Epic day for cycling. Drove over the pass and down into Santa Barbara, parking at the Botonical Gardens on Foothill Road. Headed east to get to Mountain Drive which connects with Gibralter. I rode this a couple of times 3 years ago but had forgotten what to expect. After Monday's pathetic performance on Figueroa, today I was relieved to discover that what climbing legs I have are in much better shape. The 8% ramps felt like 4%, the 12% felt like 8% and the 18% ramps felt like, well, 18%. I've read this is maybe America's classic climb with incredible views of the coast, Pacific Ocean and in the distance the Channel Islands. I wish I had the vocabulary to adequately describe it all. Would have more images but jetisoned the camera today to save weight. Will have many more tomorrow.
Noticed areas had been burned from last year's fires but already had greened over and eventually reached the area where hang gliders leap into the abyss. Several cars around but I had just missed them taking off. For 5 miles it is continuous uphill before reaching a saddle and dropping a couple of feet over 100 yards before the serious climbing begins. Long, steep ramps with pavement deteriorating into a series of potholes, which adds character. The road drops behind the mountain and finally reaches the top, where it was windy and cold. Surprised to discover it's "only" 3000' and 6.5 miles. Got to the top at 1:09 and legs still felt good. Probably could have broken an hour if I had known the climb. The ride down was cold with my perspiration soaked jersey drying as I descended. Reached the bottom and found a market to restock and head west on Foothills Road to old San Marcos Road, a road that runs parallel to Gibralter a few miles away. Mostly 4-8% ramps with a wall or two buried in sharp switchbacks. Reached 154 where San Marcos ends, crossed onto Painted Cave and the next 2 miles is one of the steepest sustained climbs I've been on. Every time I glanced at the Garmin it was at 15% or more and the road narrowed to one lane in places. Arrived at a turn that on the inside had to be 30%. On the outside it was over 20%. Finally dead ended at Cielo Drive which joins Gibralter a few miles away. Turned around and coasted down until that turn and could not navigate it, crossing into the opposite lane and stopping. Wish I had a way of measuring it.
Anyway, reached 154 and did something really stupid. Decided to descend 154 instead of old San Marcos. Very dangerous with traffic going by at 65 down a steep road with views to distract the drivers and a berm that would sometimes give out, forcing me to ride directly on the road. Four miles later I reached the exit for Foothills Road and returned to the parking lot. Only 43 miles but 7100" of climbing. Think I'll celebrate by having a glass (or two) of wine this evening! All kidding aside, when I return home, I've got to lose 5 pounds gained on this trip. Normally, I fix a fruit smoothie or bowl of cereal for breakfast. Out here, I eat the cereal, hard boiled egg and danish pastry. Good heavens.