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When 50 Got Me 100 - The Solvang Century

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When 50 Got Me 100 - The Solvang Century

Old 03-10-14, 01:49 PM
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When 50 Got Me 100 - The Solvang Century



I posted a very similar version to this in the road bike forum. Anyway, it's been another March, which means another Solvang Century, my 23rd in the last 27 years. I rode my first Solvang century in 1987, when I was 39. A nephew's bar mitzvah, my daughter's marriage, and a family illness have kept from from three more Solvang centuries. I love the ride, and love testing my ability to keep riding at what might be my favorite long ride (I also have a soft spot for the Chico, California, Wildflower Century.

This year, this past Saturday, on a cool morning, I straddled my bike, my brother Dan and long-time friend and riding companion, Silas, beside me, as we looked up at a decorative windmill at the start of the ride.

I weighed about as much for this ride, and rode about as much in training, as I have for almost every century I've ridden. Most of those rides came in just the last few weeks before Dan and I and Silas traveled to Solvang, the little faux Danish tourist town tucked into the Central Coast Mountains of California, about 125 north of my home. Although I wanted to ride 50 or 60 miles once or twice, I only got in a couple of 40 miles rides during the last month, several shorter rides, and I did pedal up some very steep hills. Unfortunately, I was coming off a foot injury that made for some easy riding until the very end, when I felt I literally had to push harder toward fitness. I got in a good last 50 miles those last few rides.

I always think, though, that I can ride three times farther what I do in practice, so I was confident I'd be able to complete another 100 mile ride. Fifty would just have to get me to 100.





At my age, there are many cyclists fitter than I am. Because I made a commitment in the early 1970s to stay fit for as long as I could through the rest of my life, I'm probably in better physical shape than most people my age. To complete 100 miles in a day, on a ride with 5,000+ feet of elevation gain, you need to in reasonable shape, or you will suffer. And I did suffer some. My ass hurt for quite a while at about 50 miles and then, as always happens, around mile 80 or so, the pain went away.



The first few miles out of Solvang led us generally west, toward the first rest stop, in the town of Lompoc. Somehow Silas slipped by us, while Dan and I shed our outer layers at the top of a hill when the day began to warm. We wouldn't see Silas again until the end of the ride.



The preternaturally warm winter sun began to take a toll on some cyclists early on, who had to walk up the last hill at about 23 miles.



Long ago, my brother and I rode the Solvang Century each year with a group of friends. While most of them still ride, they've all stopped pedaling 100 miles in a day. For me, though, I need to keep the flame lit, to feel the force of life, to set a goal and, for as long as I can, stay the course. I'm fairly certain Dan and Silas feel they way I do, too.



A chance meeting with Mira - who we did not know before the ride - came after the first rest stop and more than made up for losing Silas. If she wasn't as strong as Dan and I were, she made up for it in stamina, having put many more miles on her cyclometer than either of us had. After chatting for a bit, assessing our strengths, we decided to stick together for a while, which turned out to be the next 70 miles and the end of the ride. Mira definitely had a positive attitude.



Part of the route led through the vast Vandenberg Airforce Base, where missiles are tested for war and blasted into space to place satellites into orbit. At one point, after pushing hard up a hill, I posed for a photo with two more new friends, who worked on the base, while waiting for Dan and Mira to catch up with me.



There are five rest stops well supplied with food. Support for the ride, as usual, awesome.



There was plenty of Spiz, the energy drink created by Randy Ice, the man who also created the Solvang Century in 1982. I always manage to eat too much food on century rides. Next year, I'm going to try to make it through the day mostly on Spiz and/or whatever other energy drinks I bring to Solvang. Spiz seems as good as any - and tasted as good as any - and I drank a fair amount of it the second half of the ride, when the temperature rose above 80 degrees.
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Old 03-10-14, 01:50 PM
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After leaving the air force base, we traveled over hilly terrain before riding several flat miles into the city of Santa Maria, and another rest stop, where we took a 30 minute break. We knew the next part of the ride involved some long, steady climbing and we wanted to recover some strength. I'd felt an odd, undefinable sensation in my right leg, where it joined my hip, and I worried what the rest of the ride might be like. I wondered, in fact, if maybe I should stop riding for the day. The rest, though, and encouragement from Mira, got me back on the bike in a better frame of mind, and I found my strange pain was gone.





Past Santa Maria, we sweated our way up that series of climbs, though a strikingly beautiful landscape. Finally a long, swift descent brought us to my favorite rest stop, the fourth, in the little community of Sisquoc. The word Sisquoc may have been a word used by Chumash Indians that meant "stopping place," and apt description of the rest stop. I made a picture of a couple of riders I met there, as they stood in front of a little red ranch house. I'm always worried that one day, when I pedal back there, the ranch house will be gone, with a massive, corporate ranching operation standing in its place.





