Archive for the 'Solvang Double' category

2013 Solvang Spring Double

March 24, 2013 10:00 pm
2013 Solvang Spring Double

Early this year I realized that the Solvang Double Century would be a great way to celebrate turning 65 by biking 3 times my age in miles.  With our traveling to Japan in February, I only had 4 weeks of training going in, so I knew I was not going to be as fast as prior times.

It turned out to be another cold start for the Solvang Double.  It was 39 degrees so it was hard to know how to dress for it because you don’t want to carry too many clothes as the day warms up.  I settled on a base-layer, vest, knee warmers, double arm warmers and a skull cap.  I lined up at the start area just before 7 am, looking to get with a group.

P1000452

No group seemed to be forming so I decided to go with a tandem with two male riders.

P1000454

That might not have been such a good idea because they were stronger than I expected, even on the short climb up to Solvang.  Nevertheless I was able to stay connected.  We passed several other riders who had started early, picking up two other riders, David and Marc.  The three of us drafted behind the tandem, and I even went out to take a short pull.  About 15 miles into the ride, there was a short downhill with a sharp turn that the tandem ripped through much faster than we could and a gap formed.  We wasted too much energy trying to close the gap and finally we mutually decided to give up the chase and the three of us rode together much of the rest of the course.

I knew my training for Solvang was not as complete as prior years and there was no way I could keep up with the fastest riders, which is why I started at 7 am instead of 7:30 am with the fastest group. Still I was feeling in pretty good shape and would go ahead of Mark and David on the climbs up Foxon Canyon and they then would pass me on the descent side.  When we were approaching the first rest stop at mile 41, I passed Art Cruz, which was a surprise because I thought he started 2 hours earlier than me.  I usually skipped the first rest stop but David wanted to get water so I thought it would be good to stop.  The temperature had dropped as low as 34 degrees so I was not drinking that much, but on the other hand I was glad I had now worn a jacket because I was feeling fine and even took off the glove liners at the first stop.

At that rest stop, Art Cruz arrived before we left and he told me he started at 5 am, but had missed a turn and had already ridden an extra 22 miles.  What a bummer.  While we were at the rest stop the 7:30 fast group came zipping by.  I had thought at one time of jumping on their wheel after Foxon Canyon when it was more flat and easier for me to stay connected but in hind sight that would not have been a good idea.  Once we started riding another group came by with a couple of tandems and I told my new riding partners, lets get on the train.  The headwinds were getting rather strong.  With no wind I would probably have been okay to stay with the paceline but the strong winds raised havoc because I could not get the full benefit of drafting.  I started to get worried about burning out so I told David and Marc I was dropping off, and they did also.  I was glad they dropped back because I drafted behind them as we kept moving through the head and cross winds.   Even with their help the winds were so brutal to me while they did not seem to affect the bigger guys as much.  Around mile 75 I was wondering if I would ever be able to finish this ride.

Knowing the rest stop was around mile 80, I just kept plugging away, often dropping off for awhile, then working my way back up.  The rest stop was not until mile 85 and I needed some time there to recover.  I knew that this was not going to be a sub 12 hour ride like in the past and I would need to take more time at the rest stops.

DSC07592-Edit-Edit

I was glad when we reached the northern part of the ride around mile 100 when the winds would be either a cross wind or tail wind.  By now my legs were feeling over stressed and I was afraid I was going to cramp.  I was taking a lot of electrolytes and drinking a lot but you can also cramp from fatigue.  Somehow I made it to the lunch stop at mile 113.  I saw Deb Hoag there, and she was getting ready to leave when we arrived.  I ask Marc and David to not slow down again for me and if I dropped off the back to just go ahead and that I had decided to ride a slower pace.  I took advantage of the stop to plug my Garmin Edge 810 into the external battery supply so it would start to recharge since I knew it would not last the entire ride.

After eating a subway sandwich I started off with David and Marc but within 5 miles I made the decision to drop the pace a bit and make sure I did not cramp.  Soon it started to cool off from the high 70’s it had been at the lunch stop, because we were near the coast.  That would be a good thing since I usually don’t cramp when it is cooler.

At the next rest stop, mile 141, I arrived before David and Marc left but told them I was going to ride solo.  I was there for some time, again recovering. I decided to swap the external charger to my iPhone but then I realized the  LiveTrack feature of the Garmin 810 was not working.  I saw a text from Anne that LiveTrack was not working since the beginning and she had been worried.  I sent her a text to let her know where I was and tried to get LiveTrack to work again.

The combination of the cooler weather and more resting worked, and I was feeling much faster after that and even thought I was riding by myself, I was moving along very quickly.  I arrived at the last rest stop once again to find Marc and David.  I told them I would ride with them again since I was no longer on the verge of cramping.  Marc was now the one who had the issue and was dropping back.  David wanted to move on because he wanted to finish before 7:30, so I said I would wait for Mark.  That gave me a chance to work on the LiveTrack from the Garmin to my iPhone and get it working fully.

