2003 > San Luis Obispo 600K > Ron's Report
Against the Wind
Reporting: Ron Porat, Provisional Bikeaholic
Boy oh boy that was a hard ride! Serious headwinds for 50 miles on the coast from the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse to Carmel Valley Road, and then another 40 miles of headwinds from Soledad up the Salinas River Valley to the turnoff to San Juan Bautista.
The 4 am start from Kevin & Kathi Main's house in Cayucos was the usual high spirits rollout, with all 43 starters lit up and eager. KenS and Lisaa spotted me right away - I hadn't seen them since a brevet last year at Davis - I guess I missed them at the SR 300K earlier this year.
We chatted and chuckled our way for 25 miles to the lighthouse, when the wind picked up and the mood turned more tense. We got separated and leapfrogged - We met at the Gorda store, wondering what do you say when someone says "Merci Beaucoup?" I think it's "de rien" or "pas de quoi".
Later I saw Ken cruising by in a blur when I was stopped at Big Sur Lodge for some bananas and fluids. The rest of it was quite a grind to the Carmel Valley Road turn. I stopped there to resupply and warm up in the sun from the chill of the coastal headwinds.
Again I saw Ken & Lisaa heading out from somewhere in the shopping center - I whistled and they looked but I don't think they saw me. I was still resting. After rolling out I caught up with Ofer - a rider from Pasadena who was doing a make up 400K, and was dreading the prospects of the sadistic, extra-elevation Southern CA brevets. There's been quite a contingent of CalTechies here at the SLO brevets.
Carmel Valley road was gorgeous - NO WIND for one thing, and very green and lush with lots of wildflowers. Summer dryness gets there later. When I got to the control at the top of CVR there were quite a few riders there - which was good - Jerry the control man had ridden the 600K with RBA Kevin earlier in the week and said "you will not believe the headwinds out there - probly 30 mph". The group was rolling out, DARN! I had a front flat. I fixed it, and headed out, and I knew I was going to spend some intimate quality time with the wind.
I think brutal is the right word for it. The landscape is flat/rolling/desolate/windwhipped/dusty/oppressive. And did I already mention there was a strong headwind? I was in my granny for some of it, just relentless, on and on and on. At one point the "G-16" road wasn't marked for quite a while, and I wondered if I'd wandered off course. I headed back for five miles (what a tailwind!) and luckily Jerry in the van showed up and showed me the map. I turned back the way I came. By the time I got to Gonzales it was starting to get dark, I stopped at the gas station for a snack, some loitering boyz were really curious. There was still 20 miles up to Salinas. The good thing was that the wind was starting to die down a little.
By the time I got to the San Juan Grade climb, the moon was bright and high in the sky and there was no wind - definitely an improvement. There were three teenage party cars at different spots near the summit - one with Spanish language tunes, two English - they were smoking and drinking and said something, and I think I said something witty back. I was more mentally fried than they were.
I glided into San Juan Bautista at about 1AM. figuring maybe I'll sleep for an hour. Kevin was the perfect host - serving up hot lasagna and good salad. Then he asked "would you like some wine with your dinner, sir?" I though he was kidding, but he was back with a full cup "here's some Merlot!" That was sooo good - after eating all that sweet swill all day - goo gel, fig newtons, various bars, coke and pepsi, that fine red wine really hit the spot. Kevin is great. I went to my room, hung out in a hot bath for a while before getting my bike and stuff ready and flopping onto the bed, set the alarm for 45 minutes, and promptly ignored it when it went off.
By some miracle, I woke up at 4:40. It took a while to sink in - the next control was 70 miles away, and it closes at 10:16 am. I finally got on the road at 5 - Kevin was outside - he was about to leave and looked at me worried - "I didn't know you were still here - you got 70 miles to go..." I gave him my drop bag and headed off like a bat out of hell. I did not want to let this 600K slip through my fingers - after all that work the day before. The good news was that I felt really strong, probably because of that extra sleep.
I stopped at the Paicines store coke machine for a 20 ouncer - and kept going - I was feeling good and just scampered up the climbs. When I cruised by the Pinnacles entrance at 7:30 I knew I had it made. Whew! the rest was just good fun. I passed about 5 riders on the way - I don't think they made the checkpoint closing. I cruised into the control at hwy 198 at 9:40 - a half hour to spare! Fear, adrenaline, and caffeine work pretty good.
Of course, Ken & Lisaa were lounging around at the control - there was good food and drink there - hot dogs with ketchup, mustard, and relish! That Kevin knows his stuff. I hung out there for a while, until Kevin kicked us out - "you better get going!"
The rest of the way to San Miguel I rode with three guys - Jay, Bernie, and Anurang. Kevin drove ahead to the top of a steep climb and topped off our water. I flatted again about 10 miles outside San Miguel, Bernie gave me a shot of CO2 cartridge, and I caught up with everybody - Ken & Lisaa included at the Paso Robles Jack in the Box.
It was getting hot and folks were fortifying themselves with JackInTheBox French fries for the long climb over to the coast. We were all counting on a 2000 ft, 15 mile descent down to the coast, just 5 miles north into the wind to Cambria and 15 miles back downwind to Kevin's house, so spirits were up. It really was like that,
It went really fast for everybody. We Stopped in Cambria for some refreshments, (good reggae at the Shell quicky mart) and hurried home.
Kevin & Kathi were there with lots more of that hot lasagna, and lots of beer, too, and their usual good cheer and hospitality. It was fun to hang out together and feel so satisfied - next stop France!
But seriously - that wind was something else. So I asked Kevin - "so Kevin, what about that wind?" He said "That's the ride - it's always like that, that's how it was earlier in the week..."