Sunday, April 01, 2007

Solvang Spring Double Century

We arrived in Solvang just in time to check in for the ride on Friday night, after a long drive in heavy traffic. Much of the time in the car was spent trying to decide what time I would start in the morning, in relation to George's 7:30 a.m. start time. Recalling that I had a 45 minute head start at Butterfield Double and that he caught me by the first rest stop at mile 38, we decided that a 6:30 a.m. start would be good. It would be the earliest that I could safely leave without carrying lights, which we would drop with the ride organizers in the morning and pick up at a later rest stop.

After checking in, we were off in search of some food and Firestone Vineyard where we would be staying in a guest house on the grounds. We got settled in, and then it was off to bed for me. I was exhausted and facing another early morning start. When the alarm went off at 5:00 a.m. I didn't want to get up, thinking that I could easily enjoy a day relaxing around the winery and exploring the town (just kidding...though I was asked at registration if I would just be hanging around town while George was Ummm...HELL NO! I'm riding too!) but I dragged myself out of bed and started getting ready. George made a breakfast of bacon, eggs, bagels and yogurt while I rushed around trying to make sure that I had everything that I needed. We left Firestone and headed toward the ride start, slightly behind schedule. As we drove down Foxen Canyon, we saw some of the first riders who must have left at 5:00 a.m. The farther we drove, the more cyclists lights we saw, what a great sight!

Having left a few minutes behind schedule, we of course...arrived at the host hotel a few minutes later than we would have liked. I ended up rolling out alone at 6:40 a.m. Brrrrrrrr...that pretty much sums up the first hour of my ride, at least! I was freezing, having opted to suffer for a short time so that I wouldn't have to ride with knee warmers in my very tiny jersey pockets for the rest of the day. I rode alone until the first climb on Foxen Canyon, where I joined up with a group that had left shortly before I had. Following George's advice, I secured myself a spot in a paceline with a great group of three brothers, one of their wives and a friend of theirs. I stayed with them through the first rest stop and we all left together. We rotated several times and after I dropped back after a strong pull up front, we were suddenly being passed by a train of tandems and a split second decision was made to jump on the back. The tandems kept a fast pace and we were with them for awhile, until a few of us decided that we were pushing too hard to keep up with them through some of the rolling terrain and opted to take it easy and let them go.

At this point, though I was trying to get as far along as I could before George caught up to me, I was also thinking about conserving some energy, knowing that I would be pushing a higher pace once he did join me. As we made a sudden turn, we lost one of the guys from the group, so we pulled off of the road as someone went back to find him. We weren't rolling for long before one of the riders needed to stop for some water, so we pulled off again. I had a feeling at this point that George couldn't be too far now and that he would show up any minute, as I'm standing on the side of the road, motionless, waiting for this rider to buy some water at the store across the street. Sure enough, just a couple of minutes after we stopped, there he is and he shouts "I WASN'T SUPPOSED TO CATCH YOU YET!" I think that was code're going too damn slow. ;) I said goodbye to my new friends and we were off. Shortly after meeting up he turns to me and says "I'm going to push you today, but you'll thank me later." Huh? What? Ahhhhh crap, I'm in for it now. With that, he picked up the pace as we made our way toward the second rest stop. At some point (NOTE: this ride report may or may not be accurate, it's all a blur now...hell, it was all a blur DURING the ride!) he threw me into a paceline with some very strong 7:30 a.m. starters. I tried hard to hang on and was able to for a while, but eventually I couldn't keep the pace that they were going, so I let go. Shortly after that we reached the second rest stop.

It was a mad rush to refill bottles, grab electrolytes and Advil, and use the restroom before hitting the road again. As we rolled out, the same tandems that we had joined up with earlier rolled out as well. George didn't even have to say it because I knew what was coming next. The words were familiar as I've heard them before ~tandems punch a big hole in the air and provide a great draft ~never pass a tandem on rolling terrain ~if you have the wheel of a tandem, don't let it go! So grab the wheel of a tandem, I did! George was right, the tandems do provide a great draft, but they were not easy to keep pace with unless we were climbing. That seemed to be the only time that I felt like I could handle the pace comfortably.

As we pulled out of the "not so secret control point" in Morro Bay, we saw M.E., Joel, John and Bill who appeared to be on a restroom stop. We waved hello and were on our way. This is where my competitive beast reared it's ugly little head, I'm woman enough to admit this much. I was thrilled to have passed them, knowing that they had started before me, in the dark. As hard as I was pushing and struggling, seeing them gave me a boost, assurance that my hard work was paying off and that I was on my way to finishing my second double century with a decent time. Feeling like I was fueling well with the Sustained Energy provided at the rest stops, I asked George whether we were stopping for lunch. One of the tandem guys answered that they were planning to eat and we made the decision to stop as well so that we could continue on with them.

