Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Solvang Double Century (3/24/12)

Solvang Double Century
(my first double century)


Friend: Why are you going to Solvang?
Me: For a double century.
Friend: What is that?
Me: A 200 mile bike ride.
Friend: 200 miles in one day?!
Me: Yes, at least in theory.
Friend: Why?
Me: Because I want the Triple Crown.
Friend: What is that?
Me: Three doubles in a year.
Friend: How many doubles have you done?
Me: This will be my first.
Friend: How many centuries have you done?
Me: One. Two, if you count the 100 mile training ride I did earlier in the month.

As I head down to Solvang, a part of me thinks I just might be under-trained. I think I should have ridden more, trained a little more on the bike. But, I had to train for other things (i.e., my first ultra marathon earlier in the month) and the weather was not always cooperative. I think all my running might help compensate for me not riding enough. My legs feel strong. And, from my running training, I have gotten pretty good at knowing how to fuel myself for long endurance events. I have pretty good running endurance. I am just really hoping my running endurance can convert to cycling endurance.

Guess I'll just see how it goes out there...

Friday evening (pre-ride)

I travel all day with Tawny, Julie, and Rex (new cycling friends) down to Solvang. We are kind of an odd foursome. The four of us all different from each other, except for our craziness in wanting to go ride 200 miles this weekend. The road trip down is fun with them though. By Friday evening, we arrive to our destination and check in. Then, we work on getting our bikes and gear ready for the ride tomorrow.

To ride 200 miles, I find there is a lot one has to consider carrying (either on the bike or on myself) and there's only so much room to carry stuff. There's the usual gear that comes with any ride (i.e. helmet, tubes/C02, garmin, etc....) I have my new pink rabbit kit ready to go. But, since we will be riding in the dark and in the daylight, we have to consider the clothing for the dark and the daylight. Slight chance of rain and possibility of wind are in the forecasts. I just stick to my trusty favorite red cycling jacket! I have the full fingered gloves to wear in the morning and the fingerless gloves packed away. I have arm warmers and don't think I will wear leg warmers. My legs are okay with cold.

Then, there's the lighting equipment. Front light and tail light. My front light is awesome. It's as bright as a car light. My tail light is not awesome. It is kind of cheap and not sitting so well on my bike. Hopefully it stays put.

And, then there's the food/fuel. Two water bottles with just water to start off with but I have electrolyte tabs and pedialyte powder to use. I have the GUs, shot blocks, and cliff bars. But, I have found in running, I like real food so I have packed away peanut butter crackers, oatmeal cookies, wheat thins, and almonds. Since not all the rest stops will have sodas, I also packed away a can of coke (Coke is one of my energy sources ;-))

I also pack away a portable charger since my Garmin only has a battery life of 10 hours. No way am I fast enough to ride 200 miles in under 10 hours. Also, I pack away my cell phone cord in case my cell phone needs charging too out there.

Okay. Think everything is all set. Just need to get a good night sleep and ready to go in the morning.

Saturday morning
Yeah, did not get such a good night sleep. Took awhile to fall asleep then kept waking up every hour or so. But, that's how things usually go the night before a big event.

At 4 a.m., we are all up and getting everything on and the bikes ready to go.

My tail light is being kind of funny so Tawny lends me an extra red light just in case (don't want me to get DQ'd for missing a rear light). It's a good thing she lends that to me because as I roll my bike out of the room into the parking lot, my own tail light completely falls apart (the cover comes off and the batteries go flying). Good grief! Julie also kindly gives me an extra red light to put on my bike.

Then we ride over to the Marriott, where the ride is starting. It is about a 1/2 mile ride.

The Start to the First Rest Stop (Mile 41)
For these rides, it is not a race. You just have to finish by a certain time (10 p.m.). Faster riders are encouraged to start later and the slower ones are to start earlier in order to finish on time. So, they have staggered starts. I am starting at the earliest possible since I have no idea how long 200 miles will take me.

