Pacific Coast Tour: Day 21
Day 21: Refugio State Beach, CA to Leo Carrillo State Beach, CA
Approximate daily mileage ~ 85 miles
Approximate total mileage ~ 1,678 miles
Approximate daily elevation gain ~ 1,200 feet
Approximate total elevation gain ~ 69,200 feet
Waking up and peeking out of my bivouac to the beautiful sight of the blue ocean brought new energy for day 21. I couldn't help but shake my head and smile in disbelief. So many things had changed since the start of the tour, and if all went well there were only a limited number of days until reaching Mexico.
Breakfast consisted of two leftover cookies from Subway, a protein bar, and peanut butter. After returning a few emails and phone calls, it was nearly 10 am. Prior to departing I was sure to take moment to check out the beach. Some people were heading out on kayaks and canoes by that time. The ride went rather smoothly before reaching the first town of Goleta after about 14-15 miles. I stopped at the nearest bike shop in Goleta as I notice my rear wheel had gone out of true in the previous day's ordeal. They didn't have room in their busy schedule to fix it for me, but they did have some Stan's sealant which I purchased. The sealant had saved me earlier in the tour from flats, so I was sure to use it in the recently replaced rear tube. While I was at the shop another cyclist recommended going to a different bike shop in Santa Barbara to true my wheel.
It turned out to be great advice. It was only another 8 miles to the other bike shop he recommended in Santa Barbara, Fastrack Bicycles. This turned out to be one of my favorite bike shops during the whole tour. The workers were very friendly and were able to get my bike in right away! I took a nice walk along the scenic State Street in Santa Barbara and had a delicious lunch at South Coast Deli. By the time I was done eating and returned, the wheel had been trued, and the great bike mechanic kindly fine-tuned the shifting as well. I thanked them numerous times and proceeded back on the road.
Santa Barbara is situated right on the coast. The route followed along a perfect stretch of beach with tall thin palm trees lining a great bike trail. From there, the best route is along some less busy roads essentially parallel to Highway 1/101. Only a few miles outside of Santa Barbara, I was pedaling along casually and was passed by another cyclist. My legs felt fairly fresh and a little competition is always good, so I decided to catch up with him and keep up for a while. After only about a mile the other cyclist noticed I was keeping pace right behind him. We then started riding side by side and conversing. His name was Jon, and this was his route for commuting home from work. He cycled from Santa Barbara to Malibu 3 days per week. He knew the route well so it was nice to take a break from constant navigation for a while. We rode about 20 miles together at a good pace and talking most of the way. The stretch was a great ride with incredible scenery along the coast and mostly flat terrain. He was an investment banker and avid cyclist. He had plenty of tips for riding through the area and for potential places to stop during the remainder of the trip.
Jon was an avid cyclist, but he said he had never done any sort of tour as I was doing. He was really fascinated as he asked about every detail such as sleeping, eating, and equipment I was carrying. He was really excited about the whole idea and said he was considering trying a shorter trip on his own. He spoke about trying to instill in his children the idea that if they put everything they have into something, they can make whatever dreams they have come to fruition. He said to me, "You're exactly what I'm talking about. You're an inspiration!". He really meant it too. I kind of laughed it off having never thought of it that way. Before we shook hands and parted ways in Ventura, he said, "Yeah, you should be in San Diego by tonight at this pace!". Laughs followed again.
In Ventura I made a stop at a Vons grocery store to stock up for the remainder of the day and start of the next with bagels, turkey, chocolate milk, and almonds. From there, the ride continued through Oxnard and past Naval Air Station Point Mugu. Then it was time to return to Highway 1/101 past Point Mugu State Park and lastly to Leo Carrillo State Beach. This was the stopping point for the day. The campground is on the opposite side of the highway from the beach, and there is a road under the highway to access the beach from the campground. The hiker/biker area had only a couple other cyclists who had already claimed picnic tables. There was one unclaimed picnic table just under a tree away from the hiker/biker site towards the main campground. One of the workers at the grounds said it was a fine spot for me. It turned out to be my own personal site for the night. Leo Carrillo is a good sized campground, and it appeared completely full for the night. There were plenty of showers, restrooms, and water. Additionally, it was the only campground I encountered with a camp store supplying food, water, etc.
This was really one of the most flawless days of the entire trip. I was already feeling extremely fortunate for all the events and conditions the day held. Then I ventured over to the beach side to explore. The sun had just set, and it was cooling from the day's warm temps. I sat on the beach to enjoy. There were surfers catching the last waves before dark, and the nearly full moon was beaming down with only the brightest stars peaking through. Who could have asked for more?