Itinerary: October 15 – SLO to Lompoc – 60 miles (gain/loss 3,600’)
Most of the cycling today is inland through pretty agricultural areas with small towns. One of the larger single climbs (Harris Grade) of the trip challenges us toward the end of the day, but we are rewarded with a long fun descent into Lompoc.
Accommodations: Holiday Inn Express, 1417 North “H” Street, Lompoc

Route for Day 6 – San Luis Obispo to Lompoc


Good old Craig has decided to stop falling off his bike and has decided to take up falling over in the shower instead!

Stuart raced to the rescue to help Craig to his feet, aided by the modesty of a large bath towel!

He seems to have been winded but there is no permanent damage so far (that’s Craig, not Stuart!).

He enjoyed being dried off by Stuart – and there are no further comments to make on this point!

Unfortunately, Craig may have a few problems on his bike tomorrow but we shall have to see.

Thankfully I had a good night sleep and wasn’t woken by the trains going by close to the hotel, like some of the others.  I slept through until 5.15 am when I was awoken by a great big truck outside off-loading supplies! We had slept with the windows open because of the heat and this didn’t help with the noise outside.

We had a great breakfast at the hotel in SLO, which set us all up for the day.  The weather today is wispy white clouds, but on the whole blue skies and very very hot!  We are all drinking loads and loads. The cool breeze we had during the morning heated up – and so are we!

Sorry, I know you’ve seen a picture of this bike before – but I thought it was funny!

We stopped for a puncture repair just before lunchtime (I knew I shouldn’t have mentioned punctures yesterday!) at a place called Guadalupe.  This is around 30 miles and just over half-way. It is strange to think we only have two and a half days left for our adventure……and we still haven’t figured out the dreaded question………………’What’s Next?’.

Arroyo Grande – The road to lunch at Guadalupe. Hard slog with cross winds
Lunch at a dodgy mexican restaurant. A Daren Quote – ‘Every meal comes with a free side order of immodium!’

At this point I am feeling good, legs aren’t too achy, back isn’t bad at all, undercarriage …..acceptable!  I am wearing my supposedly best cycle shorts today, which I have been disappointed with up until now, but they seem to be improving.  Perhaps they are like my Kilimanjaro walking boots that need to worn in first!?

The scenery today is, as always, changeable.  As I blog I am currently looking at a ploughed brown field with mountains beyond on one side and trees and a small village on the other.  We have been through vineyards, farmland and strawberry fields (as in the Beatles song). I stopped at a petrol station to buy a punnet of strawberries that we all shared after we had gone up another big hill.  The strawberries were some of the tastiest we have ever eaten.

Heavy work – we kept bumping in to these two. They were cycling from Canada to Cancun!!!
Anyone for Broccoli?

The ride today is all pretty do-able, apart from the first 5 miles of the last 10 because there are quite a few big hills, the biggest being 3 miles long and given that I am going uphill at about 7 or 8 mph, that would be around 20 minutes of hard slog non-stop.

Apparently, it is called a Harris Grade Hill, however it doesn’t sound good because someone has given it a name!!!

Part of the 3.2 mile climb

The lads today:

  • Daren is sporting a beautiful black and white bandana to match his outfit today – very dapper!
  • Craig’s rib is giving him a lot of trouble but he is working through the pain and taking any tablets anyone can offer him!
  • Richard P is doing well by trying to take his mind off his knee and various other aches and pains.
  • Everyone else seems ok.
  • I am still feeling the benefits of my massage a few nights ago, which seems to have really helped and I think John is trying to arrange some more for the guys tonight.

Unfortunately, one of the lenses has popped out of my sunglasses and I am a bit disappointed about this. John has managed to find me a glasses repair kit with a tiny screwdriver so I shall hopefully be able to repair them when we stop.  I have pulled my helmet right down over my face and it seems to be ok keeping the sun out of my eyes for the time-being.

As you read the next part of the day, there will be some repetition because today’s blog has been done in two halves – apologies for this, but enjoy nevertheless.

The descent into Guadalupe was long and hard. It looked to be a nice downhill run but was deceptively long and requiring effort. It was through big fields and was obviously a highly agricultural area. (As I type this, Alan has been in bed for 2 minutes and is now sound asleep!) There was a strong headwind and at times a side wind too.
We pulled up in town where John directed us to, and met up with him only to be told that the planned restaurant was shut for refurbishment.  He then recommended a Mexican restaurant down the road. A vote was held to see if pizza opposite or the Mexican was preferred and I was out-voted 9 to 1 so sadly there was no pizza for me. We went to the end of the road but missed the restaurant and had to come back to find it. Guadalupe was rather run-down and like we see on the films of a minor town with a major road, spread out shops and seemingly completely empty of people.

On the way to lunch – we turned right
It really is very hot!

When looking at the restaurant even tough Stuart said it was OK, so that was reassuring.  Daren joked that each meal came with a side serving of Immodium!! Nice one, but we hoped not!!  It actually was quite good food and as it’s now 10 hours since we ate it, the Immodium seems to have been avoided!!

After lunch we focussed on the main challenge for the day which was a 3 mile “Harris Grade” climb, whatever that means! We had already travelled between 48.1 and 51.4 miles that day and now we were to challenge ourselves on the longest single climb. Although, we were told it was not as steep as others.

