Solvang Double Century Felix Wong

It’s a new year and time for another double century. Months ago I had already decided that I would be attempting to complete the California Triple Crown for the second year in a row. But this year, having learned a number of things from the experiences of 1997, I would try things a little differently. As in:

  1. Getting plenty (or at least, some) sleep before the start of each ride.
  2. Make sure that all equipment is tested and reliable. No trying new equipment for the first time during a ride.
  3. Drink plenty of fluids and avoid dehydration.
  4. Go at a strategic pace rather than going all-out from the very get-go.
  5. Not getting injured during any of the rides.

In addition, for this particular double, I set the goal of finishing in personal record time. You see, last year I never could finish in a time even close to that of my first 200-miler, the 1996 Davis Double Century, despite numerous subsequent attempts. Not to mention that I did that ride all the way back in my junior year of college, and I wanted to prove to myself that I am in better shape now than I was back then. And the Solvang Double was the optimal ride to accomplish a P.R. because of it’s relatively flat terrain and cool temperatures. Also, later in the year I would be riding the Davis Double with a friend and just trying to *finish* the really difficult Terrible Two (which I ultimately would never do)… so this was to be my “fast” ride.

Prep time for Canny was minimal due to not getting any new equipment this year (unlike 1997) besides a shiny new Italmanubri Eclipse stem, which was 12 cm long as opposed to the 13 cm one that a friend lent me for several years (thanks Omar!) Oh, and regular butyl tubes instead of the ultralight crap. A quick cleaning was pretty much all I had to do on the Thursday night before the ride. And on Friday I left work early for once, like at 2:30p, since I wanted to arrive in Lompoc at a reasonable hour (see goal #1 above). And have time to do a little sightseeing along the drive.

The Drive

I figured, Lompoc was <300 miles, so I would have some time to take some pics along the coast. So I went up Highway 17 to Highway 1, and stopped at the Marina Dunes for 45 minutes or so. What a splendid place for a hike, being right next to the ocean, with great views, hardly any other people, and majestic flowers all over the place.

It had stopped raining by this time, and even though it had showered pretty much the entire day, I wanted to drive by the coast in style. So down goes Goldie‘s top. It turned out to be a bad call because near Monterey it started raining, and then pouring. I actually didn’t get wet at all while cruising along at 60 mph, but within Monterey, there were stop lights. But with my squeegee to wipe off the interior side of the windshield, and my Stanford cap to keep rain off of my glasses, all was okay… even with all the people around me gazing and thinking, “What kind of lunatic would drive with his top down in THIS kind of weather!”

Unfortunately, however, Highway 1 was closed south of Monterey to San Luis Obispo due to flooding. Doh. I had to backtrack and take a detour to Highway 1… this made me recall the 120 pointless miles near Yosemite en route to Death Valley last year. Ah well.

I get to Lompoc by 10:00p, and find a Motel 6 just two blocks away from the start. How convenient. So I check into a room and sleep for 5 hours… not bad.

The ride

I get up at 4:45a and look outside… it’s cold with a slight drizzle. So I wear two jerseys, cycling shorts, tights, earwarmers, armwormers, two pairs of socks + plastic bags, and cycling gloves. Still a little cold, I am over to the Inn of Lompoc in a jiffy. I stand in line with the other riders whose numbers are being barscanned, since this is a timed event. I leave at 5:50a.

It continues to rain in the morning for a few hours, but I managed to stay relatively warm and happy. The rain actually added to the prettiness, and I didn’t mind. It would taper off in the afternoon, and then it would become sunny, but not hot.

Hugh Murphy made it clear that there would be no pacelining or riding 2-3 abreast, so most riders were riding solo. This actually made the ride a lot more relaxing and meditative. Directions were clear, although I did miss one arrow (and hence got off course by 3 miles), and much better that the 1997 Grand Tour.

Canny was virtually flawless with no major mechanical problems. I would have no major injuries, aside from a little pain in both ankles towards the end of the ride. Fluid intake was definitely not a problem, although I had to make a potty stop at every single checkpoint. What a contrast from the Davis Double where I did not have to go to the bathroom once despite drinking a water bottle an hour…

And the scenery was great and terrain just moderately hilly, with the biggest climb coming at about Mile 188 along Highway 1. In other words, an uneventful, but very enjoyable and pretty ride. The following pictures say it all (click to enlarge).

The End

The route at the end of the ride passes by the famed Lompoc Penetentiary before returning to the Inn of Lompoc. At the finish awaited a friendly staff serving some excellent vegetable soup. I start up conversation with a friendly Berkeley grad who gives me advice on grad school. I forget her name but thanks, whoever you are.

Driving back up to Fremont, there are a lot of places to stop at, like Pismo Beach, the San Luis Obispo Historical Museum and Mission, Atascadero, etc. I even run into an old acquaintance from Stanford 20 miles south of Gilroy at an In-n-Out burger joint. So the Solvang Double was a good ride for an awesome weekend.

Ride Summary

  • 200 miles total
  • 14:10 total ride time (5:50-20:00), a new personal record.
  • 15.0 mph rolling average

Ride Rating

  • Scenery :5+
  • Relative double century difficulty: 2-
  • Organization/Ride Support: 3
  • Food: 3
  • Overall rating: 4

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