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2002 Solvang Century Ride Report
(Saturday, March 09 in Solvang, CA.)

This was my first organized ride (and first century) of 2002, so of course, I was really looking forward to it! I did the 50-mile route last year, which was pretty good, but the 100 was rumoured to be much nicer.

On Friday at 11am, I left Fremont and drove down towards San Luis Obispo to pick up my sister, Emily. I was nearly in SLO by 1:30, which was when she was getting out of her last class of the day, so I decided to head over to Morro Bay, enjoy the sights, and take some pictures. After messing around in Morro Bay for an hour or so, I got ahold of Emily and headed over to SLO and picked her up. We went shopping for a bit, and had some really good Creole food (I had gumbo, she had jambalaya - yummy!). Then we headed down to Lompoc (rhymes with "bomb smoke") to our hotel and waited for my Dad (Barry), and Mom (Sharle) to show up. Barry & Emily were doing the 50mi route again this year, since they hadn't been training all that much at all over the past few months. My mom would spend the day shopping and hook up with us after we were done riding. After everyone arrived, we piled into my car and headed over to Solvang to register and get our goody bags. Nothing too exciting in the goody bags this year, tho we did get some Solvang Century socks (in white - who thought that white was an OK color for bicycling socks!??).

After an uneventful registration (they're very well organized there), we went for the obligatory visit to Anderson's Pea Soup Restaurant and had, of course, pea soup (along with fettucini alfredo in my case). We then headed back to Lompoc to the hotel, got everything ready, and went to sleep. I slept absolutely horribly, as Barry, Emily, and my mother were all alternately snoring - aieeee! After tossing & turning for a few hours, I finally fell asleep at around 2.

We woke up a bit before the alarm went off, since some of our neighbors were up and leaving, but I didn't really clear the fog from my head until the buzzers went off at 6:20. After suiting up, Barry, Emily, & I drove over to Solvang.

There were TONS of bicyclists on the road (the highest bib number I saw was in the high 3000's, so I'd guess there were at least 2500'ish riders on the course, most of them doing the century!). Barry & Emily were cold and hungry so they decided to go get some warm food, while poor me had to start riding no later than 8 *sniff*. According to my car's thermometer, it was 36° in Solvang when I started rolling at 7:40 - brrrr!

The route headed from Solvang west to Buellton (where we stayed last year, but we were too slow to get a hotel there this year - its much preferable to Lompoc!). They were doing a lot of construction on Mission Avenue, so they had the police controlling every intersection through Solvang & Buellton. It definitely made things flow more smoothly. Once through Buellton, the route turned onto Santa Rosa Rd. and stayed there for the next 16 miles. I remembered this road from last year's Solvang Half-Century, and it was really pretty this year too. Lovely green rolling hills and valleys, almost no traffic at all, and warming temperatures. I hopped onto a few pacelines here and there, but fell back off of them when the road turned upwards. Before too long, I arrived in Lompoc and rest stop #1 at the Elk's Lodge (24mi). I refilled my water bottle (they didn't have any sports drink), had 1/2 of a PB&J, and headed back out. My goal for this ride was to not spend too terribly much time at the rest stops, as the time can really add up!

We headed out of Lompoc along Ocean Avenue for a ways at a very brisk clip (I was in a paceline, and there was a good tailwind - we were travelling at around 30mph for most of it!), then entered Vandenberg AFB at the 13th St. Gate. The guards at the gate checked everybody's arband to make sure that nobody was going on base who shouldn't be, and we continued up 13th St for a ways. This was a lovely road, with interesting rocks exposed where the road had been cut, and rolling hills and trees all around. There was little traffic (not that you'd expect a whole lot of traffic on an Air Force base :), and it had warmed up to a more reasonable temperature. We passed a missile-loading site and a communications calibration station, then got to rest stop #2 (44mi). They had Spiz at this rest stop, but still no sports drink, so I filled up a bottle with Spiz (which is really overkill for a not-too-difficult century!), had another half PB&J, stretched a few, and rolled back out.

