March 24, 2012

I was able to finish this ride last year in spite of the wet and miserable conditions experienced throughout the day. This year I hoped to do it in a little better weather. I partly got my wish!

Entering Pismo Beach

Coming to the Solvang Double is like coming to a family reunion in a way. It is one of the better events on the schedule so there are always lots of people that I know who are also riding. You see them at check-in, during the ride and also at the end. It can be a very social event.

This year the forecast was for a diminishing chance of rain but with some light winds out of the south later on. It sounded pretty good to me compared to last year! I started riding just before sunrise and headed out on the familiar course. I had a route sheet for navigation but didn’t need it at all since I know the course pretty well by now. The blooming flowers and green landscape were testimony that Spring had arrived in this part of California and are among the reasons that I love to do this ride. The winds were pretty calm at first and then started to pick up out of the south as predicted a little later in the morning. They eventually became a fine tailwind for our outbound leg to Morro Bay!

Yours truly at the SLO rest stop.

Once we turned to start the return leg however I knew that the fun was mostly over. It started with some quartering headwinds and then after another turn it was right in your face. There was no choice but to plow ahead!

Lunch came at a good time for me at mile 113 and I was ready for some food! I had kept a good pace to here, averaging 17.4 mph on the bike so far! I was still feeling like I was going to have a good finish time this year and after about a 20 minute lunch stop I headed back out into the wind.

The next leg after lunch had some traffic and signals followed by kind of a twisting and rolling route which made it hard to work with other riders, but after that when the route straightened out some it seemed difficult to find riders who would work with you in the strong headwinds. I don’t really get why people would rather ride alone then hook up with another rider of similar speed. Maybe it was just my luck that day but I was fated to ride alone for the rest of the day. After the Guadalupe rest stop the winds picked up significantly to a steady 20 to 25 mph with higher gusts. This made the next leg very long indeed! The route veered a little more to the east as it went and the wind turned as well to maintain its headwind status. This 28 mile leg took me about 3 hours to do, but I arrived at the last rest stop in Los Alamos well before dark.

A rare Mike Sturgill sighting early in ride the at Sisquoc.

After a snack and a Red Bull I was ready to head out again. I did the easy climb up Alisos Canyon and was headed back on Foxen Canyon Rd when darkness fell. With a good lighting system and familiar roads the darkness didn’t hinder my progress much. I cruised the remaining section on Zaca Station and Ballard Canyon roads and on in to the finish. I pulled in at exactly 15 hours total ride time which was a little disappointing to me. I was hoping for a time in the mid 13 hour range or so. Oh well, all you can do is to do your best and that is what I did today. Perhaps on some future ride (weather permitting) I can put up a time that I will be a little more proud of!

2011 Solvang Double Century report