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Solvang Century & Half Century - CycleCentury

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Solvang, California
United States
SCOR Cardiac Cyclists Club
70F / 21C
Total Time = 3h 57m 33s
Overall Rank = /
Age Group =
Age Group Rank = 0/
Pre-race routine:

The drive up to Pismo was uneventful. Took about 4 hours, and traffic was heavy thru LA, but moving at a steady clip. When I arrived at Greg's, he was busy finishing some modifications to his mountain bike -- he had the LBS cut his handlebars since they were too wide, and he installed two bar ends, but not at the ends (as you would expect), but towards the middle. They almost looked like little aerobars, LOL. At least this gave him more than one single position for his hands. We were both starving so we tried out this divey Mexican market near his house, that also had an eatery in the back. Their burritos were awesome, and as big as your head. After inhaling them, we decided it was probably a stupid move, what with 50 miles of sitting on a bike the next day -- though we joked that it might spur both of us to stay in front of the other, hence making better time. ;)

Event warmup:

We woke up at 6:30 am the next day. Um, ok, let me rephrase that. The alarm went off at 6:30 and we got up, though I don't think it actually involved waking up. Thankfully we had the forethought to get the bikes in the back of the Xterra the night before, or I'm sure one of us would've been missing a wheel or something essential once we got to Solvang. Traffic wasn't bad at all, which surprised me, given that this event draws over 5,000 people each year. We found parking on a side street within 5 minutes or so, and hoofed it over to the registration area to pick up our packets. The riders in the full century had already left before we got there, and the first wave of the 50-milers wasn't due for another half hour, so we hit a local cafe and tanked up on some badly needed caffeine.

Around 10 am, we walked back to the car and got the bikes out and ready to go. The sun was out and it felt like it would be a warm day, so I opted not to bring any raincoat. And I decided not to wear my long-sleeved jersey, and instead borrowed one of Greg's short-sleeved tech shirts. As almost an afterthought I did throw my long-sleeved jersey in the seat bag, which turned out to be a smart move. We biked over to the start line, and realized we were close to being the last riders to head out on the 50-mile course -- it was already 10:30 am. Ah well, true to form. ;)

  • 3h 57m 33s
  • 50 miles
  • 12.63 mile/hr

According to the elevation profile we found online, it looked like the first 23 miles of the half century were mostly downhill, whereas the second half showed some very steep looking climbs. So we fully expected the first half to be easy. Yeah, right... First off, immediately after we got out of Solvang, we were hit with a nasty headwind which tormented us for the next 23 solid miles. And there were gusts that must've topped 30 mph, as twice I was nearly blown off my bike sideways. And if that wasn't enough, what looked like little bumps on the elevation graph turned out to be steep-azzed climbs, about 5 or 10 miles into the ride. Greg had a triple chainring on his mountain bike, so he was all set to take on these "bumps". But I had a compact double on my bike. I gave it my all, but had to unclip and stop to catch my breath 3 or 4 times on these evil climbs. However, I was pretty proud of the fact that I never had to walk the bike up the hill -- I was able to clip back in and just mash it out to the top. I chose not to wear my HRM on purpose, but I'm quite certain I hit max HR on those climbs.

The downhills were a blast -- though all the bumps, potholes, and loose gravel here and there kept me from really relaxing and enjoying them. According to my Garmin, I broke 37 mph, which was scary but fun! A record for me.

We rolled in to the one and only SAG stop at mile 23, and realized we had arrived just in the nick of time. They had already started to take down the tents, and pack up the food. I grabbed one of the very last bagels, and found a jar with some peanut butter and jelly left, which I promptly devoured. At this point, the wind had reached its fiercest, blowing chairs over and down the sidewalk. Even though it was sunny, the wind brought a chill to my bones, so I switched to my long-sleeved jersey (that I had thankfully packed), and Greg threw on his long-sleeved shirt. Many riders were choosing to forego the official 27-mile route back to Solvang, opting instead to take the same route back that we had come on. I wasn't quite sure why, though I think I discovered why a bit later. We got back on the official route, which took us through the residential streets of Lompoc. Interesting town -- one section we rode through was fairly poor and run down, but then right next to it was an obviously affluent neighborhood. At the edge of town, the route took us back to Highway 246, which we then stayed on all the way back to Solvang.

Ironically, this second half turned out not to be as vicious and demanding as the first (despite how it looked on the elevation profile) -- there were two sizeable climbs, but they were long and gradual, and never once did I get so winded that I needed to stop. Plus, we were finally blessed with a tailwind for 10 or 15 miles, which helped tremendously. What sucked, however, was the constant flow of traffic -- trucks and cars whizzing by at 65 mph, sometimes within just a few feet. That really unnerved me, since I'm not used to riding next to traffic at all. And I suspect this was the main reason why lots of folks chose to return to Solvang via the original route.

