Monday, March 24, 2014

2014 Solvang Double Century Spring Edition




The Solvang Double Century is one of my favorites. I have been doing it on many different courses since the 90's with a number of different organizers.

It is run during the perfect time of year, in the early spring, so the weather conditions are generally favorable.


After a few years of nasty weather conditions, (rain, unseasonably strong headwinds heading east bound, etc...etc.), Mother Nature finally blessed us with great conditions for this beautiful ride.

I carpooled to the ride in the wee hours of the morning with very good friend and soon to be Triple Crown Hall of Fame inductee, Teresa (Tiger) Beck. Teresa and I started riding tandem together in the fall of last year. She is a wonderful and very strong tandem partner.

The ride start is in Buellton California just a few miles west of Solvang at the Marriott Hotel. We arrived around 5:30am.

On this second ride, of four strait double centuries in four weeks for both of us, I was riding my single bike again like last week.

Teresa was riding tandem again. This time with new tandem captain, Richard Hoff. Richard is from the Fresno area and a fellow 100 double club member. He is a very, very strong rider.


Richard and Teresa ready to roll

We checked in at the start and chatted with friends for a little bit before starting at just about 6:40am.




Mike getting ready to start. This was his 100th Triple Crown Double Century!!  Congratulations Mike. He is from the Arizona Bull Shifters Club.

Teresa with Roland Hoffman. Her tandem captain on last weeks brutal Joshua Tree Double wind-fest

Teresa and Margaret

I decided I was going to try and stay with Teresa and Richard for as long as I could. I had no idea, having not ridden with them on tandem before, whether this would be difficult or easy. I have never had trouble staying with a tandem team before. It would all depend on how good they climb hills together. At just over 170 pounds, I am not a strong climber.

The spring Solvang course was shorted a little this year due to road construction but, at about 192 miles, is still considered a double. There are a few climbs on the course but most of them are rolling, tandem friendly, roads.



It was just before sunrise when we rolled through Solvang. We kept a nice steady pace through town and to our turn on Hwy 154 (San Marcos Pass Road).

Here we go.....Oh Boy!!

Rolling through Solvang

Rolling through Solvang

We then picked up the pace and had a beautiful spin through the Santa Inez Valley before turning on Foxen Canyon. The weather was cool and cloudy at this point with the temps in the mid 40’s.

Speeding up Foxen Canyon with some very strong riders

I decided to try and get a video of Richard and Teresa climbing the infamous “Wall” on Foxen. Surely....being on a tandem...they would slow down considerably so I could just cruise in a low gear and video their climbing prowess!!


This is when I knew I would be in trouble if I didn’t stay on top of it as for as pushing hard on the hills. This was not going to be an easy day on the bike!!!
Look at the guys ahead of me chasing to try and catch Tiger and Richard on the tandem. These are strong guys and look at them having to put the hammer down just to catch them.

I geared down....got the GoPro out....looked up....and .......crap.....they were hauling ass up that wall and hardly anyone could stay with them.....on a tandem!!
I’m screwed....I thought but I took a few pics, then I nearly blew myself up and got totally into my anaerobic zone (according to my heart monitor), trying to catch them before the descent. If they got too far ahead, it would be all over!!!

They let up a little at the top I think and our group pretty much descended together. I passed most of the riders in our little train and slowly got up to the tandem. My bike descends very well and fast and I can usually stay with a tandem if I can stay in the slip stream. The problem is that I don’t have the gearing to pedal fast enough to catch one that is fully in all out racing mode on a descent.

We did a little bit more climbing to get up to the summit of Foxen Canyon. Now we had an e-ticket, gradual descent down to the first rest stop in Sisquoc. We flew down the canyon road and by the time we reached the stop, and even with the climbing so far, we were averaging 19mph.
Teresa had my camera for a while. Got a great shot of our train


Another Fresno tandem joins the mix

Signaling to move into the front of the pace line just in time to climb Bull Canyon

I was feeling great now, rolling through the vineyards and growing fields just east of Santa Maria. We rolled through the area extremely fast to the next small climb which was Bull Canyon. Those guys again just attacked that hill as we were joined by another tandem from the Fresno area, friends of Richard.

