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Getting in my first ride report before MB1 fully recovers...(27 posts)

Getting in my first ride report before MB1 fully recovers...The Walrus
Sep 3, 2003 10:43 PM
Two days after Labor Day, and the vacationers are back at work and all the little beggars are back in school. The weather's still dry and the roads are clear....

This junket begins in Santa Paula, a farming town in Ventura County, CA, by the former SP depot. I'm feeling frisky and the mountains are calling.
...lots of fine real estate...The Walrus
Sep 3, 2003 10:55 PM
There are several small farming towns in Ventura County, and they all have neighborhoods where you come across 100+ year-old houses and commercial buildings still in great shape, like this Victorian I passed on the way out of town.

I could do an architectural tour of the county that would take days.
...off into the boonies...The Walrus
Sep 3, 2003 11:07 PM
I decided to shave a few grams off my load by not bringing maps, so I'm just following hunches right now.

This was not a good hunch to follow--the road's narrow, shoulders are non-existent and it'll be like this all the way into Ventura.

Farming is the main business in Ventura County, and this is the quintessential view of the Santa Clara Valley, looking over acres of lemon groves back toward Santa Paula. Getting out on the bike, you're constantly presented with the sweetness of citrus blossoms, the bite of peppers, the pungency of cilantro, the awesome aura of strawberries, the reality check of chicken manure...

The good news is that the foothills I'm hugging are blocking the headwinds, and it's a beautiful day. The bad news is it's getting
i hot.
Did I say it was getting hot?The Walrus
Sep 3, 2003 11:13 PM
Where I live, the temps will be pushing triple digits; leaving Santa Paula it's already in the 90s. Ride about 15 miles to the coast, and it's foggy and 30 degrees cooler.

This is the first link in a network of bike routes I'll take advantage of. The Ventura pier looms in the distance, with the county fairgrounds beyond.
Time to get out of this fog and head inland...The Walrus
Sep 3, 2003 11:21 PM
The bike route heads inland at the Ventura River. This is fine with me, since I now have a respectable tailwind. About a mile along, the route splits and offers the option of continuing up the coast, or following the river up to Ojai.

Things are looking good, as Amtrak has arranged an appearance just in time.
The real reason for the California budget crisis...The Walrus
Sep 3, 2003 11:32 PM
...is the gratuitous artwork that so often accompanies public works projects. Here we have a nicely executed egret in bronze, which is only the prelude to a string of strange sculptures that appear intermittently at pathside for the next 6 or 7 miles.

It's nearly shameful to have this plush route all to myself, but I'll get over it. I'm making good time, pushing through the oilfields (the county's
i other
big business) on the flats.
...more smooth sailing...The Walrus
Sep 3, 2003 11:38 PM
About 5 miles inland, I'm free of the petroleum industry and sweeping past small farms and ranches tucked up against the hillsides. This is so smooth and easy that it's almost indecent. Notice that the equestrian trail is kept separate from the bike route--now
i that's
class.
I'm still feeling good, so I bail from the bike route and...The Walrus
Sep 3, 2003 11:43 PM
...follow a backroad along the west side of the valley. Crossing the bridge over the river, I'm struck again by the strangeness of this sight: a river in SoCal that is still running at the end of summer. You just have to live here to appreciate that.
It's so quiet out here today that it's eerie...The Walrus
Sep 3, 2003 11:50 PM
I'm farther up along the river, which is flowing behind that screen of trees off to the right. In the background, the afternoon's thunderheads are building over the Topa Topa Mountains.

It's not just hot now, it's humid, and the sweat's just pouring off me.
...a course correction is called for...The Walrus
Sep 4, 2003 12:01 AM
The road I've been on will soon veer northwest, up to Lake Casitas, so I cut across the valley and pick up the bike route again. The route more-or-less follows the roadbed of the old SP spur that ran from Ventura up to Ojai, so the grade rarely exceeds 2%-3%. It's also completely separated from the highway and street traffic, with the exception of some intersection crossings. Unfortunately, there are long stretches where the route's isolated from just about everything, running behind people's yards or screened by foliage. Still, it's great to have it.
The easy part's over...The Walrus
Sep 4, 2003 12:07 AM
...as the now-combined horse/bike route ends at this bit of swankness in Ojai. A tall, cool Gatorade sounds good, so I think I'll backtrack down the main drag and find a convenience store...
Isn't it quaint?The Walrus
Sep 4, 2003 12:16 AM
Ojai (pronounced Oh-High) is an artsy, New-Agey town which is still pleasant to visit, but obscenely expensive to live in. The shops along that colonnade feature the sort of knick-knacks you find in any tourist trap, just with bigger price tags.

