Santa Barbara

Part 2: Ave Maria Ygnacio!

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.

After breakfast and coffee, it's back on the road,
Just reversing your course till you're miles down the track.
Past the college, downhill to the beach, where your mode
Shifts to race as a tailwind eggs on your attack.

You're more likely to meet racers training out here
Than you are on the beach or on bike paths downtown;
'Cause these trails are so fast that the miles disappear
As they ride with their visions of winning a crown.

When you come to the first intersection, you slow,
And Maria Ygnacio beckons you, 'Turn'.
So you stop and you pull out your map; you don't know
Where this side trail might take you, but soon you will learn.

Santa Barbara passes out hundreds of maps
Of its network of trails, color coded by name,
Which are free at the bike shops, and markets perhaps;
They deliver what most cities only proclaim.

I don't know who Maria Ygnacio was,
(Some crusader or maybe some ranch owner's mate?)
But you may well remember her (or him?) just because
Of the namesakes, a creek and a trail that's first rate.

On the maps, it's not much, just an orange colored Y,
Maybe three or four miles all in all at the most,
Kinda short, not too clear where it goes, much less why,
But Maria is well worth the turn off the Coast.

On your ride up the coast you were heading somewhere,
With a very clear goal and a schedule perhaps,
But the plan coming back's not about 'getting there',
It's just cruising, exploring and riding some laps.

So you turn from the Coast Route and head up this track
That was made just to serve as a fun place to ride.
There's a slight slope at first, much more fun coming back,
But the path is delightful as upward you glide.

You shift down to a moderate gear and you spin
And you cruise up the hill to an odd little place,
Where the freeway stands high up above you; the din
Isn't loud, but you're glad that you're not in that race.

There's a huge slab of concrete, a frail wooden fence;
On your left down below is an algae steaked pond.
It might cause some concern for some long wheelbased bents,
But you smile as the bridge frames the mountains beyond.

As you roll through the shade by the creek on your quest,
There are bridges, one steep little grunt and some bends.
Near the top an arroyo drops off to the west,
Where the path on the levee above quickly ends.

There are numerous options and ways to connect
To the other named trails that come up from below.
Some meandering loops, and a few more direct;
You can choose one or two from the map and just go.

You can ride on these trails making loops quite a while,
And still find that there's more unexplored, waiting track,
Though you've held a good pace, covered many a mile,
But it's time to return now; you start heading back.

You ride home via downtown, on quiet back ways,
And on broad busy roads that have wide cycle lanes,
Past some neat little shops and some sidewalk cafes,
By an old-fashioned depot with real working trains.

It may seem very strange, but the cars seem aware
Of your presence, accepting your place on the street.
You will rarely if ever get honked at up there.
At the stop signs they'll wave you ahead; it's a treat.

As you roll through the city and back to the beach,
It feels nice just to cruise at a leisurely pace.
You may whisper 'Nice Town'– not a figure of speech,
But the truth, plain and simple: a very nice place.

There's a sense of involvement, that most people care
For the planet, each other and keeping their town
At the top of those lists that try hard to compare
All the qualities needed for civic renown.

There's a feeling you get in this town when you ride,
That the city inspires an unusual zest
In its townsfolk and tourists, an odd civic pride,
That they've met their commitments; they're doing their best.

Santa Barbara's nice, overall – but for bikes,
It is one of those places you just have to love:
Lots of trails and a climate that everyone likes –
Soft sea breezes, cool mornings, the mountains above.

As you're leaving the beach, you'll turn off to the right
Up a hill by a graveyard, past perfect green grounds,
Where the road ends, but cycles go on, to the sight
Of the ocean beyond little low, rolling mounds.

A small bluff that's eroded slopes down to the sand
Of a beach that seems very exclusive, somehow;
On your left's a hotel that's so ritzy and grand,
It is hard to resist softly whispering, "WOW!"

Now, Hotel California doesn't exist,
But the theme must have come from a real hotel,
And the Biltmore is right at the top of my list
Of potential candidates – even its bell.

Then you're riding away from the beach; your feet churn
Up the hill, and it's hard in this megabucks 'hood
Not to feel like you somehow have made a wrong turn.
But it's cool, and you're going the way that you should.

If you followed the Coast Route and kept going east,
Through the streets past the homes, turning left and then right,
You'd pop onto the highway to climb up a beast
Known as Ortega Hill (and by names less polite).

But today you'll go straight on up Olive Mill Road,
Then turn left to the place where you started your ride
You'll remember your favorite spots as you load
Up your cycle, and maybe you'll quickly decide:

That you 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 you'd much rather be.

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Last updated Sep 10 2007