The Original Concept:
Early August: my teammate, Spencer, and I began dreaming of winter training down south. We began scoping out locations in the Southwest using Ride With GPS. A couple hours mapping out rides every night and before we knew it we had found the ideal spot: Solvang California. It is, of course, the happening place to go train in the winter. It’s rapidly becoming the new Tucson, the new winter Mecca, in case you didn’t know. Eager with excitement, Spencer and I doubled hour daily hours on Ride With GPS and began mapping rides by the dozen.
Mid September: by now Spencer and I were looking forward to the off-season. It had been too long since we’d gone to a dance party or eaten a burrito without guilt. But this was no time to forget about Solvang. In fact, I began thinking of it more and more as I finished up my last couple races. By the time the true off-season began, it was time to start a solid plan. Here’s what we came up with: Spencer was going to join me in Solvang in mid to late December, where we’d train until mid February, then go to altitude for a couple weeks before our first big races of the year, San Dimas and Redlands.
I got on top of the logistics quickly and found a place for us to stay by October. This was a full two months before I actually planned on heading down there. You can imagine how organized I must have felt.
The living situation would be a 5th wheel and an RV, both parked on a nice woman’s 3-acre lot, just outside of Solvang and a short walk from the grocery store. Rent would be cheap, and I imagined warm evenings sitting around a campfire after a hard day of training.
Making backup plans:
Just in case the house fell through, I kept two other households as options, who I had found on Craigslist. I also found a third person to come train with us, named Michael, just in case Spencer backed out. Training by yourself for months on end sucks, especially if you don’t know anybody in town.
Being glad you made backup plans:
Shortly after I found the house, it became clear that Spencer was going to opt out. Now it was down to Michael and I.
Original plans begin to crumble:
Two weeks before we were set to leave (me from Portland on a train and Michael from Iowa on a bus), our host informed me that the 5th wheel wouldn’t be available, due to it not being up to the electricity code. So our options became 1) contact the backups, which I did but neither of their homes were available anymore, 2) both sleep in the RV, which didn’t have a fridge or working bathroom, 3) one person sleep in the RV and one person sleep in a tent (notice that this doesn’t solve the problem with the fridge or bathroom), or 4) find a third person to make renting the woman’s $800 a month guesthouse economically viable, which only had one room but did include a fridge and bathroom. We quickly began scrambling to find a third person.
Things Take a Turn for Good:
With a week to go, I found a third person to come stay with us.
Half a week later: Yeah that was too good to be true. Turned out he couldn’t drop everything he was doing and leave for California for three months with one week’s notice.
Last Minute Game Saver:
With two days to go, I contacted the Solvang cycling listserve and posted a housing wanted plea. It worked, and I got two responses within a couple hours. We were saved.
The Fumble Continues:
I emailed our original RV/5th wheel/guesthouse host and told her that we had found a new place to live, but we still needed a ride from the bus and train stations in Santa Barbara to Solvang, located 40 miles away. She quickly replied saying that she would NOT come pick us up because her husband and her had spent the entire previous day getting the RV and guesthouse ready for us. They needed some revenge. So now we had a place to stay but no way to get there.
Not to worry, as the train passed through the Bay Area, a mere eight hours before I was set to arrive in Santa Barbara, our new host confirmed that she could come pick us up. And there you have it. Everything planned out in the last two days.