We turned left on Hwy 166 and then right to parallel the 101 freeway on our way to San Luis Obispo. This was an awesome tandem course through this section. Flat to rolling terrain. We just motivated through here and our average got very close to 20mph.
Heading toward San Luis Obispo

Heading toward San Luis Obispo


Heading toward San Luis Obispo

I got a great video of just how smooth Richard and Teresa are on the tandem. Remember....they had never ridden this particular bike together before and have not ridding together on a double century before. It was impressive to watch.



We rolled into check point two in San Luis Obispo averaging about 19.5mph at the time.

I stripped the cool weather gear off, filled the water bottles and ate a sandwich then we were off.
I could tell by this point that I made a mistake not bringing my camel bac hydration pack.
Since I have slight balance problems due to my tumor removal, I had a considerable amount of trouble just getting to my food and bottles in the blazing fast pace line when following the tandem. (I was getting behind on my fluid and food intake and I could feel it). That train was not going to slow down for me and I knew it.
I told Richard at the start not to worry about me because I am the type of rider that is steady, normally, and does not like a racing pace. I was going to stay with them as long as I could.

I could really feel I was lacking something as we climbed out of check point two. My legs were on fire.
(Could it be I did not have enough recovery time from the brutal Joshua Tree event the prior weekend? Not a valid excuse though. Richard and Teresa had both done that event also. )

We rolled through San Luis Obispo and had to stop at a few lights which helped me recover a bit.
We rolled up Hwy 1 in a long pace line, picking up people along the way. I don’t remember the last time I did that stretch so fast. Probably years ago on the tandem with Vince in the 90’s. Richard and Teresa were on a mission!!!.

Kirsten just hammering up PCH/Hwy 1, with Ed and yours truly hanging on for dear life behind the tandem
When we turned toward Los Osos and lunch they let up the pace some and we all go a little breather for a few minutes.
Heading into Los Osos

Los Osos

Again....Teresa and Richard just flew up this. It was a beautiful climb. I hope they keep it for next year!!

I dropped off a little bit then caught up.

Over a few hills and we were at lunch. Along this final stretch to lunch we rolled past many friends some of which, sucked it up, and stayed with us into lunch.

My friend Ron Ng from the bay area got this great video from right behind me just burning and suffering in our train as we rolled down Los Osos Valley Road to lunch. I was really hurting for fuel at this point. I was hoping I could recover enough at lunch to stay with the group.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=st2yK1YdGYs&feature=youtu.be

Ron rode as part of our party train in 2011 when I did the Grand Tour Highland course as my 100th double century. Thanks Ron for the great video to commemorate my day back then and the great one this year.

I had a coke and a sandwich, talked to many friends for a short time, then mounted the steed for another ride on the tandem train.
Ron and Teresa goofing off at lunch

We took it easy for a while then started pushing pretty well for the coast at Pismo Beach.
The train heading into Shell Beach




We got through the local traffic ok and headed into Oceano. We were really rolling good.

Now......the climbs up the Mesa, through all the rolling hills on the mesa and down to Guadalupe for check point 4.

Through this section I somehow got knocked out of the pace line draft and the tandem was gone. I could see that I was catching up when one of the hills would come up but then they would take off on the descents. I always had them in veiw but could not catch them until I reached Guadalupe.
 My back was starting to act up so I did a lot of stretching here hoping that it would work its way out.
Left to right: Ron Hanson, Teresa, Roland and Richard. Guadalupe Check point and ready to roll.

We did not stay long and Richard wanted to leave with another tandem Captained by Craig Robertson. A gigantic group left together for Los Alamos.

