Wed, 06 Aug 2003

Santa Maria

I spent last week at a client's site in Santa Maria. The bike went with me. Several years ago, I made a similar trip with the bike and had some great evening rides. It was long enough ago that I couldn't remember the routes I had taken.

Monday, just before closing, I stopped by Main Street Cycles where I found a very friendly and helpful young man tending the store. He provided me with some route advice and one of the best cycling maps I've ever seen. The map is available free of charge. A description and details are available online: Bicycling in Santa Barbara County.

I was able to get in three evening rides:

  • Betteravia Road east to Telephone Road, south to Clark, then back through town to the Santa Maria Inn where I stayed.
  • West on 166 to the beach, and back.
  • Southwest on Black almost to the gates of Vandenberg Air Force Base and back.

The weather was great! Spokane was experiencing near record highs while I was away, so highs in the upper seventies were very welcomed.

Santa Maria has plenty of bike lanes and I was quite comfortable riding there. The bike lanes were much, much cleaner than here in the Spokane Valley where I reside not free of debris, by any means, but ridable.

However, I only saw two other cyclists in my 70 miles of riding there. And I was warned by a few non-cyclists that the area isn't very bicycle friendly despite the bike lanes and maps. Fortunately, I didn't have any negative experiences to validate their assertions. I look forward to my next trip to Santa Maria.

The one truly frustrating experience on the trip was getting the bike checked as baggage. First, it cost $100, round trip. The extra charge for transporting a bicycle is outrageous, but that's a dead horse issue I won't beat.

The real problem is new heightened security. I have an Iron Case for packing my bike for travel. I take a lot of care when packing the bike to ensure nothing gets broken, bent, scratched, etc. I pack the bike, tools, grease and chain lube and a few rags.

Coming and going, the TSA had to open and inspect contents of the bike case. I was allowed to stand by and answer questions, but I was not allowed to touch. So, the contents were shuffled and repacked far less optimally than I liked. Fortunately, no damage resulted, but it was a concern.

In Spokane, on the way out, they confiscated my chain lube, perhaps 1/2 ounce of White Lightning. The bottle says flammable, so it is obviously an inherent danger to the passengers. Of course, I'll bet it is no more flammable than those mini bottles of booze they store in the galley. But why argue. The TSA agents just follow the rules as illogical as they are.

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