Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Lighthouse Century—September 2004

San Luis Obispo, California

The Green Valley Cyclists in their first off-station ride of the year roared into San Luis Obispo and gave central coast Californians a taste of Nevada style riding. JC, Linda, Perri, Kim, Sherri, Dick, Eddy, Dennis, Julia, Jim, Sandy, Mark, Bobbie and Kent all came away after the ride with a smile that denotes a sense of accomplishment.

The ride was also a resounding success for the SLOBC folks. Greater than 1300 riders took to the roads covering the metric century, the highland century, and the lowland century. Without a doubt this has to be one of the best supported and organized century rides in the country. Everything from food to route marking, to just plain good old hospitality was outstanding. If you do one ride in California next year, I highly recommend this one. The lowland century is a perfect first timer. The route is easy to follow, has just a wee bit of climbing and the rest stops are plentiful for the fledgling centurion. The highland route offers great vistas, climbs through the central coast and finishes up with the lowlanders at or around the 50 mile point. For those not up for the whole 100 miles, the metric is a perfect substitute. The metric route follows the lowlander routing but stops in the quaint town of Cambria that coincides with the awesome lunch stop. Several Green Valley Cyclists opted for this route this past Saturday.

We all agreed to meet in the parking lot of Cunega College for the start at 6:45. I could tell that Eddy and Kim where particularly excited seeing as how this was their first century attempt. The fun part of these rides is to witness all the preparation that goes on in the parking lot. Conversations abound, people packing supplies into jerseys, etc. The long lines at the honey huts (porta poties) are particularly interesting. You can always tell who downed that extra cup of coffee before driving over to the start point. One bit of advice when finishing up your business. Don't tuck your jersey into your shorts once you are done. You look kinda like a little kid trying to look like Spiderman, not mentioned giving away what business you were really doing in there.

The temperature at this time of year along the central coast can be a bit nippy. Eddy informed me that the old mercury was hovering around 53 degrees. This kept both of us wondering whether or not we came prepared enough in terms of clothing. I can say from experience, that a little less is usually better. Once you get going, the old body temperature starts to rise and all that extra clothing becomes somewhat of a nuisance.

After grabbing a couple of prestart pictures of the group, we headed out of the parking lot eagerly anticipating the journey ahead of us. Then it happened not more that 100 feet from the start. FLAT! I though to myself, you gotta be kidding me! Turned out that Mark punctured just after rolling out of the parking lot. I was one of the first to roll up and offer assistance. I said, "That's got to be a record!" Mark looked at me and started changing his tire when Dennis rolled up and said "Wow! That's a record" Not be out done, Dick rolled up to offer his help and said, "Man! that's a record!" The look on Mark's face was rather priceless. We all laughed and agreed that we overstated the obvious a few too many times. Kinda like going up to a real pregnant women and saying, "Gee are you pregnant or what?"

The lowland century route takes you back into San Luis for a short bit before venturing out into the countryside. The route up Hwy 1 into San Luis has a few surprises, especially when it is somewhat dark outside. A few riders were a bit unprepared for the hidden ruts in the road on the downhill into the city. One lady wiped out and eventually abandoned the ride. Sandy saw another guy sliding down the hill next to his bike in the middle of the road! Now I know it is not funny to take humor at someone else's misfortune, but the mental thought I had at that moment made me chuckle just a bit. The bottomline here is to let the rabbits all go there way. You will eventually see them again along the way.

As we made our way up Los Osos road and back to Hwy 1, Dennis, Dick, Eddy and myself decided to "pump up the volume" a bit. The pace was reasonable and welcome because we started to warm up given the extra effort. As we entered Hwy 1 North, the sun started to peak over the mountains and the clouds gave way to an awesome sunrise. There is just something really cool about riding along the beach at the break of daylight. The air is cool and the sounds and smell of the sea all seem rather relaxing. The quick pace brought us into Cayucos for out first rest stop of the day. The layout here was awesome! Everything, bagels, fruit, coffee, donuts, you name it. And...plenty of it!

The route from here darts inland for a few miles and meets up with he highland riders at the junction of Hwy 1 and Hwy 46. All riders basically follow the same route from here to Cambria. This kinda cool because the pacelines seem to get bigger as riders join up along the way. The only real climb on the lowland route starts just after the Hwy junction. The climb is not too long and the grade is reasonable, at least for some riders. After the long climb, you are rewarded with a bomber downhill thrust into Cambria. This is the turnaround point for the Metric folks and the lunch stop for all. The sweet thing about the Metric route is that you get first dibs on all the food! The lowland and highland crowd keeps pedaling for another 20 miles or so to the lighthouse turnaround.

Cruising past Hearst Castle is always a pleasure and even displays a few surprises along the way. As we reached San Simeon, we were greeted by a heard of Zebras that are remnants of the Hearst's zoo. It was a very interesting site to see the great American cattle grazing next to Zebras. This was also the point where Mr. Wind and his brother Mr. Gust met us with their not so pleasurable ride offerings. Dennis, Eddy, and myself found a great paceline spearheaded by the crazy Kern County Wheelmen. These guys/gals are stronger than oxen. They took turns pulling the entire group all the way to the lightouse turnaround. Great folks and great fun!
After some minor refueling and relieving, the 3 of us pushed up so we could get to some of that great lunch. If you are a century rider, the lunch stop comes at about the 72 mile point so it is a good idea to take advantage of some of the food at the earlier stops. The scene at the park was amazing. Light breeze, blue sky, temperature in the mid 60s to low 70s and a literal sea of bikes everywhere! I think I saw every make and model of every bike ever manufactured laying of standing in that place. Everything from a 5 speed steel Peugeot to Calfee dotted the landscape.

I must say that if you like to eat on these rides, this is the one for you! Being sort of an endurance kind of guy, I've learned that food can do a few not so good things to you if you are not careful. So, I pick and choose my fuel pretty carefully now. I've had a few of those not-so-good HAZMAT gas-events in the past! The SLOBC folks really out did themselves with this spread. You could choose from three different lunch meats, 3 different types of salad, several types of drinks, and they even served desert. Me, I just had my standard small sandwich loaded with no gas producing extras or condiments. Eddy looked pretty pleased and satisfied with the spread and Dennis stayed with his long time tradition of having a piece of pie as his long awaited ride reward.

The only bad thing about putting the lunch stop at the bottom of a big long hill is that fact that you have climb the big belly back up the hill to get to the other side. I guess that the upside is that you get to go faster on the downhill now because that extra food acts like extra weight. The last 30 miles is basically a repeat of the first part of the ride. Only this time you get Mr. Wind at your back and the roads are full of cars and people. Just after Cayucos, we picked up a pretty fast tandem team for about 6 miles. After that lunch and 80 miles under our legs we decided to let them go and not punish them any longer with our massive single bike strength and stamina.

The nice thing about finishing this ride is that you get to do it downhill! The long downhill takes you straight into the finish line at the college. It was great to see the people standing along the side walk waiting for their friends and relatives to show up after a long day in the saddle. I managed to get a few minutes on Eddy and Dennis and it was a real pleasure to get their pictures as they came in. This was Eddy's first century and Dennis' first century after getting a couple of new bionic hips! Both finished the 102 miles in 5:39! That's almost an 18 mph average! Well done! See you next year in San Luis Obispo for Lighthouse 2005.

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