Somewhere ages and ages hence:
two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
I don’t know how it happened. This year’s course was undoubtedly confusing, criss-crossing the Santa Ynez Valley between Solvang, Ballard and Los Olivos. At some point, however, I noticed something wrong. People appeared more worn and tired that they should have been, and I passed them with oomph, my legs still fresh.
My course map at that point was so disgustingly soaked in sweat that fell apart as I opened it. I slowed down and asked, what road was I on? IOf course no one knew, on the Solvang Prelude and Solvang Century days totally outnumber the locals. I finally found someone who had some idea, perhaps due to the turn-by-turn directions he kept clipped to the handlebar. Smart guy. Turns out I was at mile 40, while I was registering just 25. Somehow, I had, gasp, cheated.
But I wanted my money worth, after all I don’t get to ride in the Santa Ynez Valley every weekend. I climbed the Foxen canyon “wall” (just a little 6% bump, vastly overrated in my humble opinion) and at the next fork in the road, I pulled a Robert Frost: I turned right instead of left, and went up Foxen Canyon, well past the Zaca winery, and at least one worthwhile hill (albeit short). Then I was in pedaling paradise. Near zero traffic, magpies that chattered at my passage, one hawk hunting on the hills on my left. I got back to the more traveled route with some regret but with plenty of renewed energy, and made it in stride through the end.
Kudos to the organizers for the police deployment that made navigating congested Solvang easy. The garbled route could definitely be improved however, as well as the SAG stops: some water at the turnaround point Nojoqui wouldn’t have cost that much, and some volunteers warning drivers about the bike traffic would have been nice.