We get to the start and a lady is saying something to the riders but who knows what she's saying. Then, the riders start rolling one by one through the timing system thing. The numbers we have attached to the front of our bikes has the timing chip in it.

Everyone has told me to "pace myself" so I am thinking that as I start off. Though, I cannot see my speedometer since it's dark out. So, I just ride in the middle of the pack. I also cannot see my route sheet in the dark so have to follow the pack to know where I am going. I hope I don't follow them the wrong way.

The first 25 or so miles is generally going uphill. This is not straight up hill. There are some hills and little breaks and some slight declines but generally going upward for the first 25ish miles. No crazy steep hills either. But, as I hit each hill, I find myself sliding over to the left to pass people. For hills, I have to pedal at my climbing pace. I cannot climb behind people slower than me. It throws my rhythm off making it hard to climb. I am not that fast but not that slow either. So, I slide to the left to pass. Eventually, this gets me to the front of the pack (remember, the super fast guys haven't started yet). At one point, it is just me and another single speed guy at the top of this hill. I look back to see the pack still only halfway up the hill. I slow down a little to let them catch up (again, I am not sure where we are going).

Around mile 25 or so, I continue climbing strongly but the sun is starting to rise so I can kind of see my route sheet now. I climb up Foxen Canyon and then start descending. That is fun, though a little cold. I level out and it's just me and a couple guys around me. There's a guy with blue tires that I ride near. I had seen him earlier in the ride but passed him on the climbs.

Now that the sun is up, I see that this area is quite beautiful. A beautiful countryside. Nice and peaceful in the early morning hours. Blue tires guy and I are commenting at how nice it is now that the sun is up. Another guy joins us and we ride along for a bit.

Then, the train of fast guys comes through. It catches us on a slight curve so we get absorbed into the middle of the pace line. This is a fun, fast pace line! We are rolling at 25+ mph. I think to myself, this isn't exactly pacing myself.A friend specifically told me to not go chasing after these fast pace lines. Though, I did not chase the pace line. It just kind of sucked me into it. I am also not at the back trying to cling on for dear life (which is how I often find myself in pace lines). I am comfortably riding in the middle just flying along. And, loving the speed!

Even when I move up to the front of the pace line and it gets to be my turn to pull, my legs are feeling good and strong. I manage to do a decent pull for a bit before falling back and another guy pulls. These guys are all really nice thanking each other for each pull. When we all slow down as we approach the rest stop, one guy rides near me to say good job in helping share the work. I am happy that my riding is feeling strong today. The few training rides I did where there were pace lines, I struggled just to stay on, much less help pull. So, the day is start off pretty well.

We arrive to the first rest stop. I eat a little, refill my water, use the port-a-pottie, change into my fingerless gloves and text an update to twitter/facebook. (For my ultra marathon, I was out running for about six hours and my friend bugged me for live updates and knew she'd go crazy if she did not hear from me all day long at the double. so, I set it up so I can send a quick text to twitter, which would post to facebook, to let whoever wanted an update to know where I was. It was going to be a long day!)

at 7:35 a.m., I text/tweet: "at first rest stop...40 miles...probably went too in fast pack!"

To the second rest stop (mile 87)
I leave the second rest stop. As I head to an intersection, I am confused. I see a pack of cyclists go to the right. But I thought we were supposed to go farther down before turning left. I see a SAG vehicle at the intersection too as I approach and then it starts driving to the right, in the same direction as all the cyclists. All the cyclists go right and I see they have the numbers on them so they are doing the same event. So, I turn with them but kind of hesitant of the direction we are going.

Another guy asks if we are going the right way. Others don't respond and keep going. I say I feel like this is not right. The guy u-turns back and joins another guy who has stopped to inspect his route sheet. I decide to u-turn also as I certainly don't want to be riding 10 miles in the wrong direction. The three of us agree this is the wrong way and turn back. I see a pack of cyclists continue off in the wrong way but they have gotten too far from me to yell at them. I am confused that the SAG vehicle just rolled by all of us and did not bother to redirect us the right way.