On the right is Libbey Park, with an amphitheater that hosts very well-regarded music festivals (classical and jazz) each year.

As pleasant as this is, those mountains in the background are where I need to be, so off I go.
Oh my God! it's my dad's old carterry b
Sep 4, 2003 5:36 AM
58 Chevy Impala convertible in black. Have not seen that one since he traded it on a a 62 Impala. Still remember whacking my head on that metal dashboard. Ah, the days before seatbelts.

Nice pictures!
Ah yes, metal dashboards.theBreeze
Sep 4, 2003 5:57 AM
If it wasn't head injuries it was 2nd degree burns during the summer! I was about 5 when I was launched over the back seat head first into the metal dash of my dad's old Pontiac. Luckily we weren't going very fast. But it may explain a few things...
Home of the six million dollar manmohair_chair
Sep 4, 2003 12:54 PM
Yes, it's true, fictionally speaking. Steve Austin lived in Ojai. Jaime Sommers was from Ojai too, and it was from there that she got in that parachute accident that led to her becoming the bionic woman. Oh my, I can't believe I remember this crap. I used to love that show, which only proves I had no taste as a kid.
...almost over the hump (or so I thought)...The Walrus
Sep 4, 2003 12:23 AM
I've nearly gotten to the top of Dennison Grade, a couple miles of switchbacks and off-camber turns that takes you from the Ojai Valley to the
i Upper
Ojai Valley. Not really a difficult climb, provided that the weather is cool and you're a good climber and/or you're running something lower than a 25t on the rear; I lose on all three counts.

If this view is vaguely familier, movie buffs, that's because this was where "Lost Horizons" was filmed back in the 30s, with Ojai filling in for Shangri-La
What? More mountains?The Walrus
Sep 4, 2003 12:34 AM
I don't know where I got the idea that this valley is flat. Going from west to east it climbs in a stairstep fashion--there aren't any really killer climbs, but all the little ones add up by this point.

I need to come back here in the spring, after what passes for our rainy season. Everything is so green then it looks like a travel poster from Ireland. Most of the valley floor is taken up by farms, orchards and ranches, and in spring the almond and apricot trees look like clouds of snow with all their blossoms, and the tall, lush grasses in the fields are shot through with yellow mustard and bright orange poppies. This is really beautiful country.

For you ceramics fans, Beatrice Wood's studio was about a mile down the road from this spot.
Salvation can take many forms...The Walrus
Sep 4, 2003 12:47 AM
...for me, at this point, it comes in the form of a large, brain-freezingly cold Coke at this burger stand at the summit at the east end of Upper Ojai Valley. A breeze, shade, caffeine and refined sugars and lotsa ice...I'm saved!

And the best is yet to come, for just around the curve in the road is 4.5 miles of swooping, rolling, twisting
i downhill
that I have earned, taking me through dense oak forests, past Sulphur Springs and Thomas Aquinas College. You'll have to excuse me--it's one of the most beautiful stretches on the trip, but there is no freakin' way that I'm stopping along that stretch now to take photos. Some other time.
The end is near...The Walrus
Sep 4, 2003 12:56 AM
I've stopped because I just discovered the source of all the smoke in the background that I just rode through, a controlled burn that seems to be consuming half the mountain.

All that remains is another 5 miles of gentle downhill back into Santa Paula, passing avocados and lemons growing up to the flanks of the mountain, before they give way to the houses below.

I'm parched, I'm sore and I'm ashamed to say that was only 55 miles, but I'll do it again, soon...
The end is near...aliensporebomb
Sep 4, 2003 2:45 AM
Nice pics - looks like it is a fun route.
Thanks Wally (nm)Crankist
Sep 4, 2003 5:42 AM
Great report and photos. I'm envious of your route! -nmTig
Sep 4, 2003 6:11 AM
Awesome ride report. Thanks! nmKristin
Sep 4, 2003 6:22 AM
Great report, nice pics...rwbadley
Sep 4, 2003 6:23 AM
In the spring we were down in that area, it sure was gorgeous.

Nice ride!

RW
I am not exactly sure what my recovery has to do with your (great) ride report.MB1
Sep 4, 2003 4:20 AM
I've done that route many times as part of the LA Wheelmen Grand Tour Double Century. Thanks for the memories.
Because we can't compete with your reports...The Walrus
Sep 4, 2003 8:42 AM
Your reports are the measure by which all others are judged (except maybe Lonefrontranger--what on earth happened to her?). Once you're riding and reporting again, the comparisons could be painful...
Thanks for the great report.....PEDDLEFOOT
Sep 4, 2003 6:16 AM
...nice details about the area.I hope you appreciate the great riding you seem to be blessed with in your area.I.m envious.