Gilbraltar Road and Painted Cave–Santa Barbara Ride Report

Gilbraltar Road and Painted Cave Loop
Monday, 17 Sep 2012
Bob Proulx had to drop off his daughter at UC Santa Cruz.  I had a consulting strategy session in Pismo Beach.  We decided to meet in Santa Barbara on our way back home to do a local ride.  I headed up the CA coast on Saturday afternoon and arrived at my hotel in Pismo Beach pretty late.  Bob packed up the trailer Saturday afternoon and left very early Sunday morning for the 8 hour drive to Santa Cruz.  I had work to do most of the day Sunday and then a business dinner.  I did get a chance for a quick run along the beach and coastal trails near Pismo.  Bob rose very early on Monday after unpacking the trailer the previous night.  He drove to Santa Barbara.  I left Pismo a bit later and caught up with Bob just before we got to SB. 
We went to Hazard Cyclesport on Anacapa Street to get last minute guidance on the route to Gilbraltar Road.  They offered a local map that showed the roads leading to the climb and guided us to Sambo’s, down by the pier, for a bite to eat.  We ended up parking just off of State St in downtown SB and got ready to ride.  We rolled about 11 am.  It was still a bit cool and cloudy in downtown SB but we could see the bright skies up above in the mountains.  Our route went up Olive St and cut over to Laguna St and then up to the Santa Barbara Mission.  The loop on the north side of the park took us on Mountain Road to the start of the climb of Gilbraltar. 
The climb was immediately up as it curved up into Rattlesnake Canyon.  There was very little car traffic and we only saw one rider.  A guy passed us moving quickly up the climb.  I started after him for a bit of a chase but wisely decided that at the first mile of the climb I needed to relax and enjoy the miles ahead with Bob.  We kept up a nice comfortable pace as the road weaved and curved back up into the mountain; it got steeper as we got closer to the top.  The sun was out and skies bright blue but it was not too warm. 
Gilbraltar to La Cumbre, the top of the climb, is an 8 mile Strava HC segment.  This is part of East Camino Cielo road heading north along the ridge of the Santa Ynez Mountains.  The climb topped out and began a beautiful smooth road that eventually descended down some as we connected to the top of Painted Cave Road.  Bob and I took it very conservatively along this road since we were unfamiliar with it and I was still a bit gun shy to get too aggressive due to my fall from the previous week.  Painted Cave was very narrow, with lots of curves and very steep.  There is a cool forested overhang section that got dark as we descended down.  Our conservative approach required plenty of braking.  About halfway down my right brake seemed to get very loose and almost bend far forward.  If fact my right side handlebar cracked and broke off underneath the tape.  This was a result of my fall last week and all the braking pressure.  I had limited rear breaking for the last part of the ride.
We crossed over state route 154 and descended down a less steep section of Painted Cave with a few more tight turns, down to Cathedral Oaks Road.  We took the Crosstown bike route through neighborhoods and along Modoc Road to head back towards the cars.  I got a flat that we quickly fixed and then we cruised back through downtown.  Our ride was about 36 miles with almost 5,000 feet of climbing.  Most of the climbing was in the first 20 miles.  We were both exhilarated and tired.  We changed and then headed over to SB Brewing Company for a cold beer.  Great riding experience.
There are tons of rides in the local area and the route we took could have been extended up to the Gilbraltar Reservoir, farther to the east.  We need to consider a Descenders trip to SB for a long weekend.  It will be worth the adventure.  Here are a few photos of our fun day riding in Santa Barbara.
Ride on-

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