Tuesday, April 07, 2009

My First Solvang Century

In the interest of trying to catch up to the here and now, this is my second blog this week! Karrazy schtuff.

For years I have heard many of the Backboners speaking of the delightful Solvang Century. Mostly when we attend the Firestone Walker mountain bike race (now the Santa Ynez Valley Classic) as the Century course passes right beside the race course.

This year I was finally formally invited by my road training partner and all around great gal Betsy. She sang sweet lies about enjoying my company and my winning smile or some bs like that, but when I got to the venue, I realized that the mighty munchkin bunch just needed a large object to draft behind for 100 miles!

And since Tim was smart enough not to fall for her woman trickery I was the only alternate. ;) But seriously it was an awesome group o girls and a lot o fun. Here we are pre-ride, l to r; Betsy, Jeannie, Me, Donna & Steph.

After a lazy late wakeup and breakfast of eggs and oatmeal & strawberries from Donna's 'J-Lo' trailer we were on our way, but not before all four girls donned their secret weapons, a US Post Office mail pouch inserted inside the front of their jerseys a la the newspapers Tour de France riders use. The weather was supremely cool with heavy cloud cover for most of the day and the double-layered laminated paper pouches would provide the ladies with unparalleled frontal wind protection! Who knew?

The ride went smoothly, with only Donna throwing in attacks right from the get-go. At the first aid station though, the group reformed after PB&J sammies, bananas and a pee break. We endured horrible scenery the entire ride; lush green rolling hills spotted with trees, valley after valley of gorgeous wine fields, and wildflowers of all colors.

With the temperature just below what I thought was perfect and a pace just below what I thought was optimal I eventually began to get antsy, though. Luckily, just before I went completely mad, about that time we were about 2/3 through the course and we started the hilly sections. Metaphorically thumbing my nose at the rest of the people who were just happy to finish a Century (except the guy riding the 3-speed 'Fat Tire Ale' beach cruiser, complete with fenders, fake gas tank, and racks) I proceeded to climb the hills at mach speed, only to flip a U-ie at the top, charge back down and do them again. It really worked out perfectly, too, as I would get to the top the second time just after the girls got up the first time, and the group would be whole again. Yay!

With only one pavement section that was torn up so much that you wanted to chew your arms off, the rest of the ride went splendidly. The girls, realizing that the end was near and they still felt great, were able to quicken their pace. Even the last climb which was rumored to be a hellish nightmare, which ran mere feet away from the dreaded dirt climb on the Firestone Walker course, was breezed over with so little effort that everyone was left wondering "Was that it?"

Seasoned century pros that we were, we even skipped the actual finish line, opting instead to head straight back to our deluxe campsite, for beers, a hot tub soak, and a great campfire cookout. Awesome stuff.

It's definitely a great ride and a great vibe.

Bonelli: Race Numero Uno!

Well, a lot late but here's a rundown.
My first race was supposed to be a "practice" Southridge Winter Series race a week previous, but since the Marzocchi on my Tomac had a blown Oh-Oh-O-ring the night before, I had to pass. I was unwilling to ride my lower back-pretzling Litespeed or the 35 lb. Kona.

So I came into Bonelli cold, which wasn't my first choice. I did pre-ride the new course on Saturday, though, so at least I would know what to expect in that regard. An interesting almost completely new course. And the only parts included from previous years were run in the opposite direction, so it might as well been brand new. Everything was either up or down, too, not much in the way of flats. And the downs were super-short :( It was still fun though, blowing past people and then jamming on the breaks at the last second before the hairpins at the bottom!

My main problem, though, was completely ignoring the readout on my Sigma HR monitor. I wear it race day for a reason. It was blinking wildly at me as I pounded out the first two laps between 190 and 200 beats a minute. Yes, even for my hummingbird heart that's too hard.
So after overenthusiatically chasing the lead group for 14 miles, 1/4 way into the 3rd lap my body had had enough. After that no amount of Amino Vital Fast Charge or caffeinated GU could speed my trudge to the finish line. :P It's definitely not fun watching riders in your class repass you and not be able to do anything about it.

But, lesson learned: Too fast + too soon = no bueno. And it was fun to start another season with a great team and great sponsors. Thanks have to go out to the man of men Roger for keeping shit organized and for hosing us down with the Nomad every lap! Ryan was kind enough to take on bottle-passing duty as well. And definitely great to have the PMBC crew out there! Great guys (and girls), awesome attitudes, and incredible FOOD. See you next time.