Marc had a bit of a hard time on the hills but would catch me on the descents, then he seemed to get his second wind.  He wanted to finish before 8 pm and I promised him that I would ride with him to get him to the finish well before 8 pm.   About 15 miles from the end we passed Lonni, who had started at 5 am.  She said she was having a tough last 30 miles, but since I had promised Marc to help him finish early, we plowed on.  A few other riders had latched on to us.

It was just getting dark as we were going down through Foxon Canyon.  I was glad I had some light, the period between sunset and civil twilight, as we were descending because I had only taken a smaller light.  We finally made it down to the highway and I knew that it would be a short couple of miles to finish.  We finished at 7:38 pm.

P1000460

I probably looked a bit ragged but I was feeling fine, much better than I was at mile 75.

P1000464

At-Finish-Groups

It was great to finish.  It was the first time that it took me over 12 hours on this particular double century, but in 2011 they changed the course so it was 5 miles longer and another 2,000 feet of climbing.

 

My biking time was only 50 minutes longer than the Solvang Double in 2009.  That was rather good since I was clearly not in the same condition and we had those strong winds, plus the extra 5 miles and 2,000 feet of climbing.  My stopping time was quite a bit longer, but I was not trying to win any race and that stopping time helped me from cramping like I did on the Knoxville Double last fall.  This is how it looks compared with the other double centuries I have done.

Double Centuries

Year Event Miles Feet
Age
Bike Time
Total Time
Avg. Speed
Avg HR
% Stop Notes
2003 Solvang 193 7,200
55
9:55
11:18
19.2
12% First
2004 Davis 198 8,300 56 11:12 12:45 17.7 148 12% Cramped
2007 Solvang 193 7,200
59
9:50
10:42
19.6
137
8% Paceline
2007 Devil Mtn 205 18,600 59 14:31 18.12 14.1 136 20% Cramped
2007 Davis 198 8,300 59 10:55 12:30 18.2 144 13%
2008 Solvang 193 7,200
60
9:36
9:59
20.3
145
4% Paceline
2008 Devil Mtn 206 18,600 60 14:25 15:32 14.3 136 7%
2008 Davis 203 8,300 60 11:10 13:00 18.2 143 14%
2009 Death Vly 197 9,400 60 12:23 13:22 15.9 136 7%
2009 Solvang 199 7,200
61
10:36
11:16
18.6
149
6% Paceline
2012 Knoxville 201 13,000 64 12:43 14:23 15.8 138 12% Cramped
2013 Solvang 198 8,600 65 11:26 12:38 17.3 136 9% Windy

Solvang Here We Come

March 22, 2013 7:43 am

The training is over so whatever condition I am now in, is what will have to do for the Solvang Double.  This time I skipped the Metcalf Mauler ride on Thursday because that is fast paced and last time before the Knoxville Double I was only going to ride it easy, but got caught up in the chase.

We got ready and drove down to Solvang, leaving around 10 am.  That allowed us plenty of time to check into the hotel and go on a nice ride.

P1000445

We biked through Solvang and then did the out and back that we have ridden in the past.  On the way back through Solvang we were scouting out a place for a group dinner we had setup for tonight with 6 other folks.  We decided on eating at the Bit ‘o Denmark and made a reservation.

P1000474

Before heading back to the hotel we went a few miles up the road where I will be ending the double tomorrow.  It was a nice route and one we will want to bike further along next time.  After getting back to the room we had plenty of time to get ready and head down to check in at 6 pm for the double century.  We saw David and Deb Hoag, Art and Sue Cruz and Lonni Goldmen there and gave them the details for dinner.  It was a great place to eat.

Tomorrow, the day of the Double Century, will be a bit cooler but should still be nice.  It is going to be cold at the start, however.  I am thinking to start around 7 am.

Screen Shot 2013-03-22 at 8.37.54 AM

Here is the route for tomorrow’s double century.

Screen Shot 2013-03-22 at 8.45.27 AM

 

 

 

Training for 2013 Solvang Double Century

March 17, 2013 9:44 pm
Training for 2013 Solvang Double Century

After a couple of years of not doing any ultra distance events, last year got back into them but first racing the Hoodoo 500 as part of a four person relay team, then later riding the Knoxville Double.  So I decided, with the encouragement of Anne, to do the Solvang Double in March of 2013.  It will be the 5th time I have done this particular double, but this time it will be right on my birthday, the day I turn 65 years old.  I thought what better way to celebrate such a milestone birthday.

Well it all seemed like a good idea early this year but then we decided to make our trip to Japan in February.  It seemed difficult getting back into training after that trip and I feel I have to cram in a lot of riding in the last month.  I keep a detailed training log and when I am training for a big event I plot my miles and feet of climbing as I progress, and compare it against prior years and events.  This time I didn’t really do that but decided to do it now to see if I might be ready.