After a fun, but short descent on Curly Rd., the route left the base, and headed north on Lompoc Casmalia Rd. This was a very lovely road, winding its way through the hills. It was mostly uphill for the first stretch, but not enough to cause any strain. Once in Casmalia, the road flattened out quite a bit, and I caught onto a paceline led by a tandem. For a long time, everybody we passed hopped onto the end of the line until it was 25-30 people long! This was a great line, setting a great pace (25mph), and the tandem towed us all the way to the next rest stop at the Raddison Hotel in Santa Maria (58mi). I refilled my water bottles (they had neither sports drink nor Spiz at this stop), had another 1/2 PB&J.

I was back on the road with the tandem in under 5 minutes. Alas, the tandem's pace was starting to wear on me, so I left their group and rode on my own south to Orcut, then east along Clark Rd. (where I caught onto another paceline) to Palmer Rd. Palmer Rd. was very pleasant, and meandered through the hills alongside some wineries. In no time, I arrived at rest stop #4 in Sisquoc (72mi). They had Spiz here, but I opted for just water this time, and had (you guessed it) 1/2 of a PB&J.

From Sisquoc, I headed east to Foxen Canyon Rd, which my Mom said is really lovely, and she was right! There were vineyards all about, beautiful green hills, and the occasional patch of wildflowers. Good thing the scenery was great, since the road was a constant uphill. Not steep for the most part, but loooong (and with a bit of a headwind the whole way). I rode with a woman who'd done the '01 Wildflower Century for a bit until the road turned more sharply upwards and she fell back (I learned later this was called Heartbreak Hill - it wasn't quite deserving of that moniker, but it certainly got the blood flowing!). After that spot of climbing, I met a nice fellow who was wearing a Grand Tour '01 jersey. He'd done the 300mi option last year - ouch! We rode together off and on until we got to rest stop #5 at the Firestone Winery (92mi). I thought it was odd to have a rest stop 10 miles from the finish until I looked up and saw where we were going :) I stayed a bit longer at this stop chatting with folks and stretching (and of course, having another 1/2 PB&J :)

I rode out with a guy I'd been talking to and we plodded up "The Wall." It actually wasn't as bad of a climb as it looked, and I spun my way up it at an OK clip. After a few more miles on Foxen Canyon Rd, we turned onto Ballard Canyon Rd, which had the last climb of the day. Again this wasn't a bad climb, winding its way up a few switchbacks along the vineyards. Near the top of Ballard Canyon, I ran into Pat from the Sun CA AIDS Ride 8 team, and we rode together for the last few miles. After the climb up Ballard Canyon, it descended gently back into Solvang, and a few turns later, I was back.

I met the family (who were busily eating lunch when I finished) at my car. They wanted to go sight-seeing in the Solvang area and check out the Missions, but I had seen enough sights for one day, so I went back to the hotel, showered, and headed back to Fremont. A scant 4 hours and 240 miles later, I got home, had a beer, and fell asleep.

This was a really, really beautiful ride! Save for the very cold morning, the weather was great. The support was unremarkable, however. It'd have been nice if they'd had more variety at the rest stops (they just had PB&Js, oranges, bananas, & cookies at all of them), and having something in between water and Spiz would definitely have been nice. I also saw only one support vehicle on the course (but since I didn't need one, I guess that doesn't really matter). It was a lot of fun riding with so many other riders - at no point were there less than a few dozen riders in sight! The number of pacelines was a bonus too!

Ride Stats:
Distance: 99mi (the route sheet said 102.1mi, but my bike computer said 98.9mi, and Topo! mapping software said 98.1mi)
Total Time: 7h 3m
On-bike Time: 6h 6m
Average Speed: 16.1mph
Maximum Speed: 43.5mph
Total Climbing: ~3,500 ft

Ride Rating:
Difficulty: 3 (but only because its really early in the season ;)
Support: 3
Food: 3 - sports drinks would have been really nice
Route: 5 - gorgeous!
Overall: 4


Last modified 08 February, 2011 MST
Copyright © 2009 Adam R. Paul
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