Day 9 – Wednesday March 8, 2017
Miles – 35.5
End – River Campground, Lompoc, CA
The morning began with an oddly beautiful sight. As I was looking out on the ocean from our unbelievable camp site at Refugio State Beach, I saw what looked like a storm of seabirds and waves approaching from the southeast. As this mass moved towards and along the shore, I grabbed my binoculars for closer inspection. What I saw was something out of a Planet Earth episode. A frenzy of dolphins, gulls, and pelicans was chasing a school of fish, feasting in gluttonous fashion. Morgan got a glimpse too before the group dispersed and the dolphins headed further out to sea.
Today was going to be a big day. We had to ascend the Gaviota Pass, a 1200+ foot climb in a few short miles. What was perfect beach weather turned into brutal conditions for a tough ride. Our heads were throbbing from the heat as our heart rates climbed, forcing us to stop and regoup many times along the relentless uphill pass. We attempted this in the hottest day yet at 1:30 pm. We both ended up taking off our shirts and helmets to try to cool off a little. Pulling the trailer felt like dragging dead weight through mud. It was our first true test, and I was ready to ditch all of our gear half way through. But we did it. We made it to the top. And we were ready to be rewarded with a cruise down a long gentle descent into Lompoc.
Then the headwinds hit us. We found ourselves pedaling hard down the hill and all the way through town, more than 15 miles. Fortunately, we had a shared dream of gorging on hamburgers after this ride and had a local destination picked out to reward ourselves. It was a good feeling, but we were exhausted. For now, this is our benchmark ride, but it will get harder.