Thursday, October 29, 2009

Day 6 Oceano to Buellton – 73.1 miles 2472ft of climbing

I’m sitting here warm and comfy, fully caffeinated and all covered with sticky cinnamon roll goodness...and I’ve gone a negative 3 miles so far on the route...

Yesterday as we rolled through Pismo Beach on our way to the campground, we passed Old West Cinnamon Rolls and of course being the junk food junkie that I am, I really wanted to stop. We didn’t though because we agreed we’d be back in the morning.
(In my defense, I wasn't the only one covered in cinnamon roll stickyness)

So, here I am, 3 miles off route with a full belly, a sticky face and no desire to get back on the bike. But, knowing we have a long day ahead of us, getting back on the bike is what we do and after another 3 miles we’re right back to where we started.

Jay, John, Tracy and I have a pretty good pace going and I’m not sure if it’s the cinnamon rolls or the cumulative effect of the previous 5 days on the bike, but my legs are just not turning as fast as theirs and pretty soon, I’m just hanging on trying not to get dropped.

The route has taken us inland so we don’t see the coast. We’re mainly in agricultural areas with flat, wide open farms on either side. This only adds to the challenge as the wind is working against us. I really should move to the front and help with the pulling, but I know my legs won’t handle it and pretty sure the guys want to keep a better pace than I’d be able to manage. (at least that’s what I tell myself as I sit back and wheel suck for the first part of the day)

Eventually we come to the first rest stop and I drink an FRS in the hopes that it will put some gas in the tank. Speaking of gas, the whole area smells like oil.

We’re not sure why until someone mentions that one of the wells has sprung a bit of a leak...I’m paying 4 bucks a gallon for gas and these guys are letting it spill????

Another of the towns we go through is Guadalupe. It’s a tiny little town with a very big map.

From here we continue through the farmlands, it’s flat and windy but at least I’m feeling a little better. Soon enough we get to Foxen Canyon where the road begins its uphill journey. We’ve joined up with Matt, Norm and Gary and the pace picks up yet again. Now I’m really just hanging on and trying not to get dropped when all of a sudden I look down and swerve to miss a freakin tarantula!
That thing was huge and I hear a pretty good crunch as Tracy fails to swerve around it. We see several more but unfortunately I don’t get any photos. Bill and Gail did take the time to stop and get this one though.

the area surrounding Solvang that we're riding through has a couple of wineries. Ok, maybe more than a couple

Pretty soon, I’m falling off the back and the group continues to pull away. The most frustrating part is that I can still see them but I just don’t have the juice to gain any ground on them. Soon enough we come to the next rest stop where we regroup again.

Soon after the rest, we come to the real climbing portion of Foxen Canyon and I’m starting to think there might actually be something to the FRS drinks as I actually feel good. Tracy and I, having been dropped by the others keep a pretty good pace as we climb to the top and find everyone else stopped to catch their breath. (they may have actually been waiting on us, but it sounds better if I say they were catching their breath)
From here there’s a long, fast, really bumpy downhill and our group is making good time. Hammering along like a freight train, my teeth rattling in my head, I wonder if maybe I should have invested in a carbon frame.

The next turn brings us to the bottom of “the wall”. This last section and the one we’re in now are all part of the Solvang Century which I’ve done for the past few years. The best part about today though is that the Foxen Canyon climb and the “wall” come at the middle of the ride and not at mile 80 like they do on the Solvang Century.

The wall is actually a pretty short climb and again, I’m feeling surprisingly good. I’m not fast enough to keep up with the hammers but that’s not surprising. What is surprising is that I get to the top without feeling like I’m blowing up. I actually, for a brief moment am disappointed I feel so good, like I should have/could have gone harder and been faster. I quickly realize that’s crazy talk as I still have a decent amount of riding ahead of me and I don’t want to run out of gas.

The downhill portion from here to the highway is again, fast and BUMPY. Norm takes off and I shift to a higher gear and quickly catch and pass him, only to be passed again almost immediately. Pretty soon we’re ahead of the group and my legs are going like crazy and I’m sure that things are rattling loose on my bike and my body as the road is so bumpy. Soon enough though we come to the intersection with the highway and regroup.

As we enter Solvang from the back side of town, I’m amazed that we’re already here. Amazed that the day has gone by so quickly. We ride through town and head out the other side pointed directly into the wind as we pedal out Hwy 246 towards our destination in Buellton.

Eventually we roll into camp and start the regular evening ritual - but first a picture of the group that spent all day trying to kill me

We grab our bags, set up our tents, hit the showers and go find beer. With beer in hand, several of us take the opportunity to clean up our bikes, lube the chains and generally give them a once over. I’m surprised nothing rattled loose on the bumpy downhill sections.
Tracy spent an inordinate amount of time on his bike...I think he was just too tired to get up off the grass and sat there till he felt better.

Dinner this evening is bbq spare ribs which are delicious. Tonight is the end of the ride for those that opted for the 6 day adventure so the organizers set up a podium, speeches are made, people are congratulated and afterwards an inflatable movie screen is set up for a viewing of Breaking Away. This is a classic 70’s cycling film that unfortunately just looses out when it comes to my decision of sleeping bag vs cycling film...and thus ends another great day on the bike.

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