Day 3 KCL to Rancho Nuevo

Another flat day- Yea!  Well, okay. My riding mates might say that I’m just a wee bit optimistic.  This trip marked the fifth time in about 15 years I’ve ridden this section of road and I remember it being flatish. Not flat but mostly flat.

Day 3 ProfileAnd now as I look at the course profile I can see from where that memory comes. It is mostly flat with just a little uphill bump in the middle, right? So, this day was shaping up as a cruise over rolling terrain, and we had the added interest of the first 14 miles being dirt road. Sounds like fun!

Being away from everything, responsibilities, clocks, being out of cell phone range, sort of distills life to the basics. Pedal, drink water, eat, camp and enjoy the now. My friend Jim would call that “strokin the now.” The regular world doesn’t really intrude much out there. That was the case for me when the Easter Bunny reminded me that it was Easter. Oh yeah, it’s Easter.

 

Day 3 Easter Bunny

Easter Bunny Susan dropped off goodies for us all.

Just before loading up and pedaling away the Easter Bunny stopped by and dropped off a chocolate for each of us.

Day 3 930 roll out

Exiting KCL Campground and heading for miles of dirt road.

The pictures show a muted green color, but the undertones of flowers were everywhere. In this section of the valley, most flowering plants were either past their bloom or were very low growing plants and partially hidden. It might not be everyone’s idea of nature’s beauty, but in a stark way the valley was stunning.

Day 3 Renee on Dirt

It’s easy to see that Renee loved the hills and sand.

The dirt road was pretty easy to navigate. There were a few sections of washboard that rattled us and our gear. I started to hear some squeaking from the front pannier rack. I told myself to check the connections that night.  If anything was going to come loose, today was the day it would happen.

Day 3 Marty Dirt

Marty had the only BOB Trailer, but he handled it on the rough terrain with aplomb.

There were also some sandy patches that caused the tires to bog down. I know of at least one rider who showed up in camp with sand on her legs. It was fun to see the bicycle tracks showing which path to take or showing where to avoid at all costs. Looking at the horizon in the picture it’s easy to see that as the day progressed we gently climbed. Over the miles the road rose and fell, but each fall was less than the rise and so in this way we gained elevation. I was pretty content. My legs were feeling good again, if not fresh, at least they seem to have recovered from the ugly first day. And yeah, maybe this day wasn’t flat or even flatish.

Day 3 Traver's Ranch

Traver’s Ranch, where we bumped into Sobyl.

Traver’s Ranch marked a bit of pavement. It was an illusion because soon after we were back on dirt. For the moment though, it was a good rest spot. There was a museum of tractors and farm implements, a shuttered house, and what we appreciated greatly, a port-a-potty. This was a good snack spot. At this point we redistributed some gear. Courtney’s leg was hurting and her energy was flagging after two and a half days of riding a heavily laden bike. We got a surprise visit from Sobyl here. Strange how out in the middle of nowhere we still managed to bump into friends.

Day 3 Liz Geo Pavement Patch

Traver’s Ranch stop with appreciative smiles for a bit of pavement.

As we continued south, the flower patches became more common. Several patches were brilliant  and they were like the Sirens, pulling us to a stop.

Day 3 John Flower field

I think we all used this place for a photo op.

This particular patch was a magnet for everyone in the area. There were several cars parked on the roadside, people walking all over, and lots of photos being taken.

Day 3 Field of Blue Ron Susan

I wonder if Ron calls Susan Honey Bunny.

This particular flower field was also right next to the spot where the pavement started again. That was a    Very. Good. Thing.

Day 3 Pavement Begins

14 miles later we reach the pavement again; you know there were some happy sighs emitted.

The beginning of the pavement also meant that we had traveled only 14 miles and had about 28 more to go. We were here about midday, the sun was overhead, and though not blazing hot, it was very warm. Time to push on.

Day 3 Weston

Weston, the Man Child. Next time he’s carrying all the food!                   (Note the mini alkali deposit in the background.)

After more rolling hills we hit a summit of sorts. I’m not sure there are supposed to be summits on flat ground, but, we rolled over it anyway and enjoyed a nice long downhill.

Day 3 Marty Rockin the BOB

Marty rockin’ the Bob trailer.

