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Planet Ultra’s Solvang Spring Double Century

Anyone ever seen someone kill two tires, not tubes actual tires, in one ride? After today I have, and I have Joy Martino to thank for it.

What an amazing weekend. Things got started on Friday morning when I met up with Joy, her husband Mike, and Jennifer at Scrambled for breakfast. Our group, now dubbed the Solvang Six, had talked about having a group breakfast with everyone present, but it worked out a little better for the two separate groups to do their own things. Dave, Kant, and Josh would all ride out in Dave’s SUV while Joy, Jennifer, and I would take Jennifer’s SUV. Because the three boys all live in the west part of town, Scrambled was out of their way, and any place closer to them was out of us Henderson folks’ way. All in all I think the breakfast plan for Friday worked out for the best. The four of us had a good time at breakfast before I left the girls to load Joy’s gear into Jennifer’s SUV. While the girls were loading up I drove home and started bringing my stuff out to the curb.

Once the ladies arrived I had to reorganize the entire rear space in order to fit all our gear. After adding my pair of bags and cooler I loaded up Shadow. Jennifer then handed over the keys allowing me to drive. I would go on to drive for the entire weekend.

The drive over to Buellton was your typical road trip. We did make a stop in Victorville to meet the boys for lunch. This is in addition to a few more traditional bathroom and snack breaks. Overall we made really decent time arriving early enough to get settled into our rooms before checking in for the next day’s ride followed by a dinner out.

Going into this weekend we knew there was the threat of rain. Over the past two weeks the chances of rain had fluctuated between 25-65%. Friday night the forecast called for rain late Friday night/early Saturday morning stopping around 6:00 a.m. With that in mind we decided we’d set off at 6:00 a.m. and hope for the best.

That night I would wake up several times hearing the rain coming down on the metal roof of the hotel’s entrance awning. All I could think was, “I hope that this stops by the time we’re rolling.” When my alarm finally went off and I managed to actually roll out of bed I checked outside and the rain was barely coming down. Viewing it through the street lights it looked like nothing more than a light sprinkle. As I ate breakfast and started getting ready, Dave got up and checked outside and exclaimed that it was pouring down rain. When I took a look, to see what his fuss was about, he was right. The rain had started coming down much harder than when I last checked and was coming down sideways to boot.

It was at this point that Dave went into what can best be described as panic mode. Honestly, I’ve never seen the guy so twisted up about what gear to wear on a ride. I don’t know if it was a good or bad thing, but he’d brought damn near every piece of kit he owned. Light jackets, heavy jackets, light rain pants, heavy rain pants, etc. He had so many choices he couldn’t decide on what to wear. Thankfully, Kant finally woke up and came over dressed pretty similarly to what I was wearing. I’d opted for arm and leg warmers, summer bibs and jersey, wool baselayer, vest, and neck gaiter. I also had my Shower’s Pass Pro Tech ST jacket which I’d used on my tour last year. Kant was sporting similar gear minus the leg warmers. After going back and forth Dave finally decided to go with a lighter setup, and as luck would have it as 6:00 drew closer the rain did indeed stop.

Gathered outside the hotel we were all surprised, and delighted, at the lack of rain. Sure the roads were completely soaked, but it wasn’t actively coming down. I’d made the mistake of dawning my rain jacket before leaving the room, and took it off and stored it while waiting for everyone to finish their last minute checks. After a couple quick pictures and starting the computers we rolled out.

The first segment was 38 miles to the first SAG stop in Garey. We made solid progress and I averaged just shy of 18 MPH for the stretch. There were some beautiful climbs with scenery to match. I remember coming up over a crest, starting down, and diving into a bank of fog. The light shining over my shoulder made it look like a golden mess. Thankfully the roads were nearly abandoned with only us cyclists.

The second segment was a little longer at just over 40 miles with a stop just outside San Luis Obispo. Right out of the last SAG stop we started crossing some active farm country. This also meant there were portions of the road covered with a nice mud slick. Sadly I was the only one with full fenders which meant if you weren’t in the front and following too closely or not off to the side you ran the risk of getting a face full of mud. Well needless to say by the time we got to the second stop both Jennifer and I looked like we had Chicken Pox all over our faces.

