I started out at about 6:30-7am, and the air was already still and warm. We started out east on a longish but shallow climb that gradually steepened, and finally summited out without difficulty. The next 20 or so miles were north in a winding road in a long narrow valley, either flat or slightly downhill. I clipped along here at 23-26mph, and it was a real nice run to the 1st rest stop.
After that, we turned west and headed out of the hills and back down to the main valley floor (where Hwy 101 is), and started picking up a headwind from the ocean in the distance. It was slightly downhill or flat, but into the wind was tiring. I was doing about 18 or so mph and aware of folks coming up behind me, but didn't realize what was going on till I raised up to stretch my calves. As soon as I did, I heard someone yell "HEY!! you can't do that when you're pulling!!" I looked behind me to see an army of stick men sucking my wheel - you know, using the big guy as their windbreak. A$$holes.... :-) I dropped out and trickled back to let someone else take the wind.
Shortly thereafter we turned south, hit some rollers, and the impromptu paceline fell apart. The rollers didn't look too bad to me, but they were really wearing me down. I was thinking I was running out of gas 30+ miles into the ride, and was beginning to curse my luck. Then I started noticing that I was overtaking other riders, and even saw one fellow walking his bike up towards the top of one hill. Turns out, the rollers were more like a succession of stair-steps going up, but never really going down. Some sort of optical illusion, I guess - they weren't terrible, but worse than they looked and so made me feel like I was bonking or something. When I realized this, I stopped pushing myself and just ground them out.
Anyway, after the last one it was a nice shallow downhill glide all the way to the valley floor and lunch at mile 46. I actually met up with my wife and 11 year old daughter (who were riding the 40 mile route) there, and we had a nice break in a shady, green municipal park.
During the run into the lunch stop, I had crossed under both 101 and Hwy 1, so we were getting closer to the ocean. While I really hadn't noticed the heat, I now noticed the hot air mingling with cool. It was an interesting effect.
After lunch the route continued west (more or less) and the ocean breeze stiffened. There was about 10 miles of riding into an ever freshening headwind, and it was all I could to to manage 13-14mph. It was really starting to grind me down, and by mile 55 or so I was starting to get frustrated with it. Eventually we hit the 60 mile rest stop, and I refreshed myself with Gatorade, fresh strawberries, orange slices, and trail mix, and continued on.
We were now at the western-most point of the route, and so we made a welcome turn south and out of the headwind. after a few miles, we turned east again and enjoyed a tailwind push for several miles. The tailwind came with a curse - dead air. This was a curse because we were soon away from the immediate coast area and the coolness it provided - the heat, which had been previously masked, was now readily apparent and in full bloom. And just in time for the one significant climb, as it turns out!
At around mile 70, we started climbing into the hills surrounding Vandenburg AFB. It was a fairly decent climb. I just dropped into granny and ground it out - did a pretty good job of it, too
. On the way up I passed a young woman who looked absolutely gassed, and a couple of other fellows. One of the
gents was a bit older, and as I came up to him he was huddled up in some shade at the side of the road. I stopped to check on him, but he said he was ok so I continued on. Shortly thereafter I summited and began my descent.
It was a nice downhill, not too steep and about 4-1/2 miles long. I was topped out at about 30mph, and just enjoying the glide on a wide open road. I finally pulled into the last rest stop at the 78 mile mark, and took a seat in the shade to relax. I was feeling really good now, and there wasn't much farther to go.
The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful, but a lot of it was on rough road that numbed my ass and wrists, and ended up taking a lot out of me. Plus, it was in full sun and now the heat was getting bothersome. At the 90 mile mark I stopped and flopped in the grass under a shade tree. I knew the finish was close, I had plenty of time, and I just felt like taking a "nap". I snoozed on the road side for about 10-15 minutes, and then saddled up and finished the ride. I really shouldn't have bothered with the nap - turns out the finish was only 5 miles away!
When I came in, the temperature was reported at 102. It felt like it, too. I can't tell you how many bottles of water and Gatorade I went through, but it was at least a combined 8-10 if not more. I was very careful to drink all the time, and I think my final numbers showed it. I ended up finishing the ride with an average speed of 15.4mph, for a "saddle time" of 6:09. Not bad numbers for me, when you consider the ride had 4,000'+ of climbing. Also considering that a year ago last April was my first ever century, and it was on flat ground in cool weather. Then, my "saddle time" was 6:38, so maybe I've improved a bit........
I didn't take many pics of the ride cuz, well... frankly the scenery was fairly boring. I mean that in the sense that it is pretty much the same scenery as around here at home - rolling oak woodland and hills covered in brown grass. I drove 250 miles each way from the SF Bay Area, and was riding in essentially the same terrain that I had back in the 'hood.
It was a fun trip, though, and the girls had a wonderful time. we spent Saturday night there and drove home on Sunday, taking in the sights and stopping at the beach a couple of times while we were at it.