Refugio Rd, pronounced as the title of this post by locals for some odd reason, is the most obscure climb in the Santa Barbara area. Given that it begins, literally, at the ocean and climbs straight up for over 4,000′ it’s odd that it’s not on more cyclist’s radar, especially given this is now one of the more famous training destinations in the country.
Yesterday I tackled it from the valley side, which is even more rarely done because it’s dirt. But I’m looking at linking a long ride here in the fall and this was an important part of the recon. My observations upon rattling down this climb on my CX bike is that my concoction is going to be rather painful and, perhaps, down right stupid. At least, however, I’m certain about which direction I’ll be tackling this climb in.
The Refugio climb goes up a saddle between Santa Ynez and the ocean, then heads south and connects with Broadcast Peak, the highest point on the coastal range above Santa Barbara. With some knobby tires, you can continue along a dirt road on the ridge to West Camino Cielo, which then links all the way to Gibraltar Road. The standard road ride is an out and back beginning at Refugio State Beach. For a pleasurable experience, I’ll recommend the latter.
This is only a quarter of the big loop I’d like to ride. For now, however, I’ll keep those plans on ice. For one, I’ve still got some off-road details to sort out to ensure my loop is even ridable. Then I’ve got to gain some fitness and toughness if I’m going to handle yesterday’s type of beating for 13 or 14 hours.