Last day of riding in So. Cal and today was supposed to be sunshine and high in the low 60's. I regretted not having gotten over to Santa Barbara and doing the Gibraltar, Painted Cave and Old San Marcos climbs and I had really wanted to do the fantastic Refugio climb from the beach all the way to the satellite array. However, I also had to do Figueroa since I have kept track of my times through the years and it is a kind of fitness gauge for me. I also dreaded this ride because I arrived in CA a couple of pounds over my normal spring weight and considering what I had consumed while out here, I wasn't any lighter. I could imagine this climb being a real spirit killer to top of a kind of crummy trip.
So, left the hotel at 9:30 under heavy maritime fog and worked my way over to Happy Canyon and after 16 miles and 1000' elevation gain, reached the foot of the climb. I wondered about the 1 mile dirt section and if it was passable and wondered about the stream crossings and wondered about turning around and just wondering what my time would have been. I stopped and stripped down to the basics, drank and ate and chatted with a nice couple who had rolled up on cross bikes and were out for a spin. OK, no putting it off so I started the clock and pushed off. The plan was to hit it hard for the first 2+ miles to the dirt section, recoup a bit through there grinding through the dirt and rocks and then recover while coasting down the saddle through the camping area and stream crossings and then just grind out the final 6 miles.
Felt pretty good and reached the dirt section. Every time the road took a dip, there was mud and in two places, really deep so there I stopped, climbed on the hill side carrying the bike and then dropped back down. Can't imagine it would have been rideable the previous days and in fact noted the only tire tracks I saw were mountain bike tires. Reached the paved section and my bike was carrying a lot of mud but soon that problem relieved itself through 3-4 stream crossings that were not bad, but then picked up more mud. Finally, the final stream crossing was seen and I noted as I closed on it the water was running fast and kind of deep. As I got to within a few feet I saw the slimy green algae and wondered if the force of the water, coupled with the slippery surface would send my bike from under me so I gunned it, briefly thought this would be Flyin Tuna's revenge if I went down. The tires sent up a huge wave that crashed onto my legs and my shoes were soaked but I made it through.
Now comes the grind, a straight shot up along a canyon that goes on forever but it was kind of neat to be distracted by the water roaring by in the canyon. I had risen above the fog and it was brilliant sun. Eventually I reached a "T" intersection and went left, where it became very steep in places, always 10+% when I looked down. I had been fighting a head wind during the previous canyon stretch but turning left gave me a tail wind for most of the way. This is a climb that never gives a clue about where is the summit. Each time you round a curve, there is another 100 yard stretch that ends at a corner and then more of the same while always climbing. I was closing in fast on my 1:30 time that if I beat it I'm in good shape if I exceed it I suck and am the outofshape fatty I suspect I am. What's this???? A final very steep ramp that I recall as being the end so I stand and sprint (well, ride harder) arrive at the crest and the turnout with a lone pine tree signaling the end, stab at the computer and freeze the time, 1:29:28.
Well, I coast down to Los Olivos, arrive in Solvang, quickly shower and dress and head to the Greenhouse Cafe for another Spinach Ravioli. Ended the week with 492 miles (actually not too far below the norm) and 35,000' of climbing. I know I should keep things in perspective and that compared to the weather in Ohio it was much better but if that were my only goal I'd ride around Lexington or Nashville. Arrived back in Ohio on Tuesday evening. Weighed myself Wednesday morning and huh????? Was actually the same weight as when I departed so not as bad as I thought. Will have images to post of a Sunday drive that included some neat views.