We reached the finish line at around 3:50 pm, I believe, for a total elapsed time of 5:20. According to my Garmin, though, our total time actually biking was 3:57, for an average pace of 12.5 mph. Total climbed: 2400 ft. Avg. cadence: 75. Calories: 3300.

Photo Album:

Post race
Warm down:

At the finish line, they had set up a huge area for the post-race BBQ, along with the usual vendor tents. Tons of people hanging out eating and drinking. Both of us were completely exhausted, though, so we opted to call it a day and head out, since we still had an hour and a half drive back to Pismo. Once back, we stopped at Denny's and had lots of wonderful breakfast food -- scrambled eggs, sausage, hash browns, pancakes, etc. Perfect post-race dinner. Got back to Greg's apartment and both promptly fell asleep.

Very memorable event for my first long-distance bike ride. Looking forward to doing the half-century again next year, or perhaps even the full!

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Not training enough for hills was the biggest limiter for me. Other than that, the nasty wind, and the lack of a triple chainring. Oh and the fact that I'm still carrying about 40 pounds too much of myself around. ;)

Event comments:

I know the main draw for this event is the full century. Having said that, I think they short-changed those of us doing the half. A single SAG stop? Come on, that's pretty lame. At least have a water stop or two. And roving SAG support? Where was it? I never saw a single vehicle, and we passed several groups who were fixing flats, etc.

Like I said, I'm sure the focus was the full century, and that's fine. I just think they could've done a little more for the half, as well.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2008-01-20 12:00 AM
03:57:33 | 50 miles | 12.63 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Performance: Good
Road: Rough Dry Cadence: 75
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Drinks: Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? No
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 3

2008-03-09 9:17 PM

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Irvine, California
Subject: Solvang Century & Half Century

2008-03-09 9:26 PM
in reply to: #1262022

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Melon Presser
Subject: RE: Solvang Century & Half Century

Wow, Keith, you are HARD CORE!!! Congratulations on a super ride, especially with such nasty conditions. Wind is bitter, indeed.

I was thinking about you and sending you good vibes all weekend, and was doing a long ride about the same time. 

Dude, have you not learned about Mexican food before big races ...

2008-03-09 9:32 PM
in reply to: #1262022

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Goodyear, AZ
Subject: RE: Solvang Century & Half Century

Wow! sounds like a crazy ride. You guys did great! There's no way I could have gone down those hills that fast!

Well done!

2008-03-09 11:10 PM
in reply to: #1262022

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Columbus, GA
Subject: RE: Solvang Century & Half Century

Nice ride dude!! Great job. :D When are we going riding dude??


peace out!! 

2008-03-09 11:13 PM
in reply to: #1262022

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Los Angeles, CA
Subject: RE: Solvang Century & Half Century
Congrats on the 50 miler. I agree with the course, very hilly and windy.

I did the 100 miler but re: the roving SAG which was a yellow penske truck, followed by a white carpool looking van, no visible tags or lettering saying it was SAG, that's why you might have missed it, I saw it twice, once at the 23 miler food station and then once at another stop...I think around mile 60. It was following the 100 miler route for sure. I never saw it help anyone. I saw about a dozen people having problems and no SAG around.

But I agree with you, it did not have much support at all. Besides the one roving SAG I saw, the aid stations were terrible. One of them almost ran out of water.

Well, I only paid $65 for the century so I can't except much. Not sure what you guys paid for the 50.
2008-03-09 11:27 PM
in reply to: #1262022

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Extreme Veteran
Subject: RE: Solvang Century & Half Century
Hello Mr. Blueberry! No, just kidding...that made me laugh. Congratulations on the awesome finish! Great job - sounds like you enjoyed it too. Nice pics.

Edited by DoloresM2 2008-03-09 11:29 PM

2008-03-10 12:01 AM
in reply to: #1262202

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Irvine, California
Subject: RE: Solvang Century & Half Century

Thanks for the grats, you all!

2008-03-10 8:15 AM
in reply to: #1262022

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Extreme Veteran
Columbia, South Carolina
Subject: RE: Solvang Century & Half Century
Great job!  Not the best conditions all around but you certainly made the most of what you had!  It's lots of fun to fly downhill (as long as the roads are good)...I think so far the max speed I've hit is 35mph.
2008-03-10 9:06 AM
in reply to: #1262022

Corona, CA
Subject: RE: Solvang Century & Half Century
Great job Keith!
2008-03-10 12:04 PM
in reply to: #1262022

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Subject: RE: Solvang Century & Half Century
Glad you enjoyed your ride!  Great job!
2008-03-10 6:38 PM
in reply to: #1262022

Subject: ...
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2008-03-11 2:12 PM
in reply to: #1262022

Subject: RE: Solvang Century & Half Century
Wow, 50 miles with headwinds and hills, that's amazing, congratulations!
2008-03-14 5:46 PM
in reply to: #1262022

Subject: RE: Solvang Century & Half Century
Great job out there! It loos like a fun event, I've always been interested. Congrats.
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