I start riding along in the other direction and eventually see a road marker to know I am going the right way now. Fortunately for me, I only rode an extra mile. I heard others rode a lot more extra miles the wrong day. My legs are feeling pretty good and I just ride along. I am mostly by myself for a bit. I am enjoying the scenery. I am also starting to pay attention to the time and remind myself to constantly eat food, GU, or a shotblock every 30 minutes. In endurance running, I have learned about being diligent about taking in food and such at certain times as you do not want to bonk. Fueling myself is where I know my running training will be helpful to my cycling training.

The scenery is quite beautiful and the sky is blue! I attempt to take pictures but only manage one picture before my camera spazzes on me and all the pictures are turning black. Too bad as it would have been nice to take more pictures.

Around 55 miles into it, I get near Highway 166. Two cyclists catch up to me. It's blue tires guy and a guy with a yellow bike (who had been in the fast pace line earlier too). They pass me briefly but we hit a small hill and I pass them on the climb.

As turn down on road, we start descending a bit. The two guys come flying past me. I am a descent climber but I can only go so fast descending. I think it is because I am small. Anyhow, I just tuck myself in behind these two guys as they go flying pass me on the downhill.

The three of us end up working together. We rotate taking turns pulling. I do notice I tend to be the one up front pulling them up the hills but just as well as they pull me on the declines and some of the flats. This is a nice little team we formed as we are going a lot faster than I was when I was riding alone.

As we pass through Arroyo Grande, we slow down a little bit to get through town. A few other cyclists join our a little trio. I end up being the one navigating through the town as the guys follow me. I hear one of the guys behind me say something about "how she just keeps going." Has to be talking about me as I am the only girl around at this point. This amuses me as my friends do frequently call me the Energizer Bunny.

We all end up chit chatting a bit as we roll through town. Yellow bike guy says this is his triple crown ride. He has already done two doubles this year. Blue tires guy says he really like the bike shorts which have pink rabbits on the side (my pink rabbit jersey is hidden under my red jacket). He jokes that the guys are chasing the pink rabbit. hehehe. Blue tires guy is from the bay area. I tell him I am from Sacramento. He tells me "you know how to ride in wind then." I say I guess so (boy do I not know what I am in store for).

We eventually get back onto some open country roads and the guys start picking up the pace again. We join another faster group of riders and they just leave me in the dust. Figures. But, I am being good about not chasing them.

As I am riding along, I notice a runner running along the country road. He is carrying a couple hand held water bottles and running along. I think to myself, I wonder how far he's running. Oh, I kind of wish I was running today. I have become a cyclist but I was a runner first. Then, I see a bunch more runners running along. Makes me curious as to where they are running and how far they are running. I am thinking of my running friends. I am wearing my java joggers wristband on my right arm. They gave it to me to wear in the NYC marathon as it says "We are with you Java Joggers." But, I find I like wearing it for most major events, even my non running events. I also have a Java Joggers water bottle on the bike. I am always the Java Jogger. ;-)

Around mile 87, I arrive to the second rest stop. I am getting hungry now so I eat a little more snacks and drink the can of coke I had packed away. So glad I packed it. After 87 miles, a coke (even though not that cold) is refreshing! I stock up on some GU and get ready for the next stretch. A guy comes up to me and thanks me. Tells me I was right about us going the wrong way. He tells me some people ended up going a lot farther. I like that all the other cyclists are really friendly here.

