Knickerbiker Santa Maria Loops
December 26-30, 2006
In December 2006, fifteen Knickerbikers enjoyed three days of cycling
around Santa Maria, California, in Santa Barbara County.
Doug Paulson, Herb Keller, Hersch Kagan, Jeff Gianformaggio, Joi
Brewer, Barbara Dorris, Lois Horowitz, Sylvia Nielsen, Martha Way,
Dick and Joan Wayman, Merle and Susan Vogel, and Ken King are all
grateful to our leader, Fern Kissel, for putting together such a
We checked into the luxurious Santa Maria Inn on Tuesday and promptly
started a party with wine, beer, soft drinks, and snacks. A few
people arrived early and rode on that day. After much debate about
where to go for dinner, we settled on the Chinese place across the
While we were concerned about rainy winter weather on Wednesday,
the light drizzles were short-lived and inconsequential compared
to the real challenge: wind. A major storm system devastated Washington
earlier, and blew into town before dawn here. (It went on to blow
down trees in LA and San Diego, and bury much of the Rockies and
Midwest in snow.)
We sailed along for the first 30 miles of the 55-mile day through
Foxen Canyon and Aliso Canyon, stopping for lunch at the only place
in Los Alamos: a Subway. It was not only windy but COLD! The first
rider got the last of the soup, and a few minutes after we arrived,
the power went out, so hot sandwiches were unavailable. Undaunted,
we forged ahead into the teeth of the gale. How bad were the winds?
One official report said "60 knot winds" and the weather
channel had predicted "60-80 mph" at one time. Watching
all the strawberry, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts fields
was somewhat distracting, but it was a long stretch into the wind
to get back to the warmth of a hot shower and a soak in the spa.
Joi did her first 50-miler (56 miles actually), and Merle pointed
out that it was much harder than a typical 50-miler! Still, everyone
had fun, once they looked back on it.
Thursday's weather was supposed to be a little warmer and calmer,
and it was, but just barely. The "official" ride was 50
miles, but with a major (think Banner Grade) climb. About half of
the people opted for a shorter (35 mile), flatter ride and went
to Guadalupe and the nearby sand dunes. The rest of the group did
the planned 50 mile ride to Tepusquet Road-which turned out to be
a beautiful, scenic ride. Once again, it was a relief to get back
to the hotel and a hot shower.
By Friday the weather had clearly improved (10-15 mph winds and
highs in the 60's instead of the low 50s), so almost everyone opted
to ride over to La Purisima Mission near Lompoc. This beautiful
mission has been beautifully restored, and is now part of the California
State Park system. There was no place to eat there, but we had three
boxes of tasty strawberries to share, along with the usual touring
fare (Power Bars, almonds, chocolate). The 50-mile ride included
riding up and down Harris Grade road twice. We had beautiful views
and two 800-foot climbs (over and back) with light traffic.
After yet another happy hour Friday evening, we enjoyed the hosted
"farewell dinner" in the hotel. Dick and Joan were celebrating
their 51st wedding anniversary (can that be right???) that day,
so we helped ourselves to the dessert the hotel intended for them.
All expressed their sincere thanks to Fern for arranging the trip;
it was fun to spend a few days with our cycling friends! "As
long as we have each other, we'll never run out of things to gossip
about." Oh no, that's not it. Maybe it's "Until you try
to ride up a mountain, you'll have no idea how far you can walk."
No, that's not it either. I have it: "The six stars in the
Knickerbiker patch represent the six benefits of organized touring:
health, pleasure, mobility, good fellowship, safety and knowledge."
On this tour, we experienced all six!