Day 4 Checkpoint: Santa Barabara, CA
Saturday, January 31, 2009. Day four of my TEDride: Oceano to Santa Barbara
Greetings from Santa Barbara – mile 405 of my trek to Long Beach. I departed the Oceano Hotel at 8:30 and arrived here at 4:30 – before sunset for a change – logging 99.7 miles in 8 hours (6:36 ride time, average speed 15.0 mph).
I had a couple of climbs early in the day, but most of the ride was flat. One highlight of today’s ride was a 2-mile 7-percent grade just north of Goleta. That’s a long, steep hill – and the cycling equivalent of freefalling. A nice payoff for the uphill that preceeded it.
The weather is so pleasant, you’d think it was summer – but it’s the “low season” for tourists, so the traffic is light and the towns aren’t crowded. Santa Barbara is a lovely coastal city, with an Amtrak station just several blocks from the main waterfront attraction, Sterns Wharf Pier. One of the great things about traveling great distances by bicycle is the self justification to stay in a nicer hotel when you find one – and there are many along the SB waterfront.
Ironically, I’m staying at the Hotel Oceana, a beautiful hacienda-style complex right across the street from the main beach area – a far cry from the Oceano Hotel I stayed in last night (though it was everything I needed, and the manager was very friendly).
My parents lived in Santa Barbara for several years, and recommended me to an Italian restaurant they frequented some 15 years ago, called Emilio’s – on the waterfront, just three blocks from my hotel. It turns out the owner, Michael DePaola, started the restaurant 19 years ago, still owns the place, was working the bar, and remembered my parents. Michael is my age, an entrepreneur (he also owns a vineyard and makes wine under the DePaola label), a father and a cycling enthusiast. While we were chatting, Michael’s friend Greg Ralston sat down at the bar for dinner. Greg is in town to compete in a bicycle race. Greg owns the Venice Beach Hotel in Venice, California, one of several scenic towns along the Los Angeles coastline, about 15 miles before I reach Long Beach. Greg invited me to stay in his hotel Sunday night – perfect, since my hotel reservation in Long Beach doesn’t start until Monday.
So it was a great day of cycling and meeting wonderful people. I’ll leave you with a video postcard from the grounds of the beautiful Hotel Oceana. Tomorrow, the final leg of my journey – 90 miles to Venice, California.
You can see more of my video postcards on my YouTube page (www.youtube.com/mmdwight).