At 10:22 a.m., I text/tweet: "2nd rest stop. 87 miles. feeling good. beautiful day! :)"

Mile 87 to the Lunch Stop (mile 114)

Coming out of the rest stop, I start thinking that I am nearly to the 100 mile mark. Halfway done. I am feeling pretty good too. Been going along at a pretty nice pace too and my legs do not feel tired. I continue to eat/refuel about every 30 minutes. And, I make sure I am frequently drinking water. My friends really emphasized staying hydrated. I am also standing out of the saddle periodically to stretch my legs and back. My worry is not whether my legs will last 200 miles but whether my back and neck will. So, I try to change up my position to sit upright when I can. Everything is feeling good at this point.

I pass through San Luis Obispo and eventually get onto Highway 1. We ride along the Highway for about 10 miles. It is a simply beautiful day. The skies are blue and it is getting warm out. This is kind of neat to ride in the opposite direction of where we drove yesterday. I am riding towards Morro Bay.

As I exit the highway and turn, I realize I have ridden over 100 miles. I am officially now on my longest bike ride ever! Woot! I feel a long stronger and better than the 100 mile ride I did with Mitch a few weeks prior. I think about the NorCal Aids Cycle (4 days ride I have in May). I should be fine doing those 100ish mile days if I feel like this.

I make another turn and start heading south. I am starting to feel the wind. My pace slows down a little but nothing too bad. But, the wind is making me tired. The road has a few rough patches. I recently replaced my tires, specifically so I would not get any flats. So far they seem to holding up pretty well. I sure hope they do. I start getting hungry and tired. I eat some cookies and crackers as I ride along. I look forward to the lunch stop as I plan to rest a bit longer there than I had at the other stops.

I get to the lunch stop around noon. Just around 7 hours total time now. I feel I am making good time. The first thing I do is pull out of my charger and charge up my Garmin. Garmin has been going 7 hours now and will need to recharge while I am resting here. Then, I go grab a sandwich and other snacks to munch on. And, of course, I drink a nice cold Coke. I just sit for a bit and read a few of the messages my friends have posted to my facebook. It makes me smile to see the support from my friends. This is always what keeps me going. :)

Lisa has written to me that "Tawny is 58 minutes behind you." That's nice to hear about where my friend is. I have not seen Rex at all. I saw Julie briefly as I was leaving the last rest stop. Again, I see Julie right as I am leaving the lunch stop. I talk to her briefly.

Knowing that the rest stop will not have any soda, I grab an extra can of Coke and pack in the back of my jersey. I pop some Sports Legs pills and refill my water. And, off I go again.

Todd had mentioned to me that the Garmin may reset itself when you charge it. I was worried about it but as I turned the Garmin on, I see my data was still there where I had paused it. Yes!!! I am happy! I will be able to keep my ride in one upload. I am a bit of a data nerd about my workouts. :P

At 12:18 a.m., I text/tweet before I go: "made it to the lunch stop. 114 miles. officially on my longest ride ever! the wind is exhausting!"

Lunch Stop to Guadalupe (Mile 144)
I ride out of the rest stop and about a mile or two out, I stop at a stop light. Another guy stops behind me. He then goes "Oh no!" I look back and he points to a goat head stuck to my rear tire. I reach to pull it out but the guy tells me if I pull it out, I'll probably get a flat. I feel my tire and it's still feeling firm so no flat right now. He says I could just ride back to the lunch stop as it's only a mile or so back. The light turns and the guy takes off.

In my head, I think, no way am I riding backwards. Just days prior to this, I went to Folsom Bike and told them that I have had about a dozen flats in the past few months and I have a double on Saturday and the last thing I want to do is to change my tire 10 times. So, I bought these new Continental Gators which are pretty much supposed to be flat proof. Now, I have a stupid goat head stuck in my tire. So far my tire is staying put. I decide to continue to ride. I'll just check the tire at the next rest stop.

I start riding by Pismo Beach. It is lovely out. I love the ocean especially the smell of it. It's this beautiful shade of blue and the sun is shining. I am enjoying this nice stretch near the beach. Then, I look down briefly at my route sheet to see what my next turn might be. When I look up, I immediately see a dark blue car door flying out just in front of me. My heart jumps and at the last second, I swerve away from it. Whew, that was a near miss! Clueless car guy does not even acknowledge he nearly car-door'd me! Ugh! I have been car door'd before and not a fun experience. It takes a bit for my heart rate to go back down.