After a short uphill we came to Highway 166 and the funky building on the corner. It offered a little shade and we snacked there a bit while our group joined us in ones and twos. Our intention was to ride into Ventucopa and have lunch at the diner. I was looking forward to a bacon burger with frings, BUT, it was Easter Sunday and we weren’t sure it was open. We tried to call from the corner but cell service was spotty so we just pedaled on.

Day 3 Derelict Gas Station

Derelict Corner Store,  Gas Station and tired cyclist rest spot.

Turning right onto 166 we had a wonderful downhill with a aiding tailwind. It was the fastest 5 miles in two days. Highway 33 to Ojai was our route as we pedaled through the open farmland. The Cuyama River Valley here was pretty bleak. The hills across the valley were visible, but up close there was little more than bare fields, a few orchards and not much human life. There were a few patches of yellow on the hills, but everything looked disturbed.

Day 3 Ventucopa Line-up

Hot, dry, dusty and mostly empty, heading in to Ventucopa.

After the downhill we gathered in the shade one of those open side barns used for storing hay.

Day 3 Daniel in White Face

Daniel sporting knickers, wool jersey, Zinc Oxide and a brilliant smile.

After a bit of chatting and rest we headed into town hoping that the diner would be open on Easter Sunday. No such luck. The diner was closed, but the little store was open. The clerk was plenty patient with us as we cruised the aisles looking for suitable food. We may have each made about three passes through the store by the time we were done. One of the more popular items was a frozen burger. Pop that thing in the microwave and you’ve got a diner substitute. They also had ice cream and popsicles, nice for a hot afternoon. The most important thing we bought was water, about 5 gallons worth.

Day 3 Rolling Road

The climb to camp led gradually upwards.

When we left the store I was carrying about three extra gallons of water and I could definitely feel it in my legs. This was a good pedaling day for me, but each hill was beginning to tap a little deeper into that well of reserves. From the store we had about 12 miles to go, and each little hill I climbed I thought, “Well, this is a little more than flat.”

There was a funky little place just about 200 yards from our camp road were we pulled over and had a conversation with a person right out of Blue Velvet, or Wild At Heart. There was a Native American looking guy in a 58 Ranchero loaded with stuff. His buddy was talking to Weston when I arrived. He offered us the hard to decline chance to camp at his 600 car, Museum of the American Automobile and Log Cabin. “It’s just over there,” he said as he nodded at the brush across the road. The guy was so besotted he had pissed in his pants. As hard as it was to pass up his roadside attraction, we did decline; the David Lynch factor was just too high.

Our crew pulled up at the road to Rancho Nuevo and I waited at the turn for the people still on the road. About 3 minutes later the group came back and made an executive decision. They we going to camp right there in the grassy meadow with the big shade trees instead of heading another mile and a half across the sandy wash and four creek crossings. Works for me.  Day three was a long day. It was hot, and the road made for slow going early in the day. We left camp about 10:00 and arrived in camp after 5:00. So far it was our longest day in the saddle. Day Three was a tough day.

Day 3 Post Ride Camp

Funny how at every gathering people always end up in the kitchen.

Daniel, Liz, Ron, Susan and I were on kitchen duty. We tossed some ideas out ahead of time and through email decided on an Indian meal. We split them up into equal parts so no one person would have to carry the lot. Rice with Curried Red Lentils, Tasty Bite Chick Peas in something sauce, one with Spinach and Paneer Cheese, and one other I can’t remember right now. It was good, and spicy and filling and we had enough rice for a Korean Family to join us.

And yeah, a Korean family did join us. This nice lady with two children was looking for the campground and was checking out a map on the dirt road. Ron chatted with her a bit and invited her to camp near us. With the Blue Velvet character just up the road we were a safe alternative. Plus, we had about a gallon or more of rice.

Day 3 Campfire

Campfire fun…

We likely ended up in a better camp spot than the original plan. This one had plenty of downed branches for a nice fire. John was good at getting that going each evening. He and Weston kept this one stoked.

Day 3 Campfire Smiles

Wine anyone? Enjoying the fire and the folks. And, BONUS, our Korean neighbor brought us some fresh strawberries.

Before bed, we had a conversation and made plans for the next day; it was to bring the biggest climb, the most miles in a day, and we had a deadline of about 4:00 to make because the train doesn’t wait for straggling cyclists. But for now, we enjoyed the fire, the remaining drinks and each other.

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