For now, the little ranch house and the land around it is a throwback to another era.





This is a place to see cattle and watch cowboys disappear into the distance, where dogs only chase after horses and don't chase cyclists.








Past Sisquoc, Foxen Canyon turns south, toward Solvang, rising gradually, and I think annoyingly, for nine miles, past strawberry fields and wineries. And then an incredibly annoying and steep hill has to be topped, at about mile 8o. Whatever miles I had done in training, plus our relatively easy pace on the ride itself, paid off for me. There was plenty of strength left to jam up to the summit, as I shot past cyclists who were slowly turning their cranks, or walking their bikes, or leaning over their bikes, or sitting on the side of the road; they'd set too fast a pace for themselves and now they were paying the price.





Gaining the top of the hill led to an awesome descent to the last rest stop. Dan (above; at 62, he looks like he could ride the TdF) and Mira were not far behind me.





A couple more climbs and 15 more miles along the open road, and another century was ready for deposit in the memory bank.







Across the finish line, Dan and I bade farewell to Mira, and found Silas.





The day ended as it began, with a glance up a the windmill at the end of the ride. And then it was time to pack the car with our bikes and gear, and make the drive home. I hope all the rest of this year I keep riding. And I hope I can return next year for another Solvang Century. Every year seems like a wonderful bonus year, and the Solvang Century feels like a bonus on top of a bonus.
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Old 03-10-14, 02:04 PM
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Wow great ride report. Thanks ... makes me wanna do a century.

Charlie
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Old 03-10-14, 02:13 PM
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Great article. Makes it seem like a century is no problems to do...though I think MMMV as I've never gone more than 42miles in 1 ride (which was not a problem but more than doubling that might be)
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Old 03-10-14, 02:24 PM
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Nice report, icyclist, and great job for riding the century all these years.

The Spring Solvang Double is a great ride as well, and I am looking forward to it.
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Old 03-10-14, 03:14 PM
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Great job! Oy, do I love riding up there.

I rode through Sisquoc last September kinda counting on the General Store being open so I could get some food. It was closed, and looked like it was going out of business! Did you happen to notice if it was open when you rolled by?
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Old 03-10-14, 03:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Biker395 View Post
Great job! Oy, do I love riding up there.

I rode through Sisquoc last September kinda counting on the General Store being open so I could get some food. It was closed, and looked like it was going out of business! Did you happen to notice if it was open when you rolled by?
The Solvang Century does not pass by the store - the route takes a right perhaps a 100 yards in front of it, so I can't answer your question.
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Old 03-10-14, 05:07 PM
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Nice report! I've wanted to do this ride, using a weekend camping trip as an excuse to the wife and kids for going up there ;-) I love the central coast. That said I haven't ridden a century yet, so maybe next year after I've hopefully completed one later this year.
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Old 03-10-14, 08:11 PM
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Thanks for the inspirational report and photos. What a great bunch of images.
I have a ride in Solvang in two weeks and you've really pumped me up.
Well done.
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Old 03-11-14, 05:41 AM
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Nice photodocumentary! Hats off!
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Old 03-11-14, 05:48 AM
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Well done, your pics and narrative are really good, thanks for the look into your Solvang. When I first joined here the members that had ridden the Solvang in the past were all posting their memories of previous years, and their plans for that year's century (2008.) Made me want to get back into riding all the more, your report has given me new encouragement.

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Old 03-11-14, 10:13 AM
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Thank you. I really enjoyed the read...and Dan's Klein.
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Old 03-11-14, 11:28 AM
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Excellent ride and the article very well written! I love shot of the reflection in the sunglasses, too cool. Lovely scenery!
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Old 03-11-14, 11:29 AM
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AWESOME ride report!!! Actually it has given me something to strive for, find an AWESOME century and commit to riding it every year!! Actually, I’m riding my first metric in a few weeks, and then another metric in April, maybe I can close out the season by finding a nice century to ride around Sept/Oct. BTW, the pictures were AWESOME also!!! Did you take the pictures while stopped (ala rest stop, smelling the roses, etc.), helmet cam, and/or snapping while riding? Just curious because this is my dilemma, do I stop to take a picture then pound to catch up with my group (they hate stopping other than for rest stops), or perfect the technique of riding and snapping pictures at same time (if that is even possible)??
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Old 03-11-14, 01:32 PM
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Nice report! And thanks for including photos, too! I flew out there to ride the Solvang Century with some friends in 2002 and have a lot of fond memories, but no photos.
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Old 03-11-14, 03:10 PM
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Great report. This was my first Solvang, and second century. Unlike you, I had been heavy and out of shape most of my life, but have found salvation in cycling. I was one of those guys you saw grinding up those hills on Foxen Canyon. I was determined to not dismount and do the walk of shame, and succeeded in that. I am fortunate that I live in a area that gives ample opportunity to do hill work.

