Bring it on Home


I tried to delay this post long enough for the new Garmin connector cord to come in…but I just couldn’t wait any more. I forget things easy in my old age! If the data’s what you’re looking for, rest assured a new USB cable is en route and I’ll update all the posts ASAP once its in.

The descent off of that last hill led Ron and I passed a couple crashed cyclists and into the final rest stop. Nothing like harsh visual cues to remind you to be careful. And this wasn’t even the area that the ride sheet warned about…and I quote “WE DON’T NEED YOUR BROKEN BONES”. How’s that for reassuring? Thankfully everyone we went by was in pretty good shape and waved off assistance (although some of that road rash looked painful!); but we sent a police car back up the hill when we pulled into the stop just to be sure. And by that I mean we nicely asked someone to go check on the people fallen over and they agreed. Not like we order cops around or anything (shockingly).

Now the fifth and final rest stop rides and interesting balance between refreshment and torture. Its located at this gorgeous winery, with lovely views of the countryside and (of course) provides much needed nourishment and the ever important potties. It also is approximately 50 yards from and directly pointed at the “final” climb of the ride known only as “THE WALL”. Some of you uber cyclists out there are probably reading this with some hit of skepticism. It seems that every area popular with road bikers has its own “the wall”; who’s to say how tough the one in Solvang actually is. Well, truth be told (with no Garmin data in hand), I don’t know. I can’t tell you the average grade, max grade, climb length or overall elevation change. I can tell you that after 95 miles in the saddle, sitting down, eating your banana and staring at that thing…”wall” seems like an understatement. Anticipation only makes it worse, ya know?

If Ron and I kept rest stop 4 short, the Firestone Winery was lightning speed. One wall and less than ten miles stood between us and glory. Or us and beer. Whichever. I scarfed my snacks, chugged my sports drink and (grudgingly) climbed back in the saddle. I might be close to the end, but my tail knew that it wasn’t getting a break yet! As far as I can tell, this particular hill was longer than the previous one but not quite as steep. It was definitely…wigglier (yes, that is a technical term) and had a couple decidedly unfriendly banks. Lucky for me, I had powerhouse-Ron at my side. He helped keep me going when I struggled, and we hit the top in pretty good time.

The view from the peak was phenomenal. If only my legs weren’t utter jello at this point, I’d be showing you a picture of it here. As it was, there was a 0% chance that I was going to unclip without falling – so I kept pedaling into the descent (and muttered internally about all the great missed pictures of the day). The downhill portion itself was actually much less rewarding than the last one. The pavement was truly wretched and my arm (and ears…oh my god the squeaking!) was giving me a good deal of complaints. I managed to keep hold of the handlebars the whole time, but I was really glad to see the stop sign at the bottom!

Of course, no cycling story would be complete without someone lying about climbs. Ron was pretty upfront that there was one “minor” hill after the big one we’d just done…but his idea of minor and mine are definitely not the same. Just after the aforementioned stop sign, we pulled up to Solvang’s answer to Mt. Eden. Much like our beloved hill repeats climb, this particular hill boasts fairly mild grades but a bunch of tiny switchbacks. We slowly weaved our way to the top – my legs were seriously dead at this point – and were rewarded with a downhill grade the rest of the way back to Solvang. As much as I’d like to whine about the unexpected or underrepresented final climb, 3+ full miles of downhill into the finish line was pretty frikkin’ sweet.

 

Me and my medal. I barely look winded!

 

I seriously couldn’t stop smiling riding into the finish line. There was a TNT contingent cheering for us as we rode across the line, complete with friends from last season who I hadn’t seen in months! A few more smiles and a couple hugs saw me to the actual finish line…well, the faux-finish line…still gotta get those last three miles in after the break!). I picked up my finishers packet (also known as a bunch of ride flyers – exactly what I wanted to think about after 7+ hours in the saddle) and headed to the Team in Training tent to checkout and get my super cool finishers medal. As super cool as medals can be, I guess. They aren’t exactly fashion friendly, but what in biking-land is? I hit the Solvang gear tent and purchased my very own event jacket; small jerseys were sold out. It is basically hideous (think bright red with green, yellow and purple accents) and vaguely overpriced, but its one of those thing you have have from your first century ride!

 

Ron and I at the finish line

Colin (my mentor) and I smiling pretty

 

Charles caught up with me shortly after checkout, food in hand. Score one point for him! The promised BBQ looked kinda shady, so he brought a bread/cheese/fruit plate instead. Mmmmm cheeeeeeese. Add in a tasty Danish pastry thing, and my recovery time was pretty short. Feeding time quickly gave way to “take lots of pictures to compensate for not taking them on the ride”. Of course these were of sweaty people in spandex cycling gear and not lovely rolling green hill, blue sky scenery…but whatever. Once the photos were done and the last of Team Wolverine had crossed (they all did make it in, just at varying points after Ron and I), Rich, Angie and I settled into back into the saddle for those last three miles home. Lucky for me, I avoided the beer – alcohol and a fierce wind combined with my exhaustion would likely have landed me as someone’s hood ornament!

 

Coach Don, me and Leigh Ann about 10 minutes before CollapseTime

 

I’m sure the Team in Training wrap up party was lovely, but I confess to not staying long enough to find out. I actually hit McDonald’s just after the ride (FOR SHAME!), so basically just picked at my dinner and ate the dessert. By the time the dancing started, my legs had one slow dance (aka turn and sway) in them before collapse. Charles and I hit the hotel room early and I feel asleep watching Troy on AMC (since when was this an American Movie Classic?!) by 9:30. All in all, pretty darn good day.

Motion Based ride data

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1 Response to “Bring it on Home”


  1. 1 Nicole May 18, 2008 at 3:23 am

    congrats on solvang jaime! that is awesome! i imagine it was a tough ride, the prelude was.

    go team!


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What do we have here?

An often sarcastic, occasionally humorous journal of my training adventures in preparation for the Livestrong century ride. I took up cycling back in '07 in hopes of meeting new people, and, with the help of Team in Training, making my small positive difference in the world -- and haven't stopped spinning since. Follow along as my Trek road bike and I try and hash out our differences, hopefully with me upright and in the saddle.

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