I thought someone else would've posted this by now, but since not, I'll do it...
Drove up Friday late afternoon. No real problems with traffic (amazingly). Arrived in Solvang around 6pm. Parked down Alisol and in the back where they put overflow "Event Parking". Walked back to Scandanavian Inn to register. Line around the block to get in. So I hop in line, and a few minutes later (the line went fast, actually), I have my packet of materials. I meet up with Michael and Lynne, have a smallish dinner, enjoy conversation, and pack it in to the hotel. This was Michael's 2nd century, and he was prepping like he was doing a double. (I did the same exact thing on my second century .)
Morning dawns, we're up at about 5:30. Get dressed, out the door, continental breakfast in the hotel lobby, and ride over to the start.
The weather is very interesting: cold and foggy:
We waited at the south-west corner of Oak & Alisol for any BFers, but nobody showed. So we make our way over to the start and get ready to go. The fog has already started to clear.
We leave at 7:08am. The air is extremely cold. Our fingers were begging for long-gloves, but I'm glad we didn't bring them as it definitely warmed up.
My goal for today is to use this ride as training for the KOM. I can complete any century with 6K of climbing or less, but I'd like to get used to the distance and increase my endurance over the same. So, the name of the game today is push for a quick (but not PR-setting) time of 5-1/2 hours or so. A side-effect of this is that I didn't take too many pictures as I was pushing most of the day. Sorry.
So, with my goals on my mind, I slide right in to the first group that goes by. We're setting a nice 20-23mph pace for the first 7 miles or so. At a stop light, another group catches us and passes. I jump ship and join this faster group. Now we're pushing 25mph pretty consistently. I take a turn or two at the front to help out. Michael is behind me, (seemingly) doing well, except for cold fingers .
Then, on Santa Rosa Rd., we begin to hit the first climbs. Some of the early ones, I maintain contact, but then we hit a couple that are a little steeper and longer. I fall off the back a bit, and have now lost contact with Michael. We knew this was probably going to happen, so I continue on, thinking to meet him at a SAG stop. Eventually, I would see Michael again. Unfortunately, it wasn't until the finish. I catch back on the group and this cycle repeats two more times, before I finally can't catch up and ride on my own. The rest of the day, I find groups going my speed, and sit in.
The wind was pretty bad on the way out, especially approaching Santa Maria, so group paceline riding was the order of the day. The only consolation was it turned into a tailwind for the 2nd half of the ride (most of it). Gripe #1: Pacelines were also necessary as police were out in force using their car speakers to tell us, "Single file. Ride single file." Of course, they made no mention of the fact that it's illegal to pass a moving vehicle on a double-yellow line (which they did all the while).
At about the 60-mile mark, I end up riding with Chris and his wife, Casey.
They're both strong riders and we help shelter eachother from any of the sporadic headwinds. They've both ridden this before, so they give me a few tips, especially when the major climb up Foxen Canyon is quickly coming (conserve energy). The climb itself wasn't too bad (1/2-mile, 7%), but the 5-mile run up to it is a gradual climb (1.8%). By the time you get to the "actual" climb, you've spent alot of energy, and it just is a nasty sting in the tail.
Chris, Casey and I trade pulls for the remaining 15 miles, mostly downhill with a couple little reminders. First is a 0.7-mile climb at 6.5% immediately following a SAG stop. I had stopped to get more water and so had a quick rest and had no trouble spinning up this hill. (Very windy at the top!!) Next was the Ballard Canyon Rd climb: 0.4-miles at 6.4%. It was a nice little climb on a narrow, winding road through over-hanging trees. Last was Chalk Hill Rd, 0.4-miles at 4.5%, about 2 or 3 miles from the finish.
At the finish, I happen to see a very familiar face with a beautiful hairdo (new?) through the crowd:
About an hour later, Michael comes in and is looking none-the-worse-for-wear.
5hrs, 20mins ride time.
5hrs, 47mins total time.
4,964 feet of elevation gain.