The organizers were letting us go in packs. Dave and I waited a little bit after we turned the first corner just in case we’d see Mel. No luck.

A nice downhill starts the course. Besides the fact I was freezing I was pretty happy. Then the climbing started.

I’m ashamed to say there were a couple of sections I actually got off my bike and walked. Granted, I wasn’t the only one, but I really envy those people zipping up the hills like they were nothing. I’m in my granny gear and wheezing along at 4mph. It’s not a leg strength thing alone — I can easily leg press sets of 400+ at the gym when I put my mind to it (more than most guys, ha ha, not that I’m competitive in the gym, but gee it’s fun to add weights when you’re working in with someone who was a dick about it in the first place b/c he didn’t want to share with some GIRL) — but leg strength AND endurance AND practice (the latter being what I lack the most). (And, as Mel pointed out on our practice hill ride last Sunday, I tend to overly attack the hill and wear myself out, I guess a common beginner mistake.)

My feet felt like bricks for about an hour or so until the temperature started going up. And, between the cold and my allergies, I was snotting all over the place. No way to be delicate about that. The terry on the gloves only absorbs so much. I accidently snotted on someone actually. He yelled at me to snot to the right from now on. Couldn’t explain to him that a) it’s mostly my left nostril and b) I’ve tried the other direction and almost fallen off my bike. (Add snotting to the number of bike skills I have to practice.) I was very sorry for him but honestly I was feeling sorrier for myself at the point. Yeah, pathetic.

Nonetheless, the countryside was gorgeous, and I started enjoying myself, especially after we got to bike downhill then by Los Olivos and some flat areas where I got to go fast and pass people. And most especially when I saw the food stop.

Before the food stop we had to bike up a canyon — not so much fun — but the way back was screamingly fast and fun.

The food stop had clean portapotties, water, trail mix, cookies and bananas. We hung out for a little bit then started again.

Downhill from the food stop then a long grind up a hill that I did do without stopping (yeah!).

A lot of flat roads looping around then back towards Solvang through some residential neighborhoods and some more short but VERY steep hills. Around this time we were comparing my odometer reading to the map mileage and realizing that one or the other was wrong. The course was short. I got around 46 miles on my odometer, which is what most people were getting.

I was tired enough going up the last hill to Solvang that I wasn’t too concerned about being off 4 or 5 miles, but some other people were annoyed.

At the end we hung out a bit but didn’t eat (pay food & beer only, bummer, not even a bagel or water) and finally saw Mel and Mike. Turned out they started an hour after us because they’d gotten in to town so late the night before (Mel got stuck at work).

Quick ride to the hotel to shower then off to lunch and wineries!

FYI we visited Zaca Mesa and Epiphany that day — had a blast at Zaca Mesa, I belong to their Cellar Club so we got to taste all the wines in nice Reidel glasses (one of which I broke, not my fault!). Dinner at Brothers at Mattei’s — great food, new chefs from the last time Dave & I had eaten there (well, about 5 or 6 years ago). Dave went home early Sunday a.m. after we all met for breakfast & Mel, Mike, Arlene and I went winery hopping (Fess Parker, Cambria, Foxen, Longoria) before returning to Los Angeles.