Monday, March 10, 2008

How do you eat an elephant????

One bite at a time… How do you finish a century you’re not in shape for? One sag stop at a time.

Saturday dawned cool, damp and foggy and we donned leg warmers, arm warmers (or arm warmers worn as leg warmers), jackets and flashing taillights. We were glad we had made the decision to start from the campground instead of driving the 4 miles into town along with hundreds of other cars and trying to find parking… whether or not we’d be glad when we had to ride the 4 miles back to camp after riding 100 miles or not was yet to be seen.
We started out with 6 riders and a great attitude….all of which would change at varying points throughout the day.

Chris and John were obviously faster riders and as a result we saw them for the first several hundred yards but after that they were gone and on their own. Since Jerry and I had decided ahead of time that we would be taking it easy, there was no pressure to try to keep up with anyone that passed us….and I’m pretty sure EVERYONE passed us.
And then there were 4…..

We started out nice and easy and, since it’s such a pretty ride, the miles to the first rest stop went by quickly. The sun had come out which was nice, but the wind had picked up too, which wasn’t so nice.

The ride for the next 40 miles was pretty much into the wind…..and it sucked! At mile 25 or something like that, Victoria and Lisa split off for the 50 mile route.
And then there were 2….

By the time we hit the Santa Maria airport at mile 60, I was fried. Although my legs felt great, my eyes were toast from the wind and the dust, my neck and back hurt and I just wanted it to be over. Amazingly though, after a snack and a couple of Tylenol I felt a lot better. Plus the wind was now at our back.
We wound through Santa Maria for a ways and got back out into the countryside and my attitude improved immensely. Leaving Santa Maria and heading up Clark Rd we talked with a lady briefly who explained that this was her first century and asked if there would be anymore hills like the one on 101… Jerry explained that there were still a couple of significant climbs yet to come and you could see she wasn’t thrilled.

At the Sag stop at mile 73, we ran into the lady again(found out her name is Marissa) and after chatting she decided to ride with us.
And then there were 3….

One of the interesting things about the Solvang Century is that whatever sick, psycho bas%^&* laid out the route decided to put the toughest climb of the day at mile 92!!!
I felt pretty good as did Jerry, but we were a little concerned about Marissa. Turns out she pedaled up Foxen Canyon (past several others who were walking) and was so stoked and rejuvenated by the accomplishment that she handled the rest of the ride with very few issues. This fact only confirms my belief that riding a century, or any long ride for that matter, is just as much a mental thing as it is a physical thing.
The ability to suffer and not quit is just as important as any physical training you need to do.

The infamous wall comes up after mile 96 and is more psychological than anything since it’s only about ½ mile. But it is steep and you can see the whole thing it from the sag stop at the bottom which can mess with your head.
With this out of the way, the rest of the ride is pretty much rolling hills and beautiful countryside. Our pace was relaxed as we had decided it would be at the beginning and the views and the countryside were gorgeous! We even saw these guys on one of the ranches in Foxen Canyon. (of course some people were so focused on their pace and the tire in front of them they never even saw the buffalo, or the deer, or the ostriches or the topiaries)

We said goodbye to Marissa and several of the other people we had met on the ride and headed out for the 4 mile ride back to camp which other than being a little cold wasn’t bad at all.

So, 10 hours after we started we pulled back in to camp. We followed up the ride with the most amazing meal at Cabernet Bistro (btw – if you want the crab and lobster raviolis tell them when you make your reservation) and slept that night comfortable in the knowledge that we were not as old and feeble as we sometimes feel.

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