It’s also along this segment that we kinda had some minor issues.

The first was as we were coming into the small town of Arroyo Grande. We’d passed a few solo riders, and one in particular in all black kit (we’ll come back to him shortly). A short time later we came upon a decent sized group which had decided to be safe and follow behind the tractor driving down the road. At first we considered going around the entire gang, but knowing we had a turn just ahead I advised to just hold back and we’d all clear together. So our group of six, all held back behind this other group of at least 10. Then out of nowhere along the left comes the soloist in the black kit. This just aggravated the crap out of me. To make matters worse, right as this was happening the tractor was pulling off to allow us all by and ended up dumping some mud across the road when they hit a bump. So not only are we negotiating this guy trying to fly past us all, everyone is trying to avoid this mud pile in the road.

So now I’m really steaming and I’m sharing my displeasure with a couple of the boys. All throughout the rest of town this joker kept weaving in and around us despite the fact that we’d flown past him right before town. If he wants to hold our wheel fine, but dude should have been patient while we navigated through town. Regardless, as we started leaving town Josh got up front and we started putting on some steam to leave this guy in the dust. That would explain the 19 MPH average for that 40 mile segment. Unfortunately, we ran into another small issue.

As Josh pushed the pace, we started making a small climb. As we continued climbing we started shooting our own people out the back. I rolled back to grab Jennifer who’d tried to hold onto Joy, but since there is nothing to Joy there wasn’t much draft help. Once I picked up Jennifer I tried to get Joy on her wheel, but eventually she’d fall off as well. We would eventually get up the road and I turned around to see Joy was nowhere to be seen. I told Jennifer to keep on rolling, that I would catch up, and stopped on the side of the road to wait for Joy. I didn’t wait but for a few minutes but it certainly felt like an eternity. When she finally did roll up she said she wasn’t feeling so hot. It seems that she hadn’t really had anything to eat since leaving the hotel. As we rolled on we found the gang up ahead pulled off the side of the road with a SAG truck waiting for the two of us. Thankfully the SAG truck was working with someone else and our crew was good. We came to a stop and I told Joy that she needed to eat something before we rolled on while signaling to Josh that I was worried she wasn’t doing so great. Joy dug into her bar bag, pulled out a gel, and downed it.

After our quick 5 minute break we rolled out. We kinda got spread out, but got back together pretty quickly. Even heard from Josh later that Joy had said to him, “Hey let’s catch them.” after the two were kinda left behind from when we’d rolled out. Love hearing that she bounced back. I’ll say I learned a valuable lesson. I really need to do a much better job at not letting others’ behavior get the better of me. Ugh, just so frustrating. Anyway it wasn’t too much later that we rolled into the third stop and got a nice break.

While we were hanging out refueling we noticed that we only had a maybe 20 or so mile loop to do before we’d be right back at the same stop. This second time would mark the halfway point. As we rode through San Luis Obispo we made a right on CA-1 and shortly thereafter I heard something but thought nothing of it. Then almost immediately I heard the call to stop for a mechanical. I stopped and turned around to see Joy stopped and she appeared to be tangled up with another rider. Talking with Josh he questioned if the other rider had taken her out. I rode back to check on her to find that she’d hit a stick. It ended up in her rear wheel causing it to lock up and she nearly went down while the rider behind her was barely able to get enough space to not take her down completely. Joy shook it off, appeared none the worse for wear, and we rolled on.

It wasn’t too much later when we were making a good amount of steam along an in-town descent when we got another call for a mechanical. We pulled off onto a side street to find that Kant had dropped a chain after it jumped off his crank from hitting a bump. He made quick work of it and we were off to the races again.

Things were going good and we were rolling pretty well until we turned the corner for the final stretch back to the midway point. We were traveling east on Tank Farm Road just leaving town when I heard a massive loud “pop”. Honestly it scared the crap out of me. Then I hear Joy exclaim, “Oh dang it, flat!”. We continued east just a little further to a dirt pullout to give us more room to get Joy squared away.