Around mile 132 or so, I make a turn and start climbing this one hill. The grade gets kind of steep. Before the ride, I had really studied the route to see where all the climbs were and how steep the grades were. While the elevation graph made all the hills in the middle look small, I noticed one hill in the middle with grades 12%+ and nearing 18%. I made mental note to be prepared for that. And, here I am, climbing that hill. But, all day, I have been feeling good climbing the hills. I like hills. As I am trucking along up the hill, I think about the Death Ride. How I look forward to doing that with my cycling friends. I am still enjoying the hills after 130 miles. I actually can hardly wait until the Death Ride.

As I near the top, my right hamstring cramps just a little bit. My right hamstring has cramped in both my marathons and on some of my long training runs. It likes to cramp in long endurance events apparently. Of course, it cramps up at the worst moment as I am trying to crest a hill. I cannot stop at this point of the hill so I just bear through it and get to the top.

As I start descending, I stand up to stretch it a little and cramp passes. I drink some more of my fizz water and pop some more sports legs. I keep moving along. It's nice that while cycling, the cramp did not completely stop me as it has done in running. In running, when my hamstring cramped, I had to stop dead in my tracks. I start thinking that running is harder than cycling. At least in cycling, there are moments where I am just sitting and still moving.

As I roll down the hill, I feel a cross wind start to kick up. It gets a bit stronger that my bike wobbles a little bit. I have to start pedaling a bit to stay balance on the descent. The wind gets stronger the more I go. I feel like it's starting to be more work coming down than it was climbing up. I level out a bit and the wind is really rough. I am pushing my way through.

A small train of cyclists come by and I tuck in behind a tandem bike. They kind of shield me from the wind but it is tough for all of us. Fortunately, it is only a few miles to the rest stop.

We get to the rest stop. I turn off my garmin again and put it on the charger. I am so happy I had the coke packed in my jersey. I down the can. I eat some crackers and such. They have candy at this rest stop so I eat a bunch and throw some peanut m&m's into my jersey.

I do a quick check of my tire. I do not see the goat head stuck in it again and the tire is still feeling firm. Boy am I really happy that I bought these new tires. They are great!

I start noting the time. I am making good time. The next rest stop is not too far away. Just 26ish miles. That should take me less than two hours. Then, probably another couple hours from the last rest stop. I think I can finish before sundown. That would be awesome.

I see quick glimpses of the messages my friends have been sending me on facebook. This gives me a smile. I post a quick text/tweet at 2:48 p.m., "rest stop...144 miles...the wind was really rough!"

To the last rest stop (mile 169) the WORST wind ever!
I roll out of Guadalupe and can feel the wind but doing okay. My pace is not as brisk as I would like but I am doing okay. As I get out of town, the wind gets worst. I shift down and down and down. I am practically in my granny gear. Pushing as best as can through this headwind. I can hardly get my pace to go over 10mph. Good grief!

As I ride along, it seems to get harder. My pace drops to about 7-8 mph and I have to struggle really hard to get it to go any faster. I think the wind is blowing at 20+ mph. I see the road curve a little to the left and hope that when I make that curve, I get a little relief. It does not happen. The wind is just blowing away.

This wind is draining my energy. And because I am hunched down, my back starts to hurt. I try to straighten up but I can barely ride through the wind so hunch back down. Every so often, I have to use one hand to rub my lower back as it is really starting to ache. As is my neck.

I am thinking, I know in long endurance events, there is a "wall" that happens. Usually it is mental and you have to tell yourself to keep going. I did not think I would have to ride through a physical wall of wind. Seriously, this is the WORST wind ever!

