Monday, March 11, 2013

Solvang Century 2013 Ride Report


Solvang Century 2013 Ride Report
The Solvang century is an annual bike ride that starts in the trademark city of Solvang, the Danish capital of America. The ride goes east to Lompoc, up to Santa Maria, over to Los Olivos and back down to Solvang. It's a 100 mile ride, and a very tough one! I've done this ride since 2006, and it'd become an A priority event because it's my favorite ride of the year! This year I rode with Jason F, a Santa Maria local, whom I had raced with several times. We started at the traditional Canyon Velo / Cycles Veloce location. We had a small Canyon Velo turnout, only Rob, Dennis, and Charlie showed up. It turned out a couple others rode too, but showed up late. I was the only one representing Cycles Veloce this year. Unfortunately Mark couldn't make it, and he was missed. I had done the ride with him the past 3 years. We rolled down to the official start, and we were off. Even at the start the temperature was fairly warm for a March Solvang morning, at about 50*. It was windy from the start, as we rode west. We started off at a moderate pace. When we got onto Santa Rosa road Jason did a good job of getting everybody into a drafting rotation to maximize our efficiency. We averaged about 21 MPH to the first rest stop in Lompoc. We rode through the stop and continued along at a moderate pace for a couple miles while we ate some energy bars. When we got to Cabrillo highway where we would normally turn right, we continued on straight, but were stopped at a light. Before it turned green, the Fast Friday group rolled up next to us. When the light turned green, the pace picked up. Jason kept at the front for a while, and then fell in line behind. I stayed in the draft and pulled a few times when it was my turn, but I wanted to save as much energy as possible. We were headed directly west again, the the wind was in our face. It was 15-20mph. This year the route was changed to go through Vandenberg air force base. This was nice for traffic, which was almost nonexistent, compared to riding on open roads and highway one for a while. But the downside was that there was about 3 times as much climbing, and perhaps less protection from the wind. This was the toughest part of the ride and wore me out quite a bit. When we left the base they stopped us all at the guard shack and took our IDs and checked them off a list. We're not sure if this was for their security, or for ride organizers purpose. When we got off the base we had another climb which was about 4%. I was dying on this and came close to getting dropped. I was so miserable at this point. I had been fighting wind for 40+ miles and it was tiring. My legs felt sore and ached, and at some times my heart rate was rather low, but my let's refused to perform. I managed to stay on and then we had a decent and some rolling hills. The typical ride around the airport was slower this time because we were still fighting wind. We passed the rest stop since we hadn't registered for the ride and instead stopped at a gas station a few miles later. We filled up our bottles and I got a couple of energy bars and a monster drink. As we were finishing our short break the fast Friday group was at the traffic light. I said lets go and we hopped on our bikes. I had been tired, but led the chase with Jason and another rider behind me. I bridged up pretty quick and sat in, satisfied. Jason was surprised I could do that, and I was too, but I knew that this was our ticket home and we didn't want to lose them. Jason was still strong, and got a little ways ahead of us with another rider on Dominion road. We closed the gap on the downhill and motored through the Sisquoc food stop. From there we had a good peloton that rotated through and we were holding a good pace around 22 MPH. It wasn't easy, but I was feeling a world of difference in my legs. Maybe it was the food, or just the motivation to finish the remaining 45 miles strong. We had three climbs remaining. The first climb on Foxen Canyon road is over half a mile and 8.3% grade. I got up it second. Then we had a long downhill which we made good use of. Several miles later was the Wall, a half mile climb of about 7.7%, but looks meaner because you can see all of it from the bottom. At this point, my mind is in the final stretch mode because we are very close to the end because the pace is so fast. Our last climb is up the back side of Ballard Canyon road in Los Olivos, half a mile, 5%. After that it’s all downhill with a few rollers. We were motoring, taking turns pulling and trying to make the best time possible. This was very fun. The last 40 miles actually felt like a race because we were finally moving with some significant speed and working our rotation in the peloton. We were lead elite group, and probably had the fastest time. Jason and I tied for the KOM on Strava. As we rolled across the finish line I threw my arms in the air proud of what I had accomplished. 100 miles is tough work and takes all your physical effort and mental strength. Justin and George finished shortly after us. Unfortunately they had missed us at the start by a few minutes. They did a great job as well!

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