Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Well, the first century of the year is in the bag…..

The Friday before last, a group of 6 headed out for Solvang. Two additional riders were to follow later in the day. First stop, the annual In-and-Out Burger/Pearl Izumi outlet fest where we lay waste to our diets and our wallets….

Unfortunately, one of the riders mentioned a healthy alternative to In-and-Out and the die was cast. Suddenly nobody wanted to eat In-and-Out and everyone wanted to do the “healthy” thing…..of course it was the smallest, slimmest and fittest of the group that put the idea out there…..(you know who you are)
Add to that, this crazy economy and everyone was pretty sedate in their spending at the Pearl Izumi outlet too…..hmmm….this year is already shaping up differently.

We made it to Solvang, got our rooms at the Holiday Inn Express, which except for screwing me over on the rates is a perfect hotel right on the route at the edge of town.

The entire town of Solvang pretty much sells out for this event. The first year my buddy Patrick and I did it we stayed in San Luis Obispo. The next year we booked early and got the Holiday Inn and last year, I lagged and we ended up camping in Buellton.
Knowing this, I reserved 4 rooms 6 months in advance. The problem is, I booked them over the phone and didn’t get a confirmation in writing. I know they quoted me $149.00 per night because that’s what I put in my email to everyone that was riding. The problem was, when we checked in, they told us it was $194.00 and since I didn’t have anything in writing, I was out of luck. Oh well, at least we had rooms.

After everyone was settled we set up our room as the bar and the party began. With 5 of the 8 riders having never ridden more than 60 miles, the mood was festive and excited about the pending ride.

At one point though, things almost got ugly and there was some heated discussion as to whether I was actually “flicking” my bottle caps off the balcony or “throwing” them…The judges (me) ruled that since the main person raising the objection (Tracy) was from Tennessee or Arkansas or some other third world country his objection was overruled and his protest ignored.

After a couple of beers, we all headed out to find dinner. We settled on a steak house up the road. I think it was the Hitchin Post, which was delicious and even allows you to bring in your own beer. Ok, so they don’t technically “allow” it, but evidently if you sneak it in your jacket pocket they won’t know….not that anyone in our group did that of course….

Saturday morning dawned cool and cloudy. I thought everyone was shivering with excitement about the ride….turns out they were just shivering.
Also turns out Jack’s rear tire went flat while it was parked in his room so he got to fix that before breakfast.

In years past, the goal for this ride has been that this will be a nice, easy century. It’s the first century of the season and for most of us, the longest ride so far. I should have known when the In-and-Out burger idea was scrapped for healthy sandwiches that things were going to be different and sure enough, by the first climb of the day, I could see some of our group didn’t understand “nice, easy century”.

By the time we got to the first rest stop, we were pretty stretched out as a group and we made the decision that the faster people should go ahead and those of us that were more “relaxed” (I didn’t say slower) would take our time and we could all meet up at the end.

At the second rest stop, Jer, Jack and I again caught up to the others. It seems there was an accident on the road and they were delayed a while. We also ran into one of Jerry’s friends, Rich Rosendale. It turns out both Jack and Rich had flats at the second rest stop so we were even further behind what was to become known as “the fast group”. (flat #2 for Jack)

The rest of the ride went well. The day never did warm up and we had a pretty good headwind heading into Santa Maria. On one long stretch after I, then Jack had pulled a pretty good line of riders, 3 of them passed us and said they would take a turn at the front. Well, it turns out their pace was a little faster than our and at about 22mph (into the wind) I got spit out the back pretty quickly. At the rest stop in Santa Maria Jack and I regrouped with Jerry and Rich and set out.

Once you get out of Santa Maria proper, you get into the hills surrounding it. There the ride becomes much prettier and more hilly. As a matter of fact, the organizers of the ride thought it would be fun to put the toughest climb of the day at mile 80something and to follow that up with another short, but steep climb at mile 90something…just goes to prove there are some sick people in this world.

After the last climb, I usually get in the horse back to the barn mentality and this year was no different. The last 10 miles though the canyons behind Solvang are populated with beautiful ranches, rolling hills and pretty views….and buffalo

So, about 8 ½ hours after we started, the “relaxed” group, Jack Jer and I rolled across the finish line. The “fast group” had finished between 1-2 hours faster than us…..but none of them saw the buffalo

Saturday night, 4 of our group headed home (turns out Jack loaded his bike in the truck and the tire went flat again) and the rest of us went out for an amazing dinner. Sunday morning was breakfast at Paula’s pancake house and hitting the road.

All in all a wonderful weekend with good friends and a great ride.

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