Sebring 24 Hour RAAM Qualifier

My first and only pre-RAAM event of the new year is now in the books. I placed 5th overall and second among non-recumbent bikes on a very flat course. I completed 440.7 miles. Finally getting me over the elusive 425 mile mark that was my sole missed goal from last season.

The morning start was foggy and in my typical fashion I was fiddling with my bike up until the start. This time having difficulty getting air into my Zipp wheels. Those damn valave extenders, there has to be another way. I ended up riding the whole race on an underinflated front wheel.

The race started out fast with a large group of primarily 12 hour riders pushing the pace. I shadowed them for a bit while we did 3 laps on the speedway before wising up and letting them go. I was extremely tight and wondering if this was going to be a painfull ride. As the miles began to add up my legs loosened up and I began to feel quite good. Often managing 22-24 mph while a group of riders foolowed me through the first half of the large loop.

I found a good rythm and manged to do the first 100 miles in 4:50. Not quite as fast as the 4:15 of the lead group but a good start to long a ride.

I tried different nutrition on this race. Typically I have used Sustained energy, but I have found I can only handle it for maybe 12 hours than i am unable to stomach it any further. Today I used plain maltodextrin powder mixed in to all my water. Fairly tasteless and seemed to do the trick. No stomach problems.

At the 12 hour mark, the race moved from a loop on public roads back into a 3.7 mile loop on the speedway. I went to through the checkpoint and heard “all 24 hour racers enterthe speedway”. Me, being a somewhat logical sort determined that the entrance would be where we entered in the morning. I spent 15 minutes trying to find the entrance which was back at the checkpoint. My first bit of unhappiness. Eventually I found my way on to the track and the repetition begins. The organizers had place ornge cones at random points along the course with blinking taillights attached to aid riders. The place ment of these markers was random and arbitrary, on the edge of a curve, in the middle of the roadway, sitting on a concrete dividing wall. After the first few laps you I new the routine, but I often saw riders ending up in the grass througout the night. Luckily noone hit the concrete wall that i know of.

An additional issue, that was never specified in the race information was that all suport vehicles had to be moved from the day loop area into a parking lot behind the pit area. You supplies need to be than moved into the pit area or you must navigate out to the parking lot to resuuply. It is becoming clear that a support crew is required to compete for the win in this race. I have always enjoyed 24 hour races in part because of the easy logistics involved in crewing for yourself. I managed to have a friend move my car after he finished the 12 hour race, but I was stuck with having to move my cooler and supplies into the pit area. At this point I was certain my goal of 425 miles was out of reach and and I was a bit angry. Mentioning it to a similarily affected rider.

I returned to the course and found a good amount of drive from the expeience and began pushing pretty hard for the remainder of the night. Brief stops every 2 hours to drink an Ensure and occassional Rice Krispie bar or piece of fruit.

Temperatures dropped a bit in the night but it was comfortable riding weather and just cool enough to keep me alert. With time winding down, I was closing in on 425 miles, and pushed through for a couple extra laps to make sure i got it. Often my computer reads more miles than the official distance. Not in this case, my computer was 10 miles short of the offical count.

Staying in form with my seeming inability to understand the organizers, I missed the awards ceremony. Thinking it was in the nearby hotel, while it was held at the race track. There is something to be said for consitency.

All in all I was happy withe the result. I was beginning to worry I wasn’t getting my legs back quick enough this year and my average speeds were too low. With only 14 weeks to RAAM I was growing concerned. Sebring helped get my confidnce back up and I am now have a cautious optimism for the rest of my preperations.

One Response to “Sebring 24 Hour RAAM Qualifier”

  1. carter March 23, 2006 at 4:43 pm #

    man, great blog. Please keep it up, we’re reading out here!

    DaC

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