Solvang Ride Camp – Day 1

Posted: December 18, 2011 in Adventures
Tags: , ,

Solvang definitely lives up to its reputation as one of the “Ten Most Beautiful Small Towns in the Western United States.” Set in scenic Santa Barbara County on the Central Coast of California, this thriving Danish community attracts over a million visitors annually with its unique shopping, distinctive architecture, award-winning bakeries and regional wines.

But we’re here for the cycling, and Solvang certainly doesn’t disappoint in that regard. The temperate climate and surrounding Santa Ynez mountains make Solvang a favorite training locale for several professional cycling teams, and the village has hosted a stage of the Amgen Tour of California for the past few years in addition to numerous amateur cycling events.

We arrived at Hotel Corque Monday afternoon, a boutique hotel on the main drag. Trek Travel is known for its plush accommodations, and that held true even on a scaled back trip like Ride Camp. Here’s a view of our hotel lobby – love those funky giant sized chairs!

We quickly changed into our cycling kit and headed out to the parking lot to meet up with the Trek Travel crew. Their set up is impressive – demo trucks, three tents and over 40 sparking 5.2 Madone road bikes for the group.  The guys quickly got us set up on our bikes, including swapping stems and saddles to ensure that we’re going to enjoy the long hours on the roads over the next four days.

The ride of the day was a short 15-mile loop on the Solvang Individual Time Trial course, one of the stages of past iterations of the Amgen Tour of California. It was the perfect distance to get a feel for our bikes and a taste of what to expect over the next few days of riding.  The sun was setting over the mountains as we hustled back to town to get ready for social hour and dinner.

This version of Trek Ride Camp is a little different. It’s specifically for Trek Bicycle retailers and bike shop employees.  There are about 40 of us here this week, from shops all over the USA and Canada. We’re going to spend most of our days riding, but also a good chunk of time each day listening to some of Trek’s best product managers talk about the latest and greatest Trek has to offer. And we soon learned that we’d have a few celebrities in our midst this week…

Team Radio Shack professional cyclist Chris Horner is here! He accomplished the highest-profile result of his career this past May by winning the 2011 Tour de California stage race. What struck us immediately about Chris is how approachable he is.  As a Trek sponsored athlete, he’s involved in testing and evaluating just about every Trek product you can imagine from bikes to helmets to shoes to clothing. Chris is here to lend his experience as someone who spends about 30 hours in the saddle each week as a professional cyclist.

Here’s a short video of Chris at dinner talking about the importance of saddle choice and getting riders to give a saddle a fair “trial” of at least a few weeks. That all important break-in period can be tough to endure, but we can all agree that when you find the right saddle that works for you, it makes for a much more pleasurable experience out there on the road!

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