Doing your first double century…

The Double.

200 miles on the bike.

Usually more than 10 hours in the saddle.

At least once you’ve got to experience it. The distance, hands-down, beats Race Across America (RAAM). If you’ve done 100, why not double it? I’ll never do RAAM. Consider a double the ride for the less insane. 

I did my first double in Solvang, California this past Saturday.

If you’re considering your first, Solvang is perfect. It’s got beauty, variety and a chance to wind up on the flats with the help of a tailwind on parts of the inward 100. It’s got green rolling countryside. It’s got the ocean. It’s even got charming farm towns. Only 7,000 feet of vertical gain. No blazing temps. Minimal traffic. Heaven for cyclists.

But the nicest thing? They call it a double, yet the ride for 2009 penciled out to 193 miles. That’s a 3.5% discount! And it’s acceptable in double century parlance.

Solvang Countryside

Solvang Countryside

I joined about 500 others at the chilly start. I ended up logging a 10:44 for total rolling time on my Garmin. Stopped at each rest stop to replenish fluids and use the facilities. Before the ride, I lucked out and receieved a few pointers fellow cyclist Greg Durbin in Santa Rosa, aka @GregKnottLeMond on Twitter. Although I’ve finished Climb to Kaiser three times (a memorable and potentially harrowing affair), Greg kept me on the straight and narrow with the following for a successful double:

  • Go out easier than you think you should (ride with a group; enjoy the conversation)
  • Post the route sheet on your bike (I bought a handlebar clip for $6; it was worth $100)
  • Eat, drink, repeat. Eat, drink, repeat. Eat, drink, repeat. (Sustained Energy by Hammer, my preference)
  • Sunscreen (a must)
  • Carry more than one spare tube (you never know)
  • Use a heart rate monitor (another way to dose your effort, athough mine fizzled)

I took all the steps, and finished with a smile on my face. I went in pretty scared, mind you. I plan to return next spring, and possibly in this fall. Solvang is one-of-a-kind. The people are as friendly as you’ll find anywhere (right up there with Bend, Oregon, Boulder, Colorado, and Austin, Texas).  Solvangers are also very familiar with cyclists, and welcome them. The Bulldog Cafe is great for just hanging out. The Holiday Inn Express is dandy for $135 a night.

Here are my double century ride splits by chunks of mileage:

Total miles between start, rest stops, and end / Average speeed

41 – 17.8 mph

45 – 18.6 mph

32 – 18.0 mph

29 – 16.5 mph

30 – 20.5 mph

16 – 15.0 mph (steep and rough roadway on Drum Canyon)

My training plan? I averaged 150-240 miles per week since mid-December, and put in 130 hard tempo effort the Sunday before the event. Pre-ride meal night before: Angel hair pasta, glass of Merlot, and a pitcher of water at Trattoria Grapolo in Santa Ynez. Breakfast: Two pouches of Trader Joe’s oatmeal and two strong cups of hotel coffee.

I rode 60 more miles on Sunday in Solvang after the double to keep the legs loose. Also donned a pair of granny support compression socks during my drive back to San Diego. They helped greatly with post ride swelling, circulation and soreness. Yesterday and today, zero. Just resting the legs.

Back on the bike in the a.m., however. Targeting Mullholland Century on April 11, then Breathless Agony May 2. Might have to mix in Heartbreak Hundred May 23. 

Climb to Kaiser is my primary goal on June 27. Perfect timing before July 4 — and Tour de France.

Hope your training is going well, and you reach your marks and season targets, be they Cat. 1/2 racing, or just rolling 200 with good friends.

Common roadside scene for Solvang Double Century

Common roadside scene for Solvang Double Century


One thought on “Doing your first double century…

  1. Hey, congrats on your first double!!! Woot! I rode the Solvang Double in 2007. I still remember vividly the last 10-15 miles (up and then down off of Drum) in the moonlight. I did NOT, however, have as impressive a roll time. Sheesh – 10:44? I’m impressed. Nice photos. 🙂

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