A couple cyclists pass me. Some guys that seem to be the fast guys do not look like they are going very fast. I try to tuck in behind a guy here and there. The fast guys are going at about 10-11 mph. You know it's really bad when they are going really slow too. And, I can barely hang on at that pace. I drop back to 7-8 mph and fall off their tail.

I struggle along cursing the wind. It is the longest stretch of road I have ever ridden on. And, I just cannot move any faster. Because I am using so much energy to go through this wind, I get hungry so I eat quite a bit. I go through my whole baggie of wheat thins. I eat the peanut m&m's I had packed away. More GU and shot blocks.

During this stretch, my garmin randomly goes off. I have been in the saddle a little shy of 10 hours now. My garmin has a battery life of 10 hours. I have been charging the garmin at rest stops knowing I will be riding more than 10 hours. Now, I worry that the charger did not work. I turn the garmin back on and see that the battery symbol shows it is still half charged. I carefully watch the garmin as I exceed the 10 hour mark. The garmin stays on. Random fluke I guess. It continues to record my ride.

At one point after struggling for a few miles alone, a pack of cyclists pass by. I tuck myself in behind the tandem at the back. I get a little relief from the wind but it is not much since the wind is more of a cross wind than a head wind. I do my best to draft behind this tandem but because the wind is so crazy, all the riders are shifting right and left a lot. No one can really hold a straight line. This is dangerous. My front wheel is nearly clipped by the tandem in front of me. I fall back a little not wanting to be taken out. This results in me falling off the group. I do not even want to try staying with them. It's too nerve-racking.

I pedal away through the wind, still unable to pick up the pace. I am so so so miserable. I am counting down the miles to the rest stop. This is horrid. The longest 25 mile stretch ever! I wish I would have had rain over this. I would rather ride hills all day long than this flat stretch in the wind. I think I was climbing hills faster earlier than I am on this flat road, in my granny gear, pedaling as hard as I can.

I decide I need something to help motivate me. So, I pull out of my iPhone. Facebook comments from my friend appear on the screen like text messages. I do not see all the messages. I am just glancing at the screen to the most recent ones. What I see is: Tim saying "Good job Helen", Roy saying "Keep it up Helen", Susan saying "YAY Helen", Lisa saying "Oh my, your fast. You ride a double like it's a century" (this makes me laugh)....and, the message that really warmed my heart, from Javier (my cycling "father") saying "U go girl!" (I have noticed Javier sending me messages all day long)...All of this makes me smile. This is the encouragement I need at this point. My friends are cheering me on and I must keep going.

Finally, after the longest 25-26ish miles of my life, I make it to the last rest stop. It took me nearly 2 1/2 hours to get here. Whatever time goals I had in mind kind of went out the window. A lot of cyclists around me are worn out at this point. Many talk about quitting. Quitting never enters into my mind. I am just going to rest for a bit and then continue to the final stretch. But, good grief, I just ache all over. My legs feel okay but the rest of me is so sore. My knees are getting sore too. I decide to pop some motrin in order to get to the last stretch.

There is no place for me to rest my bike so I just lay her down on the ground. I put my garmin under her to charge. Then, I go looking for a Coke as they said they would have some here. I get my can of coke and a cup of chili. Both are tasting oh so good right now.

After recuperating for a bit. I get back on the bike. I know this is the last stretch. There is some climbing involved but basically, the home stretch. I pray to the weather gods that I have less wind. I turn on my rear light as this last stretch will probably get dark by the end and I do not want to stop to turn on my lights.

At 5:36 p.m., I text/tweet: "after 25 long slow miles in heavy wind, I finally made it to the last rest stop...169 miles...I hurt all over but legs still able to spin!"

The final stretch home

I head out of the rest stop and start riding away. There is still wind but it does not feel as strong as before. I am thinking I still might make it before 8pm. It would be nice to get within 15 hours. But, we will see how the weather goes. I am amazed my legs are spinning as well as they are. In long runs, I have hit points where I have to mentally tell myself to pick my feet up and keep going. Here, my legs are just spinning okay. The rest of the body aches but the legs are able to keep going.