SolvangMiles

Although getting off to a good start the first 5 weeks of the year the effect of the travel to Japan is obvious.  The 2008 and 2009 lines are comparable because those were also for Solvang.  As expected the 2012 line is much higher because that included racing the Hoodoo 500 around week 9, then doing the Knoxville Double on week 13 and later in the year at peak training season.  It seems that I am the lest prepared of any double I have done in the past several years.  So I decided to look at only the last four full weeks of training and only for the Solvang Double, which occurs early in the year.  I figure the last four weeks of training are the most critical.

SolvangLast4Miles

Now I am feeling better, but not completely.  In 2009 this four weeks was after finishing the Death Valley Double, a month earlier than Solvang.  I figure training is an accumulated thing so how well we can bike at any given time is based on the past, with the most recent past having a larger influence.

Besides miles, I also track feet of climbing.

SolvangFeet

2012 is a bit of abnormality as I mentioned before.  This was the training for and racing the Hoodoo 500, then coming off of that for four more weeks of training before doing Knoxville, which is a much more difficult double than Solvang.  Looking again at only the last four weeks of full training and only for Solvang it looks like this.

SolvangLast4feet

The distance of the longest weekly ride is the last chart I do.  You can see in 2009, the Death Valley Double in Week 9.  The last 3 weeks, week 10-12, I am close enough to prior years, especially if you consider the past becomes decreasingly less important the further you go back.  Of course that principle does not mean you should be training hard right to the event because you do need to taper, and my last full week of training was about 50 miles less than the prior week.  This week I plan to do short rides and one interval training, more in alignment with tapering.  This will certainly not be my fastest Solvang Double but I feel I can complete it and not DNF.

SolvangLong

Looking at the above charts I can see that in 2008 I did my best training for Solvang and that was the year when I finished the ride in under 10 hours.  I have no aspiration of a fast time this year.

Solvang Double Century

Year
Age
Bike Time
Total Time
Avg. Speed
Avg HR
Note
2003
55
9:55
11:18
19.2
First Double
2007
59
9:50
10:42
19.6
137
2008
60
9:36
9:59
20.3
145
2009
61
10:36
11:16
18.6
149
Extra 6 miles

Solvang Double Century Stopping Time

Year
CP#1 CP#2
CP#3
CP#4
CP#5 All Other Total
2007 2:00 14:15 10:15 7:30 6:30 11:30 52:00
2008
Skip
5:45
7:45
5:15
1:00 3:15 23:00
2009
Skip
9:45
11:45
7:15
3:30 7:45 40:00

Solvang Double 2009

March 28, 2009 8:00 pm
Solvang Double 2009

Some say that the easiest double century in our area is the spring Solvang Double.  Yes, the climbing is less than most but with over 7,000 feet it is not quite like some real flat doubles in others parts of the country.  Yes the total miles is a bit less than 200 miles.  So for many people it is the best way to do your first double.  But for me it is not so easy because, unlike with other doubles, people always want to know how fast you did it.  So it is more like a race than an endurance event.  I make matters worse for myself by starting with the 7:30 am group, which gets timed with the times posted on the Plant Ultra website.

Actually I was feeling rather prepared for this double, even though it occurs so early in the season.  For the first time ever, it was not my first double century of the year because I rode the Death Valley Double one month early.  Maybe I was feeling a bit too confident because in the same week Anne and I did a little too much speed work, setting 3 new PRs on tandem hill climbs on Henry Coe, Thomas Grade and Metcalf. I don’t mean PR for this year, I mean our best time ever.  In retrospect, maybe that was not such a keen  idea to do only days before doing a double.

Last year I completed Solvang under 10 hours. By under 10 hours I mean by about 20 seconds.  I remember last year  I felt I had a shot of breaking 10 hours about 40 miles from the end, which added a lot of pressure and drove me to push much harder than I might otherwise. I had no intention to do that again.  I told everyone I was going to stop and smell the roses.

I showed up at 7:15 and they started a roll call of those who wanted to be timed.  Joining me was Paul D, Gary F, and Barley and Susan.

Gary, Paul, Franz at start of Double

Gary, Paul, Franz at start of Double

I knew I was in trouble when I saw four tandems there.  One was Barley and Susan, who I had ridden with a week ago and knew they were fast.

Barley and Susan at start of Double

Barley and Susan at start of Double

Right at 7:30 a group of 62 riders were off.  The tandem in the photo is what I call the 4th tandem later in my story.

The reason why I knew I was in trouble with all those tandems is because two years ago I was not able to stay connected on the descent down Foxon Canyon, and lost the fast group at that point.  Last year, with no tandems making the descent,  I was able to keep with the lead group all the way to the second rest stop at 84 miles (we skipped the first rest stop).

