road was scraped, filling in the old ruts and was still in fairly good shape of packed dirt, rocks and boulders and small water run-off ruts. As long as there was a slope in the road, the surface was ok as water had not settled but when level, my tire would sink into the mud. It's a 3+ mile climb gaining 1600'. Resistance increased greater than the incline would suggest so I got off my bike and....
....oh, that explains it. Had to stop a few times and work the mud out from around the front and rear brakes but eventually made it to the top.
At one point, after cleaning the mud and debris, I turned and had this view. As is always the case, at the top I found a man standing beside a car staring at the end of the pavement. For people driving to Santa Ynez, some or all gps devices instruct them to drive up from the 101 via Refugio, which is fine and paved but at the top is a sign indicating the road is closed, as it is always, on the valley side. A high clearance vehicle could make it but today, with the mud, I wouldn't try it. 2 other cars approached and they too had the same problem. Nothing to do but turn around and find the next exit.
My plan was to make a left and climb West Camino Cielo road to the satellite cluster, a place I had never visited. This section is 6 miles and gains 1800'. The road condition is good and the winds behind me except when they were not and then, the cross winds were ferocious. The strongest I'd ever experienced and the gusts would either propel me forward without pedaling when behind or force me off the road when from the side. I can't guess the wind speed but certainly more than 40mph. The views to the ocean side were fantastic to the right and....
....the views to the Santa Ynez Valley side were equally impressive. At one point, a large gray fox jumped onto the road, saw me and scampered into the underbrush. Very cool. Yes, an absolute epic ride, winds howling, steep ramps, the views, no cars, no people, great pavement it was as if I was at the end of the world. fortunately, for most of the route, there was a 50-100' wall of earth to block some of the wind but when there was not, WOW! Above, that's the Chumash Lake beside #154.
Finally, I reached the end of the pavement and there was a dirt road leading to the satellites and I kept going. Noticed the wind was picking up the sand from the road and blasting my back as now I was completely exposed with no barrier. I wanted to linger here and knew the dirt portion kept going all the way to #154 but I had reached my goal and it was time to get the heck out of here. The ride down into that head wind...I can't describe it. Sometimes I had to stop and wait out the wind gusts before proceeding. Most of the time I rode with one foot unclipped so I could brace myself from unanticipated blasts. At last, I reached Refugio Road and originally had planned to drop down to the coast on the paved road side and then come back up but I had enough of the wind and headed down the dirt side. Surprisingly, the mud had dried from the wind and I got down rather easily.
Unfortunately, I erased my Gramin settings but finished with 32 miles and well over 4000' of climbing. A day to never forget.