I turn on some rural road. The route sheet says to go on a private road through a vineyard so I do. I hit the bumpiest road. The whole road. I ride to the left, to the right, up the middle, and it is all bumpy. There are also random little dips and such. The road is kind of gravely too. And, I tell you, 175 miles into a ride, there are certain parts of you that do not like getting bumped about. So, I stand up out of the saddle and kind of feel like I am mountain biking as I bounce along on this road. I am glad again I have my new tires on my bike as this road is just asking for a pinch flat.

After bouncing along that road for two miles, we finally hit a smooth road. I hear my text message alert. I pull my phone out and see my friend Mariah has sent a message "hope your double is a blast!! And hope the weather is better than here!!" I also catch a glimpse of messages from friends who posted to facebook. A lot telling me I am on the final stretch, nearly there, etc. This just makes me smile and helps me keep going.

The climbing begins. It is a good thing I like hills as this does not bother me. I do think about how Julie is always complaining about hills and how she is really not going to like that at mile 180 and such, there is more climbing. But, I climb up the hills a little slower than in the morning but legs still feeling strong. I do randomly think about Alex and Scooby snacks. My friend Alex often blasts by me on hills and talks about Scooby snacks when he does so (kind of inside joke between us). The grades are not that bad so I have no issues with my hamstring cramping again. I just keep going along. At some point, this guy with a single speed bike comes riding near me. For some reason, the single speed guys are always nearby when I climb hills. He's friendly and we kind of give a nod to each other.

I descend down and can see the sun is starting to dip down. I am racing the sun now but do not think I will beat it. I will be close though so that is still pretty good.

As I turn onto Ballard Canyon Road, it starts getting dim out. So, I turn on my front light. Then, I hit a hill I did not expect. Not too crazy but it's a little steeper than the one at mile 180ish and we are at mile 190. But, I plug away up the hill. When I get to the top, it is getting to be pretty dark and the descent is kind of fast and windy. It would be fun to go down in the daylight but kind of scary in the dark. I am thankful my front light is SUPER bright! Like a car light! Though, the battery seems like it may be low. I just hope I have enough juice to get to the finish.

I ride around in darkness alone for a bit. I had memorized the end of the route sheet since I cannot read my route sheet in the dark. I remember, I just have to make right turns. I ride closer to the right and start looking for the arrow markings to the turns. A man rolls up near me. He asks me if I know where I am going. I said kind of. He says he will stay behind me since I have a better front light and he has a better tail light. I am grateful this man is nearby as it is kind of unnerving to ride in the dark countryside alone, especially when I am not familiar with the area.

As we come out of this countryside area, the guy takes off. He seems to know that we are pretty close. I am not quite sure how much more we have to go. As I get near the last turn, a lady rides by saying I have no tail light. The light that Julie has lent me does not like to stay on and the one from Tawny is kind of small. I push the button for Julie's light so hopefully it stays on at the end. I really hope I don't get DQ'd for my stupid tail light not working.

I make one turn and look up and realize the Marriott is right there. Oh wow, I am just about done. I roll into the hotel and pass the timing thing. Finished!

After returning my timing number, eating a sandwich, and chit chatting with a few other finishers. I have to ride back to the hotel. I return to my hotel with my garmin saying about 199.6 so I just have to ride a couple laps around the parking lot so that I finish at exactly 200 miles. Happy to be done!

Text/tweet at 8:07 pm "first double century...DONE!"
and, a little bit after, I wrote "also thank you everyone for the good thoughts and well wishes today! I haven't seen all the comments yet but I felt the love/support! :)"

Random thoughts in the end...

My running endurance was able to convert to cycling endurance.

I think endurance running is harder than endurance cycling. My brain doesn't get fried cycling like it does with running. And, my legs are not so worn down as they are with running. And, I think I get a higher high from running than cycling. But, I enjoy enjoy the endurance cycling.