This year keeping with the pack was a bit of a strain but not overly taxing.  We when up a couple of short hills and I would move right up behind the tandems and stay on their wheel as they went down.  The first descent down Foxon Canyon went alright but on the second one, the same spot I lost the wheel two years ago, proved too hard.  No matter how hard I tried, I just could not stay on the wheel and the group started to drive away from me, even though later I could see I had hit 50 mph.  Being a poor sprinter meant I was working way too hard trying to catch them. I was actually making some progress and starting to close the gap.  It was a race between either burning myself out or  latching back on.  I should have known better and backed off sooner and saved the legs for the many miles ahead.  You can see from this graph, my heart rate was running in the red zone going DOWN the hill trying to get connected to the lead riders (click to enlarge).

solvangdescent

Soon after I realized I would not be able to close the gap,  I was passed by a younger faster rider wearing a Furnace Creek 508 jersey.  We worked together, although he was taking longer pulls.  For awhile we were starting to gain on the lead group, but you can only drive that hard for so long.  Soon the group ahead was vanishing from sight.  I had lost my route sheet on the fast descent so I was not sure where the next turn was.  The fellow 508 rider pulled his from his back pocket and started to read it. I road in the center of the road to give him space but even with that he cross wheels with me as he was looking at the sheet.  Suddenly he was down, and extremely upset about it.  But this was one tough dude.  Even with some road rash and torn cycling shorts, he got back on his bike and we started off again.  Just then we were pasted by the fourth tandem, along with a couple of other riders drafting behind them..  We jumped in the group and stayed with them for a few miles, but they stopped and the first rest stop so we went on without them.  Only one other rider skipped the stop and rode with us, another one wearing a Furnace Creek 508 jersey.  Kind of like 3 FC 508 guys, but the others were much younger and stronger than I was.  Several miles down the road, as we were making a right turn, a group was coming back toward us, having missed the turn themselves.

Yes, I thought.  I was now back with a larger group.  I moved up toward the front of the group not wanting to get dropped on some of the rollers ahead.  I thought I would be able to stay with them until the 2nd rest stop, but my legs were burning from trying to catch the lead riders earlier.  It just didn’t seem worth the effort, so after about 5 miles I let them go and started riding solo, something I would do for much of the rest of the event.

I was a bit worried without a route sheet but eventually did catch a couple of other riders.  Having no route sheet, I wanted to stay with them so I did not get lost.  Although  I wanted to go a bit faster, I was afraid I would miss a turn, so I ended up mostly pulling.. The problem is that this small group did miss the turn and we went about 3 miles before we realized it. So by the time we got back on course we had biked an extra 6 miles.

Just as we got back on the course I saw Paul D.  He rode with us for a mile or so but then started to cramp and dropped off.  Soon after that we passed Louise.  Once I knew I had made the final turn before the second rest stop, I moved ahead and rode solo.  At the second rest stop I saw that I had averaged only about 19 mph, compared with close to 22 mph last year when I had stayed with the lead group, but this year I had now biked 92 miles before stopping for food and water.  I guess that was some sort of record for me.

It might have been my imagination but there seemed to be more headwind.  I was riding that stretch along Highway 1 toward Moro Bay by myself into the wind.  About 6 miles from Moro Bay a group of about 8 riders came up from behind, so I joined them.  I saw a couple of riders ahead, both wearing the same jersey.  As we passed them, I could see it was Art and Patrice.  I stayed with the small group until the lunch stop.  I was thinking to keep with them, but they were taking longer eating their sandwich than I wanted to wait so I headed out alone.  I never saw them again until I was waiting at the finish after taking a  shower, so it is a good thing I didn’t stick with them.

Several miles before the 4th rest stop, while waiting at a traffic light, the 4th tandem came up, the one that had stopped at the first rest stop.  They had only one other rider with them, so I joined the small group.  The two of us on single bikes would take turns doing some pulling.  As we kept passing riders, they were jumping on the train, but they were all wheel suckers.  I took another pull and tried to move back into the group but these wheel suckers would not let me in, wanting to keep their spot.  Forget them I thought, and I just went ahead and dropped the entire group, again riding solo.  At the 4th rest stop I saw Gary S. and Gary B, who were about ready to leave.

After mostly solo riding, I finally made it to the the last rest stop where I saw Chuck, who had started at 6 am.  By now I had passed all the other club riders, except of course Gary F. and Barley and Susan on the tandem. I knew Gary was probably about two hours ahead of me, which meant he was already enjoying the finish line.  Ann was there and took his picture.

