Monday, March 28, 2011

Century Quest 2011: The Planet Ultra Solvang Double Century...Spring.

This year is turning out to be a very unpredictable one for the weather. It has been hit or miss. The first double of the year ended up being a rainy deluge. Death Valley ended up during a major storm front passage which created storm force winds and dust storms in both directions. Thank God I was able to do the Camino Real Double Staff ride on a beautiful day. We got real lucky because the rains came back soon after.

Solvang turned out to be nasty nasty nasty.

  I got out of bed the morning of the event at 1:30 am. I went to bed before nine but wasn't able to sleep well. (I never do the night before a event). I should have just stayed up!

  I had a rough week. I spent Thursday afternoon in the Kaiser Hospital emergency room worried that I was having heart problems. I was experiencing mild equilibrium problems and shortness of breath while driving to work a couple of times during the week. I felt fine while riding my bike in training. Better safe than sorry they say!

 After getting a battery of tests....EKG, full blood workup, chest X-ray, full bottle of saline in a IV, etc. etc.,
everything turned out perfect. The doctor said he has seen endurance athletes who are over trained sometimes have this type of symptom and I did have the same thing happen about 6 years ago but a little different, (same tests and even a MRI of my head to see if my acoustic tumor was coming back...same results...everything good). Anxiety was a big part of it coupled with too much caffeine.

  I left home for Solvang at two thirty am and had a nice drive the whole way. I love driving in the early morning!!

  The ride start for the Spring event is in Buellton, California, about two miles from Solvang.
Start group just after 5am

  I rolled out with a big group a little after 5am and headed East toward Solvang on Hwy 246. It was cold and the air was damp. It took a long time to get warmed up but I felt real good after about 2 miles. I was wearing full neoprene booties on my feet, a base layer shirt, a jersey, arm warmers, a wind vest, full finger gloves and a wind breaker on top of all that. I wore some real warm leg warmers on my legs. I had neoprene gloves and a rain jacket in my Camel-Bak pack in case it rained.

Heading out of Solvang

  We crossed Hwy 154 and made a big loop around the Santa Ynez Valley until we reached the infamous Foxen Canyon Road. This road is well known on the famous Solvang Century which draws thousands of participants every year. We climbed over what they call "the wall" on Foxen and then we had a nice descent, then some more climbing to the top. We passed the Fess Parker Winery on the way up. Nice place for a tasting!! The coyotes were howling up a storm in the predawn darkness as we climbed. It was eerie!

The above video is of the group I started with climbing Foxen Canyon in the pre-dawn hours.

   Over the top we went. We had a fantastic descent to the first check point in Sisquoc. It was still in the low 40's and damp. It was light now and we could see the storm clouds coming from the North-West, the direction we were going. It didn't look good.

I grabbed some PB&J's, ate one, stuffed one in my pocket, put some liquid food in my bottles and hit the road.

I felt great!! I was able to keep my heart rate below 150 in my aerobic training zone so far with no problem. That was my goal for the whole ride although on the steeper climbs it was not possible. I just paced myself.

A few miles down the road I came across some interesting fellows. Jason Pierce and Ken Emerson. They were riding with a group of guys from the bay area....all on fixed gear bikes. I have know Jason and Ken for years but only in passing on these rides but never formally met them until now.

For those who don't know, a fixed gear bike is just that. One fixed gear.

Ken is middle left and Jason is in the Furnace Creek 508 jersey on his right. Heading into Santa Maria.
A fixed-gear bicycle (or fixed-wheel bicycle, sometimes known in the USA as a fixie) is a bicycle that has no freewheel, meaning it cannot coast — the pedals are always in motion when the bicycle is moving even on descents. I really have to try this sometime. Watching these guys on the climbs was great.

I rode with these guys on and off all the way to San Luis Obispo.

Before hitting Santa Maria we turned right and went up Bull Canyon which was a nice little climb up to Hwy 166. Then it was down to Thompson road which parallels Hwy 101 all the way to Arroyo Grande.

Once in Arroyo Grande it was a slight uphill to the Lake Lopez area before a left turn toward San Luis Obispo. Still no rain yet. Maybe we will be lucky and it wont rain.......NOT!!!

About 2 miles from town, the deluge began. It started raining pretty steady as we pulled into check point two at the Park on Orcutt Road.

Teresa really came prepared....nice rain suit!!!

Time to pull on the rain gear.

Now it really started to pour as we went through San Luis and made our our way to Hwy 1 and Morro Bay.
Rain rain rain all the way through Morro and Los Osos and lunch at the golf course. Then it let up just in time to eat a great sub sandwich.

I saw my pilot friend Paul from Santa Rosa and we talked for a while.

I then started to get the chills so I had to get rolling. It really started to pour as we made our way to Shell Beach, Pismo Beach and Oceano on PCH. From Oceano, in the pouring rain, we climbed up on the mesa that rises above the area. Some pretty tough little climbs in there. It was much nicer climbing in the rain than going fast in it.

Now we hit the mud and muck as we dropped off the mesa toward the town of Guadalupe. All the mud and crap from the farmers tractors was on the road, in our gears, mouths, eyes, nose, pants, shoes...everywhere....many places I wont mention!!

When we pulled into the fourth checkpoint the rain miraculously stopped and the wind stopped. I started to bonk, (glycogen depletion), about 2 miles from the stop and I felt like crap!!!
I did the correct thing. I pounded down 2 sandwiches, finished all my liquid fuel, ate a pack of Cliff Blocks and filled everything back up for the next shlog to Los Alamos.
After about 20 minutes I started feeling great. I had caught it soon enough. If you bonk bad, you cannot recover and it is painful to get through the rest of the ride. It takes a long time to recover.

I headed back out with the fixie guys and stayed with them the rest of the ride.

As soon as we left Guadalupe it started to rain hard again and it pretty much rained the entire way back to the finish. Not to mention we had a head wind all the way to Los Alamos.

This year the course was changed and we took a new route to the finish. The old course had us taking Drum Canyon over the mountain and back to Hwy 246 where we made a left turn and fast ride to the finish in Buelton. The road is very treacherous and full of pot holes especially on the descent.

Ken and Jason climbing Foxen Canyon on their fixies
Instead of Drum Canyon we paralleled the 101 Freeway for a while and made our way to a beautiful and gradual climb, Alisos Canyon.

We took Alisos back to the reverse of the morning descent on Foxen Canyon for a 4 mile climb. Then we had a nice descent before rolling back into Solvang and Hwy 246 for a right turn and 2 mile finish to Buelton.

Man was I wet at the finish! I checked in, talked to the guys for a few minutes and headed to the car. I turned the heater on, warmed up the car, got changed and got a hamburger. Then I hit the road and went home.

I found out later that we missed a turn and rode an extra 2-3 miles longer to get to the finish. Whats a few extra miles when you wet, mucky, muddy, grimy......whooya!! # 94 complete.

Overall time: about 14hrs 25 minutes
Ride time: 12 hrs 44 minutes
Elevation gain: 7,837 feet
Average climb: 2%
Max climb: 10%
From my VDO computer.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Steve,
    It's Ron. Great blog posting. Great to hear that your engine was working fine, so you could endure this nasty nasty ride. Nice to put a face to the name.

    I'm volunteering for DMD, so maybe I'll see you out there. I'm contemplating CCD, only because Davis is same day as the Baldy stage. And maybe I'll see you at Knoxville.