I did it. Bike Ride Profile | 101 miles near Solvang | Times and Records | Strava
This was my third attempt, and second completion of a century ride. The first attempt, the Temecula Century in 10/2013, was just one climb too many, and I took a shortcut to the end at mile eighty. That had been my biggest one day climbing ride to date, 5000 ft., and longest distance. Six weeks later, I did the Bike the Coast. This involved a lot less climbing, and I was determined to achieve my goal of a century by the end of the year. I finished that with gas left in the tank. It was then that I decided to register for Solvang.
This is probably one of the most well-known rides in the West. Popular too. It is the first ride I have done that was distant enough to require getting a hotel, which I almost failed to do. Solvang and the neighboring towns were booked solid by late December. Had I not found a granny flat for rent in Buellton, I would have had to drive to the start from Santa Maria, or Santa Barbara.
Training for the ride went by a schedule I made on a spread sheet, and almost stuck too, except for the last training ride canceled for rain. One of my goals in training was to climb a mile, which I did two weeks prior on a sixty three mile ride. The Temecula ride had over 6200 ft. of climbing and I wanted to make really sure I could do all the climbing that Solvang would entail. It was advertised at 4950 ft. gain. My Garmin recorded 5276 (Close enough for me to call it a mile.)
I drove up Friday with wife, her daughter and granddaughter. None of them ride, though I am working on the grandkid-she’s thirteen. Dinner was at the Firestone Brewery, accompanied with what many consider an ill-advised half pint of lager. Sue me. This ain’t the Tour de France.
Woke up the next morning at 5:00, had a cup of Honey Nut Cheerios, took a shower and had wife drive me to the start. It was when leaving the room that I realized I forgot two things. HRM strap-not a big deal, and full finger gloves-a really
I took off in the second wave. By the bottom of the hill out of Solvang, about a mile out, I started to realize just how big a deal taking off at 6:30 with an air temp of under 40 degrees F, with only fingerless bike gloves was. At the first turn into Buellton I had to stop and stick my hands down my bibs trying to warm them on my “junk”. Got back on the bike and took off again with my hands in real pain. I detoured off to the room. My wife was up and in the shower. When I busted in I got; “What’s wrong? Why are you here?” I ripped the gloves off and stuck my hands in the hot running water. Ten seconds of that was enough, and I headed out again.
On my way out, my stepdaughter suggested I stick a pair of socks over my hands. I’m sure I got some funny looks the next fifteen miles until it was warm enough to take them off, but it was a real ride saver. Operating the brifters with “foot mittens” on my hands was awkward at first, but I got it worked out.
By the top of the second short climb on Santa Rosa Rd, the socks were off the hands. The wind breaker got shoved down the back of the jersey a short while later.
The first SAG stop was more packed than any I had ever seen on any organized ride I had done. Loaded up on fruit and a Fig Newton I was off with no dilly dallying.
One thing I need to mention now was the LEO support for the ride. Unlike the downright hostile environment during Bike the Coast and other charity rides in San Diego County created by the local county sheriff's, the LEO's for Solvang-CHP, local police and Santa Barbara County sheriff's-were nothing less than professional and respectful. Kudos to them.
I felt really comfortable for the rest of the first part of the ride, past Vandenberg and Santa Maria. There was one entertaining incident headed into Santa Maria when I saw a couple dismount ahead of me. He headed to a bush and pulled his bibs down, she got about half way, then dropped a squat and demonstrated why a lot of women don’t wear bibs.
The first major hill headed up to Foxen canyon had me a little concerned. I had matched the profile of it to a known hill I had ridden-Torrey Pines. It was about the same grade, and a little shorter. Then again, I had never done TP after eighty miles and 3000 ft. I was disappointed that I had to stop twice before making the top, but at least I didn’t walk any portion of it as I saw quite a few doing.
The second of the three late ride hills was rewarded by a view from the top that is the textbook definition of bucolic (which became thirteen year old Desiree’s word of the day). The third and final climb had three false crests, but wasn’t bad, and it was rewarded by one of the most fun, and prettiest descent’s I have ever done.
I finished just a minute or two shy of eight hours moving time. I had set a goal of seven, but I’m not disappointed. I had gas in the tank at the end and could have pushed harder, but was being conservative, as finishing was the ultimate goal. I really didn’t have to stop on that hill, but seing all those walkers may have had a psychological effect.
Next year I would like to do it again. This time try to beat seven hours, and get some wine tasting in. If I am twenty to thirty pounds lighter that should really be doable.