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Part 2 - Santa Barbara
At 7:00am Cole’s driveway is cool and damp and raked in early morning light. We are anxious and sunburned and ready to go. Waiting for Jeanette, friend and driver, we discuss Gibraltar. Ben, the strongest rider and climber among us, still advocates for the traditional route. Alternative rides altogether and a small out-and-back addition to Gibraltar are all considered. Stones get kicked, sneakers shuffle, and bright-red lobster arms peevishly gesticulate in my direction. Accusations are made.
Aaron: What’s your deal Daniel, the ride sounds beautiful and the climbing plenty hard. It’s the perfect follow-up to Cloudburst. Are you a masochist, or some kind of pain pervert?
Cole: Yeah, are you a pervert Daniel?
Hahn: I’m no ‘pain pervert’ but if it’s good enough for Lance to interval six or seven times in a sitting, then I’m sure it will deliver a modicum of suffering if we do it once?
Daniel: All right, it’s settled then. We’ll do Gibraltar. Plus an eight mile out-and-back that we found the other day.
Ira: He is a pain pervert but I remember that road. It’s like a scenic rollercoaster through the sky. What, don’t look at me like that, it is.
We hear gravel crunch as Jeanette’s car pops through the vegetable tunnel at the end of Cole’s driveway. Jeanette wears long, striped socks, low-top Chuck Taylor’s and a T-shirt that reads: ‘I heart backseats’. She doesn’t own a bike and works in the entertainment industry. She’s exuberant, funny and, based on a quick run down of the day and her responsibilities, oblivious to road cycling. She keeps a bona fide Mexican wrestling mask in her car. When we finally pull out, Aaron has already become a Luchador.
We’re caravanning. Three minutes and one freeway interchange into the drive, we get separated. Dan, Ira and Ben are with me in the mini-van. Our route gets us to Santa Barbara 40 minutes ahead of the wrestlers so we do some errands, tubes and food, then park the mini-van in front of the Santa Barbara Employment Office and wait. They show up.
Ira: I think we’ve timed this almost perfectly. We should be hitting the climb when the sun is highest and hottest.
Aaron: Daniel, did you even use any sunscreen yesterday?
Hahn: For the record, we stopped at a gas station and I bought SPF80, which is essentially paint. Sun Paint.
Aaron: Hey Daniel, I’m assuming you plan to ride indecently again so be sure and cover your chest, or is the hair enough?
Shoes, sunglasses, wheels and toolboxes explode onto the Employment Office stairs and sidewalk. The small, glass-and-reflections entrance becomes our locker room with flashes of red and white body parts and black and white Rapha stripes. California, immodest and jaded, hardly notices. Ira and Hahn apply several layers, thoroughly and copiously, of the SPF80. Ben’s been ready to go for the entire morning. Jeanette is smoking Camels and taking digital snapshots like a tourist at the zoo. For all the consideration given our ride, big picture, the start and first few miles through town has never been mapped. Cole and Dan discuss this.
It’s 95 degrees and 11:30am. We are standing over completely operational bikes with full water bottles and pockets full of whatever sun, music, heat and wind contingencies we think we’ll require. Cole has a ‘fun map’ of downtown so he leads.
Santa Barbara’s streets are free of trash and traffic. A cool coastal breeze chases us like a Labrador, panting and playful, up the first few hills on our way through town. The first wrong turn costs us hardly any time and climbing at all. Our second takes 30 minutes to correct and adds several hundred feet to the day. By now we’re all sweating, the heat is ridiculous and morale is at an all-time low. And that’s how we come to Gibraltar – hot, cranky and divided.
"I drank gallons of water the night before and woke-up the next morning feeling surprisingly good, though sunburned like a fat kid at the beach. So before I even started making coffee in Cole’s predawn kitchen, I applied the first round of sunscreen."
"Jeanette’s Honda Fit is easily the dirtiest car interior I’ve ever seen. Upon closer inspection I realize that it’s even worse than I thought but the Mexican wrestling mask makes everything okay."
"Every minute since 6:00pm last night my legs get pinker and more burned. I get four shades more red through breakfast. By the time we get to Santa Barbara I'm glowing."