California Dreaming

We have been home for a week but it took at least 5 days for reality to set in and dreams of quitting our jobs and moving to California to subside.  Although we've been to NoCal and SoCal in the past for cycling vacations, this trip was perfect and we extended our stay to the last possible moment.  We hadn't taken more than a couple days off since last year's xmas trip to Tuscany and with work schedules, we couldn't confirm our plans for the Santa Ynez valley until  a week out, but it all came together like a dream.

Ready for Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

To catch you up from my last post, we had a fast & fun early xmas weekend with my parents.  They drove into town and we immediately headed to Park City for Joe & Kelly's annual party.  My Mom and I are fierce competitors when it comes to Scrabble, so we snuck in a game before bed.  She's is playing on FB daily and has stepped up her game, so the pressure was on.  On Saturday, we did a pre-Sundance tour (they are volunteering again this year), neighborhood hike, and then out for thai dinner and a xmas concert.  We also celebrated an early xmas with the neighborhood at Chad & Emily's party and then the next morning started the drive to California.

We arrived in Santa Ynez Wednesday afternoon and immediately unloaded the bikes for a ride, the 1st of 9 over the next 10 days.  The weather was amazing with temps in the 60-70s and nothing but blue sky and bright sunshine.  We took our arm warmers, leg warmers, and vests each day but rarely needed them.  We spent 2 nights in Santa Ynez, then headed north to Avila Beach for 3 nights, and then back to Santa Ynez for 5.
Perfect California Weather for December Riding
If time and money weren't an issue, we would have likely returned to Italy this year, and were in awe when we pulled into our place in Santa Ynez.  The internet pictures hadn't done the "Italian cabana on a private vineyard with spa" justice and we were ecstatic.
Vineyard & Spa - View from Italian Cabana
Although, we were familiar with the Santa Ynez Valley (SYV) from a previous trip to Solvang, we hadn't been to the San Luis Obispo (SLO) area and were very impressed.  It is a no-brainer why Karen and Rob moved there from SLC a few months ago.  We spent a couple evenings with them and had a great time talking and meeting their newborn Finley.  We woke up each morning on the Pacific Ocean with waves crashing and fell asleep to unbelievable sunsets.
Avila Beach Sunset - View from Hotel Room
We aren't typical tourists, our trips revolve around our rides and we get to know the community from the road.  We started each day with granola, stretching/yoga, reading (hardly any internet access the entire trip!), then we would make baguette sandwiches and start riding.  We made sure to return 30min before sunset in order to stretch, sit in the hot tub, and have a glass of wine before dinner.  We went out for nice meals each night and spent time meeting the locals and enjoying the cuisine.

I could write for hours about our trip, but will tell the rest of the story in photos.
Bocce Court next to Cabana - good post ride stretching activity
Foxen Canyon Rd - Looking like a Pro
Avila Beach - I was so happy with my new bike fit!
Lunch Break - Paso Robles
Christmas Eve Photo Op
Christmas Morning on the Beach
Merry Christmas
Those aren't rocks, they're Elephant Seals - Hwy101
Coming onshore - great entertainment
Somebody had a lot of fun on the winding California roads.
See Canyon Rd  = 20% + and a gravel section!
Prefumo Canyon Rd - Great Climb, Beautiful Views
Lunch Break - Santa Rosa Rd
Yet another Vineyard View
Figueroa Mountain Rd - Epic Ride!
Post-Ride Coffee & Chai at the BullDog Cafe
9 Rides in 10 Days = Tired Legs