Gary at Finish

Gary at Finish

I didn’t spend much time at the last rest stop, knowing the end was not far.  It was up Drum Canyon Hill, a part I really like.  I enjoy climbing this hill and passing all the other riders who hate to climb, especially after 180 miles.  But unlike last year when I was climbing at full speed to make some time, I kept it much easier.  I made the turn on the final highway, with the slight uphill and then the down hill.  While going down, I was passed by the 4th tandem and a bunch of riders.  I had to accelerate quickly but was able to finally close the gap. I rode with them to the end.  I knew the tandem started at 7:30 but I think most of the rest of the group had started earlier.

Franz at finish

Franz at finish

I finally made it to the finish, taking a total of 11:16, which was more than a hour slower than last year.  Part of that was due to riding an extra 6 miles and part was from doing a lot more solo riding.  I still felt I was working hard and when I looked at my data later, my average heart rate was even higher than last year.  Of course that might be because I am just getting older.  These two tables show a comparison with my prior Solvang Doubles.  My stopping time at the rest stops was a bit more than last year but the crash did cost me some time while I helped the rider back up on his bike.  Overall I am happy with how I did.  A little older, a little slower, but still riding alongside the young bucks.  My only regret was even though I was slower, I never did see any roses to smell.

My thanks to Anne for taking all the photos in this blog.  See all her photos of Slovang here.

Solvang Double Century

Year
Age
Bike Time
Total Time
Avg. Speed
Avg HR
Note
2003
55
9:55
11:18
19.2
First Double
2007
59
9:50
10:42
19.6
137
2008
60
9:36
9:59
20.3
145
2009
61
10:36
11:16
18.6
149
Extra 6 miles

Solvang Double Century Stopping Time

Year
CP#1 CP#2
CP#3
CP#4
CP#5 All Other Total
2007 2:00 14:15 10:15 7:30 6:30 11:30 52:00
2008
Skip
5:45
7:45
5:15
1:00 3:15 23:00
2009
Skip
9:45
11:45
7:15
3:30 7:45 40:00

Solvang Revisited

April 4, 2008 7:35 am

One of the advantages of keeping lots of data in a training log is that I can look back at similar events and see how much I have improved. Improvement is not something that is normally associated with someone my age but in the cycling world I have been able to get some slight improvements over the past 7 years I have cycling.

I belive this has come about because I lost weight, did a better job of training, and improved my cycling skills. These factors have combined to more than offset the effects of aging.

I took a look at the Solvang Double century, something I have competed in three times. It is the same courses, but there are some variables, such as wind, that I can not fully account for. But comparing the three times, I get this comparision

Year

Age

Bike Time

Total Time

Avg. Speed

Avg. HR

2003
55
9:55
11:18
19.2
2007
59
9:50
10:42
19.6
137
2008
60
9:36
9:59
20.3
145

From 2003 to 2007 I made only a 5 minute improvement in riding time, but took off an additional 20 minutes of stopping time. For the recent event, I took another 14 minutes off my riding time and even more off my stopping time. So from age 55 to age 60, I took off 1 hour and 19 minutes, of which 19 minutes was riding time and 1 hour stopping time.

The non-athelete might think that such an improvement is not signficant. To average that additional 1.1 mph means putting out an additional 14% power when you look at the effects of drag and resistance. Anyone who does any type of sport knows that even a few percent improvement is hard to achieve.

I am therefore pretty happy with the improvement I was able to achieve, while aging 5 years.

For the recent Solvang Double Century we had 47 riders who rode it for time and all started together. This group was made up of mostly the fastest cyclists. Another 400 or so riders did not want to be timed. I ended up coming in 20th place amongst those 47 riders. I believe I was the only one over 60 in the entire group of 47 riders. They do not have age groups so I am not sure. The riders in that group just looked a lot younger than myself.

Another event I looked at was the Davis Double. I have completed it twice with these results. It is a somewhat more difficult ride than Solvang.

Year

Age

Bike Time

Total Time

Avg. Speed

Avg. HR

2004 56 11:19 12:45 17.7
2007 59 10:56 12:15 18.2 144

I plan to ride Davis again this May and hopefully I can show some further improvement from last year. Before that I will be doing the Devil Mountain Double and hope to show a big improvement over last year when I didn’t do well.

I realize that old father time keeps marching and there will soon come the time when I am just happy that I have not decreased my performance as fast as others. We all need to appreciate what we have and know that all we can do is our best. There will always be others around us that are much better and some that are much slower. But if we are doing what we can, within our abilities, we can take pride in that. Today I received an email from a cycling friend who turned 50 in the past year. He said “If I’m able to do the things you do in ten years, I’ll be the happiest man on earth… You keep us young guys on our toes.”