Joy rolled up and we started checking for damage. As we spun the rear wheel we found a huge flat spot on her tire. It seems that when the stick locked up her rear it skid it enough to go through the tread and into the casing. Eventually it weakened enough to create a hole for the tube to burst through. I’ve never seen anything like it! At first I thought her day was done. Then ole Dave mentioned that he had some boots. From the outside it didn’t look like a boot would do it, but once we got it removed and checked from the inside it was totally doable. So we booted it, got it inflated, mounted, and rolled on for the halfway SAG. Our hope was to roll in and someone there would have a tire we could replace the damaged one with.

Thankfully the halfway stop was less than two miles away. We rolled in and checked for a tire and found there were none to be found! While we relaxed and enjoyed lunch we kept asking around with no luck. I did end up giving some tube repair supplies to another rider who had been stuck trying to fix their tube. Unfortunately, I never found out if the patch kit saved his ride or not. While we kept eating and chatting we found that there was a bike shop along the route! So we finished up eating and rolled out for home and the bike shop stop along the way.

Three miles later we rolled into Art’s Cyclery and asked about a 26mm tire for our girl Joy. Thankfully they had some in stock and had no problem getting it mounted up for us. After a 15 minute pit stop we were back on the road. We rolled along some back streets to get back to the official route and even doubled back some just to be on the safe side.

With our spirits high we were just heading out of town when we heard another pop like before! Be damned the brand new, two mile old, rear tire had blown out and gone flat!! Upon further inspection and talking with Joy it appears that she had the mother of all pinch flats. A hole, crack, or other seam in the concrete had smashed the sidewall up against the edge of her wheel. The wheel had a nice scar on it and the sidewall a healthy hole. We stripped it like before, Dave booted it, and we got it remounted and ready to rock.

I have to admit I think the failure was my fault. Before we’d left Art’s I’d asked if anyone had watched the guy install the tire and if it was difficult. Of course it was a complete pain to get mounted back up. Then instead of using a CO2 I got out my pump and went to town. Mostly because with the high humidity I had had some difficulty with Joy’s inflator. Just when I thought we had it up to pressure I gave it a spin and found a significant flat spot where the tire hadn’t beaded fully. So dumped out some of the air I’d added, went around the entire wheel reseating the bead, and then hit it with a CO2 while using my inflator. Thankfully we heard the heaven’s song of “ping, ping, ping” as the wheel seated fully. We gave it another spin for good measure and it looked great. Finally squared away we rolled out.

Our next stop would happen only 24 miles later when we pulled into a convenience store. A few of us had empty water bottles and didn’t feel we had enough to make ten more miles to the next stop. We all ended up fueling up. Jennifer discovered some amazing homemade salted caramels, and I even picked up a few lottery tickets (no winners unfortunately). I think the break lasted longer than we would have liked, but we rolled out knowing that our next stop would be a quickie.

Ten miles later we rolled into Guadalupe for the official stop. By this time it was painfully obvious that Jennifer was hurting. She was regularly falling off the back. I would fall back with her to try to give her a wheel, but I was met with mixed results. No biggie though. Rolling and escorting Jennifer gave me the opportunity to relive this section of road from when I’d passed through last year during my tour. It was very emotional to see all these places, recognize them, and share things like, “Hey I took a picture at this little shed with the CA-1 and Pacific Coast Bicycle Route sign!” Also riding with Jennifer allowed me to sit up and enjoy the world around me while we rode through it.

27 miles later we rolled into the little town of Los Alamos to find the final stop. Planet Ultra had set up shop and was dishing out hot Ramen. Honestly it was the best Ramen ever. I’m sure the mileage before and the rain coming down helped to enhance the flavor! We all made sure to take the opportunity to rest and relax before the final climbs and pushes to the finish.

