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Riding with a good group. I’m in yellow jacket at 3rd wheel. Photo courtesy of Curtis Corlew.

Saturday March 22, 2014

My friends Joe Schoney, Craig Egerton and myself have once again made the long drive to Solvang to ride one of our favorite double century routes. We have ridden this event a number of times over the years and this year we are all back together! Joe is riding his Carbon/Ti Lemond and Craig his all Carbon Lemond, both bikes under 18 lbs. Me, I’m riding my trusty old 1991 Sancineto, weighing in at 22lbs but ready to ride.

Mile 0:  A great start

Our group of 3 departs Buellton at about 5:30 am and we quickly pass through the sleeping town of Solvang in the dark. It is a still morning, there is no wind, we have good pavement and the only sound is the hushed whisper of our spinning wheels. What a great way to start our ride!

Mile 36:  Riding like we mean it

After some early climbs we did enjoy a fast 12 mile run into the first rest stop at Sisquoc. Our group kept a tight and fast 28 mph rotation going on this section. We picked up just one rider for most of this, Eric from Davis California, but in the last few miles our group swelled to dozens.

Mile 67:  A quick snack

After the first rest stop, the next official rest is 45 miles distant. That is longer than I generally like to go without a break so we decided to stop in Arroyo Grande after about 30 miles instead. Mmmm, mini market burritos!

Mile 75:  The chase begins

The sun was starting to break out and I had already shed some of my clothing. When Joe and Craig stopped to do the same I continued riding, knowing they would catch up soon. Within a couple of miles they rode past me, in full pursuit mode, not knowing they went right by me. They would futilely chase me for miles before realizing their error.

Mile 87:  First lunch

Each rider has their own standards and preferences and ours happen to include real food. We skipped the second rest stop and went for fast food in San Luis Obispo. We beat the lunch rush at Carl’s Jr. and were in and out in no time. It was also nice to have a real restroom with no waiting in line for a porta-potty!

Mile 108: Second lunch

The official lunch stop was in Los Osos and we made quick work of it. The light winds we had in our face to get here would now be tailwinds for the rest of the day! Joe and Craig adventured ahead of me in the rolling terrain of this section.

Mile 137: Guadalupe Rest Stop

What can you say about Guadalupe? It’s not my favorite place. Maybe it’s because the town looks a little shabby, or perhaps that at this point in the ride it can be kind of a low point. Whatever, we regrouped here for the next pull to Los Alamos.

Mile 162: Los Alamos

We had a nice run into Los Alamos with the expected tailwinds and the route being fairly flat. I was feeling a little flat also and what should have been a sporting run became more of an easy cruise. One episode of shouting, flipping birds and diesel smoke from the local redneck contingent created a moment of excitement however.

The Home Stretch:

None of my fellow riders had ridden the next section since it had changed from when they last rode the event. We had just 4 climbs left in the ride and I knew them well. Overall though it was a very favorable run in and I knew that we would make it in full daylight. On this last leg I also got my second wind. I love it when that happens!

Final thoughts:

What a great day on the bike. I have done this ride in a faster time but rarely have I enjoyed it more. Good friends, good weather and a spectacular route. What else could you ask for? We finished the ride in 13 hours and 18 minutes, with 11 hours and 50 minutes on the bike.

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