Solvang Double Century 2008

March 30, 2008 3:12 pm

I guess I was in better shape than I thought because I ended up finishing with my best time ever for a Double Century. It was my third time to do the Solvang Spring Double. I did reasonably well last year and had been looking at my data to see how I might improve this year. I wrote about my strategy in a prior blog entry . My cycling training this year has been better than last year because I did not have a spring marathon to also train for. But I was concerned I had not done enough speed workouts, something I was doing last year while training to run the Boston Marathon, which was only 2 weeks after the Solvang Double Century.Joe Farinha, Gary Franck and I decided to start the day off with a nice breakfast at Paula’s Pancake House, which opened at 6:00. That was enough time to get a big breakfast and still have it somewhat digested before we started to hammer. Just as we did last year, we started with the 7:30 am group, the ones that wanted to be timed. Joining us was. This 7:30 start group is made up of mostly fast riders. We had a large gathering of 47 riders. Unlikely last year they did not do a roll call.

The whole group stayed together for many miles in a large peleton. The pace was brisk but I didn’t feel over taxed, around 21-24 mph. After 20 miles we turned to head up Foxen Canyon. This has two moderate climbs and after the second one there is a longer descent. It was on this second descent that I lost the group last year and never was able to catch back on.My strategy this year was to stay right near the front of the pack for the second climb so I had a better chance to stay connected. It may be the fact that this year there were no tandems to chase down the hill, or that I had been working on descending down faster, but in any event this time I was able to stay connected to the front pack, something only about half the group were able to do. We lost the other half on either the climb or the descent and I knew that they would never be able to catch back on.We stretched out to a single pace line. Except for a few wheel suckers at the back, everyone was taking a turn pulling, some longer pulls than other, which was okay. One guy, who was particularly strong, would ramp up the pace every-time he pulled. I found myself right behind him on a couple of rotations which meant I had to drive hard to hang on his wheel, then do a pull and still keep enough left to rotate to the back.

I had already planned to skip the first rest stop and sure enough this group went right by it. We made one wrong turn which costs us an extra 2 miles and some lost time trying to get back on course. There were some rollers right before the 2nd rest stop (our first one) that proved a bit difficult due to the pace. I was glad when we finally stopped with a total of 84.8 miles averaging 22.0 mph. My heart rate for that stretch averaged 149.

Some of the group had a very quick stop, just enough to fill water bottles. I needed a bit more time but was was able to get back on the bike in less than 6 minutes. There was only one other fellow from the 7:30 group who started with me by the name of John who was from Nevada. He and I biked together for awhile. We were soon joined by others from the 7:30 group that had taken a little longer at the rest stop. But there was a couple of young guys who were driving the pace too high for me, so I eventually dropped off the back. I slowed down to wait for John who had fallen off earlier. We biked together, taking turns pulling until we hit the check point at Morro Bay. We had to wait 1 minute there to get the dot to prove we had gone to the turn around point.

While riding through Morro Bay I hit a bad bump and came down on the back of my saddle, which tipped up the nose. I couldn’t get it to move back level. Although it was quite awkward to ride like that I decided I could not afford to stop so I rode that way until the lunch stop, which was another 14 miles from Morro Bay. That section was done at an average speed of 20.1 mph and an average heart rate of 145.

It took me about a minute to fix my saddle and then another 6 to 7 minutes to get some food. We saw some of the 7:30 riders leaving, so John and I jumped on our bikes and caught them.

We started to form a pace line behind a tandem and rode with that group for awhile but eventually some of us moved out ahead and we never saw the tandem again. Soon it was just John and I again as we pulled into our third rest stop with an average speed of the last section of 19.5 mph. The pace was clearly slower while we kept behind the tandem for those miles.

After a 5 minute stop John and I took off, again just the two of us. I hit another bump and my seat got tipped once again with the nose pointing up. I didn’t want to take the time to fix it again so I decided to just keep riding that way. It made it hard to use the aero bars but I felt maybe I could just wait until the next stop.

We were taking turns pulling but on one uphill grade on Highway 1, where I was pulling, I notice that John had fallen way off the back. I had been doing some calculations in my head and figured at this point I had some slight chance to finish under 10 hours so I made the decision to ride on solo, which I did for the last 50 miles. I had a thought of skipping the last rest stop completely but was down to a half of water bottle so I made a 1 minute stop for water. Fatigue was setting in so I was having a hard time keeping my heart rate up. Fortunately we had a tail wind now. There were several club members at that stop who had started earlier. One told me that Gary was about 10 minutes ahead of me, so I jumped on the bike to chase after him. I noticed at that point I had averaged 20.6 mph rolling from the start.

On the way up Drum Canyon, I heard a popping noise so I stopped to check my bike, only to find I had broken a spoke. That was so unexpected for a light guy like me. I wrapped the broken spoke around another spoke, opened up the brake, then jumped back on the bike and started to climb. I had yet to fix my saddle and wondered if I had time. I decided to stop again and to level the seat. As I started to climb again I kept worrying about breaking another spoke and was not sure how hard I should be torquing the pedals as I climbed. I decided to climb carefully, but steady. I was getting very tired and found it hard to do the math in my head to see if I could still finish under 10 hours. My rolling average speed had now dropped to 20.1. When I made it to the summit, I was wondering how fast I should go down, considering it is a rough road. I decided to ride down fast, just hoping no more spokes broke.

