Solvang. If you’re a normal person, you think, “quaint Scandanavian tourist trap.” http://www.solvangusa.com/ If you’re a wino, you think, “Sideways home base.” If you’re a cyclist, you think “century.”

Last November, I enlisted the domestic partner for the Solvang Prelude, a metric century (100 kilometers instead of 100 miles). His training was comprised of repeated trips up and down Nichols Canyon, without a single ride longer than 30 miles. My training was compromised by my training for a half marathon that took place a mere six days before the ride. And yet, when we were done, he turned to me and said, “That was fun. We should do more of these.”

Within days, we were signed up for “real” Solvang. Shortly thereafter, I joined a training group. It’s always… Easier? Harder? Better that way. Easier because when you go out with a group, you don’t have to carry so much stuff, nature breaks are less complicated, and someone’s there when something goes wrong. Harder because you push yourself harder keeping up with the leader. Better because the peer pressure keeps you to a schedule, and you’re more likely to enjoy the event and finish it if you’ve trained properly.

So our ride Sunday took us back to Hollywood and Griffith Park:

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On our way up the hill, I passed my running coach’s mile signs. Of course, a runner passed me as I was plodding up the hill. No Tour de France for me this year.

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And since it was Super Bowl Sunday, all my students wanted to meet early so they could go to parties, so I had to head home less than halfway into our ride. Someone’s gotta pay for all those protein shakes and spiffy jerseys.

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