Sunday, September 19, 2010

My Kind of Day

It started early. So early, I strapped on my headlamp as Kona and I headed to the ridge.
I didn't have time to wait for dawn but the fresh morning air didn't need light.

After dropping Kona off at home, I made the hour and a half drive North to Santa Barbara. Fog drifted on and off shore, flirting with hillsides before running away.

I'd rather not sit in a car but ocean and mountain views somehow drown out the traffic hum.
I was on my way to visit friends. One of my friends just bought a road bike and we were on a mission to break it in.

Three of the group were off for wine tasting in the nearby valley and I seized the chance to "plan" a ride through the vineyards with my cycling friend and her new bike. The area boasts not only acres of grapes but miles of rolling hills, little traffic and no traffic signals. It's a cyclist's dream and the reason why professional teams frequent the area for training.

We were off, surrounded by a crisp, summer landscape.
Rows and rows of grapes cheered us on.
Our bikes rested as we explored.
We flew down a road with a genlte downgrade, stopping when a field caught our eyes.

We continued on, cutting up a canyon that would lead us towards our starting point. The canyon climb was sustained and, more than two hours into our ride, became a grunt-fest.

While I'd ridden in the area before, I only had a vague idea of how long our route would be, or what would be the conditions of the backroads I chose.

After some gravel stretches, more climbs, a "two mile" section of freeway that turned into eight, and four and a half hours later, we made it back to our car.

I gave my friend a high five, trying to read her face. This was her third bike ride. Ever. I worried that she might not only hate me but never want to get on a bike again. I breathed again when I saw her smile ear to ear.

I felt the same way.

We joined the wine tasting crew for dinner in town. We ate at a restaurant with Old West decor. My stew was served out of a cast-iron pot. The dim light and a roaring fire made me feel like I was sitting around camp after a day working in the woods. It was like a step back in time. Of course, being bone tired, sun crisped and salty from the day's ride only added to the spirit.

It was the perfect way to end the day.


Sara said...

Wow! What a great day! Kudos to your friend for hanging with you on the entire ride. Wine country is so beautiful. Nature and symmetry coming together.

That first photo after you got out of your car reminds me of the movie Sideways....the place where they crashed their car.

KB said...

What a great day! Your friend is going to be a real cyclist - I can tell from here!

And, your commitment to getting out there with Kona in the dark is impressive. I bet it was cool!

My word verification is "flogged". I bet that's what you were at the end of that day!

Dawn said...

What a wonderful day! So worth the drive! And to think you ran first! LOL! You are in SHAPE!

Sounds like a perfect bike trip even for the newbie. Especially the wine tasting!

Life with 5 dogs said...

Sound like you had a great day today. Love all the pictures.

Barb said...

Enjoyed my ride with you, AC! I'm not even tired - where's the stew?

MurphyDog said...

Were you in the Solvang area? Mom's ridden there a few times and loves it!

wags, wiggles & slobbers

Kathy said...

wow, what a fantastic adventure! It really does sound like such a good day!

LauraK said...

You're brave to trail run in the dark, I would be freaking myself out with all of the animals we have around here!

Sounds like such a fun day, your pictures are absolutely gorgeous. What a great atmosphere that you get to ride in :) Nothing like friends, a great adventure, and wine to end the day!

Anonymous said...

Oh, yes! That looks like a Most Wonderful day indeed!

My mom likes that you wore your headlamp cuz she JUST started running a few months ago when it was still summer and she wasn't sure what to do now that it's so dark in the morning. When she saw that you wore a headlamp, she slapped her forehead and said, "Well, DUH!" (She's kinda goofy, my mom.) We haves a couple of headlamps so she's gonna try that tomorrow.

Wiggles & Wags,

Two Pitties in the City said...

Oh, that looks amazing! It makes me want to move out west.

Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart said...

Sounds great, except for the longer-than-expected parts. I wonder ... is Kona more or less fearful in the dark? I would think running with just the lamp would be hard for her.

Oscar the Indefatigable said...

Hi there! I'm Oscar the Maltese x from Melbourne, Australia. I've been reading your blog for a while and it's really heartwarming to see the lengths you go to to make Kona happy and comfortable. I love to hear all about your exciting adventures in nature! The scenery on your bike ride looks spectacular (big word for a little dog, don't you think? :P).

Anyway, just wanted to introduce myself and let you know that I have an award for you at my blog. Hope you like it!

Love, Oscar and the gang

Diana said...

That sounds so wonderful! Im glad you and your friend has such a good time. It looks just beautiful. Diana