Lights, Camera, Climbing!!!
So, today was the day to take my first crack at Figueroa Mountain, or as the locals call it, "The Fig". I noticed a layer of maritime fog had moved in overnight but it always burns off by 10:00am and if you can get to the foot of the mountain in time, you ride into the fog and at approximately 1000' up you break through into brilliant sunshine. As I approach the mountain, the fog was already lifting, as shown above.
Here's a good image of a winery, winding road and the Fig in the back ground. The approach is rolling with no difficult climbs but some how, 1000' is gained prior to...
...the official start of the climb, as designated by the dead tree, the sign and usually some one has chalked, "The Start" on the road. This week alone, there are at least 3 tour groups out here and the organizers like to paint or chalk different road markings for inspiration to the cyclists. It takes me around an hour and thirty minutes to cover the 3500' and roughly 10 miles. I think the record is 57 minutes. Coming off the crummy weather of February, I wondered if I would be forced to unclip some where up there. I would like to show images of the way up, especially the packed dirt and stone section that adds character but to do so requires me to stop and I did not want to. Another cool section is, after reaching the saddle (shown in the image. That is not the top.) the road drops steeply around 500-800' and all that gain is lost but you cross 4 streams and the water that splashes up usually is welcome.
I labored mightily and became despondent when it appeared I was going to go over 1:30. Every time you reach the top of a switchback there is another and no sign of the top until literally you are at the top. Very strange. I cursed my winter weight, lack of cycling, steepness of the road, the effect of aging but suddenly, there was the last ramp, a grueling 18% stretch and I arrived at 1:30:27. Better than last year's first time by 5 minutes but behind my best time by a few minutes. Still, at the top the Los Padres forest of 2 million acres stretches farther than the eye can see and it feels great to stretch out under a lone pine and rest. Soon, others summited as the day sees many come up from both sides.
People come by the thousands to view the spectacular wild flower displays that exist on the sunnier southwest facing slopes. Here is just one of many patches of color and after remounting my bike a mile later I came across....
....a production company filming a zombie movie. One of the guys applying make-up had a T-shirt that said some thing about prostitutes atnd zombies but this movie is something about a dungeon and zombies. I asked if I could take an image and all said yes except the zombie who said no but I snapped anyway. They had a huge spread of food and drinks laid out and I hoped they would offer me a drink as I was out but they did not. I continued to coast down to the bottom, passed Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch and soon reached Los Olivos, where I stopped to refuel. Only 49 miles but 5100' of climbing and that was enough.
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