Periodically I would calculate again how much further I had to go and how much time I had left. It seemed to be an impossible task and I was about ready to give up trying to make it under 10 hours. I felt lucky to make all the traffic lights in Beulton, thinking one single stop was more than I could afford. That final uphill as you are entering Solvang was just about enough to kill my chance. I then started to hit the traffic in the town of Solvang so I turned right one block early to take a back street.

I finally made it to the end and clicked the split button on my Polar Heart Rate Monitor just as I came to a stop. I was almost afraid to look down but when I did it read 9 hours, 59 minutes and 51 seconds. Ann was there, a bit surprised I finished so fast. She watched my bike as I ran to check in. I had finished 20th place of the 47 riders who were riding for time. See the posted results here. I had averaged 20.3 mph moving for the entire ride and had a total stopping time of less than 23 minutes. Funny thing was that I felt better than I did last year after finishing 43 minutes slower. I believe this was due to the better training this year.

After taking a shower, we went to eat. I had not eaten much on the ride because of the short stops and was ready for a big meal. Sometimes I wonder why I do this, but the sense of accomplishment makes it all worth the effort.

Over the total of 194.3 miles, I averaged 20.3 mph with a maximum speed of 46.3 mph. My average heart rate was 145, peaking to 173. The total ascent was 7,400 feet.

I took a look at the data for both this year and last year for the first 36 miles. As I mentioned before it was around mile 30 that I lost contact with the lead pack but was able to stay connected this year. Click the graph to enlarge.

Solvang Double 2008 vs 2007

You can see from the above graph on the descent at mile 25 my heart rate was much lower than last year and I had considerable margin left. This may be due to better training, allowing me to kept a lower heart rate while climbing the second hill at mile 21.

This graph shows my heart rate and altitude plotted against distance. Click to enlarge.

Solvang Double Century 2008 HR Curve

Here are the splits. Click to enlarge.

Solvang Double Splits

The route started from the Royal Scandinavian where we were staying. We did a short warm-up in the eastern Santa Ynez Valley, then heads up world famous Foxen Canyon. We essentially bypass Santa Maria by jogging around that town on dead quiet Bull Canyon to Hwy 166. Next we more or less parallel Hyw 101 as we headed north. After some really neat back roads, the route skirted the edge of San Luis Obispo, then went all the way into scenic Morro Bay, right to the waterfront and a dramatic view of “the rock.” Next we rolled through some of the prettiest state park miles anywhere, then head south on PCH along the coast through Pismo Beach, and such. After Guadalupe, we stayed southbound on this desolate and beautiful stretch of Hwy 1, bypassing the whole Lompoc area, and then continuing onto Hwy 135 to the neat little western antique haven of Los Alamos, site of the final checkpoint. From Los Alamos, we encounter what is essentially the only real climb of the entire day, up and over Drum Canyon, a quiet, twisty, 800 foot, 3.4 mile ascent. It’s had a gnarly downhill. On the other side, we hop onto Hwy 246 back to Solvang, with a big shoulder all the way to town!

Solvang Double Strategy

March 24, 2008 12:22 pm

Several of us are planning  a 7:30 am start for the Solvang Double Century this Saturday. I took a look at my training log to see what happened last year. The following chart shows my heart rate, speed and altitude during the first 35 miles. I was doing fine riding with the group of 42 riders who started together. We lost some of them on the first real hill at mile 18. Going down the first real descent at mile 19 was difficult because I had a very hard time keeping up with the two tandems. It took considerable effort on my part to latch back on. I thought I would solve that with the second climb at mile 20 by going out ahead of the pack. I did not get enough of a lead because the tandems and fast riders passed me on the descent and even though I was driving my heart rate into the red zone I could not get connected to them after they passed by. I finally gave up trying because I was getting totally wasted. It is clear that I gave up the chase by looking at my heart rate.

By mile 35 I had averaged 21 mph. For the whole event I averaged 19.6 mph.

My plan for 2008 is to go ahead on the first hill so I don’t have to chase them on the first decline. It is not possible for me to jump on a train that passes me going downhill, so my only chance is to be near the front on the 2nd climb and hug a wheel. The problem is I just don’t have the weight to be able to keep up on the longer descent. It might be another lonely ride.

Click this graph to view enlarged.

Solvang 2007 First 30 miles

The Long and Windy Road (Solvang Double Century)

April 1, 2007 8:15 pm

Solvang

It had been five years since I rode the Solvang Double. I had signed up two years ago but had to cancel when I had a running injury while trying to train for the Salt Lake City Marathon at the same time and decided to just focus on the marathon. This year I had the same dual training, with the Boston Marathon just two weeks after the Solvang Double but I was better able to manage the training.

