Tuesday 24 September 2013

Cyclist Gets Guillotined


Current Location: Long Beach, California
Distance Cycled: 15,725 km
Distance to End at Mexican Border: 200 km approx
Maximum Speed So Far: 72.0 kph
Status of Backsides (out of 10) Judy the Stoker: 8, Mike the Captain: 9

Cyclist Gets Guillotined

Lead Story – The Daily Beatup

Santa Barbara: The back seat rider on a tandem bicycle was guillotined by a car park exit barrier Saturday.
It struck the woman’s glasses forcing them down onto the bridge of her nose and then hit her arm.
“I could see it (the barrier arm) coming down but there was nothing I could do except shout at my husband to stop,” said the woman, Judy Yeoman, of Auckland, New Zealand. “It gave me a terrible fright.”
She was not seriously hurt.
Guillotine Victim: New Zealander Judy Yeoman (left) just minutes before she was struck by a barrier arm at a car park exit. She's seen lunching with new friends Pat, Lucas and Stan Brown in Downtown Santa Barbara.
Her husband, Mike Brockie, said he was following a car out of the car park and knew there was a barrier arm.
“I tried to make eye contact with the attendant to let him know we were coming but he vanished into the back of the office. Stupidly I looked the wrong way for the barrier arm – to the right not the left – and thought I must have passed by it safely.”
The pair were trapped by the barrier, unable to go forward or back as it lay between them. They had to dismount and push the bike out from underneath it.
“No thanks go to the attendant,” said Ms Yeoman. “He didn’t raise the arm and nor did he even bother to ask if I was alright.”
She said she was fortunate they stopped when they did, otherwise she would have been stuck a severe blow on her helmet.
The couple had been lunching with friends at a nearby café shortly before the incident. To reach the car park, they had pushed the tandem through a walkway but decided to leave via the main exit.

When Thermarests Get Pregnant

Age 20 years. It starts as a small bump ...
And gets bigger by the day ...

Until it becomes impossible to sleep on.

Riding into Southern California.

California Dreamin’

All the leaves are brown
And the sky is gray.
I’ve been for a walk
On a winter’s day.
I’d be safe and warm
If I was in LA.
California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day.
The Mamas and The Papas

Suddenly, in a day’s ride, we have made what feels like the transition into the California of our imaginations – palm trees, blue seas, surfboards, tanned bodies and a soundtrack playing in our heads that dates back to The Mamas and The Papas and The Beach Boys.
Walnut trees in the Santa Rosa Valley, near Buellton.
Refugio State Beach

Early morning shadows
Modelling session on the beach
Today (13 Sept) we rode south from a town called Lompoc, it’s the nearest place of any consequence to the giant Vandenberg Air Force Base. We took the advice of a fellow cyclist and instead of following the regular cyclists’ route we took Santa Rosa Rd, which runs for 17 miles through a stunningly quiet and beautiful valley of grape vines, wineries and walnut trees. On either side of us steep hills climbed into the blue sky. The land looked dry, the road meandered gently and we pedalled happily – thinking how much this region reminded us of Central Otago.
We stopped at Buellton and instead of the usual filled rolls from a supermarket we dined at Ellens Danish Pancakes where we stuffed ourselves with pancakes and coffee that kept on coming.  
Refugio State Beach. The pinpricks
of light on the horizon are oil wells
off the California coast.
Back on the road, the traffic was much heavier and faster as we rejoined Highway 101 and climbed over the hills and then raced down to the coast. And there were those palm trees and a sunlit beach. The coastal fog had vanished out to sea and people were enjoying the water in kayaks and on SUPs (stand up paddle boards).
Campsite, Refugio State Beach
Tonight our campground is Refugio State Beach, about 20 miles north of Santa Barbara and within 120 miles of Los Angeles. We are camped on the foreshore, there are hot showers and a store where we bought a bottle of wine and two beers. The sun is drifting towards the horizon and to add visual interest we can see three oil rigs out at sea. We know we will fall asleep lulled by the sound of breaking waves.
It’s taken 102 days to get here from Vancouver BC – that must be some sort of record for the Slowest Tour Down the Pacific Coast Highway – but it feels like we are in California at last.

Wildlife at Bed Time

We've seen no sign of mountain lions or
even rattlesnakes but there has been
plenty of other wildlife to keep us awake. 
The mouse was tiny and kind of cute. It was hard to think of it as vermin – spreading nasty bugs. Judy was the first to become aware of him (let’s call him a him, but he could just as easily have been a she) as he noisily trampled his way over the floor of the outer tent – the area tent makers like to call the vestibule. I got a nudge and Judy whispered in my ear, “there’s something out there” with her usual sense of the dramatic. We unzipped the door to the inner tent – our bedroom – and shone a headlamp into the vestibule. Its beam picked up nothing and then suddenly - the tiniest of mice. He was gray and so skinny his ribcage was clearly visible through the taut skin of his chest. I tossed a jandal at him, but before the jandal had left my hand he was gone – out under the fly and into the darkness. We had a quick discussion and decided that our food was securely stowed in our black, roll top bag.  A racoon would have no difficulty getting in, but a mouse would never make it.
Five minutes later he was back, clopping around on the floor and rustling over a plastic bag as though he was wearing two pairs of those cycle shoes with metal cleats on the bottom. We shook the tent, muttered and the noise stopped – for a few minutes. It carried on like that for much of the night.

Then Came the Gophers

The result of gopher tunneling near our tent.
Part way through the darkness came another sound – hard to describe but a gnawing, shovelling sort of sound as though something was burrowing into the floor of our bedroom. The sound seemed to be coming from near our feet, so I kicked the floor and hoped whatever was there would go away.
We woke feeling a bit jaded but grateful we were having yet another day off on the Slowest Bike Tour Down the Pacific Coast Highway. Outside the tent, mounds of earth had popped up, and peering under the tent it was obvious some little beastie had shovelled his way out there too.
Suddenly a head emerged from one
of the mounds.
As we ate breakfast, there was a slight movement and suddenly a head emerged from one of the mounds. The gopher looked around unblinking despite the bright light, then retreated down his hole.
We discussed what to do. Should we move the tent so we were further away from our gopher? Could it gnaw its way through the tent floor? How sharp were their teeth? If it got into the tent, would it tear around like a mad thing trying to escape – like the baby possum a friend had as a youngster. A fellow camper suggested pouring water down the gopher’s holes – or should that be gophers’ plural? We didn’t know if it was one or a whole family making those little dirt mountains.
In the end we decided to do nothing.

Followed by a Frog

We found this frog plastered on the side of our wine bottle.
That evening we were having dinner in the vestibule when suddenly I felt a movement on my leg. I glanced down and there, nestling into the hairs on my calf, was that tiny mouse – he was so warm I could feel the heat from his body. He must have sensed he had been spotted and a moment later he was gone – behind the black bag and under the tent fly again.
Judy reached for the wine bottle – anything to get us through the night – and almost dropped it with fright. There was a frog stuck to the side of it. We prodded it with our fingers and eventually it followed the mouse and hopped out under the tent fly.

Clear Winners 

Judy and I made an agreement. We would not be intimidated by a mouse, a frog or a gopher. Do what they may, we were determined to get a good night’s sleep and we wouldn’t respond no matter what happened. And that’s the way it was. The mouse trampled in his bike cleats, the gopher shovelled earth to its heart’s content and in the morning we found the frog under the tent. It was 3-0 to the wildlife.

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