I drove up to SLO at 3pm yesterday, arriving at 7:30pm (not bad considering there was some traffic out of LA and in SB area on the 101). I met my buddy, Bryan, in downtown SLO where we had a bite to eat and a little vino. I got to bed by 10:00pm (forgot my toothbrush and had some drama finding a store selling one in Atascadero where I stayed at Motel 6 - but still got to bed at reasonable hour). I got up at 5am this morning, a little tired (go figure).
When I arrived at the registration area at Cuesta College, I glanced around thinking maybe I would see Scootcore, but there was the usual sea of helmets and spandex – how can one possibly recognize another? (We should all buy flare guns and shoot them at registration so that we can find each other!) Bryan and another buddy, Kristen, whom I was thrilled was joining as well, arrived at check-in, and Bryan immediately asked me if I would be up for the "hilly" century. Mind you, I didn't check this ride out at all since this was pretty much last minute and I figured I was truly “along for the ride” (literally and figuratively). So, what “hilly” meant, I wasn’t sure but I’ll go along with anything and then curse under my breath later. I agreed.
We took off later than we had planned at apprx. 7:30am. A rider named Scott joined us from the starting line. He told us that Lighthouse was his first century. He was very excited and enthusiastic – reminding me of myself back when I did my first century. Well, okay, I’m still like that but not as much as I was. It was nice having him along and our “group” was well-matched. From the get-go it was pretty chilly (arm warmers, knee warmers, base layer and vest for this girl!) and it never did warm up throughout the day. It was, as expected this time of year up north, overcast and drizzly in the morning. We rode 12 miles on HWY 1 getting warmed up for our first climb of the day. After turning right and heading up into the hills, we were greeted with a small incline (nothing to write home about), but then a short distance following we hit HWY 46. Before I describe the excruciatingly slow ascent up this canyon – let me just say, it was so beautiful up in those hills, I couldn’t believe it. In the overcast, slight fog, the hills glowed gold with patches of bright green and dark green trees. Oh, and cows! We saw little calves being groomed by their mothers and big steer grazing. That was fabulous! But the climb…well…see…in case I haven’t mentioned it on here before, I don’t climb so well. I’ll climb anything but really like a goat…slow, eeking out each pedal stroke even in my granny on the steepest part! I was told the grade was between 12-14%, but I swear it was at least 14, if not more! Several riders without triples were walking their bikes and I could barely pass them on mine! In the meantime, Bryan and Kristen were up the hill getting massages…oh, okay…refilling their water bottles at the conveniently placed rest stop (SLOBC did a really nice job with SAG support and stops). Regardless, they were ahead and waiting…something I hate to do to other riders (I have to get faster on the hills!)
After that climb, there were a few rollers and lovely vista spotted roads before we landed on HWY 1 again and rode along the ocean. Trouble was, the direction we were headed meant awful headwind. That was pretty sapping of energy and we all tried to draft. Scott and Bryan tried pulling me for a while, but after about two miles, I kept dropping back. I felt so fatigued (one of those days, I guess). Bryan almost got wiped out by a rider who foolishly passed him on the right and ran out of shoulder. I screamed at Bryan, “Rider on the Right!!!” but he couldn’t hear me over the wind. Luckily, Bryan is a skilled rider and was able to glide effortlessly to the left to allow the rider to pass without killing himself or Bryan. Then Bryan hammered past him a bit miffed (can’t blame him) and then I hammered by him, got eye contact (really I did as I lost my favorite pair of cycling sunglasses on the road earlier!) and yelled, “What you just did was extremely dangerous and could have gotten all of us injured or killed!” The guy said nothing. But after a good 12 miles to the rest stop (at which the volunteers dressed up as pirates and made pirate jokes – very nice touch!), the offending rider came up to both Bryan and me and apologized. He really meant it and seemed truly contrite. I told him, “no harm no foul” and dropped it. I was just grateful no one was hurt.
After this stop we were off with tail winds, yippee!! Bryan wanted to stop and see the elephant seals (Brandy, I didn’t pet them, but I did say hi to them – they are so cute in that very large seal kind of way). We stopped for 10 mins., oohed and ahhed, and were off again. Lunch was a good 15 miles away, and I was hungry when we arrived. Usual food choices (except they did offer broccoli salad which I love and tons of olives!) After lunch, no drama to report, just a very sore bum (and I mean from climbing – I dug into those glutes).
At the last stop for the day, Scott, who had gotten ahead of us at this point, had already arrived. He approached me and said that his friend was there. I looked over, and low and behold, it was Scootcore (Bill) and his friend Byron. I recognized Bill from his Avatar and walked over to introduce myself. Very nice guy and I realize how useful this new SO Cal regional section is – it’s fun to meet cyclists at rides with whom you’ve already established a rapport. We all talked awhile and then took off to finish the ride (Bill, Byron and Scott arrived before we did). Our total ride time was around 6 hours, 15 minutes - which, of course, does not reflect breaks, lunch and the “seal” stop.
Phew! Are any of you still reading? Regardless, I would definitely recommend this ride - gorgeous scenery, well-organized and just a downright nice vibe. I could do without the winds, but like Mick says, “you can’t always get what you want….”