Sebring 24 Hour Race

The new season of ultracycling racing has crept up on me. Last weekend I raced in the 24 hour RAAM qualifier in Sebring FL. This year I had maybe 300 road miles in my legs year to date before the race compared to 1300 last year, so I was tempering my expectations. Still, with the recent cold spell and snow here in Chicago I was looking forward to some warm temps and sunshine.

I arrived in Sebring the night before, with just enough time to buy some groceries for the race, put my bike together, have some dinner, and settle down for some sleep. I couldn’t fall asleep. I find myself staring at an awful Wesley Snipes movie at 1:00 AM with my alarm set to ring at 5:00.

Morning came too quick, but I bounded out into the cold morning to get to it. My car window was covered with ice as I moved it to the support area. It was cold, not Chicago cold, but too cold for Florida. So much for my vacation in warm southern climes.

Race started fine. I felt good, though a bit tight. Kept toward the front and finished the 1st 100 miles in 5:05 which is about what I expected.

The winds picked up, and the day loop seemed to be 9 miles against the wind and 2 with. During this time I finally started to get my mind back into long distance racing. While I was struggling, the switch flipped from dealing with time in the way you must during a regular day, where time is measured in minutes to the ultracycling way where time is measure in hours or blocks of hours. I remember thinking at the 16 hour mark, “Only 8 hours to go, I’m nearly finished”.

The night loop as usual is a continuous blur. A short loop on the track where autopilot kicks in. Other than standing up far too much due to saddle sores, I just kept rolling albeit slower than I had hoped.

2 hours to go in the race and all of sudden the temperature jumped up. I thought perhaps the caffeine in the coke I just drank was affecting me and started unzipping the multiple layers of clothing I had been wearing to stay warm through the night. It was a brief respite as the rains began and the return of cold air with them. Oddly enough, this is when I started to feel really good for the first time all day. Amazing how good you can feel in the final hours of these races.

Ended with 387 miles(vs 440 last year). While not a number I am happy with, I was glad to finish it out and hopefully be that much stronger for my next race.

Full Results at: Alta Vista Sports

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