|Ron managed to get a photo of me.|
I roomed with Ron Ng at the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott in Buellton, the ride start, right next to Solvang. We got the room late, and all they had was a giant, cushy two-room suit. We toughed out. It was nice to be able to take the elevator to the ride start. That made the morning a lot easier than having to drive there from a different hotel.
I was a little worried. I thought I planned my clothing well, but the night before was windy and cold. Ron's friend suggested that though it would be forty-ish at the ride start, it could be in the 30s after we crossed into the next valley. I'd left my long-fingered gloves at home, and was thinking I'd need to wrap socks around my glove liners just to survive. But the morning was almost 50, and there was zero wind. The next valley was misty, but didn't get below the mid-forties. I wore a base layer, jersey, cheap-o sweatshirt I could leave behind, and a very light wind jacket. With my glove liners and knee warmers I was very comfortable. What a relief.
A 5 am doubles start is always interesting what with so many riders that have amazing lights and blinkies. I wonder what it would like from the air. We certainly must be hard to miss on the ground, with all the high-tech ultra-bright headlights that almost all riders seem to sport. Having so many riders with so many lights makes it easier to see the road too.
I always enjoy seeing the sky become lighter and lighter as the sun gets closer to rising. This year was very overcast, and there was a mist in the air that made the ride up the Foxen Canyon seem very mysterious and other worldly.
I rode well, but easily. I didn't want to go too hard at the start. I also kept to my plan of very, very short rest stops. I filled my bottle and jetted off. I didn't even sit down at all until the last rest stop. Sometimes, however, I get a bit slow even for me. At one point, as a tandem came quickly past, the stocker shouted "grab on" so I did. I went from 13 to 21mph in no time. I stayed with them for 10 miles until the next town where the organization fell apart. Still, it was an exhilarating 10 miles. I swore I'd remember their names, but my brain gets mushy on a ride this long. At least I got a photo. Thanks tandem folks!
Sometime in the first 100 miles when I stopped on a back road for a "natural" I glanced down and saw what I could only think of as a dire warning to cyclists. This demon was right there, ready to suck my soul right out my... Well, never mind. I moved on as quickly as I could.
This ride, despite the fish head demon, is pretty darn beautiful. The canyons are a delight, and rolling through Pismo Beach... let's just say it was hard to keep going and leave the ocean behind.
I'd been on a mission, with a goal of finishing before the sun dropped behind the horizon, but with less than 10 miles to go I had to just stop and make this photo. Is that not the perfect name for a winery? I wonder if they do discounts.
I managed to finish just before 7 pm (in the daylight!) with a total time of 13:55:47 and a moving time of 13:06:08, which means I didn't spend much time not riding.
The only thing close to drama was after I finished, showered and changed, Ron still hadn't arrived, which worried me as he is usually slightly stronger than I am. I had dinner, and he still hadn't come in. I was worried enough that I checked with the organizers to see if there had been any on-road "issues" and was told everyone was on target to finish. I still was concerned. Ron eventually rolled in looking great. It seems he'd hooked up with friends who had a series of flats. He stayed with them to help out, and all was fine.