Sep 20, 2008

Carpinteria to Solvang

My mission for the day was to secure the prized Solvang Kringle the moment the bakery opened. The problem was that the bakery opened about 7:00am, and I was about 45 miles away on the other side of the mountain pass.

Well before sunrise, I mounted the Specialized S-Works Roubaix SL and headed north to the tiny Hamlet of Solvang, CA. This would be a challenging ride of just over 90 miles, three hours of which would be in total darkness.

I started slow and easy in order tow warm up and to adjust my night vision. Even though I was wearing three layers of cycling shirts and two pairs of gloves, I was still cold as I climbed up over the coastal mountain pass and through the clouds.

Ever driven your car, at night, through very dense coastal fog? You know what it's like when your high beams hit that fog and you are blinded? Well that was the challenge I faced riding up and over the mountain pass. It was unsettling as I made my ascent, as there is no shoulder for cyclists in many of these steep stretches, and with the fog blinding motorists, I was a bit concerned.

I made it up through the clouds and it was a bright starry night at the top. But then I had to descend back through the clouds again as I moved from Santa Barbara toward Lake Cachuma and the Santa Ynez wine country.

Descending through those clouds, at night, in cold weather was extremely cold. The cold, wet air and the low temperature conspired with my accelerating downhill speed to give me ice cream headaches all the way down (about 4 - 5 miles).

The sun began to rise as I hit the lake and headed the 20 additional miles to Solvang. My mission for the day was to secure the prized Solvang Kringle the moment the bakery opened.

Kringle are hand-rolled from Danish pastry dough that has been rested overnight before preparing and baking. Many layers of the flaky dough are layered, then shaped roughly like a pretzel. Solvang is world famous for this particular pastry and I was going to bring one home as "proof" that I actually made to Solvang despite urgings from some not to attempt the trip due to the lack of a cycling shoulder on the mountain pass.

Well they packaged up that Kringle in 4 large plastic bags, sealed them all and I stuffed this pizza-sized pastry in the front of my jersey. To avoid crushing the delicate puff pastry, I suspended the packaged item with medical tape from the straps of my cycling straps on the long johns. It worked great.

The trip back was much faster because I had plenty of light so I was not so tentative. I was also pushed a bit by a few guys from one of the cycling teams. Solvang was the home city for the Discovery Cycling team for many years and the area is full of cycling lore about Lance Armstrong and his amazing exploits.

I would do this trip again, but next time will continue through the Central Coast wine country, and return via Buellton and the 101 freeway heading south back to Carpinteria.