It’s 6:30am and I’m shivering like crazy. The Solvang Century started off at 41 degrees – I’m a Southern California baby, so that was extremely cold for me. We knew it would be an 80-degree day by the end of the ride, so it was a challenge having to toe the line between being warm enough in the morning and having to carry extra gear later, or even worse, dump clothes on the side of the road. I just wore a base layer, jersey (of course my SportRx kit), arm warmers, and I took some full and short-fingered gloves. My fingers were still freezing for the first 30 miles. I was definitely not wearing enough gear, so I rode hard the first 25 miles just to stay warm.
After the initial cold shock, the weather turned out to be awesome. Solvang is usually a windy ride but this time there was virtually no wind at all. Beautiful wine country, minimal traffic, and to my surprise, I was surrounded by a whole lot of riders throughout the day. Usually, the pack thins out after about 40 miles, leaving you on a bare, isolate strip of road. So it was really fun to see other riders around for a change.
I came across a couple on a tandem bike. They were going about the same pace as me so we ended up drafting for each other. Drafting off a tandem is amazing…drafting off Big Rob is amazing-er. It’s rare that anyone helps out a tandem, everyone usually stays behind them; so they were really happy I did some work for them. Funny enough, it turned out to be a couple I made friends with the night before while I was in line to get my race packet.
So it turned out to be a successful ride, beautiful day, cool people, and awesome scenery. I would definitely do it all over again. I did end the day with a few takeaways.
THINGS I WOULD DO DIFFERENTLY
- I would bring more APX sports drink. I got a mean cramp when I was riding uphill at about mile 80, only because I was running low on APX (I haven’t cramped up since I started drinking APX.) I took some Hammer pills, drank the little APX I had left, and it went away. The SAG stops have sports drink but personally, I don’t like to drink something I’ve never used prior to the race. I brought two full bottles plus two extra packets which wasn’t enough to last me the full 100 miles. Next time I’ll bring four or five packets on top of the two bottles.
- I would also bring heavier gloves. Dressing for the race was hard because of the huge temperature change between the start and finish of the ride. I had thin ones but I think it’s worth bringing heavier gloves and just deal with carrying them in my jersey. It sure beats enduring the first 1/3 of the race with frozen hands.
SOLVANG CENTURY TIPS
- Expect an unbelievably beautiful ride
- The stops are spaced out perfectly, right where you need them
- Definitely save some energy for the end. There was about 7 or 8 miles of a gradual climb followed by a steep hill at about mile 80.
- I would not take 303s or aero deep dish wheels, considering how much wind can be on this ride; take some lightweight, aluminum clinchers instead
- Don’t forget your Oakley Racing Jackets