Event organizers to launch a ‘Sequel’ in November
By Mike Chaldu
The winter storms were able to take a relative break for cyclists in Santa Ynez Valley March 4 as the latest edition of the Solvang Century Ride drew riders, both local and out-of-own.
While there were a few drops of rain here and there, as well as some dark clouds, the stormy weather that had been prevalent through the previous month held off for the event that was stressed to be “a ride, not a race,” according to the event’s website solvangcentury.com.
The ride consisted of three different routes: The 52-mile Half Century route, the 68-mile Metric Century route, and the 101-mile Century route. Each route used portions of Highway 101, and State Routes 154 and 246, and sent the riders into the Lompoc and Orcutt areas before coming back to the Valley.
Riders began and completed their “laps” at the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott parking lot, with event volunteers ringing custom-made cowbells to welcome them back.
This was the second year the event ran under the banner of Project Ultra, a nonprofit based in St. George, Utah.
“It hadn’t been hosted since 2019,” said Deborah Bowling, co-owner of Planet Ultra. “I had taken part in the ride before and I enjoyed it. We planned to do so again in 2020 but it got canceled at the last minute because of COVID.”
It was then that Planet Ultra decided to acquire the event for a 2022 relaunch.
“We just didn’t want it to die,” Bowling said. “So we started it up again this time last year, and we ran into some bad weather and it was challenging, but everyone was happy to have it back.”
For 2023, demand grew even stronger.
“We had to cap [the number of entries] at 1,000, and we got 1,000,” Bowling said. “There was just a lot of pent-up demand.
Despite the overcast skies and threat of rain, the ride seemed to be enjoyed by all the participants, many of whom came from out of town.
Kevin Affolter and Catherine Isham of Danville came down to participate. Affolter had been in the ride before.
“I’ve been coming down for a long time to do this,” he said. “I like to support this race and the area.”
Isham said she enjoyed the scenery as she was pedaling.
“It really is beautiful, and with the recent rains, it’s very green,” she said. “I especially liked biking down Foxen Canyon Road.”
The good news for riders is that Planet Ultra will also be bringing back the November event, which had previously been called the Prelude.
“We wanted to do the ride in November, but we were thinking ‘it’s not really a prelude, because it’s the second event of the year,” Bowling said. “We figured it would be the sequel to this event, so we’re calling it the Solvang Sequel and it will take place on Nov. 4.”
Bowling said the course would be a little different.
“The routes in this one went through Lompoc to begin, but in the fall we’re taking it through Santa Ynez, Happy Canyon and through Solvang,” she said.
For more information on Planet Ultra and its cycling events, go to solvangcentury.com.