Calvin’s Challenge 2011 – Or how I learned to love Ohio

This post originally appeared on John Foote’s excellent ultraracenews.wordpress.com.

Bryce Walsh - 2011 Calvin's Challenge ©UltraRacePics

Bryce Walsh - 2011 Calvin's Challenge ©UltraRacePics

I’ll start by saying I hate this race. Its really well organized. The people are very friendly. I even like where I stay(though its a secret, since I don’t want it to get booked up each year). No I hate this race because something always happens that makes me walk away feeling like I didn’t get as much out of myself as I should. Its been various things over the years: flat tires, mechanicals, poorly timed bio breaks, bonking, and just plain being stupid or overconfident.

This year I entered with some hesitation. Waiting until the last week before finally committing. A hard race fit well with my schedule for a build toward summer and Calvin’s typically is fast. Yet in the back of my mind a bit of dread about a really flat race with wind and likely rain. The weather is always perfect at Calvin’s.

The race started as it typically does at Calvin’s with a large lead pack, but even from the start the group seemed smaller. In the past the group has stayed together for 100-150 even 200 miles. Strength in numbers keeps the pace high. This year the pace was slower early on. A handful of riders would put in hard pulls. Kurt Searvogel would take a turn at the front and turn the screws a bit, but overall the tempo was restrained.

The lead group divided pretty early on. From 60-100 miles the lead pack was whittled down to seven. 2 recumbents, 1 HPV, and 4 diamond frame bikes. Each time Bill Hannon in his HPV went to the front more and more of the group fell off. Eventually he had rode us all off his wheel. For the next 40 miles I spent a large amount of time tucked as low as possible next to John Schlitter and his Bacchetta recumbent to gain some shelter from the wind and recover from Bill’s pace. I was the last of the diamond frames.

I held onto John for as long as possible. Hoping to make it to the halfway point of the last 50 mile loop to utilize whatever draft I could get, but at 160 miles the elastic snapped and I was on my own for the next 50 miles solo. Fighting the wind at what seemed like a painfully slow speed. I figured I’d have company eventually but it never came until I was 2 loops into the short 7mile loop when Kurt Searvogel caught up with me. Kurt has been really strong this year so I did my best to stick with him for the remainder of the race. It made those last laps much more fun.

251 miles in 12 hours. Not by highest mileage at Calvin’s, but I’m very happy with it for this day. Special thanks to my crew of one, Shifra for the support and spending another weekend on the road. Thanks to Litespeed. My new Litespeed C1R is just plain fast. Its going to be a fun season.

Official Results

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