It has been about 5 years since I have done this ride and I was looking forward to riding it again. It is a beautiful area to be in the springtime and the wildflowers are often spectacular. This year however, many parts of California have seen a lot of rain and the Central Coast is among them. The weather forecast before the event looked okay, 40 percent chance of rain showers, no problem! But, by the night before the event the forecast had changed to 70 percent for rain but not starting until the afternoon. I thought that maybe I could get a lot of the ride done before the rain started. As it turned out that would be wishful thinking.

For this ride I left my brevet bike at home and instead took my double century bike, the Pegoretti. It is a little sportier but you can still put some clip on fenders (raceblades) on it. They protect the rider pretty well but not the drivetrain. If the weather would just hold off for a while it would be perfect.

It took about 80 miles before the rain started and after that it was pretty constant. The 70% chance of rain turned to 100% and hung on for most of the rest of the day. When it wasn’t actually raining, the roads were still sheeted over with water, so if it wasn’t coming down on you it was coming up! I had a brief break in the rain coming into Pismo Beach and snapped the picture above. Most of the time however the camera stayed dry in my pocket. Rides like this limit your photo ops!

The drowned rat look is always very attractive! Wet but warm, damp but undaunted, after a soggy Subway sandwich at the lunch stop I was up for whatever came next. After all, at a certain point how much wetter can you get? Might as well ride!

Rain also seems to bring out the flat tires. I was amazed at the number of flats on the road that day. You might see 2 or 3 riders at a time, flatted in a group, and dozens if not hundreds over the course of the day. It was quite remarkable but I was pleased not to be among that group. I had almost new rubber on my bike and it proved to be effective.

After lunch came the rest stop at Guadalupe, which is not one of my favorites. My brevet rider instincts kicked in and I stopped at a mini-mart for a warm drink and some food alternatives. Sometimes the food choices you have at a double century rest stop are just not what you want. In these circumstances you have got to take control and get what you need. That’s what mini-marts are for, filling a need.

The rain continued and so did I. It pretty much poured all the way to Los Alamos and this is where I began to see a lot more bikes loaded on the SAG wagons. It looked like a lot of people were throwing in the towel! I got to the Los Alamos rest well before dark but made kind of a long stop there. I had a cup of soup, made some clothing adjustments and unveiled my secret weapon! I had saved a dry pair of neoprene gloves in case it got cold. There were only 25 miles to go and my other gloves were soaked so it was time. I wasn’t really cold but why not!

I set off on the last leg of the ride which was new to me. Instead of climbing over Drum Canyon we took a new route over Aliso Canyon and then backtracked some of the outbound route on the return. It was a pleasant enough route and darkness set in just over the top of Aliso Canyon. The remainder of the ride was mainly a downhill run in the dark and with my excellent lighting I cruised in with confidence.

I arrived at the finish to bright lights and smiling faces and was happy to be done. A hot shower, a cold beer and dry clothes seemed to me to offer more comfort than I would have imagined. In the end the DNF/DNS rate would be well over 50%. Apparently many riders didn’t check the forecast that morning and set off with just a jersey, shorts and some arm warmers. Others were better prepared but opted out for other reasons. Congratulations not only to those riders who finished that day but also to those who tried. There is definitely more honor in stepping out into difficult conditions than there is in sitting it out at home!

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