Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Just Another Day on the Bike

The UMCA's John Marino Competition starts out every year in the US with the Sebring 12/24 race in south central Florida. The Sebring 12/24 offers a good place to start the season, a respite from the cold and a fair weather place to ride. Entering the hotel parking lot I saw many a familiar face. Cyclists and crew were gathering from as far away as California, Missouri, New Hampshire, and yes, even Decorah Iowa. More details on the logistics of the event here.

After packet pick up and a nice dinner I went back to the hotel to prepare. I mixed all my fuel, checked and rechecked my bike, lights, and all the clothes and gear. The alarm clock was set for 4:45 AM and I crawled into bed. Should give me plenty of time to find a good spot to park on pit row. As I drifted off to sleep I'm going through my gameplan and mental check list. WAIT! Where's my timing chip transponder? I know I got it in my race packet. F!!!! Jump out of bed and start going through the car, the luggage, my camelback, my pockets, look under the bed, look under the car seats..............WTF. I shake my head knowing only I can pull a stunt like this. A little after midnight I give up. I'll buy another if I have to. But now I'll to get there earlier to be sure I can get this sorted out in time. Call front desk for a 4AM wake-up call.

Up with 4 hours of sleep, off to the Raceway. I'm one of the first few on pit row and pick what "was" a great spot to park. Close to the scoring, close to the road over to the track. Ideal for someone self-supported. As I walk into reg, the timing lady looks at me with a knowing grin as she reaches into the bin for my chip before I can even ask. NICE. I was so enthralled with our dinner company and conversation I'd left it at the table. Big thanks to whoever turned it in. Wish I could get those 3 hours of missed sleep back.......

The bike is ready. The Camelback Hawg loaded with 2 bladders full and strapped on my back. It's 15 minutes to the start and the crowd is accumulating. As I'm locking up the car I'm informed this would NOT be a good place leave my car parked. YIKES. Pit road is like 1/2 mile long, and looks filled up. Oh well. Take off the Camelback, hop in the car, find a new place to park, just as the pre race meeting (--->) gets going.

The air was heavy with moisture and fog. It was condensing on everything including the camera lens. It made glasses of any kind useless for the first 2 hours. By 8:30 the sun was out and in full force. About that time I realized my legs really hadn't shown up. Not a lot of power, just didn't feel fast. My time at the turnaround was barely 2 minutes faster than last year. Self doubt rears its ugly head. Only two minutes faster? What about the last 12 months of racing and training? What about TI in 2 months?

Nearing the turn-around I see the lead group of 30 "drafters" go by and they were flat out haulin'. They finished the first 100 miles as a group of about 20 in a time of 4:13.

On the return leg of the grand loop I encountered a heron that wanted to play chicken. It just stood there in the middle of the road like it owned it. My best "I pity da' foo'" Mr. T. impression made it run away. What do you think Chuck Norris would have done?

Then I catch up to the antique tractor parade. Yep. The town of Frostproof was having an antique tractor parade on the same road we're using. RD Mark Andrews had warned us about it. "They know you're coming" he said, "Just be careful." The parade was in a rolling Police envelope and everyone was really nice. Well, ALMOST everyone. The tractors went on for as far as the eye could see. Must've been 100 of 'em. They were all vintage and in pristine condition. Now that's definitely something you don't see every day.

Back through the rollers and I was happy to find my legs coming alive. I was UNHAPPY at the cramps I was getting. Dam, only 70 miles out and cramps already? WTF? I know I can pedal around and through most cramps, but this was just the start of the freakin' day. When my right leg cramped, I'd shift power to my left leg, then it would cramp. First a hamstring, then a quad. Over and over again. Yeeeesh. This had the makings of a loooong and unpleasant day. Toward 90 miles it got a bit ridiculous, but at least it was flat. I never thought of quitting, but I do remember repeatedly wondering how much my TI spot would bring at an online auction.

The initial plan was to ride for 8 -10 hours without a stop. With 160 ounces of Powerbar Recovery, 50 ounces of Perpetuum and many a Gu, I had the fuel I needed. I tried to ignore the cramps as I finished the first century and went out on the first short loop. The hilly section of the short loop would be the test. My legs failed it terribly. They just about locked up with cramps. I made it around the loop and stopped at the car for some E-Caps. I've never even used them before. Just had some free samples that've been in the car sinced I picked them up at Phil's Cross race in Richmond. Thank GOD I hadn't thrown them away. My jersey sleeve told the tale. With the temps up in the 80's and the humidity low the sweat was evaporating almost instantly leaving rings of salt everywhere. I slammed probably 4 bottles of water, dumped a few over my head, ate 6 E-Caps and took more water with me .

Cramps were gone by the end of the next 12 mile loop. SWEEET! Started feeling good, really good. Then I realized the sun was really cookin' and I was already getting a nice sunburn . Nope, didn't pack any sunscreen. Thanks to K-Dog for warning me. Next time I'll pay attention.

A few loops later my raging skin made me stop and grovel through the pits begging for sunscreen. Thank you greatly, whoever you were, and I hope your leg is healing from the fall over the railroad tracks. Now with white warpaint on I continued. A few more 12 mile loops and another stop for more E-Caps and H2O. . With (I thought) well over 200 miles in I stopped at about 6PM to move to the track. The heat of the day was over and I was excited for some night riding with jammin' tunes from a new mix disc I'd finished last night. Weird thing - I kept feeling better and better. Could that possibly continue......................?

Part 2 tomorrow


Can you help me with some info about the 12 mile loop at sebring. I will be racing there in 2007.

I posted a map, just follow the links in the post. It's basically a triangle with a small stem in and out of the pits. 2 sides of the triangle are totally flat, the 3rd side has some rolling hills. The "back straight" is exposed and we'll feel some wind there. You can reach me at: the blog name at mindspring dot com if you have any other questions. Best of luck, I'll be there again this year.
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