I did my own write up of it here, https://www.bikeforums.net/clydesdale...3-solvang.html. Sadly, I didn't take any pictures. Glad you made up for that.
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Old 03-12-14, 10:27 AM
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Great report icyclist, I was there as well, however this was just my 2nd solvang century, so I am still a newbie. Like you , I hadn't done anything more than 50 miles since last October. I break the route into 4 shorter rides, and that helps mentally. I liked the route this year, the grades on highway 1 were nice! I appreciate your description of the first 9 miles of foxxen as annoying. Coming so late in the ride that part is really demoralizing. I actually enjoy hitting the steep part of the hill, and the next 2 after that, as I know we are almost done. Not having the wind this year really made this a pleasant ride, maybe I'll see you next year!
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Old 03-13-14, 02:44 AM
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Nice write up. When I lived in Oxnard in the early 90s I didn't do the century, but I did do the half-century they held in Nov a couple times. Basically down to Lompoc and back. What I remember for the century is that you could either start in Solvang or Santa Maria.

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Old 03-13-14, 11:26 PM
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Originally Posted by dhender02 View Post
Did you take the pictures while stopped (ala rest stop, smelling the roses, etc.), helmet cam, and/or snapping while riding? Just curious because this is my dilemma, do I stop to take a picture then pound to catch up with my group (they hate stopping other than for rest stops), or perfect the technique of riding and snapping pictures at same time (if that is even possible)??
This is a dilemma I often face. Most of the time I ride without a camera, because I'd rather just ride than make photos. However, on some rides I do take a camera, and this ride is one of them. I definitely don't stop for photos on group rides unless I'm a lot stronger than the rest of the group and can rejoin without too much effort.

I do make photos from my bike, but often that happens when I'm stopped on my bike. Looking back at the photos here, I see six of them were made while moving - but I did so very carefully.

I usually keep my camera in a jersey pocket. I can reach for the camera, turn it on, and fire with one hand. I don't do that descending hills, or riding hard up a hill. My camera: Panasonic LF1.
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Old 03-14-14, 07:24 AM
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I just reread your ride report. It gave me restless leg syndrome = time for a long crazy bike ride.

Thanks again for the great report.

Charlie
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Old 03-14-14, 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by icyclist View Post
This is a dilemma I often face. Most of the time I ride without a camera, because I'd rather just ride than make photos. However, on some rides I do take a camera, and this ride is one of them. I definitely don't stop for photos on group rides unless I'm a lot stronger than the rest of the group and can rejoin without too much effort.

I do make photos from my bike, but often that happens when I'm stopped on my bike. Looking back at the photos here, I see six of them were made while moving - but I did so very carefully.

I usually keep my camera in a jersey pocket. I can reach for the camera, turn it on, and fire with one hand. I don't do that descending hills, or riding hard up a hill. My camera: Panasonic LF1.
I do a lot of pictures on the week long tours while rolling along using a digital camera with zoom. Like you I used to store the camera in my jersey pocket but I'm now using a bento bag on the top tube. My bag has a flap that will velcro shut to close the bag very securely. I've never had an issue with the camera hopping out and off the top tube. When I purchased the camera I made sure I could work everything with one hand, including the zoom.

Enjoyed the ride report and pics. One of these days I'll need to come out and join you folks for the Century.
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Old 03-14-14, 10:37 AM
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I have a Contour Roam. I even had it with me on the ride, but the mount broke, and I kept it in a jersey pocket, I only pulled it out to get a panorama of the incredibly bucolic scene from the top of Foxen Wall. Extracting still from the video is possible, though I doubt the resolution will be very good. I'll look at it this weekend.
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Old 03-14-14, 01:09 PM
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Originally Posted by CommuteCommando View Post
I have a Contour Roam. I even had it with me on the ride, but the mount broke, and I kept it in a jersey pocket, I only pulled it out to get a panorama of the incredibly bucolic scene from the top of Foxen Wall. Extracting still from the video is possible, though I doubt the resolution will be very good. I'll look at it this weekend.
I would want a GoPro, except my videos would be boring, at least compared to what I see on the GoPro website. My brother's GoPro mount broke on the ride, too. He ended up taking some good vids with his iPhone.
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Old 03-14-14, 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Biker395 View Post
Great job! Oy, do I love riding up there.

I rode through Sisquoc last September kinda counting on the General Store being open so I could get some food. It was closed, and looked like it was going out of business! Did you happen to notice if it was open when you rolled by?
The store in Sisquoc is still out of business doesn't look good to reopen anytime soon, but if you continue on down foxen cyn about 2 miles you come to a nearly identical town of Garey that has a small store that's normally open.
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