Today was the Solvang Double Century. They accept a maximum field of 550, which fills quickly. I got started late and when I reached their route, practically everyone had already gone by. I reached Los Olivos, then headed out Foxen Canyon Road and the long gradual climb to a corner that precedes a glorious down hill run. However, at the top, I took a minute to poke around in the weeds to see if I could find that rattlesnake I had seen last week. I heard what sounded like someone throwing up so turned to the road and in fact, there was a guy reaching the summit and gagging while throwing up. Gross. He saw me and said, "I knew I should not have eaten that." but kept going while making gurgling sounds and gagging some more. I jumped on the bike and enjoyed a 7-8 mile mostly down hill run to a small market at Garrey. After refueling, I proceeded to Santa Maria and stopped at Main Street Cyclry, to see if they had a special cork brake pad I needed. They did not but yanked the bike from me and proceeded to check everything. What great service.
I finally got my bike out of their clutches and confirmed what several have told me: My Bontrager crank arm sucks and I need a new Shimanno, my Bontrager wheels suck and my Look peddals are worn out (later, I stopped at Dr. J's and had the pedals replaced with snazzy new carbon pedals). I headed into uncharted waters west of Santa Maria. Very agricultural with vast fields of strawberries being picked, lettuce and other veggies. Through osmosis I felt better just soaking in all that vitamin A. I took Black Road south and geez, what a remote area, just wild California. I was headed to Casmalia, a very small village that has a market, except upon reaching it, I doscovered the market was closed. Headed over a small 2 mile climb and reached San Antonio Road, crossed Hightway 1 and got onto 135 and after several miles reached another remote town, Los Alamos. I was at mile 75 and headed up Drum Canyon Road, by far the roughest road I have ever been on. I believe this is where rookie pot hole fillers go to practice. I can imagine the conversation with their supervisors:
Trainee: Sir, I filled this pot hole but should I taper the edges, it is 5" above the road surface and may cause problems.
Supervisor: No leave it like that. My wife ran off with a cyclist and I want those SOBs to wear the edges down over time.
Anyway, it is a small climb of only 600' and then a glorious, if rocky, 5 mile down hill. Every bolt in the frame and my body needs tightening after that experience. Reached 246 and took it east, riding a tail wind and finally reached Solvang at 95 miles and 4100' of climbing.
I stopped at the bike shop to have the pedals replaced and chatted with the fellas. One guy said he had been out riding on Santa Rosa Road this week when a farmer stopped him and told him a mountain lion had crossed the road a few minutes ago. How cool is that? Another said he had climbed Refugio Road last week and saw a Bobcat. He told me next time I ride up the dirt portion, to pay attention to all the different paw prints. Because the area borders the Los Padres Forest of 2 million acres and also bordered by a large strip of coastal property, there is an abundance of wildlife. Gosh I love this place.
I ate at a good Chinese restaurant and then headed back out 246 to check out the Double Century finishers. Criminy, they were riding strong and some were finishing the 200 miles in under 12 hours. I kept retracing the route which included that dastardly Drum Canyon. By now, it was dark and I could see the head lights may up on the mountain. I really admired them.
Well, one day to go. I've hit almost all the major climbs and would like to join the group ride on Sunday but I also have not had a day off. What to do, what to do....