Santa Barbara

Part 1: Northwest Passage

Folks, I love Santa Barbara's bicycle trails.
From elite Montecito to UCSB,
Past the beach with its islands and bright colored sails,
There's no place on a bike that I'd much rather be.

For this journey we'll start on the south inland side –
Montecito, a village beneath tall gum trees.
You click into your pedals, push off and you ride,
Up a short rolling hill, as you loosen your knees.

Speed builds up as you roll down Cabrillo, and soon
You go under the freeway in tight single file,
Through a moss coated tunnel; then by the lagoon,
Tall green reeds, lots of birds, ocean breeze – and you smile.

Next you ride off the road on a nice, well paved track,
Where the beach is a tease past a wide busy street;
Then you cross at a light and you join in the pack
Of more cyclists and runners and skaters – it's neat.

Now you ride beneath palms, with the sand off to port,
As the path gently curves through a grass covered park.
You're enjoying the feel of the sea and the sport,
And you well understand why I make this remark:

If you're riding through here on a late summer day,
But not smiling and feeling like some happy tyke,
Well then, folks, it is sad, but there's simply no way
That you'll ever be happy while riding a bike.

The thermometer's well below eighty degrees,
The humidity's perfect; you'll swear with no qualms
That the weather's ideal, as a salt-scented breeze
Cools your face as you ride under tall swaying palms.

All the traffic is friendly; folks smile when you speak,
And you're making your way by (with very few swerves).
It's okay if you 'draft' some young lovely physique,
Because part of the fun here's enjoying the curves.

Santa Barbara's beach is a classical ride,
And it sometimes seems hard to believe that it's free,
As you cruise up this cycle path, swooping and wide,
Just enjoying the mountains, the sky and the sea.

Soon you ride past the harbor - some traffic, tight bends –
Where you'll need to choose now how you'll ride further north:
Take the path up the cliff where the Coast Route ascends,
Or the city's broad bike lanes. You choose and go forth.

As you climb up the bluff you are thrilled by the view,
Looking back at the harbor you're leaving behind,
You'll soon miss it, but hey, rolling hills are fun, too,
And there's lots of them here for your pedals to grind.

As you conquer the crest of the last coastal knoll,
There is almost no trace of the city so near.
Then you're picking up speed as your bike starts to roll,
And you quickly upshift to your very top gear.

Pavement's rough as you rush down that first steep descent,
But the second is smoother and faster as well,
If you love flying downhill, you're way past 'content',
And you feel all your little speed demons dispel.

At the end of the foothills you're in for a treat.
Soon you're back off the road on a short cycle trail,
Past some brush and a small wooden bridge to a street
Through a nice quiet suburb that's somewhat upscale.

As you ride past the houses you come to a stand
With some neighborhood kids selling fresh lemonade,
So you smile as you brake for this stop that's unplanned;
When you leave you have something worth more than you paid.

Two more blocks and you're passing the last pricy home,
Then you're back in the tules and brush, in the wild,
Where just cyclists and critters are likely to roam,
On a network of trails that's so vast you're beguiled.

You are riding the Coast Route, or so say the signs;
They're prolific, unmarked by graffiti [how strange!]
And the lanes are divided by dashed yellow lines,
Very nice and well tended throughout the whole range.

To your left is a creek, often hidden by brush,
On your right, off and on, there are houses and lights,
But the trail is wide open if you choose to rush,
Like the smooth stroking racers in black shiny tights.

As you ride up the trail, you'll pass several nodes
With small signs to inform you there's more than one way
You can take in this network of bike-only roads,
But the Coast Route is where you're intending to stay.

So you keep up your cadence and keep rolling on,
To Goleta Beach Park, where you make a quick stop
For the bathrooms, some water or rest on the lawn.
Then you head up a hill to the college on top.

The lagoon on your right has some shorebirds to see,
On your left, there's a low coastal bluff where you'll turn,
And you'll enter the campus of UCSB.
Navigation will now be your major concern.

There are lots of alternative paths left and right,
But you soon figure out that it's easy to find
Where to go, and you're cruising with quiet delight,
Quite enjoying the strange transportation design.

It's apparent to anyone riding this way,
That the students here use and rely on their bikes.
You'll see hundreds of kids on a typical day
On these trails made of crossroads and open turnpikes.

There are two swooping dips, underpasses for streets,
Where the students and you can ride through without fear,
Without needing to stop or to unclick your cleats.
Bikes are part of this campus, respected up here.

You'll pass big parking lots at the college where rows
Upon rows of bikes stand, or are piled in a mess –
All conditions, more bikes than you'd ever suppose.
Are you in mainland China, or mainstream US?

As you're leaving the campus, you turn onto Storke,
And you whiz down the slope to the end of this jaunt.
At the corner of Hollister you'll grab a fork,
To refuel for the trip back; just eat what you want.

There are several places to eat, but my pick:
La Carreta, a sidewalk cafe with great food,
But it's Mexi-Cal, spicy and hot with a kick,
That might sizzle the palate of some eastern dude.

Part 2: Ave Maria Ygnacio!

POW Index

Last updated Oct 5 2005