Before this we cycled through some more agricultural areas. All of today was inland so fields and barren landscape were the order of the day. It was starting to get hotter and the cool breeze hardly noticeable. If you were wondering, yes, we all drank loads all day long. The roads are mainly quiet but we are supposed to ride single file so the traffic is disrupted as little as possible. Well you can’t chat much single file so we only do that when we have to because of cars, lorries, fast roads etc. Now, police cars are obviously very quiet because Lewis and Richard P didn’t hear one coming and were riding next to each other when a policeman called over the car loudspeakers ” Please ride single file when a vehicle approaches” I was some way ahead and I jumped, they must have nearly dropped their cogs! The police car continued past and, worryingly stopped, but it was not for us, it was just reversing into a shielded place waiting for more worthy victims!

Lewis and Richard P before the police moment

I was riding with Craig quite a bit today, a slower pace suited my mood. Craig was in obvious pain all day from his rib, after slipping in the shower last night. He won’t give in though and the parallels with Kili are obvious (The Kilimanjaro blog has to be read to find out why). It seems there is no need to rush, we have done the hardest days, the hardest climbs and I have met those challenges so there is no need to push all the time.

We started the 3.2 mile climb slowly and it stayed that way. Craig was struggling and I felt a bit guilty taking it easy. Going slowly was no problem at all for me and it didn’t hurt at all. Strangely I thought it would be difficult as, as I have previously mentioned, I find cycling uphill slowly to be harder than going quickly. There is more resistance due to less momentum and it just takes a lot longer! I missed going up the climb with my hill buddy David, but at that moment I wanted to keep an eye on Craig and help him if he needed it. As it turns out he didn’t need any help as he just ground it out, metronomic in slow ascension.

At one stage I was trying to work out what a new click on my bike was from which seemed to happen every 2 revolutions on my right foot when I put maximum pressure at the bottom of the revolution. I lost concentration and nearly rode into the back of Craig. At this point I had to take evasive action and once more fell to the side. We were only doing 4 mph so it wasn’t bad at all and no harm was done to me or the bike. It made me forget about the clicking !!

Eventually we got to the top, although we stopped a bit too soon thinking we were there but still had 0.2 miles to go! After drinking some water we did the last bit and caught up with the others just over the summit, to cheers and mutual back slapping. Then it was 7 miles downhill to a nice Holiday Inn Express with pool!

At the top of the climb with Lompoc in the valley below

Because today had some long downhill stretches I could play my new game of “How far can I get without pedalling” as, as you know, I love “free” miles with no effort. I managed 2.5 miles which was a long way but a bit disappointing as John said it was downhill all the way to town. Never mind, I may have a chance to beat it tomorrow. The game is catching on and Richard R is joining in too, he is always up for a bit of competition!

It was so hot today, up to 30 degrees, the hotel pool and jacuzzi were so needed. After a quick shower, recovery bar and rehydration drink, Alan & I went down for some R&R by the pool. Alan started to read but the sun had gone from most of the pool so he went back up. Daren and David appeared. Their faces were the look of sheer delight when they saw the hot jacuzzi and the ‘ooos!’ were so funny. We relaxed in the hot tub and pool for over an hour. It was much needed and much enjoyed.

Daren, David and Me – Happy or What!!!!?

Richard R went for a sports massage, which he really enjoyed! He was amazed the masseur could tell so much about his cycling style and stretching regime from all his aches and pains. Well done Richard for going through all that discomfort and agony.

Then it was out at 7pm for a nice Italian meal. Carbs and protein tonight to prepare for a 90 miler tomorrow. The service wasn’t up to much but they did apologise. Also they explained that it was a family run restaurant with few in the kitchen and they were very busy! Keith cancelled his main meal as it hadn’t come up by the time the rest of ours were finished, but he did help out attempting to eat some of the others’ huge pizzas. They also explained it was wholesome “organtic” food. That’s probably American for “organic’ but we didn’t ask! They also picked up that we were not from America, and when asked to guess, after saying Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, we didn’t pursue that one either!

Conversation at dinner included explaining to John just how amateur we are and that we signed up for the trip before doing any training etc. The latter fact amazed him, but he won’t comment on the former! We also touched on the ‘What next?’ question and explained the Kili trip, which is something he has always wanted to do. John has got thinking for us what we could do and we also discussed who liked which element of the challenge. Just for the record lads, I don’t consider myself anywhere near “hard core”, I am just enjoying the physical and mental challenges of pushing outside my comfort zone and also getting fitter.

Then it was back to the hotel to do this blog, which I promised to type, not dictate to give Lorraine a bit of a break. This has taken me an hour so far so I can only imagine how long it must take Lorraine to type up the voice notes I e-mail, add the pictures and get the whole thing together. Thank you so much once again.

Goodnight all, it’s now 11pm and I need to get some sleep before our early start. A 6.30 breakfast and 7am meeting with John for probably a 7.30 cycle start. It’s going to be a long hot day so an early start is vital. Let’s hope we can make it to the next hotel before dark this time!!

Today’s stats are:

Time: Start 8.15am.  End 3.15pm
Distance: 57.1 miles
Speed: 12.2 Average
Max Speed: 37.8 max speed (and yes Lorraine, Mum & Dad, I was being very careful and sensible!)
Time in the Saddle: 4hrs 45mins

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