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Taking the wrong turn

Normally I enjoy coming upon bike rides. I wonder what the group is, how long the ride. I have been on a few myself. I love bicycling. So my reaction to a ride I saw today was clearly out of character.

When I turned off highway 101 onto 154 - aka San Marcos Pass - I saw a police-controlled intersection with one of the small country roads connecting with 154. Dozens of bicyclists were flowing out from that small road onto San Marcos Pass. I thought about the little camera I brought with me, from amillionlittlepictures.com. The theme for A Million Little Pictures 3 is "adventures" and I thought a pic of bicyclists, especially something arty, would be good. I thought about parking on a side road so I could try for a picture. I also had to use a bathroom, so my goal doubled. Find a side street that led to Santa Ynez, to the downtown area, use the bathroom, then get a pic.

I turned off on Foxen Canyon Road. The road name was familiar to me and I thought I had been on it before. Probably I had, but not turning onto it from 154. It wasn't long before I realized I had made a mistake. The road wound uphill and then downhill, and was peppered with cyclists of all ability levels, spread from the edge to nearly the middle. I drove slowly, making my way past cyclists when I could and staying behind when I couldn't. There wasn't much room to maneuver. The road continued to wind, past winery entrances (I thought of Sideways) and ranches, with no side roads to take. I wanted to get away from the cyclists. My need for a bathroom was becoming greater and greater and my irritation with riders who chose the middle rose accordingly.

Finally I came to what appeared to be the start of a town. I turned onto the first road off Foxen Canyon. The cyclists came with me. And there were more police. And signs advertising "event parking". And more and more people on the streets, the streets suspiciously Danish-looking. Solvang. Dang. I spotted a parking lot and pulled in, thinking to find a bathroom. There were bathrooms actually inside the parking lot, and there were lines of people waiting outside them. Solvang was not the place to be. It certainly was the place to be if one was on a bike, however. I met additional cyclists on my way out of the lot and as I crept down the street, seeking escape.

I passed cyclists traveling the opposite direction then, which at least was an improvement, and it wasn't long before I found a little shopping center that was sufficiently distant from whatever the event was to have parking spaces plus a coffee shop with a bathroom. I went there. When I left the coffee shop with my cup of coffee I pulled out a map and figured out where I was, and got myself back onto 154. Oh for a GPS during this little outing. But the map worked. No pictures of cyclists, who had taken somewhat the face of the devil anyway.

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Judith Lautner
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