Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Adventures on Four and Two Wheels

The Thursday before last, I rear-ended a remarkably understanding woman driving a Mercedes while going west on Sunset Boulevard. I was lost in a reverie regarding the kidney while on my usual route to school. I went when I should have stopped in stop-and-go traffic. Fortunately, no one was hurt, and her car sustained little damage.

Lucky (the name of my car), however, was not so, and photos make it appear that I attempted to drive under the luxury vehicle on my way to class. The class happened to be Clinical Skills: Abdominal Exam. My classmates palpated enthusiastically, eager to find signs of internal bleeding, but all they found were an achy back, some sore ribs, and multiple frazzled nerves.

Against advice, and probably, in retrospect, against the law, I drove up to Santa Barbara for a Veteran's Day weekend with John and the family. We enjoyed some riding around Santa Barbara, including a visit to Velo Cafe (web site with shopping coming soon!), a bike shop packed to the gills with frames, parts, and accessories from around the world. I went to the bathroom and passed a floor-to-ceiling rack of vintage water bottles. We met the very nice owner Baron, who regaled us with tales of shopping for vintage bikes around Europe. He let us into a back room with lots of vintage cycling clothing. I picked up a maroon jersey (unfortunately Trojan colors) and some wool cycling shorts. The best part was watching John take in more bike parts than he could use in his lifetime ... you could see the gears (the ones in his brain) turning.

The next day we warily eyed the sky for rain and drove to Buellton for a "Sideways" ride -- a loop between Buellton and Lompoc that takes in some of the wineries and sights from the movie. To be honest, I was flat-out terrified that I wasn't going to survive the 40-something mile ride. Fear and copious amounts of coffee forced an emergency bathroom stop in Solvang -- a fake Danish village that attracts a lot of tourists but is frustratingly short on bathrooms. In case you find yourself in similar dire straits, I have mapped the location of the Solvang public restrooms.

The first few miles were creaky at best. I felt clumsy and awkward on an uphill stretch against an annoying headwind. But by the crest of first big climb, I was feeling better and taking in the scenery instead of gasping for breath. First stop: Babcock winery for wine tasting, trail mix, and some duct tape modification to my flapping pant leg. Then we headed toward Lompoc, while the wind headed toward Buellton. We looked around for a bike shop in Lompoc for a while, realized we weren't going to make it to Sanford Winery before it closed, and stopped for grilled cheese and pie. On the way back we took the smaller, winding Santa Rosa Road. As night fell, John managed to get his chain wrapped in an alarming tangle between his big chain ring and right crank. We attempted not to panic and John worked mechanical miracles while I held a headlight over the operation. The rest of the ride was in completely dark and eerily quiet; later John and I confessed our fears of the dark. Mine: running over a skunk. His: getting attacked by a mountain lion.

We shouted deliriously when we saw Pea Soup Anderson's, and kept up the noise until we hit the parking lot at our final destination: The Hitching Post. Undaunted by an 1 1/2 hour wait (John, helmet in hand, pants tucked into socks, in the lobby: "Did these people just ride to Lompoc and back?!?") we rode some victory laps and then sat down at the bar with a bottle of wine and roasted artichoke, followed by the best steak (flat iron) of my life.

(Photos by John on his spiffy iPhone!)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Extra Crunchy

I've got a blog about cars brewing, and I want to write about my awesome weekend riding bicycles in Santa Barbara. But today, for reasons I can't really go into, I feel like a vole again. As always, thank goodness for my vole partner ... perhaps I'll send him for some ice cream.

PS: I spanked my Block 1 final. But I'm still voleish.