Thursday, April 08, 2010

Solvang Double Century Bike Ride

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving” (Albert Einstein)

The city of Solvang CA, pretty nice town.. Didn't have much time to check it out..

Last year when planning my running schedule for 2010, I thought I would like to become a better biker.. Well, the only way to get better at biking is to get on the bike and ride… so with that thought and the encouragement of Janet I signed up for two major biking events this year… The Solvang double century and the Death Ride.. This is the race report of the Solvang Double century…
Check out the elevation profile....

And let me tell you something about training for a double century… My God it is hard. Not much on your legs but on your buttocks and on the time you get to do something else. So I after I did my share of riding I finally felt ready… Going into tapering I was nervous but I was also excited.

On Friday before the race I drove south to Solvang… Janet, my training buddy, had to work so she was going to meet me in Solvang that night. I did not go to work on Friday so I could drive slow and take my time.. So I packed the night before and on Friday I left aiming to get to Solvang by 6pm. I was excited but also a little nervous. This was the first time I was going to ride for so long and also ride at night, I did not know what to expect.
Bikes all nice and secured on the roof of my car to take the 5+ hour ride to Solvang.

My commitment to become a better rider meant that I needed to step out of my comfort zone and actually embrace the challenge. And I did, I spent long hours on the bike, climbed lots of hills and became comfortable to be able to get out on my bike at any given day and ride lots. Interestingly when I signed up for this race I didn’t know what to expect, thus I was stressed and afraid. But, I really tried to use the fear in my training, Fear is our biggest enemy, and “Each time we face our fear, we gain strength, courage, and confidence in the doing” After I put the time on the saddle in training I thought, well I am ready, and I hope I will get to the finish line.

The drive was uneventful, I stopped at the outlet mall in Gilroy and got myself a few essentials, a new pair of shorts and a new biking jacket.. I arrived to the host hotel and checked us in, got our bib numbers and checked out their merchandise. The mood was pretty relaxed; it reminded me of the ultra marathon culture. Everybody is just relaxed and it seemed that everybody had done more than one double century… And here I am doing my first one, and did not know what to expect the next day.

After checking in, I drove to the grocery store and found myself some breakfast food. Stopped at a local Italian restaurant and order some carbs, drove to the hotel put our bikes in the room, inflated the tires, and sat down to enjoyed the rest of the evening…

Ride day..
We got up around 4:30 am… checked our bikes one more time, checked tire pressure, food etc. As soon as I stepped out of the room I thought to myself… Damn it is cold. I didn’t know how cold it was, but I sure felt it. Drove to the start, parked the car, checked in and we were on our way… First things first, I turned on up my lamp and Janet asked… “so you got the extra battery right?” I am like.. “What extra battery?” Luckily I had an extra flash light, a head lamp which actually worked well. But man it was cold and dark too. My poor hands and my feet were in pain not to mention my face as well. I wasn’t prepared for this kind of cold.. I couldn’t wait for the sun to show up and warm us up. We settled in a good rhythm, not too fast, not too slow, just consistent.. Then we hit the wind and OMG it was brutal, Janet and a couple of other people were a bit ahead of me and I could see them tilting over a bit, was a funny sight. And I am sure I was doing the same, a lady passed us and told us that we were riding funny, and I thought to myself, so this is what crosswinds feel like.. ugh!!

So then the sun started to warm up and I can feel my extremities come back to life. It felt good until I felt a sharp pain on the side of my leg, my IT band was starting to flare up and we were not even half way there. I got really scared, I could not pedal without pain and I felt absolutely horrible. We reached the second rest stop at mile 86 or so and I tried to stretch a little and took some ibuprofen and we were in our way. The funny thing about all of this that I remember me riding, but I truly don’t remember what was going through my head at that moment. I just remember I was in pain and it was a miserable time. We left the second rest stop and after a while the pain subsided (Thank God for Ibuprofen) and I felt strong again. I kept eating my newly discovered home made energy bars. They were good and filling and obviously were working. Janet had to remind me to eat as I tend to forget that…

One of the aid stations....

This is new to me... I never park my bike like that... ;)

The rest of the ride just got better and better. I think that the first century was harder than the second century. Once I passed the 120 mile mark which has been my longest ride ever, it was uncharted territory from there. But I felt stronger as the day went on… It was great.. We stopped for lunch and all they had was Subway sandwiches all with meat, I asked for vegetarian and of course they didn’t have any. I am glad I brought my own food including a can of goods which I almost forgot at the rest station. Thankfully Janet casually reminded me “are these your nuts?” A guy looked at us and started to laugh, he said “if you had that on video that would had been a great funny one”. We talked about that incident throughout the rest of the ride.
Are these your nuts?

No bad incidents to report, Thank God… except Janet got a Flat tire. She got a flat coming down on a very steep downhill.. She managed to get to the bottom of the hill. We changed her tire, took a well deserved break and we were in our way once again. I think, for me, this particular forced break was a blessing. Yes, we were coming out of a downhill, but I was really tired by now. We rode through some really nice areas including Morro Bay, along the beach in Pismo Beach, and by San Luis Obispo. All sights in this entire ride were freaking awesome, I was thinking that it was really a great day for a ride.
Janet chewing something or something.. :)

At mile 176 or so we had our last rest stop. It was here where we changed to our warm clothes once again. I put on my tights, arm warmers and jacket as the temperature was beginning to drop once again. We also got our flashlights ready for the night to come, ate some, and we were in our way for the last effort. Well as soon as we left the aid station we were welcomed to a very steep climb. The Drum Canyon climb, the road was very rough and then it got night and really dark. We managed to leave a few people behind as we were motivated to finish. We saw some people walking their bikes, but after a grueling day with more that 170 miles on the saddle there is no shame on that. The road was very rough and after we reached the summit we had to go down which was a challenge as it was steep, dark and the asphalt very rough. We managed to get down in one piece, and then it was just a few more miles to the finish line. Those were happy moments, we kept thinking.. WE DID IT.. Wow… I was happy and the best thing of all is that we finished in one piece, within the time limit and we finished strong.
Happy kids the day after.. :) We did it... Woohoo!!

I keep thinking.. Man I am such a lucky man. I am healthy, I got amazing friends including some as crazy as I am that will actually do this with me, and I feel blessed.


Elham said...

as cool as ever!

Anonymous said...

What an inspiration! If you ever feel like doing a challenge in Europe have a look at our site: