Gibraltar Road meanders up the rocky and rugged Santa Ynez Mountains with almost no regard to pitch or direction—it’s steep when we need respite and the gradient eases long after our legs start begging for mercy. The climb really starts at the sharp, banked turn onto Mountain Drive, just after the Santa Barbara Mission, but it doesn’t officially count until nearly ten minutes later when we pass the mailboxes at the intersection of Cielito and Gibraltar. The climb then kicks up with a vengeance.
Image by Jordan Clark Haggard
At the first wide, swooping right hander after Mount Calvary Monastery, we get a sweeping view over Santa Barbara Harbor (where a yearly marina slip will run six figures) to the distant Channel Islands—the Galapagos of North America as they are often called. As the road twists across the shale rock face of the Santa Ynez and we slow to a manageable climbing tempo, the pace of our breathing picks up.
Once we reach a section protected by concrete crash barriers, views to the south poke their heads over the horizon, including the towns of Carpinteria and Ventura; even the Malibu mountains are visible through the Pacific coastline mist toward the City of Angels. A gentle breeze then picks up from the west and we’re pushed along the tarmac, ever closer to the skyline.