41.7 mi / 10.3 mph / 2008 ft. climbing
Home: Budget Inn motel
We’d had a couple evenings lately that had started out slightly damp, but then dried out by morning. No such luck here, as this clear-sky condensation was heavy enough to be dripping inside our tent by the time we woke up. I just ate breakfast standing, while Rett ate in the relatively-dry and slightly-warmer tent. Just before we headed out, I got out the needle and thread to stitch up Rett’s brand-new biking glove whose stitching had come loose. The sewing supplies are definitely an item we’re carrying that has gotten more use than expected, but I guess it makes sense in this life of wear-and-tear!
On the road, we quickly hit a broad, flat valley surrounded by mountains, which, like the area south of Santa Cruz, was filled with active December farming.
The endless farm fields make it difficult to find roadside spots to pee, but that meant that we stopped for second breakfast in the heavily Hispanic farm-town of Guadalupe, a place we probably would not have stopped otherwise. Which would have been a mistake as The Guadalupe Cafe was welcoming, cheap, and had old white-bearded cowboys who so perfectly contributed to the south-of-the-border atmosphere that they might have been extras placed there by a movie production company.
That set the tone for the great day of bike touring the rest of the way. There wasn’t much traffic on the farm roads we were on, but what drivers there were, were almost universally respectful, giving us plenty of space, waiting behind, not trying to pass unsafely. Even the giant pickup trucks. I guess that’s what comes from being part of a culture where there are often slow, strange things on the roads, and it was nice for us to feel “normal” in that way for once.
But the people weren’t just passively friendly, they were actively friendly. Farm workers on their tractors giving us the peace sign as we rode by. A couple of workers waving at me as I tried to take their picture without them noticing. Just being acknowledged as fellow human beings was tremendously heartening, after weeks of so frequently being made to feel like the enemy.
And then, strawberries! An overwhelming smell of sweet, fresh strawberries hit us as we rode past a farm (something you’ll only notice on a bicycle, not enclosed in a car!) and Rett made the executive decision to finally stop at one of these farmstands. We pulled a quick 180, and found gorgeous 2lb. boxes of strawberries at Little Pete’s Farm for $4. I can’t say they were the best strawberries I’ve ever eaten (some from my parents’ backyard garden on a pleasantly-humid late-June firefly-lit evening in 1992 might have beaten them), but they were close, and definitely the best strawberries I have ever eaten in December by a country mile. I guess we should have been stopping at more of these farmstands!
We had one long hill that took us up to 950 ft. to get us out of the valley, and then a great view down to the town of Lompoc from the top. It felt like the first time Rett had looked down from a mountain to an inland view, which is often as impressive as an ocean view. From there it was an easy roll to our motel and its next-door McDonald’s, selected because there are no good camping options in the area.