Solvang Double Century

March 31, 2001

By Peter Pop

For most Solvang means windmills, Danish kitsch and Disney style tourism. For some a " pig out " fest with pastries and all you can eat. For others it means incredible equestrian estates and famous vineyards. But for the true elite it means 200 miles of blissful  huffing and puffing. Pedaling circles, while  enjoying never ending vista's of sumptuous green rolling hills, speckled with cattle and horses. Flocks of birds all happily chirping away to their hearts content.

The Solvang DOUBLE Century is the event organized by Hugh Murphy of Badwater Events. An icon in Ultracycling. Revered by some, misunderstood by others, but appreciated by all of us who enjoy his rides. This ride meanders through gorgeous country between Lompoc, Santa Maria, San Luis Obispo and Solvang. All the climbs are short and mostly gentle, the perfect DC for the novice long distance rider.

This year's ride has a mass start at 5:15 am. Lots of riders shivering in the cold. Tandems jockeying for the lead, others ready to jump on their wheel and off we go! Damn it's cold!!  I am way in the back, planning to just finish before dark and to redeem myself from my Death Valley DNF. I meet up with Perry Smith, a fellow Furnace Creek finisher. Did I say it was cold? And drizzling? That marine layer is there for the duration. After the first rest stop the sun briefly breaks through, which makes for very pretty scenery. On  Foxen Canyon Rd, the black top takes a turn for the worse. Especially on the descent, I am the happy rider with a Softride beam and handlebar stem. I am even gaining on some. A rare occurrence indeed!! Lately everybody seem to have gotten faster, EXCEPT FOR ME! By now my left Achilles tendon is playing up again, just like in the 300K brevet of two weeks ago. The tendon felt fine in between. Just great. I am supposed to ride RAAM with Bill Maida as part of the " 50 plus" ECaps two person team. By now riders are passing me left and right. All I can do, is nurse that darn tendon. This is an attitude adjustment I don't need before RAAM.

At the third rest stop I am about ready to call it quits, why screw myself up even more? " Is there anyway to get back on the Century course? No? Darn. Too bad". I have a $ 100 bill on me maybe that can get me back to Lompoc. Torn between my desire to not quit and the more sensible solution of sagging in, I just peddle on. To add insult to injury  I make several wrong turns, such as at Rt. on "First Thru Street". "What the hell does that mean????" Except for me everybody else however makes the correct turn. Back to the pack. I can't stand pace lines, so I get lost again. Having lots of fun now.

Finally the golf club stop, warm clothes off, lights on! See my friend Charlie Griffice, but he is off! This time he is going try to beat me to the finish. It has finally warmed up, THANK YOU! I can't believe how slow I am as compared to 1997. Being fast is a lot more fun! Back to the coast ( and the fog/cold) via Pismo Beach. Everybody is confused where to go. Between PCH and the Pacific however seems to be the most logical route. Turn onto 11th St. and subsequently miss the rest stop. Go back and get treated on hot soup. That hits the spot. Thanks, Hugh! Tail wind at last on Hwy 166. Two more climbs on Hwy 1. Bye Charlie! Get those warm clothes back on. Can't wait to get to the finish. Oh yes, a few more wrong turns. That Inn of Lompoc is hard to see from the street." Halleluiah, back at last!" 5:50 pm. My friend Andreas Schultz, winner Solvang 1997, is lounging relaxed, appearing none the worse. Cassie Lowe, 1st Place RAAM 2000, and one other rider rode in at 3:09, first place!!! Under 10 hours! Unbelievable, she should do again terrific in this years RAAM. As for me, I have to get back to the drawing board. This tendon problem comes at the worst time, too close to ( two person team) RAAM. I will have to place the cleats even farther back, maybe even use the old shoes from RAAM 1996 and 1997. If only I could time travel!

Thanks again Hugh for all your efforts and thanks to your supporting crew.


By Doug Sloan

Saturday at the Solvang Double Century was one heck of a day. Set some PR's for myself and had the opportunity to ride with some much better cyclists (the two are related, of course). Covered the first 100 miles (rollers, but no huge hills) in 4:45 total time, and finished in 10:14 total time (with three flat tires in the second century), 9:41 riding time total. Steve Grussis, a local strong 45+ Cat 3 and I rode together, and we rode off in front of the tandems (Bob Smith & Roehl Carago, and Mike Moseley & Debby Kellogg), among others, around 30 miles. Steve emulates his hero, Bernard "As long as I breathe, I attack" Hinault. Big mistake sometimes, since we didn't know the route, and it was not marked at all (and we didn't take the time to read the route sheet as we went). We missed a turn and added two miles, and then did a two man team time trial for ten miles catching the tandem train. We caught the tandems and solo riders, but I was nearly blown up, and we had 160 miles to go. I don't like to see 90% heartrates 40 miles into a double. Cruised with the tandems for a while, but then after catching two people who blew through the first rest stop, a group of us solos went off in front of the tandems again.

Turns out, one of the two was Cassie Lowe. She looked very strong, almost effortlessly riding when others were struggling. We went right by the lunch stop at 105 miles (didn't see it, we were going so hard), and when the tandem train passed us while we pulled in a convenience store for water at 110 miles or so, we jumped on our bikes and five of us did a team time trial into the wind -- short pulls at 25 mph, and caught the tandem train again. I had my doubts that I'd last the day, as we were going as hard as I've ever gone in a 40 mile road race -- 90%+ heart rates for me, pushing hard up nearly every hill, not stopping for enough food or water, and my previous double best was over 12 hours at Central Coast last May. After we caught them, we cruised with them a few miles to recover, but then took off again when the tandems slowed for hills (but these tandems are not by any means "slow" on the hills). We were cruising down Highway 1, when I blew out my front tire (so much for Spin Skins). Steve and I stopped, and everyone else went on (after they stopped with me as a matter of courtesy), including the tandems. Messed up by not seeing the gash, and blew out 2 more tubes before booting the tire -- a 20 minute stop in all. That's what we get for hurrying.

Steve and I rode hard to catch, but were 20 minutes down, now, and just the two of us. No way we could do it, as we never even caught a glimpse of them. So, we just went hard all the way back. Interestingly, from 160 miles on, I felt not much different than at the beginning, as long as we stayed aerobic. I was pulling at 23 mph on the aerobars, just nearly blowing up, but somehow able to sustain it despite the earlier pace. You know how it feels when the "diesel mode" kicks in. Thank goodness for Mountain Dew at the 164 mile stop. Cassie and another rider (didn't get his name) finished about 3:05 in the afternoon (they took off on some big hills around 15 miles from the finish, I'm told), tandems in at 3:14, and us at 3:29 (mass start at 5:15 a.m.). Flats are a bummer, turning what might have been a sub-10 finish to just over. In any event, this was a good confidence builder for doing the 508 in October.

Best of luck to Cassie at RAAM. She certainly looked strong. Also, many thanks to the tandems -- they certainly shortened the day for their followers.

Doug Sloan, Fresno, CA










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