Monday, October 18, 2010

Solvang Fall Double Century

I left home around 3:40 am for the event that starts in Solvang, a quaint little Danish Town in central California not too far north of Santa Barbara.  I had fog and drizzle the whole way on the 2 hour drive to the ride start. I was really hoping it wasn't going to be like that on the whole ride.
After I went through Gaviota Pass conditions got somewhat better and the drizzle stopped.
It was overcast and not too cold at the ride start, The Royal Copenhagen Hotel. Planet Ultra, the event Organizers have used this start location many times. It is right on the main drag into town.

I went in and checked in for the ride and opted to do the second start time. They had two start time windows. 6am and 6:45 am (first light).
I hung out with a few friends at check in before getting my bike ready for the roll-out.

I saw my friend, Bruno at the start and we ended up riding together the whole ride. Bruno supported me on the last 150 miles or so of the Grand Tour Triple Century Staff Ride this year. I  had a great time on the ride thanks to his support.

 I really wasn't sure how I would feel on this day after suffering on the Bass Lake Double the weekend before.
We talked outside for a while and then lined up for the check out procedure. Planet Ultra has a incredible new computer chip program for tracking the riders times. They didn't give us the chips this time due to a smaller number of riders but they used the system to load our start time and finish time so the results come up immediately and are computed instantly. All we had to do is give our ride number at the start and finish and the system did the rest.
The 6am starters rolling out.

We rolled out with the really fast guys and stayed with them on the little loop section which takes us around the outskirts of Solvang. We then ended up back on Highway 246 Eastbound and made our way out of town and into the beautiful Santa Inez Valley, some of the best wine and ranching country in the world.
Heading East on hwy 246

After our little tour of Santa Inez we headed up Foxen Canyon. This climb took us past many wineries including that of the late Fess Parker.
After we crested the long climb up Foxen we had a fantastic descent to the first check point at mile mile 41.5 in Siscuoc.

Chris with Saralie and Bruno talking in the rear.
 On the way down I ran into my friends Chris and Saralie. They had just finished a 600 kilometer, non-stop, event just a week before from Salinas to Moorpark, Ca.  Awesome!!

We then climbed up onto the Santa Maria Mesa. It was harvesting time so there was allot going on in the vineyards along this section of the route.
Santa Maria Mesa

Bruno on Tepusquet Cyn

After rolling through the vineyards for awhile we made our way to our second climb of the day at mile 48.4, Tepusquet Canyon. This is a really beautiful canyon climb!
  Bruno and I were feeling great with the cool weather so far. It was a 9.1 mile climb and then a 5.6 mile descent. The descent to Hwy 166 was narrow and technical at times but nice and smooth.

Hwy 166 goes from Maricopa in the San Joaquin Valley to Santa Maria.

Heading west on 166 we came to check point two at mile 63.9. I put some fuel in my engine, (liquid Perpetuam, PBJ and some electrolytes) as we didn't stay long.

There were some beautiful bridge crossings on 166 as we went over rivers and gorges.

We had a small head wind heading west but it wasn't too bad as we had some small hills and descents on the way until a nice drop into Santa Maria.
Now we turned north and traversed  Hwy 101 until we turned north-east toward Lopez Lake. It was then a left turn toward San Luis Obispo and the lunch stop at mile 105.

Along the way we hooked up with a couple on their tandem who had come all the way from Colorado for the ride. They were pulling a large group of riders with them in a train so we just tagged along for the ride.

At lunch I saw my cousin Ken and his wife Terry who I told about the ride. Ken and Terry live in Morro Bay and they came out to say hi. It was great as I hadn't seen them in quite some time.

I also saw another friend, Mike who lives in San Luis Obispo. He stopped by to say hi. It was great. The timing worked out really well as far as meeting them. I wish I had more time to sit around and talk. I really didn't want to cool down too long before the grunt of a climb which was to come in a few miles.

Bruno and I look like happy campers don't we?
We sat down and had a sandwich along with a mountain dew which really perked me up. My legs were really burning from pushing pretty hard on the first hundred miles. We did the first hundred in under 6 hours. (rolling time). 6:11 when we got to the lunch at mile 105. The thought was going through my head that I may have pushed too hard and may not be recovered from Bass Lake last week where I went out way  to fast at the beginning.

Prefumo Canyon
 After lunch I felt fantastic!! The legs felt strong as we made our way into Los Osos and the infamous Prefumo Canyon Road. 3.8 miles to the summit with sections from 10 to 13%, ouch!


This was the warmest part of the whole ride as it got to about 78 degrees on the road. I geared down and just paced myself up.


We had a beautiful view of San Luis from one side and of Morro Bay as we got to the summit.

Morro Bay
 After going through a water stop and checkpoint at the top, we started our descent toward the South. The first part was down a dirt and gravel section before we really had a nice descent to San Luis Bay Drive and Avila Beach Drive, mile 123.7.

Next... Pismo Beach.
On the way to Pismo there was a terrible accident on our route so the Highway Patrol put us up onto Hwy 101 South for awhile to get us past the accident. We actually just blew by all the slow traffic as we made it to the Pacific Coast Hwy off ramp and went into Pismo Beach.

Our paceline blowing by traffic on the 101....wooohoooo!!!
Now we had a pretty good pace line going and we blew through Pismo and Oceano.
We veered right and started the climb up onto the mesa which in the past can be tough due to the sun beating down on you as you climb. Today we had nice cool temps and it wasn't bad at all!

We went through a number of ups and downs on the mesa before dropping down to check point #4 at Leroy Park in Guadalupe, Mile 145. We still had some challenging climbs ahead so I fueled up well and filled one bottle with liquid fuel. It really started to look like it was going to rain.

We stayed on Hwy 1 for awhile with a mild tail wind to our turn on Black Road, mile 153.6.
We had one climb to start on Black, then a nice descent for awhile and then a rather tough climb, (any climb seems hard at this point), up into the Vandenberg Air Force Base area then another real nice descent. On this climb the drizzle started and we started to get wet, but it wasn't cold at all.
We turned on San Antonio road and made our way to the Vandenberg Grade on Hwy 1, mile 164.5.
Before getting to the grade we thought someone was shooting at us. All of a sudden there was automatic weapons fire coming from our right and we almost jumped off our bikes. Was I just hallucinating or was it real? That happens once in a while. The mind plays tricks.
We discovered it was real as we came to a sign that said, "Military Target Range" or something to that affect.
Luckily they weren't pointed in our direction.
Rainy and dark as the sunlight disappears on Vandenberg Grade to the Air Force Base.

Over the top and over a few rolling hills into Lompoc and the final check point at River Park Campground, mile 178.

We continued on Hwy 1 to Santa Rosa Road for a eastbound trek back into Solvang. There was still a little over 1000 feet of climbing to do but at this point it doesn't matter.  Only about 20 damp and dark miles from the finish. It was just getting dark when we made our turn on Santa Rosa. The drizzle was intensifying but it still wasn't really that cold. Bruno and I felt really great on this last section.
We rolled into Buelton. 3 miles to go!!!

We finished real strong and Bruno said it was his fastest double!

Thanks to Debbie and the crew at Planet Ultra for a great event as usual. (The course markings on the road were fantastic this year!)
Thanks to all the volunteers who made our ride so pleasurable!

Thanks to Bruno for the camaraderie!


Miles 201.1
Overall time: 13:17
On Bike rolling time: 12:17
Elevation Gain: 10,566 ft.
Average grade: 3%
Maximum grade: 13%

The link to all my pictures of the ride:

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