Finally a Weekend Off, and Doing the John Clare Memorial Solvang Double

For the first time in about 2 months, I finally was able to get a weekend off (not being on call, or attending to family related issues). This was the weekend to celebrate John Clare’s life (a highly popular double century rider among long distance cycling enthusiasts), with the Solvang Double renamed as his memorial ride. I just had to do it, so I begged and pleaded to get this weekend to do it (as I had been doing on call for just about every weekend). Because I was on call these weekends, I did not have the opportunity to do any real long distance rides. The last one I did was Devil’s Slide, back in mid-January (about 8 weeks ago). So I didn’t have any really good training in my legs, so if I was to do any of this ride, it would have to be the double metric century (200 km, not 200 miles).

The start time for the double metric century was 7 am, which was actually the same start time that the fast double riders (who could finish in less than 12 hours). I saw my friend TJ there, so I had to take this opportunity to take a selfie with him.

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We let the fast double riders start first. It was forecast to be about 10% rain, so that was the only reason for bringing my Showers Pass jacket. Good thing I brought it, because it started to drizzle around the 35 mile mark (around the 1st checkpoint). The drizzle was constant, and then it became harder, and turned into rain. You know you are drenched, when you tilt your helmet down, and you see a stream of water fall. I’m a little used to this, as I have been on some short loops, where I did get caught out in the rain. However, my Showers Pass jacket didn’t keep my route slip dry though. I forgot to bring a ziplock bag to keep the route slip in … Wasn’t expecting the rain to be that hard.

The rain hit hardest when I had to make a right turn, and then saw a road closed sign. I was barely able to locate the ride organizer’s phone number on my route sheet, who then suggested I just ride right on through the road closed signs. I remember riding through this part of the route from previous double century rides, so at least this was confirmation that I am on the right path.

Of course, with all this rain, I was always second guessing if I was on the right path, since I was basically riding out solo. As it turned out, I read the route slip wrong, as I made a wrong turn at the next step of the route slip. I went left, instead of right. I had to double check on Google Map on my smart phone, before realizing I made the wrong turn.

The rain did eventually stop (after about 1.5 hours), so I was drenched. My Showers Pass jacket did hold up, so this investment already paid off. I eventually got to the part of the route slip, where the turn direction was unreadable … arghh! Luckily, I saw one of the metric double riders, who unfortunately got a flat, and was there fixing it. Unfortunate for him, his spare tube was bad, so he was repairing his original tube with a patch. This gave me opportunity to catch up with him, as he knew the next few turns for the ride. Whew!

The second rest stop was at Guadalupe, and we were the last of the double metric riders. None of the double century riders had gotten there yet (much to my surprise, as I thought we were so far behind).

After leaving Guadalupe, I think my fitness started to falter. I could feel the back of my knee start to be in pain, but I persevered through it. However, by the time I started the last climb, up Alisos Canyon, my legs were feeling it, but was still able to crank it up the hill.

I started getting passed by some of the fast double riders (that I had mentioned early on, that started at 7 am). At least I had some company, even though they were ahead of me.

I was able to hang out with my double century friends from So Cal, even though I didn’t ride with them. We had a blast, and although the conditions of this ride were not ideal, I had a lot of fun.

Photo courtesy of Victor Cooper

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