The final 28 miles involved around 1,700 feet of climbing. It started with an absolutely awful stretch of road which paralleled US-101. It was so bad that we were off on the dirt shoulder because it rode smoother than the asphalt. Thankfully it ended with the left onto Alisos Canyon Road where Jennifer and I met up with the rest of the group. We set out for the climbing and were staying together pretty well, but then Jennifer’s fatigue, and lack of eating earlier in the ride, started catching up with her again.

Jen and I hung out together just cruising and I was surprised when I spotted Dave on the side of the road waiting for us. He jumped on and helped escort the two of us to Foxen Canyon. As we approached Foxen Canyon I called out “Left turn” when I heard Josh reply “Turning left!” It was a joke that had started up during today’s ride when we’d call out the different turns. I will say I was happy to hear another friendly voice.

The climb up Foxen Canyon wasn’t too terrible despite how late it came into the ride. As we got to the top the nearly full moon was getting high and you could see down into the valleys along either side of the ridge we were riding along. It was a gorgeous site for so late in the evening. We continued bombing along a descent by moon and headlight. It was a blast.

As we came upon US-101, the guys in front mistakenly made a right onto US-101 when we needed to go across and then right. This was certainly another sketchy part of the ride. Crossing a 4 lane highway at night on a weekend isn’t exactly my idea of a good time. Thankfully we made it across with no issues and started the final short climb before bombing the rest of the way back into town. Along the way Joy and Dave both ended up in front but both slowed and allowed me to take the lead. I even heard Dave say at one point, “Get up there Elvis you have better eyes than me.” We all lined up and started bombing down this quiet, pitch black, narrow, beat up, country road. At one point I gave Shadow a little pat on the hood and said, “Ok Shadow ole buddy let’s bring this home.” Thankfully he didn’t disappoint and we made it the remainder of the way in without issue.

Once in the hotel we all went back to our rooms and started getting showered up to go out and grab some food. We started getting desperate when we found many of the local places closed in the next 20 minutes. Thankfully our man Josh pulled another restaurant out of his hat and we rolled over to the Marriott for dinner. The next day we rolled over to Paula’s Pancake House in Solvang for our group breakfast. I agree with Kant’s assessment that group breakfast the day after the DC is a new tradition. After breakfast we went back to the hotel to get packed up and head for home. We would group up one more time in Victorville for lunch at Apollo Restaurant, another Josh pick. We all agreed that Josh is the official restaurant guru. I don’t know how he managed to hit home runs on each and every place we ate at this weekend.

Another DC in the books. This makes number two for the year. For sure I have at least three more in order to earn the California Triple Crown as well as the 10K endurance kits for the Triple Crown and Adobo Velo. Hoping I can pick up the Stage Race jersey while I’m at it, and perhaps a solo DC. Only time will tell. I have to say that these things are an absolute blast and the company I keep helps make it happen. Here’s looking to the next one!

New bike fund: $55.89 (+$0.00)
💪 142.34 new miles — From
688 vehicles @ 3.6 per mile, 1 per minute, Speeds: 41.4 mph (avg), 81.8 mph (max) — by
Give your activities the names they deserve. — by
Mostly cloudy-Mostly cloudy, 50°F-49°F, Feels like 48°F-45°F, Humidity 99%-78%, Wind NW 3mph-WNW 6mph — by
myWindsock Report —
Weather Impact: 1%
Headwind: 50% @ 0.2-14.6mph
Longest Headwind: 02h 18m 22s
Air Speed: 16.9mph
Temp: 49.6-60.3°F
Precip: 100% @ 0 Inch/hr
— END —

Total distance: 192.63 mi
Max elevation: 1633 ft
Min elevation: 40 ft
Total climbing: 9224 ft
Total descent: -9170 ft
Total time: 14:16:11
Published inCyclingDouble CenturyEvents

One Comment

  1. […] 12Total Distance: 738.29 MilesTotal Ride Time: 42:09:58 (H:M:S)Longest Ride: 192.35 Miles – Planet Ultra’s Solvang Spring Double CenturyCalories Burned: 33,926Total Elevation Gain: 31,332 ftAverage Speed: 17.5 MPHAverage Heart Rate: 135 […]

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