Shell Beach > Solvang (77.25 miles)

6:30 wake up. A bigger day was in store, and I wanted to get a jump on it.

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The roll out on this segment follows coastal surface streets in the narrow stretch between Highway 101 and the beach. I made my way through Shell Beach, Pismo Beach and Oceano. After a night of rain showers, it was sunny and warm.

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At Oceano, the route turned inland and the scenery changed from retirement RV parks to strawberry and lettuce fields. Big time agriculture.

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It must have been the sweet smell of strawberries that distracted me from the road debris. Third flat of the trip. It was a quick fix, and I was once again on my way.

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The sky was interesting and ever changing with shifting cloud patterns. I had fun watching them as I moved through Santa Maria en route to Los Olivos.

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Heading East from Santa Maria, Betteravia road turns into a dreamy thing called Foxen Canyon Road. This jewel is a lovely, meandering, smooth and quiet road that stretches on and on and gradually leaves behind big agriculture to embrace vineyards and wineries.

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I had fun following the light and shadow patterns as they traveled across the fields and rolling hills.

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 "Traffic" consisted of about a dozen cyclists and several cars for 20 miles or so. It was nice to have the road to myself. I felt free to take pictures from my bike without a consistent whir of trucks, cars and motorcycles.

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There were a couple of small but steep "bumps" that tested my legs just before Los Olivos. I was almost sorry they weren't a more robust test; I was feeling great. However, I was happy when the climbs gave way to a super descent. Top speed with a 75 pound bike — 45mph.

After a quick stop in the cute little wine town of Los Olivos and a chat with fellow cyclists, I moved on to Solvang, just a pocket full of miles down the road.

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Solvang is interesting. With its faux Dutchiness, it's borderline Disneylandish. The windmills may not really turn, but the community is cozy.