Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Solvang Double Century, March 2007

What another awesome event put on by Planet Ultra! After bailing out of last year's rain fest, I decided to take this one on again this year. My mileage and training were a little better anyway, so I was looking forward to the challenge. I've written about this double before and described all the scenery and how wonderful the area is so this time I thought I would focus on my thoughts before, during and after the ride. Warning: Not all the words in this report are positive and filled with uplifting descriptive metaphors.

The beginning of pain!

The Beginning of Pain

Originally, I wanted to do this thing solo and just pickup ride partners and acquaintances along the way who may be riding my pace. Well, the guys I ride with here in Vegas now and again wanted to get together and "ride together." The problem with "riding together" is that phenomenon I like to call rider’s agenda. You see, no matter how matched you are in ability, someone, or everyone, has a different idea of what the ride is supposed to be. These guys like to ride fast, which I enjoy as well, but not for 12 hours and 200 freakin’ miles. I voiced my concern and stated that we should just enjoy the ride, forget about making time, and take in some scenery. It was boldly stated, "We'll just stick together and ride in our own little group." So, I bought off on this carpet-bagging bit of rhetoric and I paid for it dearly.

One of many chases

One of Many Chases!!

From the git-go, it was horses out of the barn, or horses back to the barn, whichever you prefer. Not wanting to get dropped, I hung on dearly to the flashing red light in front of me and I kept thinking to myself that this was going to be a long hard day at this pace and just what in hell were we doing!? F!@#! Not a good way to start a Double Century! I soon found myself no longer interested in the scenery, smelling the flowers, or enjoying the early morning sunshine. All I could do was look at the wheel, or butt in front of me. Why not just drop off and do your own ride, you ask? Well, I think it is a pack thing, like dogs for instance, with humans, especially males. We still have not bred that mentality out of our DNA for some reason. It also has a lot to do with male ego or some other undiagnosed messed-up mental malady. I just don't know for sure. So, I chased; they chased; and then we all chased some more. By the time I got to Morro Bay (the 100 mile point) 5 hours and 12 minutes later, and chasing like hell after being dropped on two earlier climbs, I was pissed and I had had enough of this bullshit. "We will all stay together" should be translated into: "You better keep up, or you can hang out your garage sale sign and lie down with the other road kill."

Lowest speed all day!!

Slowest Freakin' Speed all Day!

I guess I was more pissed at myself for letting this happen, because after all, it was my own decision to ride with these knuckleheads. Gone was the anticipation and potential joy of having a really good time; gone was the smell of the flowers along the way, and gone was the enthusiasm for just riding my freakin' bike! All I wanted to do was get off the damned thing and find a cool place to sit and have a beer. What a waste! I even toyed with the idea of just pulling over, calling my wife for a ride in, and chalking the whole thing up as another wasted moment in life. I guess I kinda snapped or had an epiphany of sorts at, or around, the 120 mile point. It was like I stepped outside of myself and took a long hard look at this pitiful, unhappy, human called a bike rider and realized that this was just plain stupid. I've had this feeling before. I call it the, "this is just plain stupid" point. It is like an invisible line in the sand that I cross over and realize the time is now for a change. Kinda like that song with the lyric that goes: "If you're tired of fighten battles with yourself, change your mind." Well, at Shell Beach and 120 miles later, that's exactly what I did. I sat up, slowed my cadence and watched the train of hammerheads pull away. A really strange thing happened then. I seemed to have stepped back into myself and suddenly got this feeling of total relief.

The joy returns!

The Look of Joy Returning

As I slowed down, my body became totally relaxed, the pain left my legs, and I noticed how good the cool sea breeze felt as it gently made its way through the hair on my arms. Funny what you notice when you actually take the time to pay attention. Shortly after leaving Shell Beach, I stopped at a convenience store about 8 miles from Guadalupe and while paying for my water, had a great conversation with the friendly cashier about all kinds of stuff. Armed with a great feeling and new attitude, I hopped back on the bike and came to the realization that, "Ya know, I really am gonna enjoy the rest of this ride!"

Smelling the flowers again

Riding My Ride!!

The garmin deciding to go "nite, nite", I had no idea how fast I was going or what my mileage was and I couldn't have cared less. I just got into a groove and stayed there all the way to Los Alamos. There were a few moments of friendly conversation with other riders that passed me and that I passed along the way, but otherwise I just stayed in my zone taking in the whole Zen kind of experience. The climb up and over Drum Canyon sucked as always and the road offered no relief going up or going down for that matter. They really should pave that thing, because it is about 6 miles of agonizing downhill all the way to the highway that finally leads you back to Solvang. The sun was setting ever so slowly casting its color changing effect on the landscape with every moment that passed. Turning onto the highway back to Solvang, I could feel the wind at my back and I was feeling good again.

The road to Guadalupe

The Road to Guadalupe

After 175 miles I was feeling surprisingly strong and the anticipation of the finish gave me a jolt of enthusiasm. I got passed by a tandem and some other wheel sucker going through Buelton with a terse, "On your left, on your left" grunt. But, somehow I managed to catch them both just before the little quarter-mile climb into Solvang. I don't know whether it was the good endorphins or the final release of frustration from a long hard day, but I put it in the big ring and hammered by them like the Starship Enterprise at warp 9. Damn, that felt good! At the finish line, the usual throngs of Mozam's fan club were waiting at the podium for me with flowers and champagne, but I brushed them off for a hot shower and a subway sandwich instead.

Stats: 193 miles, 12 hours, 00 minutes, 23 seconds total time. Riding time unknown. First 100 miles: 5 hours, 12 minutes, 00 seconds.

A long day's reward

A Long Hard Day's Reward!

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