It was cold in the morning, I mean in the 30’s type cold. The day turned quite nice, although it was windy and cool, especially on the coast. I sometimes thought the wind was always a headwind but overall nice biking weather and a lot more enjoyable than last year according to reports from those that rode in the rain in 2006.

Joe F., Gary F. and myself (I called us the three “F”s) were under pressure to break 11 hours since I had earlier sent out an email to the long distance riders in the bike club asking them to join us to break 11 hours, so everyone there I knew would be asking us how we did.

We knew some people were going to start as early as 5:00 am, which meant nearly two hours in the dark and cold but we decided to start the day off with a nice breakfast at Paula’s Pancake House, which opened at 6:00. During breakfast we decided to change our start time from the planned 7:00 am to 7:30 to reduce the time riding in the cold. However we realized that the 7:30 group would have their times recorded and posted so that put more pressure us, leaving no wiggle room when asked if we finished under 11 hours.

When we showed up at 7:20 am for a role call, I was surprised by the large group, which turns out to have been 42 riders. Just after 7:30 we all took off, in one of the largest pace lines I had ever ridden it, probably like riding with a big Pro tour. The speed was about 22-23 mph. Starting at 7:30 proved challenging because if you don’t hang on the fast train all the way there is not another real fast one coming from behind. All three of us stayed with the group until about mile 22 when I could not keep connected during a fast decent. Gary whizzed by and caught on but I found myself riding alone and the train slowly pulling away. Joe soon joined me from the rear, as did one other rider, and we tried to catch them but finally gave up. There were a few other smaller groups we rode with for awhile. I remember one group of 5 riders who didn’t allow Joe or I to take a pull, as if they didn need our help. Another group, with two tandems, were mostly from Cedar City Utah. I showed them I was wearing my Utah Velo jersey so they were kind enough to let us join (I am sure they would have anyway). After some recovery time, we knew had to go ahead or would risk missing our goal.

I think Joe and I rode just two of us for about half of the miles, until we were able to catch Paul D. from the bike club who had left a little earlier. Joe was glad because he had done more than his fair share of pulling by then. But then the pace picked up and I was off the back a lot on the flat part.

At the second from the last rest stop Joe and I were trying to calculate if we could still break 11 hours. We didn’t want to suffer the embarrassment if we failed after all we had done. I said I thought we could not make it because we would have to ride 20 mph for the last 50 miles and skip the last rest stop. Joe didn’t give up so neither could I. I think the lack of oxygen to the brain caused me to make some error in my calculation and was about to give up and slow down, but I kept chasing Joe and Paul.

I just was hoping for some hill to climb, which did not happen until after the last rest stop. At that point I was able to move a bit ahead of Joe and found one young buck to ride with. He was from that group that didn’t want us to take a pull earlier and I remember passing him on the hill. He said he as AHEAD of the rest of the guys in his riding group so I had now passed them all. The two of us took turns pulling the last 10 miles. He complained about the pace but I told him I was a man on a mission. We went past Ken E. with about 5 miles to go who … was riding his single speed. Gee how could someone do that, even starting when he did.

It was fun for me because I was able to do my fastest double so far. I came in at 10:42 total time, beat my goal, with an average speed of 19.6 mph.

This photo was taken out on the course.

Franz riding Solvang Double Century

Here is a photo taken after the ride, Ken on the left, Joe in the middle and me on the right (the only one not wearing a triple crown jersey). Gary had already gone back to the room, finishing a hour before the rest of us, and Paul had left before Ann brought the camera.

Ken, Joe and Franz after Solvang Double

The route started from the Royal Scandinavian where we were staying. We did a short warm-up in the eastern Santa Ynez Valley, then heads up world famous Foxen Canyon. We essentially bypass Santa Maria by jogging around that town on dead quiet Bull Canyon to Hwy 166. Next we more or less parallel Hyw 101 as we headed north. After some really neat back roads, the route skirted the edge of San Luis Obispo, then went all the way into scenic Morro Bay, right to the waterfront and a dramatic view of “the rock.” Next we rolled through some of the prettiest state park miles anywhere, then head south on PCH along the coast through Pismo Beach, and such. After Guadalupe, we stayed southbound on this desolate and beautiful stretch of Hwy 1, bypassing the whole Lompoc area, and then continuing onto Hwy 135 to the neat little western antique haven of Los Alamos, site of the final checkpoint. From Los Alamos, we encounter what is essentially the only real climb of the entire day, up and over Drum Canyon, a quiet, twisty, 800 foot, 3.4 mile ascent. It’s had a gnarly downhill. On the other side, we hop onto Hwy 246 back to Solvang, with a big shoulder all the way to town!

Here is the elevation profile of the ride. It was relatively flat for a double century.

Solvang Double Elevation Profile