We were warned.
“If at all possible, get past Guadalupe in the morning,” Frank said. “The winds will be blowing hard in the afternoon.” We camped in Lompoc the night we left Santa Barbara, which put us 30 miles from Guadalupe. We awoke slowly that morning. I called my family in New Jersey, to wish my mom a happy Mother’s Day and talk to my brothers. Anne packed up all our things, refilled the water, and made breakfast. We left camp around 9:30 or 10:00. We proceeded to rise out of the valley and cross a pass, which involved climbing, and then descending, about 1000 feet in the course of 7 miles. We stopped to eat along the road.
“Do you know where you’re going?” an athletic biker asked as he passed us.
“Kind of…” we said as we looked at the map. “Is this the 135?”
“Well, yeah,” he responded. “But you’re going the wrong way! I mean for the winds.” We smiled. We’ve been told over and over again that we are going the ‘less preferred’ route for cyclists. We are biking from the south to the north, which is against the predominant wind patterns. We were warned by Frank to get past Guadalupe in the morning, but it was already noon. You can’t turn back time, no matter how hard you want to.
The cyclist gave us directions and seemed to be openly mocking our misfortune. We ate our snack and got on our bicycles. And pushed. Hard. Against the wind.
The gusts tried to knock us down over, and over, and over again. We were on a small, two-lane ‘highway’ that had about 6-inches of shoulder, riding through man-made cuts through the land which created wind tunnels for us to fight. To make it better, the highway was a truck route, so 18-wheel tractor-trailers were passing us but only giving about 6-inches of room. We were sucked in to the wind in their wake. Pick up trucks gave us no relief, as one even honked as it passed a few inches away from me, causing me to startle and fall off of my bike and into a gravel pit.
I turned on my mobile data connection at around 2 pm. We were hungry, having not eaten lunch because we wanted to reach Guadalupe. We were grumpy from hunger and thirst. We were cold. We were fucking pissed at the whirlwind tornado feeling we had from the wind hitting us from all directions. I cursed, to no one in particular, as I pedaled. And we were still 5.5 miles from Guadalupe, which meant at least another hour. I wanted to cry, but we had no option. We couldn’t stop and eat with 30 mph winds hitting us from every direction. We just had to keep pedaling.
When we reached Guadalupe, all we wanted was a giant corporation that we could feel OK mooching off of. Sit down for a few hours at a Starbucks or McDonalds, get some blue screen time in, and rest our minds from the physical and mental assault of the winds. But no–Guadalupe offered only local taquerias, a pizza place, and two gas stations. We wanted shelter from the winds, so we sat outside the gas station and sadly ate our lunch, while the wind added more than a normal serving of dirt into our food. (I could feel the crunch of the dirt and sand particles in my teeth.)
Since there was no hope for a mental break, we decided to press on. Leave the hell hole that we had found ourselves in. Escape the winds. Within 2 miles out of Guadalupe, we were out of the range of the strongest winds. As Frank had said, we had to get past Guadalupe. Then the road was decent, we got a shoulder back, had no more significant climbs, and didn’t even have to battle winds.
“Remember Guadalupe,” Anne commented later. California can throw the most beautiful and cruel moments our way. We need to be prepared.