We now had a great tail wind. I knew that if Richard tried to stay with Craig, I would be a goner. That is one of the fastest tandem teams out there and my back was killing me. The group must have been doing close to 30mph when I decided to just go at my own pace and dial it back. After all....I had a nice tail wind so it was quite pleasurable out there solo for a change. I could see them up in the distance most of the time.

After I got about half way to the next stop in Los Alamos, I started recovering from my back issues and from getting behind on fluid and fuel intake. I was feeling great and I started passing people who were starting to lag. Most of them were in the tandem group with me prior to me backing off the pace.

I rolled into Los Alamos not too long behind the tandems. I was still averaging 19mph to my amazement!!

I talked to my friend Nicole for a little bit about our upcoming Mulholland Double Century Staff Ride coming up the following Friday. She was going to be riding it along with Teresa and I on tandem plus a group of friends who will be working the event the second weekend in April. We were going to pre-ride the course.

I told Teresa and Richard not to worry about me and to go ahead.

I had some soup and a soda, stretched and was on my way.

Only a few more climbs to go and we would be back at the finish.

From Los Alamos we had a nice gradual climb up the beautiful Alisos Canyon. Wineries and oak trees were the norm on this final stretch. It was beautiful and it looked like I would be finishing with plenty of daylight left.
Alisos Canyon

Alisos Canyon

We turned right on to Foxen canyon which we came down earlier in the day. I was really feeling strong now and had recovered. The final grunt up to the summit of Foxen was not bad.

Heading up Foxen Canyon

Heading up Foxen Canyon
I couldn’t help but think about doing the Solvang Century way back in the day before I started doing double centuries. The climb up Foxen canyon on the return to Solvang used to kill me with 90 miles in my legs. Here I was at 184 miles into a double century, now at almost age 62, and it seemed easy? Hmmm....guess all these years paid off.

I bombed down past the Fess Parker Winery to Zaca Station road for the turn on Hwy 154 east bound. Another turn on Foxen Canyon with a short little kicker of a hill and it was the home stretch.
A wine tasting tour bus passing me near Fess Parker's place on the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail
A beautiful descent down toward Solvang and Buellton just before my flat tire.

On this final stretch back to Buellton, I got a flat tire. Darn I was feeling so good and if it were not for all the hills and turns, I might be able to see Teresa and Richard up ahead.
I fixed it quickly and rolled to the finish.

I finished my 121st Triple Crown Event a little bit before 6pm for a personal best on my single bike for this event. Teresa and Richard finish just under 15 minutes ahead of me. Thanks guys for the pull  for 140 miles or so.

Time on the bike:        10:22
Elapsed time:              11:22
Average speed:           18.5mph
First 100 miles: 5:13
Final 92 miles:  5:08
















































All the GPS info at :  http://connect.garmin.com/activity/466178379

Thanks go out to Planet Ultra and all the volunteers for such a great event.

Full Race Results Below

http://planetultra.racemine.com/Planet-Ultra/events/2014/Solvang-Double-Century/results

Check out the links I highlighted in my story for some awesome wine tasting in the area. This area has some of the best wines in the world. A great place to spend a weekend.

4 comments:

  1. Nice write up. Thanks for the shoutout, and it was good to see you on that train into lunch.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow. Nice writeup. I can't believe how fast you are. I'm happy just to survive this ride.How you ride so fast AND make photos is amazing. Here' my much shorter less detailed blog post on that double. I rode slower, made fewer photos and wrote less. I have a lot of catching up to do i gues! http://ccorlew.blogspot.com/2014/03/solvang-double-century-2014.html

    ReplyDelete
  3. Fantastic ride for you, Steve. Thanks for the blog, I enjoy hearing your experience out there on these rides.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great recap of a FABULOUS day on the saddle! I do enjoy your blogs my friend! Ride on.....with tailwinds always! ~Roland

    ReplyDelete