At the lunch stop I grabbed sandwiches and V8 as George took care of refilling our bottles and grabbing more electrolytes for us. We sat to eat, keeping an eye on the tandem riders so we could leave together. As we were standing in line to use the restroom, M.E., Joel, John and Bill pulled in. I shouted "Happy Birthday Joel!" across the parking lot and M.E. came over and snapped a picture of us and then we were ready to roll again after a 28 minute stop. It as during this next section of the ride that I hit my low point for the day. Unbeknownst to those I was riding with, I was seriously suffering. Not that I hadn't been suffering trying to keep pace with the tandems all day, but this was different, I was really suffering. It was apparent within several miles of leaving the lunch stop that I made the wrong decision and that I should have stuck with liquid fuel. I spent at least 20 miles nauseous with my lunch in my throat and the V8 would have been the first thing to come up...I could taste it right there. I rode in silence, not mentioning how horrible I felt because I knew that if I did, I would totally lose it. George realized that there was something wrong when I was refusing to drink when he prompted me to. I tried to sip, but I couldn't and finally I told George how awful I felt. Not wanting to lose the tandems, George took over, literally pushing me in order to give me a couple of minutes to recover. It wasn't the first push that I would accept from him, nor would it be the last. Those little reprieves from the hard pace were just what I needed at the time.

With much effort, we made it into the next rest stop having not touched my bottles at all since the lunch stop. I believe that this was the point that I started telling George that I hated him. He was pushing me to my limits, limits that I never would have pushed myself to and I was feeling beat and didn't hold back in telling him, or anyone else who would listen for that matter! I remember one man asking me how I was doing and I answered back "HE'S TRYING TO KILL ME!" As we looked around the rest stop, he pointed out that I wasn't the only one who was hurting. The exhausted looks on the faces of most of the riders said it all...he was right. As we were getting ready to get back on the road George told me that there were only 50-ish miles to go...a club ride, that's it! One of the tandem riders said..."even better, only 30 miles to the next rest stop!" Okay, 30 miles was do-able, even if it was going to hurt. I started fueling right away and was beginning to feel a little bit better. I don't recall much of this section, though I was feeling better than I had on the last section, and that's all that matters! I'm sure that I told George that I hated him a couple more times, but he can take it.

The first thing that I saw when I pulled into the last rest stop was...lots of people resting! As tired as I was, we were less than 20 miles from the finish and I just wanted to be done. We went to our routine of bottle filling, restroom breaks and quick "hello's" to other riders and volunteers. The Cup'O Noodle was calling my name, but fear of more solid food and desire to just get it done, had me skipping it. George and I left the tandem riders who were resting and headed out to climb Drum Canyon. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. What sadistic freak puts that at mile 175 of a double century? Oh, who am I kidding? If I organized the ride I would have done the same torturous thing. ;) If I recall correctly, I stopped telling George that I hated him on Drum Canyon, but only because he was hurting more than I was, riding on a 49x15 fixed gear. Finally reaching the top, I was ready for a fun descent...but OUCH! OUCH! OUCH! The road was horrible and as I passed George on the descent he warned me to be careful, so I slowed it down considerably.

After descending Drum Canyon I felt great! My spirits were high, I turned on my iPod, grabbed George's wheel and we took off. The closer that we got to the finish, the more riders we passed. I had gotten a second wind and George was now counting down the miles for me. 7 miles! 4 miles! <~~~that was the best, four miles. Anyone can ride four miles...and I was going to do it...and do it fast! The road was familiar again, I knew exactly where I was and how far I had to go. As we came up the final hill into Solvang, I asked George what time it was...6:38 p.m. I told him that I was so close to finishing sub 12:00. It wasn't a goal of mine, as a matter of fact, I would have never dreamed of having a time anywhere close to that considering I did Butterfield in 14:25 and was very happy with that time. Suddenly at that moment, it became the goal and I was so close, but even the sprint to the finish couldn't seal the deal. I came in at 6:41 p.m. which gave me a total time of 12:01.

The second that I got off of the bike, all of the pain, all of the suffering I had all went away and was replaced by smiles, hugs, sheer joy and pride. George was right, he pushed me and though I wouldn't have said it until that very moment, I was thankful for that. I tested my limits like they had never been tested before and I never would have known that I had that in me, had he not pushed me to achieve it.

1 comment:

J Fischer said...

Awesome ride review Brandy! Hell, I'm going to be doing back flips when I finally complete a single century, I can't imagine how good it will feel to be strong enough for a double. All you SoCal crew really know how to make a guy envious of all the great rides and ride weather you all enjoy. Look forward to reading about the next one!