My new tires rock! Not a single flat tire!

I will do another double. I am a maybe on Hemet (budget concerns). I SO want to do the Davis Double (even moreso than before) and think I may ride the Norcal AIDS Cycle and the Davis Double at the same time (so long as I raise the money for the Norcal Aids Cycle. Donate!).

My athletic friends are awesome ! I could not get through all these crazy adventures without them. :)

My results

Saddle time: 13 hours 56 minutes 50 seconds
Official chip time: 15 hours, 2 minutes, 51 seconds

Overall finish: 185 out of 332 finishers*
Female finish: 12 out of 39 female finishers*

*the wind apparently made this year one of the highest years of DNF's. there were a number of unofficial finishers. people who finished but after the cutoff time so their results don't count.

Average Speed: 14.4 mph
Total climb: 7576 feet


I wish to thank everyone for all the support and wonderful messages that day! It really helped motivate me and encourage me on especially when things got tough. Thanks to those who came to my crazy dinner before I left. And, extra thanks goes to those that sent me messages throughout the day. It really helped!

Thank you and acknowledgment goes out to Hammerin Wheels. A cycling group which has really helped me become a cyclist in the past year and a half. I cherish the friendships I have made with various members of the group. I thank all of you that I have ridden and trained with. All those rides certainly helped. Extra special thanks goes to Javier Arroyo, Jeff Sanford, Scott Taggart, and Sarah Conover for the rides and the tips you have given me. You have really helped develop me as a cyclist.

Thanks goes out to my wonderful cycling group WAV. I kind of randomly became the organizer of what was once a tiny little cycling group of women. I gave it a little love and am amazed as to how much the group has grown in the past year. I love the support all you girls give me and to each other. You all make me proud to be part of something so wonderful.

Thank you to Jeff, Joan, Todd, Jodi, Lisa, Mica, Tawny, Julie, Tim, Perry, and Griff for sharing your prior double experiences with me and the advice you provided me to help me be ready for my first double century.

Special thanks to Javier, Todd, Craig, Alex, Mike, and Mark for riding with me in my first century just last October. If I had not had so much fun during my first century, I might not have considered going for a double century. ;-)

Thank you Mitch for riding with me in my 100 mile training ride three weeks prior to me going to Solvang. I was having a hard time getting in my really long rides and glad you decided to get into cycling recently. Nice to have another crazy runner friend out there to train with on the bike too. :).

Really big thanks to Jeff Sanford and Joan O'Conner for inspiring me to do this crazy thing of riding double centuries. :)

Lastly, I thank Tawny, Julie, and Rex for being great travel companions and sharing my first double experience with me. Tawny, I really thank you for all the knowledge you shared from your past experiences at Solvang and other doubles. I look forward to me sharing many more cycling adventures with all of you! :)


  1. First off - congrats on a strong finish to your first double. It was my first too, and what a ride it was with all that wind. Great job placing in the top third of females.

    The conversation you start with reminds me of a conversation I had with my Mom a few days before the ride which I shared in my blog post (she thought I was nuts).

    In case you'd like to compare notes:

    Good luck with your CTC goals. I'm sure I'll see you out there.

    May the wind be with you!


    1. thank you. i enjoyed your blog too! definitely some similarity in our experiences. hehe. i'll hopefully see you at another double sometime this year! :)

  2. Nicely written. I enjoyed reading this. Brought the day back to life as I was there going through the same experience and obstacles. What a day that was, and you took charge of it and triumphed with flying colors. Congratulations!! I'm proud of you for an awesome performance, and to have shared that experience even though we never saw each other throughout the day. My story is not as triumphant coming in 16 minutes past the time required. Yet it wasn't any less feeling of accomplishment for completing 200 crazy miles in one day. I'm considering another double century, possibly the Davis Double. Hope to see you there.