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2014 Solvang Double Century

It was an interesting coincidence that the Solvang Double Century was organized for March 22, second last day of the Bikeage Base Camp. Could a snow-bound Canadian cyclist earn enough fitness to manage a respectable double century in March? The plans were made and a group of seven formed to have a go. Only 4 riders finally arrived in the Santa Ynez Valley, but with a well-laid plan and extra support from artist chef Nichole, the stage was set for the attempt.

The winter of 2014 has been long and cold, but a rigorous SRM power-based training plan paired with motivational tools like helped Bikeage to maintain and build some specific fitness. All that was left were the long rides – and those come easy in a place like Solvang. A solid week of challenging rides (read here) gave comfort and familiarity with the race course. Impeccable nutrition strategies were employed throughout the week to support recovery and regeneration. The plan was built around a 12 hour ride on Saturday.
I followed my nutrition plan, but had no idea what the race strategy would be. There are open start times, with a chip timing device starting your clock once you depart. When I arrived just before 7, no one was leaving the start area. Many of the 12-15 hour riders had already left for the day, and I wasn’t sure if I should set out alone or wait for a group. I chose the latter.
When the clock neared 7:30, all the riders got ready to leave. It was a pack of 30 or so, including two tandems that I noticed. It was a good sign. 27 years of riding and racing have taught me how to keep my nose out of the wind.
What I didn’t expect was the early pace. We meandered out of the parking lot and down the street. Once we got on the highway, the guns came out. I was scared. 28 hours of training in the last 7 days but no intensity like this. How was I going to feel in 2 hours?
I was shelled on the first tough climb, but managed to stick with tandem 2 over the next climb. This would save me until the mile 81 rest stop. The pace had evened out by then, and sticking with a tandem meant lots of room to hide when the wind was blowing. Right before the lunch stop, an attack at a highway crossing shattered the group. I stuck with 2 riders and we lost the tandem behind. A quick pull into the lunch stop for subway and a coke, and then I saw the tandem keep going. Darn. I resigned myself to a tougher time back. Then all of a sudden tandem 1 rolled in – victims of some flat-tire bad luck.
I jumped on my bike, hoping to eat my lunch and spin my legs so I’d be fresh when they caught me. The plan worked well – after about 15 minutes they caught me, I jumped on and managed to stick with them the rest of the race.
See the Strava details:

Race results here. 10th place – 12th including the tandem team that I managed to stay with. Race time 9:50:50. SRM distance 309 km. Riding time 9:36.
After finishing, I refilled my bottles and made my way back up Ballard Canyon, cheering on more finishers and topping up my mileage for the week. Turns out the course was about 8 miles short of 200 – couldn’t leave without the full distance in my legs.
Race stats:
Total time 9:50 (11:13 door to door)
Riding time 9:36
Distance 309 km (328 km door-to-door)
Total climbing 2014m
Total work / kilojoules 5804 (~calories)
Average power 168W (riding)
Here’s the race winner’s report – didn’t see much of him! -> Joel Sothern
Cool people I hanged on to:
RAAM Racer Dave Elsberry
RAAM Racer Chris O’keefe
Tandem 1 Paul and Paul – Ride Report
Carl Sanders